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Is owning a florists a good idea?

(31 Posts)
Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 07:26:37

I'm considering owning a florists in a couple of years time, I know it will cost quite a bit to set up, I've got some experience and a natural artistic flair and would do some training in 3 shops prior to setting up.

Please share all the good points and the bad points with me..........

OP’s posts: |
PeriPathetic Tue 11-Sep-12 07:33:58

What a beautiful dream.

Have absolutely NO experience apart from buying flowers grin but if I were you I'd start thinking of how you'd set yourself apart from all the other florists.

Someone I used to know didn't have a shop, as such, but used to design arrangements for companies / restaurants on a regular basis. This was a good, regular source on income for her. Then of course there were the weddings & funerals.

She rarely, if ever, did 'Interflora' type bouquets.

Good luck!

WaitingForMe Tue 11-Sep-12 07:45:02

I think having a shop is a very expensive way to go about things. I know a few people in the wedding business and networking is at the root of what they do. There are Facebook groups etc and they work hard at the shows. Look beyond one off customers, a photographer friend has a couple of hotels for whom he is the preferred supplier, the same hotels have a preferred DJ, band and of course, florist.

Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 08:22:21

Thanks, I'd be looking at a few ways of making money I'm an artist as well so I do canvas' and murals, I know a couple of people who would possibly sell their stunning ceramics/ glass through me too, I have a few people linked to the wedding business who would help me out and I've been running my own business for 6 years now so I understand what a bind that can be as well as how rewarding it can be. I don't have enough space at home to run it from home. Any ideas on how I could set it up cheaply?

I think the obstacles I have are:

money
the economic climate
I'm the sort of person who feels the cold so I would have to invest in some thermal clothes!

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Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 12:46:44

Bump

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queenrollo Tue 11-Sep-12 13:24:19

it's long hours. you will be stupidly busy (and even longer hours!) at Christmas, Valentines Day and Mothers Day.
Who will do the shop hours deliveries? you'll need to pay someone and all associated costs.
Wedding flowers take up a lot of time.....you cannot make up wedding flowers and run a shop at the same time.....it's just not feasible really to do it properly if you have to stop and deal with customers.
Have you looked into suppliers and costs? We varied ours from going to market (up before dawn, stand around in cold warehouse, get back to shop and have to sort all the stock out...as I say long days) as this was cheaper stock, to having a 'flying dutchman' deliver to us (higher price but could order in specialties for occasion flowers).

Stock control is a bit of a difficulty if you are going to do this on what seems like small scale alongside stocking other items. You need enough to be able to make up last minute items, but not so much that you are losing money to written off stock. If you are going to be concentrating purely on commissioned work that will be less of a problem.
We had a separate storage area with a cold room for longevity of stock. Our shop was bastard bloody freezing all year too (can you tell I feel the cold...). I now have problems with my hands and feet from 10 years working with flowers. It's not just the ambient temp - but working daily with stock which needs to be kept cool really does get to your hands after a while.

I sound pretty negative I suppose. I closed my business 7 years ago when my son was born. I don't miss it.
It was long days, it was cold days, and there is really not a good profit margin in the industry. You need to look at your business model very, very carefully to see if you could sustain running this as a sideline to your other artistic works - offering purely commissioned for weddings/conferences etc. Be very clear about what you want to achieve and stick to it.

The good points are as with all creative jobs - job satisfaction, dealing with the general public (if you actually enjoy that!), being able to share your creativity.

Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 13:40:33

Thanks, I'm a childminder at the moment so I know about setting up a business, accounts, paperwork, marketing, dealing with customers etc

Long hours - I currently do 7.30am-6pm 4 days per week and 4hours on a thursday, I do murals as a side line and canvas' when I get chance and I volunteer for our local arts festival so I'm used to getting up quite early, being busy, not having a lunch break and multi tasking.

I know it will be very far from easy.

I was a florist about 14-16yrs ago, for a couple of years and I loved it, I remember being freezing cold and sitting on a calor gas heater or putting my hands round a mug of tea.

I'd need a delivery driver as I can't be in two places at once so I guess that would be my first staff member.

I've been researching wholesalers and it seems these days you just put your order in and then collect it, they don't even open til 7am so I guess I could do that rather than get up and stand about?

My eldest daughter would be about 15 when I set up the shop and she has offered to help me on weekends and also to collect her sister (who will be in year 5 by then) on week days and they could either come to the shop or come home until DH gets home.

The thing is I'm creative and I want to have time to be more creative, I'm not hugely qualified, nor do I want to gain any because I'm not at all academic or terribly brainy and I don't want to do office work again so that kind of leaves me without very many options I suppose. I don't want to carry on childminding forever because I want to be more creative and I want to have our home back at some point and my dc's will be older by then.

