Thursday, 31 May 2012

Email ordering

One of the things we have noticed happening more and more, is people wanting to order flowers via email. While in principal we have no issue with this and will do all we can to accomodate customers that wish to place orders in this way, we do need to warn you that we don't always get round to picking our emails up on a daily basis.  Our online ordering system alerts us when an order has come through, and automatically prints the order out for us so that we can't miss it, but emails get checked, as and when we have time too. Some days they don't get checked at all where we have been too busy to log on.  The other thing with emails is that they don't always come through and end up lost in cyber space; the odd 1 or 2 also find themselves ending up in a spam folder, so they are a very shaky and un-advisable way of ordering if you are in a hurry as it means we may not be able to help with your order; there is a chance of the unthinkable happening  and the flowers not being able to be delivered at all.

Sadly that has happened this week and it's not something we like at all as we had to let a customer down because of it. Now the customer didn't send the email to us until 3.30pm (we close at 5) so it wasn't picked up until we were inputtingthat days data. The customer wanted to place an order for the following day for a funeral. She had omitted to give us any details when we saw the message at roughly 5.30 that evening, and she had given us no other way of contacting her either. Just what she wanted and that it was for a funeral.  The minute we read it we responded, asking what time the service was, where it was being held and what design would she like us to make for her; we did explain we may be limited on designs as it was so late in the day but would do our very best to help.

It took until 9.30 that evening before we got a reply (by now we had diverted the shop emails to our own personal email accounts) but then the customer still didn't fill in what details she wanted. She just said it needed to be delivered between 8 & 9 the following morning.  At this point, we did begin to wonder if this may have been a random person testing us to see how far we can be pushed (yes sadly that does happen a lot) but as we would with anyone because our customers are our priority, we again responded immediately asking again what item the lady would like as we wanted to try to see if we could get what she wanted; however did state that we weren' t sure we could deliver so early without knowing exactly where the flowers were to be delivered too, so again we asked for all the details we would ask any customer for. We never recieved any reply to this which saddened us as we would have done all we could to help out; sadly though we are only human and there is only so much we can do.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Where'd it go?

After waffling away to you all about nothing really yesterday, I logged on this morning to share more waffle with you, to find everything from yesterday is gone. Not to be found anywhere. For 3 hours I patiently waited as it uploaded a video and everything; now GONE.  The wonders of modern technology.  So now I have to start again :o)

I'm not going to go through the whole rigmoral of trying to upload the video on here again (I am sure that's what has caused the vanishing issue) so instead here is a link to it Don't get too excited; it's not one showing one of the staff going on some mad Ozzy Osborne rampage, ripping all the heads off the flowers :)  It is however (or was going to be) a preview to our latest slideshow presentation we have running in the shop window. However; now that it has vanished and we have the slideshow already up and running it's more a sequel than a prequel.

Yes that's right; we've got our patriotic heads on and have decorated the shop window all ready for the jubilee celebrations. The original plan was to do the whole window in white, with diamonds (fake ones of course; we're not that rich), but after chatting with some of our local customers about their thoughts on it (yes we do often confer with people for their opinions) it was regarded to be too bland for a celebration. We also got told this time of year white would get lost. As a result of this we have gone down the whole red, white and blue theme (which got 100% of the vote when we questioned people). I've attached a photo, but as always I can only take it from the side view, inside the shop, due to the nature of our windows and the reflection that bounces off them but you can see how there's not an ounce of any other colour in there (except the green leaves for those of you that are picky).

I did check before hanging the one you can see in the background, sideways. I know in some countries a flag hung upside down can be seen as a distress signal; I have actually been told off for hanging one the wrong way once, and didn't want that to happen again. As it was just as I was about to hang it we had a very high ranking military gentleman came in, and although he told me they will probably hang me later, I hadn't done anything wrong hanging it he way I have :o)   The one that makes up the main backdrop of the window is the right way up, but not totally hung correctly as it has been draped from one corner.

We haven't completely forgotten about the diamonds though; there is a diamonte ring hanging in the window that's had it's own touch of red, white and blue added to it.

View from behind.. I promise it looks better and makes sense from the front :o)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Great British Bouquet?

Jubilee Special? or Patriotic Olympian? "What is she going on about now?" I can hear some of you saying.  Check out the photos' below and you will see exactly what I am on about. 

