Opening a Flower Shop – What I Wish I Knew!

Opening a flower shop, like any new business, requires lots of hard work, love, and dedication. And some good information.

What  do you wish you knew when you decided to open a flower shop? Here are some things we have learned. Let us know your tips also!

Opening a Flower Shop

Florist Marketing

  • Online reputation is critical – Stay on top of Yelp, Google Places, and other review websites. Customers are turning to online outlets to express their praise / frustration – stay in control.
  • Low cost/No cost marketing – if often the best – community activity gets free marketing.  
  • Email marketing – send out coupons and discounts at least every month. Make sure your florist website supports this.

Florist Wire Services

  • Avoid Wire Service Lock-In – Don’t get stuck with long-term commitments for florist POS and florist websites. Flexibility is key for any small business.
  • Wire Services Ads – your money is going to fund ads running against your business in your local area.
  • Statements – Review you statements with an accountant or bookkeeper to see if you’re actually making money.
  • Codified Products / Containers – Know your options.  Sometimes the minimum purchase of these expensive containers far outweigh the earning potential.  Many florists team up to split a box or you can choose to not buy the codified container and instead purchase something similar from your trusted vendor.  In that case you can still fill wire-in orders that allow for a keepsake substitution without breaking the bank.

Florist Credit Card Processing

  • Big Costs – Credit card processing is an unexciting but critical part of your business. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by choosing the right merchant account. Compare processors.
  • Statements – Compare your statements to be sure you’re getting a good deal.
  • Contracts – Contracts can be okay, but avoid early termination fees and similar lock-ins.
  • Feel free to contact Floranext for input on florist credit card processing.

Florist Software

  • Floral POS pays for itself – Good floral software increases productivity and has built-in marketing – you will save on time, labor and get more orders.
  • Independent solutions – think independent for your floral software – you will get lower prices and more flexibility.
  • Florist websites – Make sure your website looks unique – it’s a critical part of your brand.

Starting a Florist? Get our FREE florist eBook

Flower Shop Operations

  • Delivery Confirmations – are practically expected by customers these days as a part of basic customer service.
  • Check your work – Have a checker on all designs that leave the store.
  • Handling complaints – create an action plan for your staff so everyone feels empowered to help that occasional sour customer with a smile and grace.

Holidays (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day)

  • Record keeping – it’s essential to predict future years – keep notes on sales, prices, weather.
  • Planning – Make a game plan weeks before any holiday for staffing, buying, and marketing.
  • Be aware of your competition – See what the wire services and other florists in your area are offering and offer up something unique and/or comparable.

Flower Care

  • Keep buckets clean – change water and recut any flowers that haven’t sold within 3 days of arriving.

Florist Staffing

  • Do not over staff – use part timers for flexibility.
  • Staff smart – Experienced designers will require a higher wage than a General Shop worker.  Schedule designers enough hours to fill orders and create some designs for the display case then let the general help take it from there.  

Working with Vendors

  • Share information – don’t be afraid to ask other florists who they get their supplies from.
  • Check invoices – to be sure you are paying a reasonable price for your supplies and check each delivery to be sure you have received everything you paid for.  Mistakes happen!
  • Know what you are paying – and what you need to charge with your mark-up .  Be sure your staff knows this too!
  • Communication – with vendors is key. Let them know when you receive unsatisfactory product or when they deliver in a timely manner.  These relationships will help you stand out against other shops.

Florist Community

  • Florist Advice – Lean on other florists for advice with free Facebook florist communities. Some are invite-only, so be in touch with other florists to find the most popular communities.

Want more info on getting started in the flower business?

Check out our articles on increasing florist profits and our florist survey on opening a flower shop

Free e-Book: Start a Flower Shop

Starting a florist? Get our florist how-to guide for starting out in the flower business. Florist marketing tips, profit formulas, and more! 

 

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Floranext makes great florist software. Florist websites, floral POS, florist wedding/event proposal software, and florist technology. Let us know if you want a free demo or try our software for free here!

44 Comments

  1. Chase
    February 20, 2013

    This is all great info! I’ve been in biz for 7 years now and the main thing I would have liked to know is to NEVER be a member of any wire service ever. I was only a member of Teleflora for 6 months but it was 6 months of loss. Thanks for all the other great advice though!!

