Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Another newbie

for us to give a go is pinterest (thanks to Becky at Roses Florist for pointing us in the pinterest direction - as if I don't have enough bits to keep up with :O) ).  A chance conversation between us (one that made sense at least - we chat most days but none of the other conversations are worth sharing) lead me off on an internet search one evening, to find out what it is all about and how it works. To be totally honest I had heard about it previously and knew of several friends that use it, but never for a moment thought that it was either for me personally, and definitely not for the shop. I have now changed my mind on both counts and the shop now has it's own account (still a work in progress right now, but hopefully by the end of the year it will be sorted).  Not only is it a great place for us to showcase our work (which at the end of the day is exactly what we are all about) it's also a great way for other people to share our work too, which can never be a bad thing. It also means all our lovely customers (yes that's you guys) are able to see what we've been up to as I will be trying my hardest to update it with the most recent photos. I know I already do this with the picasa albums, but unless people are on G+ these days, does anyone actually view those? At least with pinterest there is more chance of people finding us and being able to keep up to date with things. 

Ahh keeping up to date; something I try so hard to do but often fail at (not because I am useless but purely because things are getting so busy in the shop these days, I just don't seem to be able to find the time to keep on top of it all some days - that is something I am never going to complain about). I did however, manage to finally change the window and took the Mothers Day bits and pieces out (that I will be honest were adapted from the Valentines window previously). I wanted to try some totally different colours this time; colours that people wouldn't always think of. For this I drew inspiration from my own colour choices at home (my bedroom is decorated in the exact same colours) but also because the wholesaler had some vases in the exact colours I wanted on special offer; how could I not buy them? This then led to more purchases though as I then needed flowers that matched (or at least complemented) the vases and so a whole range was purchased at the same time. Sadly due to our smoked glass windows (to stop the sun from fading everything we put in there) it can't really be seen until night-time (this is normal though for our displays) but I have had many, many comments on the choice of colours used (only one person has said they don't like it) so that can only be a good thing.   

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Mothers Day

has been and gone for yet another year and I am still trying to decide if ours in the shop was a triumph; or disaster. Not a disaster in the sense of things going wrong, but because it was by far busier than I had planned for and by Saturday afternoon we had completely SOLD OUT of flowers. Now while this is amazing in one way, it wasn't in another. I literally had to turn customers away (and send them to my competition which is never a good thing). How did this happen? Was it down to bad management? I guess in a way it was down to bad management, but not because I am bad at what I do, but because I never in a million years expected us to be as busy as we were. 

When working out what flowers I needed I first look at the orders I have; from there I make sure I buy in enough to cover every order before I work out what I need to buy for the shop.  I got out the last 3 years worth of orders and saw that on average we increased our customer base by roughly 35% year on year, so going on this information I increased my order by an extra 35% (on top of the extras I had already ordered). This increase and the phenomenal amount of flowers we had come in should have seen us right the way until tea time on Sunday; for us to have run out so early on a Saturday is just mind blowing. Thank you to you all for your continued support, and massive apologies to those of you that we had to let down because we just didn't have enough in stock to be able to supply you with the flowers you wanted (just a point to note on this though - try not to leave it so late next year then we went have to let you down).

So a big YES to it being a triumph, but a big YES to it being a disaster (not really the right words when there are real genuine disasters going on in the world  but the only word I can think of for now to explain my failure - that's more like it) on us not having enough flowers. 

Thinking being out of flowers for Sunday was bad it got worse come Monday (and Tuesday) morning. Flowers were so scarce on Monday (one of our wholesalers ran out completely and couldn't get more until Tuesday) that we had to just buy what we could (luckily we didn't have any specific orders for a particular flower) but then came Tuesday and with it the snow. Due to the ineptitude of this country to function when we get a few flakes of the gorgeous white stuff, the South East ground to a halt, the result of which left all the dutch lorries the other side of the Chunnel; they weren't able to come through until the back log of traffic on our road networks was cleared, so instead of getting the flowers I ordered at the usual time of 5am, I finally got them at 5pm. Thankfully as always our customers were great and understood what was happening, but there was a mad dash for them to collect and us to deliver after 5 yesterday evening. 

This lack of flowers and not being able to make up orders left me with nothing to do for the day, so I decided to have a clear out, tidy and change in the shop (I hope the lorries never get stuck again). I knew halfway through I'd made a mistake but kept going and I have to say I'm very pleased with the result. Even the shelving unit that I find so hard to look full without being messy turned out ok, so in the end all is good.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Happy Birthday

to us; well the shop/business at least. :)

It was a whole 7 years ago today that we first opened our doors to all of you.  What a nerve wracking day that was (yes I can remember back that far :) ). Having moved from a very secure job where I was earning good money (back in the days when I drove a new car; had exotic holidays - actually had holiday time off full stop :) and could afford to drink in pubs at weekends, I found myself looking at Clive (who was looking at me) and I know we were both thinking "What have we done?". I'll be honest there are still times when we think that these days, but we knew the minute those doors were open for the first time there, was no going back. Both our lives were about to change forever. 

Some things haven't changed since that day. Clive still works for free (it's a good thing he has a *proper job* as well - not that he would have it any other way because he loves to get out and deliver to all our lovely customers) and I still worry as much today as I did back then that I am doing my customers proud, and am not letting anyone down (which is why just this morning I have turned the kitchen in to a mini sauna room to try and get some daffodils to open for an order we have going out today). The one flower that you can guarantee to get open in an hour in any warm room; 48 hours in the shop (I should have taken them home last night and put them by a radiator but forgot all about them) and they were still as tight as can be when I came in this morning. Thankfully due to my steaming of them, popping them behind the computer (where the warm air is pumped out from) and standing them in warm water, I was finally able to get some open enough; not as much as I would have liked (and had a wholesaler not let me down the day before on some I ordered I may not have struggled as much) but they were showing enough colour to be usable and make their presence known.  As a result of flowers not doing what they should; wholesalers letting me down (that one adds more stress to the already high levels than any other aspect of the business). I have way more grey hairs than a woman my age should have (that's something that has drastically changed and costs me a small fortune in hair colour every 6 weeks).
They're a bit tighter than they need to be :)
On that day way back then we were opening different doors (another thing that has changed). We were in Horndean back then (where we were to stay - and struggle to be totally honest) for 3 years. I think if we had stayed there, then there is every chance we wouldn't be here today celebrating such a big day. But thankfully our move to Fareham was to be the turning point and we've just gone from strength to strength since that day. I find that a small miracle in itself; being tucked away from the main parade of shops like we are, because we don't advertise anywhere, but it seems that "word of mouth" truly is the BEST form of advertising. I do think our website helps as well (but let's not tell Clive I'm indirectly praising him for the great job he does at keeping it running for me - and for how he has laid it out; so many people comment on how user friendly it is which is a great thing in one way but we can't let his head swell too much). 
Will we still be doing this in 7 years from now? I sure hope so. When we took this challenge on (and in these hard economic times each and every day truly is a challenge) it was for good. We didn't start this to be a flash in the pan business that would open up; make loads of money (show me a rich florist and I'll show you someone that has fingers  in other pies) and then close. We started this for me to have a job until I retire (which won't happen as I could never let someone else take over) and for Clive to wonder every day whether he will ever get his original investment back - he may do one but there is always something new and exciting for me to spend that money on that I can use in the shop :)