We had a discussion yesterday about whether we should do something a bit different for the Jubilee at the end of the month; beginning of next month. As you can see we came up with the idea of the colours from the Union Flag; also because the Red, White and Blue are colours always associated with us brits. Obviously blue can be a difficult colour to get in a flower, so we've had to make that up with the ribbons, more than the flowers, but we were quite pleased with how it's turned out. The one pictured above is a handtied in water and will retail at £35; we will have £27/£40 versions too. We are also offering a Traditional Style bouquet (see picture below) from £10 for those of you that may be going to a Jubilee party; it will be a great little gift to take your host. Unfortunately due to fuel/driver costs the £15 one is for collection only.  There will be a £22 version that can be delivered within our free area only, or a £30/35 version that can be delivered anywhere within our usual delivery area (subject to additional delivery charges as normal).
The plan was to roll it out from now until the 9th June (which is the end of the Jubilee week). Then it struck us, that in During July we have the olympics, so we will now run it until the penultimate day of the olypmic ending (Satuday 11th August).

Now this is where we have a dilemma. Because we are covering 2 massive events happening over here this year, we have no idea what to call it.  This is where your help is needed.  Great British Bouquet is the current favourite, but your ideas, thoughts and input is always appreciated; so if you have a different name we could use (non-rude ones please as we have to cater for people from all walks of life) then drop us a quick email (or comment on here, FB, Twitter or G+ ) and let us know what you think we should name it.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Goodness me.. 212 viewings

of the blog I wrote yesterday in the past 22 hours. Wow. There's not much else I can say but WOW. That's a massive amount of people having read. I truly could not be happier right now. Even better is it looks like you all stayed around and read through some of the older ones too as their numbers rose in the same time frame too. This makes me very happy. To think you took the time to read is great, but to know it was obviously interesting enough for you to read others is even better. Smiling broadly. I only logged on as I had an email notification that someone had sent a message via the blog (a very lovely one it is too). That's when I saw how many views and knew I just had to say a big thank you to you all.
It means a lot to know that just one person has read it. To see over 200 is wonderful. Maybe I'm getting better at this?? :o) (ok, ok.. a girl can hope).
It's been a good day all round today. I had a call from our lovely bride at the weekend to say the flowers were (her words) stunning, and more beautiful than I was expecting. Words like that are the best words to hear. The stresses of weddings; making sure the flowers are perfect; hoping the wholesalers don't let us down; relying on traffic not jamming up so our brides don't have to walk down the aisle empty handed, are all washed away with those few little words.
All in all today is a very good day :o)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

No pressure then?