    Reply
    • James Lang
      November 25, 2016

      hi chase i was wondering if you could answer me a few questions i live in a small town 3,200 people we once had a flower shop 3 dif times as of right now we dont have one so im askin if you started from the bottom meaning did you have your own building did you buy one and start from there as its like ok i got 35,000 i want to open and start a flower shop any suggestions for me id greatfully appreciate them i know how to fix arrangements im a wiz at glowing plants from cuttins and seeds as well in my home ive got like 200 plants vary in sizes ive gwon from cuttings from friends etc

      Reply
  2. Silvia Maino
    February 20, 2013

    I agree with the last comment, Teleflora is an expensive wire service and I feel like I’m working for them and not myself! I also bought their POS system and I feel like I’m now stuck with them since they own the software and they would be the only ones to service my system. What did I get myself into ?

    Reply
    • Max Gruber
      March 1, 2014

      Hi Silvia,
      Unfortunately we realized what you have gotten yourself into. It happens to a lot of florists. We found that we were paying about $8000/yr fees just to keep DOVE because we could not cut the wire service and only keep DOVE. After some serious consideration we decided to cut from Teleflora and use a popular web based POS and cant be happier. It is up to you to decide when to cut your losses.

      Your cant make money with TF or 1800F so dump TF. At lease with 1800F you can work the system. Only take orders that are greater than $60 and if less ask for a price increase. $60 is the typical make money point. Since 1800F punishes you for handling more orders/month figure out what your sales to cost ratio is and track the number of orders. If you get close to that point stop taking orders. Remember you make money handling a few higher priced orders rather than a bunch of low value orders.

      Good luck
      Max

      Reply
  3. Bernice Klassen
    February 22, 2013

    One of the biggest things I learnt while buying for 230 stores was the art of the”tipping point” that fine line where the vendor will reduce costs of product and you can make money. As an example…one question I learnt to ask was” what quantity do I need to purchase to bring down the cost?” or if I purchase 150 instead of 100, what is the difference in my cost? learning to work on a projected profit. Example: I want to make a profit of “X $s” If my cost is “Y” how much do I have to charge to make that profit?( Keeping in mind a % for shrink /dumpage… hope that makes sense!

    Reply
  4. Monica Kidwell
    March 3, 2013

    I was a member of Teleflora for a very short time….very bad experience, although I did not get talked into their POS. system. I am a member of Flowershopnetwork and have been extremely happy.

    Reply
    • Julie
      July 20, 2015

      Hi, I have been Wondering about flowershopnetwork.
      How many orders you get a month?I don’t know anyone who has this, any info would be great …thanks so much, julie

      Reply
  5. Lili
    December 4, 2013

    It’s funny, I realized it after being in business for only 3 months and using the wire services them for only 3 months. I contacted the president of the company and demanded to be released from obligation of continuing.

    The retail florists need to form a consumer advocacy group alerting the public to steer clear of these order gatherers (and how to recognize them) and we should try to get federal or state legislation passed against the wire companies and order gatherers to remain in business.

    Reply
    • Max Gruber
      March 1, 2014

      Absolutely! Do everything you can to tell our friends family and strangers to stay away from TF / FTD and 1800F. These vampires don’t care about the consumer like you do. Work on your customer base and put the wire services last. If an order is delivered late put a note in the order explaining the problem and to use their local florist.

      Max

      Reply
      • Myriam
        October 27, 2014

        I was considering connecting with a wire service like FTD/ 1800F, so I am grateful to have read all of your advice. I will steer clear of such services. Thank you for sharing this information.

        Reply
      • GJW
        February 4, 2017

        I Couldn’t agree with these posts more! If all of the flower shops would just drop Ftd, Teleflora and 1800 flowers, all of the order gathering sites would go under and flower shops would take their business back and find much success! I’ve had nothing but problems with these services. Back in June of last year I processed over $2000 worth of orders for FTD and my check was $506. That finally did it for me even though I wasn’t real happy with them to begin with. If shop owners/ managers would carefully look over their statements, they would be blown away at all the fees. Unfortunately, I’ve spoken with several shops that don’t check their statements. Since I dropped Ftd, my online orders have quadrupled.

