Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Apprentice

Logging on to FB this morning I noticed nearly all our florist friends were up in arms about the TV show The Apprentice last night. Not being one to watch reality TV (except for Strictly) I didn't have a clue what was going on. It turns out that last nights task was to make a profit selling flowers and both groups had managed to make up small bouquets for £3. This prompted me to head over to bbc iplayer and have a watch myself. Now part of me can wholly understand my fellow florists being angry as there is no way to make a profit on the flowers they have in their bunches for £3, and I am sure there are many members of the general public that will watch the show and now think all of us are out to rip people off with the prices we charge. However I am not going to insult our customers by thinking them ignorant into believing what they were seeing. I would like to think that our customers have more common sense than to think it's just a case of buying an amount of flowers, and then selling them. That's where the show is at fault. In a massive way. If there are complaints to be made it is about the one sidedness of the show.

Aside from the fact that their corporate clients were already pre-arranged and set up for them (so they didn't have to do any of the groundwork involved in contract customers), those businesses would have agreed to take part as publicity for their own business. It's a great way of advertising for them.

The real problem lies in the show not showing all the other costs that need to be taken into consideration. The Team that won spent out £448 and took £912 giving them a profit of £464. In the real world out of this £464 you would then have staff wages. Even paying minimum wage at £4.92 for 16 year olds, there were 5 members of staff on this team, who worked 8 hour days for 2 day. Therefore the wage bill would have been £393.60. This then reduces their profit to £70.40. I've no idea how much it would cost for the stall they had at Spittlefields, but the cheapest pitch there is from £10 per day so we'll use that as a guide. This now means their profit has dropped to £50.40. Next you need to factor in insurance costs which would work out roughly to £1.95 per day. A small amount but it has to be taken into consideration. So now their profit is £46.50. Then you need to factor in transportation costs. If you own a vehicle you have running costs. As a rough estitmate broken down into a daily amount with an average of 20 miles per day, and including insurance and basic running costs the amount would be £11.99 per day (more obviously the more miles you cover). This now leaves their profit at £34.51. Then there is the cost for the glass vases they used. Checking on my wholesaler price list for similar to the ones they used the cost would be £8.72 each. Total £34.88. They have now made a loss of 37p. However. The contracts they had which in effect bought in the most money of £150 was in fact a one off and not part of what would be a normal daily total. So if you remove that from the equation and were just to go on their bunch sales then they would have in fact made a LOSS of £150.37. I haven't included in these figures the costings for the wrapping and bows they used. I've also not included any taxes they would need to pay to the tax man, so as you can see, had the show produced proper costings and workings out then people in the real world would have seen that it's nowhere near as easy as it looks to make money. This is why my florist friends are up in arms. People with no clue think they can go out, sell a few flowers and become rich. Sadly in the real world it is nothing like the program made it out to be. Bear in mind if you have shop premises the outgoing costs are even higher as you have rent, rates, council tax and electricity to pay. And I hadn't even considered the phone bill in the costings. That is the real world of floristry and I'm quite disappointed that this show doesn't relfect the real world at all.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