I'll be the 3rd generation in my family to run this own florists business so it feels like a natural step to take really. (my great uncle owned one, his daughter has a few shops and my aunt is also in the business) I don't want to work for someone else because I think I would find that difficult now.

I've accepted the fact I will never be a high earner, lucky for me I married DH who will be the bread winner grin

Please can you tell me the good points............wink

OP’s posts: |
Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 13:46:24

Is there a good time of year to start up e.g. just before valentines day?

How much would you say it costs to set up a shop (renting) and is there a cheaper way to start off?

How did you start?

What do you think about selling from the side of the road just to get started?

What are you top tips on making it successful?

OP’s posts: |
Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 18:21:58

bump for the evening crowd.

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fishybits Tue 11-Sep-12 18:26:10

My MIL is a florist. She doesn't bother with a shop or bouquets as the profit margins are so tight in today's economic climate but she is flat out with wedding flowers. She's a one band lady who ropes in family as and when needed. Her business is all word of mouth.

jollydiane Tue 11-Sep-12 18:32:13

There is nothing like owning your own business, but I think you have made a very good point 'there is not a lot of money in the business'. Your business model has to stack up and be profitable.

If I want to buy flowers I often go to M&S or order online. I am probably your target market as I will often buy a bunch of flowers every week. What would be your unique selling point to make it worth while?

Xroads Tue 11-Sep-12 18:40:17

I have a few ideas to make me stand out from the rest but obviously I'd like to keep them under wraps because it will be hard enough as it is IF I decide to go ahead with it.

OP’s posts: |
jollydiane Tue 11-Sep-12 18:47:39

Do you know who your target market is? One area you could consider is the 'teaching market'. I bit like the cup cake market that exploded a few years ago. Really depends who you are trying to sell to.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Tue 11-Sep-12 18:50:23

we used to have several locally, all but one have now closed sad nost sure what the usp of the survivor is, waitrose opposite probably takes the low end and whim trade

Xroads Thu 13-Sep-12 18:40:46

I'm getting so excited now, I know it's going to be a long way off, a lot of hard work but I still can't wait!

Any more florists out there want to share their experiences.......

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queenrollo Thu 13-Sep-12 19:02:55

As long as you prepare well (and you sound like you have good business sense and work ethic) then starting up before Valentines day could work well. It would mean you could take advantage of local press by sweet-talking the local paper into running a feature on you as a new local business, maybe tying in with offering a competition prize (this was always popular with our local paper).

You would need to look at local rents/rates etc to see what the market price is in your area. Just running a florist you actually don't need a huge amount of shop floor, but it's useful to have enough 'back room' to have a work table and 'cold store' extra stock. If you're going to be selling arts/crafts alongside then that makes a difference to the space you have (i think you will understand that well aesthetically though)

I started when I bought the rights to a two day a week concession in the foyer of a supermarket. We eventually moved onto our local market, after building up to 7 day a week trade. Then we moved into a purpose built unit on the market. I mainly ran shop floor, stock control, adminstration of orders etc. I did basic 'gift' floristry and had someone else who did our specialist work (weddings, funerals)....partly because I'm not that artistic but mostly because I just couldn't do that and all the stuff I already did. (We also had another market stall two days a week, and supplied cut flowers to over 60 shops/newsagents/garages - so we were busy!)

tips for success.....

decide what you want to be and stick to it. You need to have an identity....so if just a florist, then just do that. If you're going to include the art and ceramics too, then design your business with that in mind. Don't just add stock lines on a whim....

Use your artistic flair to have a few 'signature' pieces. We were one of the first people in our area to start doing 'living card' arrangements. We gained a good reputation for them and once word got round they gained us quite a few customers.

.......

i have to dash <<looks at watch>> but i'll be back if i think of more or you have any more questions.

Xroads Fri 14-Sep-12 07:51:06

Wow Thank you for all of that! What made you start it up and what made you decide enough was enough?

I'll definitely try getting in the paper when I open up. I've found the general area I want to sell to, now it's a case of paying some debt off and saving for a place.

My first event as a florist is booked for November, it's a christmas fun day and whatever I don't sell I'll take and sell it at the roadside the next day (any tips on what might sell well?)

I spent 3 hours at my cousins shop yesterday and she is going to call on me to help on busy days if I'm free to help so that will build my experience.

I'm currently trying to get a permit to sell roadside, whatever I make will go towards getting my shop!

I've decided the key to success is to buy everything for as little as I can and make everything from scratch apparently a lot of places buy things in ready made like pull ribbons (which I can make by hand) holly wreaths (which I can also make by hand and I'm going to see if I can make some to sell to local florists, if they buy them in ready made I might as well cash in on that while I'm building up) some even buy in ready made bunches.

I want my shop to be as natural as possible, selling just flowers, art, ceramics and handmade glass and cards and balloons.