        Reply
  6. Ha
    October 31, 2014

    Hi I would like to know how much does it cost to open a flower shop in Canberra ? I do not know you are in Australia or another country

    Thanks

    HA

    Reply
  7. Shaylynn
    November 11, 2014

    Great ideas here guys! Any ideas on how to alert the general public about the wire services? I try to educate everyone I come in contact with, especially my customers. I want to put something on youtube but not sure if that is effective or not… any ideas???

    Reply
  8. Cynthia
    December 5, 2014

    After working at many flower shops nationwide and as a sales rep for a floral wholesaler I have found many great PLUS’ for florists to make it in this industry. Be modern, clean, unique. Offer excellent customer service. Even if you have to hire staff that is just for customer service/sales. Organization is key. The best shops I’ve worked in or sold to were not with any wire service and they specialized in something… weddings, events, funeral work…etc.

    Reply
  9. Cindy
    February 16, 2015

    I just signed up for Teleflora, but only through email & sending in an application for them. They are suppose to come here and put Dove on my computer in two days. They sent me all the books , the guide, etc, and a few cases of product (for signing up) I’m probably in too far now to pull out arent I?

    Reply
    • Julie Ann
      July 2, 2015

      There’s always a grace period for cancellation. The grace period usually starts when you received the products which in Teleflora case, its their book. I have been a member of Teleflora for 6weeks now and received my first cheque with them. I only received $117 out of the $500worth orders I did for the billing period. That’s without the monthly payment yet because we asked for 6months free membership with them. Imagine how much money I will be receiving if I still have to pay monthly membership? Out of that $117 I received from Teleflora, I paid courier charges plus the materials. Lost of money. With FTD, I have been a member for 7months now. Unfortunately, I locked myself in with them for one year. I received a cheque with them worth $800 after doing orders worth $3000+. FTD charges $1.75 upon receiving an order whether you accept it or no. Another $1.75 when you reject it & sent delivery confirmation. A penalty of $2.75 for late delivery confirmation. All orders must be rejected within 2 hours or you will be penalized monetary. Any member florist can forward you orders 24hours/day 7days a week so you need to suspend your system. And then there’s another fee of $1.75 per suspension the system just so you wont get penalized in case somebody sent you an order while you are closed. And then another $1.75 for resuming the system. So you get yourself out while you can & dont lock yourself into contract with them. You will regret it.

      Reply
  10. Brenda Smith
    March 15, 2015

    I am opening a flower shop what are some good companies to buy from.. Trying to decide what to have In my shop.

    Reply
  11. El
    May 3, 2015

    I’m a high school student who wants to be a florist once I graduate high school . What education will I need to become a florist ? Should I attend my high schools vocational program for Horticulture? and another question, kind of random, Would a BioScience Degree be helpful to me at all?
    thanks
    el

    Reply
    • Mary
      October 17, 2015

      I am currently opening my own floral shop. I took Floral Design in High School and Floral Design in college level, also horiculture it all helped me a lot to get where I am at now. If you are trying to be a florist working under someone those skills should be enough to get you going. If you want to open your own business I suggest you work part time while you learn the business and then jump into full time. It takes time to get your name out there. I started at age 16 my own part time business i am 27 now and can officially say I know enough about the industry to open my own. I was able to get my Bachelors in Agriculture and now my MBA i collected a lot of soft skills in the workforce that has helped me which is what I recommend. Hope this helps good luck!

      Reply
      • Aviana
        March 5, 2016

        This comment is super helpful! I’m also about to start college and am planning on completing a bachelor’s degree with a horticulture major and a minor in business. I’ve been really worried that the horticulture major won’t prove to be very helpful in someday owning my own floral business, but seeing that someone went a similar route is comforting!

        Reply
        • Bek
          April 2, 2017

          Horticulture is a brilliant starting point , I also studied floriculture and business, also check your local area for floristry classes, raid your friends and families garden and start practicing!