Recently I was approached by a company that are in the process of setting up a Weddings website. Now I get approached by dozens of these EVERY single week (they all promise me they can get me 100 weddings per year.. blah blah blah - almost as bad as the advertisers telling me to pay them £300 per month and they will get me ranked number 1 on google - ummm.. I pay nothing and am number 1 on my own thanks). Anyway; get back on topic. So what made this company different that I am blogging about them? Well for a start it's free. "Where's the catch"? I can hear you asking. There isn't one. Honestly. Truly. No catch. See the thing is it is being set up by someone local who wants to bring together a whole host of businesses that are involved with weddings. However, they won't allow just anyone to have their own page (and links to their websites) on it. The people that will be featured on the site will all have been vetted to the point where any bride visiting will know that the companies listed have been subjected to some rigorous tests. When I say tests I don't mean we have to do exams or anything (that's a good thing because I was never any good at exams); we just have to have been recommended by more than one person (and or business). Our merits are based on word of mouth via brides to other service providers eg. Someone is a guest at a wedding where we have made the flowers. She then gets married and is chatting to her cake lady who asks "Where are you getting your flowers"? She says "From Moonstones. They did a beautiful job with my friends so I know I can trust them with mine" That cake lady then remembers us, checks out our work and any online reviews about us, and before we know it she is recommending us to any brides that may not have got their flowers yet. Surveys have also been carried out to see who other businesses would recommend for certain services.
As you can see being chosen to be the florist on the site is a real honour, as it means we have been nominated by many other businesses within the wedding sector. What can be better than the recommendation of not only your peers, but previous brides too? The fact they want no money from me to put me as their named florist is even better (I actually refuse to pay for any form of advertising. If someone wants to recommend me they do so on the merit of my work, and not because I am paying them).
This morning they have sent me the dummy link to the website so I can see how it will look when it is live (I have to say it's very impressive and really well laid out). On there is a link with a guide to "Choosing your flowers". Clicking on this link takes you to another page with this at the top of it.
We've joined forces with Sarah, director at Flowers By Moonstones to give you a guide to what you should be looking for when choosing your wedding flowers. With 30 years experience Sarah has a wealth of knowledge to help you get the very best when planning your floral displays.
No pressure then? Although I've only been doing this 26 years not 30 (fancy making me even older than I already am).
Those you that read this on a regular basis, will know that I'm not the best in the world at writing things. I tend to write as I speak so do end up with an awful lot of waffle (just look above at all I have written today), so I found it really hard being able to come up with something that would not only be well worded and professional looking/sounding, but also informative at the same time. I do however, think I may have achieved it. Have a read through and feel free to share on your FB, Twitter and G+ accounts if you agree.
Flowers can absolutely make a wedding; sadly they can also ruin one if the correct flowers for the time of year haven’t been chosen; if the person you have entrusted with the most important bouquet of flowers you are ever going to purchase, isn’t as good as they claim to be; or – and yes this sadly does happen – they aren’t even a florist at all and have no clue about the difference between a daffodil and a rose.
Research into the florist you choose to use is a must; ask friends who may have used them, or know of someone that has. Look online to see if there are any reviews about them. Check out their websites. Are the photographs on their site their own? Do they have online photograph albums set up that they regularly update with their wedding photographs? You can normally tell if the photographs displayed are from a generic brochure that can be bought anywhere by the actual photographs themselves; as well as by the bride in the photo. While we would all like to be models, the pose of a model in a wedding magazine is infinitely different to a bride on her wedding day. It’s these little things - that may seem picky and a waste of time - that can make all the difference. I’ve had brides phone me, or send a family member in on their wedding day – literally within a matter of minutes to go before the bride is due to leave home - with bouquets that have been made by people claiming to be florist, begging me to“do something with them” so the bride has something half decent to walk up the aisle with; basically these so-called florists have sent out flowers that a child with no training at all could have made better. The last thing you want as a bride is to walk down the aisle - whether that is in church, the registry office, or a hotel - and have your bouquet fall to pieces.
Before contacting your florist please make sure you have yours and your bridesmaid dresses already sorted. The reason for this is because your florist will need to know about the colours and style, so they can then advise about which flowers, colours and design will work best. This may seem like a lot of faffing around, but you really wouldn’t want a full shower bouquet if you were wearing a tight fitting dress – or a dress with a lot of detail on; equally you wouldn’t want a single gerbera, with a princess fairy tale style dress; the flowers should complement your dress, not take over from it or get completely lost against it.
Mood boards are a great way forward and ideal to take along – on a small scale – to your florist, as this will assist them in getting a better idea of the styles and flowers that you are looking for.
If you are going for a complete wedding package at a hotel, or wedding venue, ask them what flowers they will be using, and the costs involved. I knew a bride that allowed the flowers to be included in her package and it was a disaster. Not only was she charged 600% more than a florist would have charged her, the flowers were also the wrong colour and made in completely the wrong style as well. This is where your florist has the advantage. We all work closely with our wholesalers to ensure we get exactly what we want – within reason - a venue doesn’t have the same rapport and has to rely on their supplier hopefully having the flowers/colours they are after. This applies to the church flowers too. I’ve had brides quoted double the prices I would charge for the church to be decorated; they have also been made to agree to leave the flowers in the church. This to me is a complete rip off and actually slightly immoral. By getting your florist to decorate the church YOU get to keep the flowers and can have them moved to the reception after the wedding; either by your florist – who will have to charge for this –or by a guest/usher at your wedding. They can then be passed on to your guests at the end of the day, for them to take home and admire in the following weeks.
Please remember that while some florists do charge for a consultation – this is then taken off your balance if you book your wedding with them – others don’t. This doesn’t mean one is any better than the other, but whoever you choose or would like to meet with, please make sure you do book an appointment and don’t just turn up on the off chance. A wedding consultation requires time and no florist wants to have to rush through the finer details. This also applies to email requests for prices. Your wedding day is unique to you. The flowers will be unique to your requirements. Sending out an email to every florist in the area asking for a price is not going to get you the response you are looking for – unless of course you contact someone that is not trained. We don’t refuse to give email quotations to be awkward or annoying; it is done to protect not only ourselves but you also. Without knowing your exact requirements, along with the dresses, venue etc it is very hard to give a figure on the costs involved. I have read in many bridal magazines that you should allow between 15-20% of your overall budget for your flowers. This is totally unrealistic and from experience I have learnt that most brides allow less than 3%. You may see something you like and email it off to a florist for a quote, to then be disappointed if it cannot be made within your budget; however, if you book a consultation and the florist is unable to make the bouquet exactly as you want within your budget, they will have garnered a great idea of the look/style you are going for, and will therefore be able to offer a great alternative. Via email this would be impossible.
The worse part of a wedding consultation for any florist is when our bride comes in with the latest bridal magazine. While these do have some wonderful ideas, to us all they do is produce a few more grey hairs. I had a bride once that wanted Lilac Calla lilies because they were in the latest magazine. Calla lilies DON’T grow in a lilac colour. They had been photo shopped. It took me 6 calls to different wholesalers before she would believe me. Tulips in August are just NOT possible either, but I’ve seen them in a bridal magazine so often; one advertising summer weddings. I can only imagine how they would look after an hour in summer heat. I won’t use them when they are in season just in case it’s a hot day. In the magazine there’s the smiling model with her bouquet of tulips looking perfect. What you don’t see is that the flowers have been kept in water until just before they were photographed. On a wedding day this wouldn’t happen and for them to be out of water for an hour during the ceremony would do them no good at all. Peonies are in all the bridal magazines at the moment, and they are beautiful for weddings, but they have a 6 week season - 7 weeks if were really lucky - during April and May. You WON’T get them any other time of the year; the Bridal Magazine fails to tell you that and it is left to the florist to let down an expectant bride. The last thing any florist wants to do is let you down on your big day.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I've had a bit of a