I got

asked this morning whether there are any funny times/moments in this job.I don't think I have ever been asked that question before. All the time I get told "what a lovely job you have" and "How lovely it must be to play with flowers all day" (if only they knew the truth that it's 10% lovely and creative, 90% stress, dirt and hassle) and asked "what's the best thing about being a florist" but nobody has ever asked if there are funny times until this morning. The customer understands how hard the job can be, how stressful it is at times, how sad it is when we are dealing with people who have sadly lost their loved ones and what a nightmare a bridezilla can be, so that's why she asked. 
When she left the shop she was still chuckling away to herself at some of the stories I shared with her. There have been some really funny moments/times. Some of them created by myself and workmates that probably weren't that funny to anyone else but had us in stitches at the time (and even ex bosses have been known to laugh on the odd occasion at certain antics). The main one that springs to mind was the time we shut a workmate in a double wheely bin, wheeled her up the road, parked her outside the butchers and left her there. Childish? Yes most definitely but funny at the same time. She was so tiny there was no way she was ever going to be able to climb out of it. In the end she managed to lift the lid high enough to put her hands on the lip and pull herself up to see out. The butcher eventually helped her out about an hour after we had parked her there. He couldn't do a thing for laughing.  There was the time I was stood at my work bench while my workmate (the same one we trapped in the bin) was dealing with a customer in the shop. The place we worked in at the time had big windows in front of the workbenches so anyone in the work room could see what was going on in the shop and out the front. Suddenly the guy she was serving legged it out the back into the workroom where he proceeded to dive underneath my work bench. At the same time this was happening a lady came into the shop. My workmate didn't have a clue what to do but couldn't ignore the lady so began to serve her. In the meantime the guy under my bench was explaining to me that he had been working abroad for the past 3 years and had just moved back to the UK. None of his family thought he was arriving until the following day as he wanted to surprise his Mum. He came into the shop to buy flowers to take round for her, when he saw her outside the front of the shop and that's when he dived under my bench. The lady my workmate was serving and who didn't have a clue what was going on was his Mum.The time I was out the front watering tray after tray of plants. The worst job my old boss could have given me as I hated being the sun and this day was particularly hot. Not wanting to keep bending over to dead head them all I decided I'd grab a bucket and sit myself down. I'd just got to the last tray when suddenly the bucket I was sitting on decided to buckle. The next thing I was flat on my back, legs in the air with my skirt covering my head. Undies on display for all to see. As I straightened myself up and sorted myself out I couldn't miss the white van full of builders who couldn't do anything but laugh.
There are so many but nowhere near enough time or space to share them all, but as  you can see it's not all doom, gloom and stress. When working with the general public you never know what you are going to get/experience from one second to the next. From the card message that makes your eyes water, to the little old lady that very bluntly explains what happens when a dog is neutered, to the guy that is ordering flowers for his girlfriend when his wife walks in and stands behind him. We get to see and hear all sorts but have to be the souls of disgression 100%. 
So in answer to the ladies question. Yes there most definitely are funny times.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The lesson learned

This week is that no matter how many flowers we may think we need to get through a day we will be way off the mark. Never before have I planned so badly.  For 25 years I've always got the balance spot on but this week it's all gone totally to pot. Because I buy flowers every day I always know roughly how many I will need, so I have bought enough for that days orders, plus extras for spares and customers that pass by or pop into the shop. I rarely have anything left at the end of the day but do normally still have a full looking shop at lunchtime. This week however no matter how many flowers I have bought, I've never seemed to have enough. It has been manic. We pride ourselves on never having flowers in the shop for longer than 36 hours, however most of this week we've been lucky if they've been in the shop for 3 hours :o)  Not that we're complaining. It's been great seeing so many people come through the doors and speaking to even more on the telephone, but I feel a bit of a fraud when someone comes in expecting to see a massive display of flowers and I have very little to offer them. Thankfully we have wonderful customers and they have all fully understand and left the choices to me, and luckily walked away with huge smiles on their faces.
The sun is shining outside and inside this week. Happy weekend everyone. May it bring you plenty of joy and sunshine.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Is really all I can say to the phenomenal amount of Thank you's we are getting at the moment. It's actually quite embarrassing in one way but exceptionally wonderful in another. It seems as if 90% of every customer that recieves/sends an order is phoning, popping in, sending us a card or an email to say thank you. It makes me feel immensely proud. It's also very humbling. At the end of the day I am just doing my job so for these people to take out the time to let me know they were pleased with the items I have made for them is wonderful. It makes dragging myself out of bed on a wet, miserable day like today so worth while.  I have added a thank you page to this blog but can't put them all on there or it will look as if we are getting carried away. Plus I'm not sure there would be enough space. What I think I will do is change them every couple of months or so. Have just thought about it and why is blowing our own trumpet a bad thing? If people have taken the time to say thank you then we should celebrate that and enjoy it for what it is. 
We'd like to say thank you back to each and every one of you for making the business the huge success it is. Long may our partnership with you all last.