          Reply
    • Maryann
      October 22, 2015

      A marketing degree or associate would be very helpful

      Reply
  12. Rhonda
    May 10, 2015

    Very interesting information for a’ consumer’ like me! I will vent that I recently ordered from an online suite that I THOUGHT was local and when I called them and spoke personally about when they were located they were very vague and obviously were NOT local! I was very disappointed! The online business lied about who they were. Now I know better! Thanks for posting this information.

    Reply
  13. Yvette
    June 3, 2015

    Thanks for all the good advice.. I only been in business for 1 month & I’m trying to figure out how to boost my sales. I’ll also like to know what other items I can sell that customers buy on impulse. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  14. Tim Hardin
    June 6, 2015

    My family has owned/operated a floral business for over 50 years… and in rural western Pennsylvania has manage to remain profitable despite many competitors going out of business. The value of having grown up learning and understanding the business is invaluable. By trade, I’m an accountant and I continue to look for growth opportunities and what’s unique about the floral business is that most are independent or family owned which makes striking back or campaigning against big national online wire services. There must be local, state and regional floral associations… why do they not launch a marketing campaign. We all know the “Pork is the new white meat” campaign or “Got Milk”… these aren’t companies, they’re industry. I would propose a united front supporting only FTD and I bet FTD would pay for the campaign. It’s not just wire services that’s eroded floral business… it Walmart and your local grocer. We know those flowers aren’t fresh… but the public doesn’t. I would go so far as to track vendors… they either support the florists or Walmart but NOT both. I’m quite serious about taking over the business and grow it. Am I delusional?

    Reply
  15. Rebekah Arrigoni
    June 9, 2015

    Cindy: if you check your contract I believe you have 30 days to cancel everything. Please review all the emails you have received from them.. Wish you the best of luck!

    Reply
  16. melissa gough
    July 10, 2015

    I would tell all the newbies to the flower word.It’s not as it seems,it’s bad as it look’s,so be aware!!!911,I’ve found after 20 yr’s in business,ask questions,I had teleflora ,I eliminated the dove system because I wasn’t getting any orders.My orders were coming from Avas Flowers,They only work with you on orders if you have 1 of the 3 wire services.The best credit machine service that I’ve found is Groupon Merchant Services-they done charge you until you get up to $5000 before they start charging,you also can link up with American Express thru them.The best greenery place is Fern Trust-cheapest I’ve found,Fresh Flowers Direct Farms,Tammy is the best.Stay away from 1800flowers,Ftd,Teleflora if you have them give you orders over the phone.No free website,no dove .For the florist that just signed with teleflora for the dove,,cancel it ,don’t let them install it.If you don’t want to join them,change your bank account and keep moving!!!

    Reply
  17. Betty
    August 8, 2015

    It seems my funeral business has dropped drastically over the last eight years. One of my competitors seems to get the lion’s share of the business. I am at a loss as to what marketing/advertising to do to get more of the sympathy business. Open for suggestions…

    Reply
    • K
      September 19, 2015

      The funeral business is an old boy’s club. Literally start sending things to the funeral homes. Offer them a kickback. Grease some palms.

      Reply
  18. Allison
    September 16, 2015

    I purchased a Flower Shop in Pine Colorado, from a lady that was retiring. Part of the Sale was a list of Customers in the area to market to. Big Mistake. Those customers were no longer in the area and half the name were other florists. Make sure you focus on cashflow, not on customer lists.

    I joined FTD 3 months free. BIG MISTAKE. It is difficult to confirm a delivery from the top of a mountain where there is no cell service. Cancelled with them and still continued to threat with bills for late confirmations etc. USE FSN they are wonderful and help you with your marketing. My shop closed after 1 year. I was blinded by the wire services and the seller! My mistake. Learned from it. I did love the work but made no money doing it. Wire service ultimately killed the business.

    Reply
  19. Nelson
    September 20, 2015

    This information is goal. I’m in the process of opening up my own flower shop in Miami Fl and it’s great to have a list of things you need to know I order to run the shop. It’s useful rather than going at it with a blind eye. Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Giovana Correia
    September 30, 2015

    Wow! So much great information for starting a florist shop. My sister loves flowers and wants to become a florist, so I will definitely be letting her know about this.