change round. As you will realise if you are one of the lovely people that follow us on a regular basis (oh yes; I can see how many people visit each page - and am amazed how many of you there are that take the time to sit and read my waffle). The only bit I don't like is the Scan Box thingy (for scanning with your smart phone and getting our details stored on your phone - another marvel of modern technology) but for the life of me I can't get it to centre so it lines up with the other bits and pieces. At the moment it's looking quite untidy but I am sure I will find a way.  If you're reading this and it's lined up you know I've managed it. For those of you that haven't a clue what I am on about below  is a picture  :o) Amazing that a splodge of black shapes can give anyone in the world the shop details. It's all so clever.

As much as I liked the other layout (seeing all the pictures was pretty) a few people have said they got confused about where to click, how to open up a ramble to read it etc, so I've taken it back to basics (as such) with some extras. You will see there are now links to our FB, Twitter and Google+ pages as well as some slide shows (well there's no point doing any of this if we're not going to show off our work). I keep all the other pages up together as much as I do this blog (in other words not as often as I should) but if you're on one of the 3 main social networks we always like to recieve new friends and followers (as you can see we don't have many twitter followers at all). 

Nothing much has happened to go on about since yesterday but I did have a customer have a go at me on the telephone yesterday afternoon. He wasn't happy about the delivery areas we cover.  Now when we first moved to Fareham we worked on a 10 mile radius for deliveries (minus the Isle of Wight - yes there were people that thought we would deliver there because it fell in to the 10 miles). At the time this seemed like the best idea but as time went on we realised that some areas (although they fell within our mileage limit) just weren't cost/time effective. Along with that the busier we have come, the tighter we have had to pull in our areas. This meant that areas East of the Eastern Road, Portsmouth got dropped as did all areas west of the River Hamble at Lower Swanwick. I'd like to say it was a difficult decision to make but that isn't true. When we sat down and worked out just how much it was costing us, we realised it was our only option. Not only are there the fuel costs involved (at 29p per mile a trip to North End and back was costing £5.16. Add to this the time involved in getting there. On a good day (factoring in the drive, finding somewhere to park and then hoping someone will be in) we were looking at a 50 minute round trip. If we only paid our driver just the minimum wage we would need to add another £6.08 to this figure making a total cost of £11.24 (that's on a good day. Traffic jams can add another hour on). We were only charging £5 to deliver there so you can see we were losing over £6 with every delivery. These costs don't include the general vehicle running costs either: insurance: tax: servicing: mot's: repairs. Sadly people don't see this and the gentleman yesterday wanted us to deliver a £20 bouquet to Hamble (this £20 was to include the delivery charge). When I told him we don't deliver there he really had a go at me telling me it was just up the road, and how stupid we were to turn down business. Thankfully he didn't stay on the phone long; alongside that if we hadn't turned his order down, we could end up without a  business as we would always be out of pocket, and although we don't work to make millions (let's face it if we were in this for the money we would put our prices up) we do have bills that need to be paid.