    Reply
  21. Karin
    May 19, 2016

    I’m considering buying a Floral business that has been around for 25 years. The last eight years it was owned by a new person. What would be some important questions for me to ask and get anwers for?

    Reply
  22. Inquiring
    June 17, 2016

    I have been thinking about opening a small business working put of my house. I am really passes about flowers and would love to start this side of business, but I am not sure what to do. Can someone please provide me some information? Where should I start, what Do I need to know?

    Reply
  23. Jade Brunet
    September 8, 2016

    It is interesting to learn about the necessities of opening up a flower shop. I did not know that flowers needed to be trimmed every three days if not sold. Another good idea for someone starting a flower shop would be to have a passion for flowers and to know about them on a deeper level than other people.

    Reply
  24. home
    September 25, 2016

    Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Jan
    October 1, 2016

    A similar question please: I am considering buying an established florist business. What are the top questions to ask please? All advice very gratefully received. Thank you all!

    Reply
  26. Thu Le
    November 2, 2016

    Thank you for your sharing <3.
    I'm studying to open an unique flower shop.
    After finish I will share you my experience also.

    Love you

    Reply
  27. Breanne
    November 12, 2016

    Hi Everyone!

    Thank you for all your time to share these great tips! I became an independent florist this year and am working towards …. well my ultimate goal is to have my own shop! But I have a question that I would so appreciate some input on. Right now- I have a few trusted vendors I get my flowers from… but it isn’t the flower market where most florists go. I have some local shops who know what I do and we have a nice report. So when I get orders,…I shop for them one by one as they come in… so right now I am trying to figure out when a customer gives me their budget… what is a common breakdown of what goes to flowers &supplies what goes for my time/design… aka my profit? I have played with some different ways to do it. I have 6 orders coming for thanksgiving and I want to make sure I make some money while #1 is giving my customers amazing arrangements!!! But I can’t move forward without something to show for my work 🙂 Can someone share their best breakdown for me? I would be so appreciative

    Reply
  28. Lulu
    January 3, 2017

    Yes just to give you an idea of easy breakdown.for hard good supplies used /vases etc add total of these materials and multiply by 2or 3 depending on what your market area will bear .. then take the cost of all of your florals and multiply that by four or five also depending on what the market will bear in your area I usually do very well with this formula

    Reply
  29. GJW
    February 4, 2017

    I saw a post regarding FTD and how they’re not really responsible for the erosion of the floral TRADE. Yes the grocery stores and Walmart have done some damage… As a matter fact lots of damage. Just looking to help many companies FTD owns they bought out sherries berries they have a gift website they have apps and The biggest competition that FTD has against the flower shops that they take money from for membership, is ProFlowers. FT owns ProFlowers and they’ve cut into the market that there florists work for. I think that’s a punch in the gut! I dropped Ftd Credit steer I was supposed to get my last check at the end of January, according to one of their telephone operators. I’ve called twice and I was told no it’s going to take 120 days and then I was told it was going to take 2 to 3 months and then finally my Rep emailed me and said “no it’ll be four months .” Avoid the wire services at all costs. It is not beneficial to you whatsoever.

    Reply
  30. shopping websites
    February 17, 2017

    Normally, I like to buy products from online market place.
    It’s hassle free to me and flexible almost. There are various shopping websites in the online market.
    Shoppingmallus.com is the most preferable to me as I trust this website most.
    Really this is an awesome website as I believe.

    Reply
  31. Susan K. Johnson
    April 1, 2017

    I think this is a great format and very educational. I think it is wonderful when people work to help each other from making the same mistake. I would of most likely learned a very expensive lesson if not for this, so thank you everyone, for your unselfishness in sharing your experience.
    Best wishes to all of you.
    Susan Johnson

    Reply
  32. Suphoj Chancheaw
    April 22, 2017

    Hi there,
    I own flower shop in Boston for a little bit more than 2 years now and I just joined TF recently because of the free trial period. I have been receiving good orders ranging from $95 to $300 so far (Haven’t received my first check though) I’m not sure if this is something I should be cautioned. Based on comments above, this doesn’t seem to be a good opportunity at all. I’m wondering if I should stop now? Any advises will be much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Suphoj

    Reply

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