OP’s posts: |
queenrollo Fri 14-Sep-12 10:19:31

My ex worked for the guy wh ran it originally. He wanted to sell that portion of his business and as we lived in a town where the job market is heavily seasonal we decided it was our best bet for a future! We just 'fell' into it really.
We ran it for 10 years, and closing down came after a combination of things. Our costs went up (landlord turned into an arse), and sadly a Tesco opened up round the corner - which killed our cut flower sales. It was becoming harder to make a living outside of the seasonal boosts (Valentines, Mothers Day, Christmas and wedding season) - then I had a baby and couldn't run the shop so we made the decision to quit. There were four of us involved in the running of the business, two of whom did it alongside other work......it just seemed the right time to move on.

I don't know what would sell well......for our business Christmas trade was concentrated in the two weeks beforehand. But you may want to think about christmas themed silk arrangements, as they were one of the lines we found sold well (later for us, because to begin with there was another stall selling just silk so we couldn't stock it).

As for making holly wreaths.....<<shudder>> it's big business round here for a few nurseries. I've had a go. When you are making the sort of quantity you need to supply others then your hands take a battering....they get completely numb, both from the cold and from the holly/wiring. If you're going to do that then I'd go for heavier grade ones....think the sort of thing on the front of Country Living grin. We sold a lot of the 'lighter' ones because people put them on graves. We had a handful of customers who ordered in dead fancy ones for their front doors.

You need to be very careful of profit margins, because on lots of things the cost of stock + time to make up is not always reflected in the price you can command for things. Again this is about your target market. 50% of my trade was what big name florists would consider 'low end'......40% was gift work and weddings/funerals and 10% was to the ladies who did church flowers and the golf club ladies (golf clubs are lucrative if you can get in with the wives who do the flowers for events).

BobbiFleckman Fri 14-Sep-12 10:36:06

hello - a few suggestions from a non florist. There's a lady round my way who has a company called Friday flowers. She doesn't have a shop premises but on fridays she sells made up bunches (all a flat £25) at the train station - does fantastic business for men staggering home at teh end of a long week, and for people who are going out for dinner and need a gift. I presume she also does weddings / parties / events. Beauty of her model is that she won't lose too much stock as she's not trying to keep thigns fresh all week. You could do something similar, but with special days like Mother's Day / Valentines thrown in (my flatmate had a florist & did about 40% of her annual turnover on V day)

Depending on your area, Christmas decorating coudl also be lucrative - garlands / swags / decorated trees / wreaths / table arrangements. Walk in & decorate the whole house.

MissPerception Fri 14-Sep-12 10:42:27

BobbiFleckman's post sounds worth considering I think.

I knew a very good florist. Her rent was cheap. She was in demand. She was extremely stressed and put in very long hours.

The other thing to consider is that florists are exposed to lots of toxic chemicals. There is lots of info on the internet about that.

Xroads Fri 14-Sep-12 13:18:35

I think I will have to start off at the roadside/ taking online orders etc for definite.

My first step before that is practising and getting up to speed with the current trends, I'm joining a floristry guild in November and doing a fayre, I'm hoping to build up my speed/ practise over the next few months and then I'll start selling on the side of the road asap, probably be just before valentines day when I actually get it up and running as I need a permit and public liability insurance I think

In 6 months I will have started selling as much as I can in my spare time and have done a couple of weeks intensive wedding flower training with my aunt.

In 12 months I want to be taking regular orders, doing wedding fayres and be in a better financial position.

In 12-18 months I want to have school hours/ term time to focus on flowers/ art

In 2yrs I want to quit my childminding business, have enough money in the bank to start up the business and be looking at renting a premises or buying a business with accommodation attached.

What do you think? Possible?

OP’s posts: |
bacon Fri 14-Sep-12 16:44:15

I'd say to anyone who wants to run a business - run it from home. Once you get into property - rent, mass overheads then you have to accept that there will be no income and just debt into you are established. You will also need to purchase a van and have a backup.

I think to be successful on the high street you have to have that something special (USP) There are lots of mediocre florists around and its all on reputation and people are quick to spread the word. Unless you have that unique artisitic flare thats 'wow' then I'd be surprised if you make a decent earning.

Image is everything and establishing a good brand image is paramount. You need to invest in a good website designer and design a unique, modern and wow logo. I read on hear so much about DIY websites but no way. Its got to be professional.

Location location isnt it? Doesnt location cost highly?

When are you going to do the paperwork? Probably on a Sunday! So dont think you'll have more freetime once your working for yourself its a 7 day week, long hours, stress and worry. Dont under estimate the amount of work it involves. The more you put in the more you get out so forget this 'I'm not working on xyz'

Dont forget on art pieces they should be on SOR (sale or return) dont want to be stuck with pieces that just dont shift. Agree your margin on these could be tiny.

There must be a florist forum on the web? Drive around areas buy a bunch of flowers and ask questions. Get as many facts as you can, get a full financial business plan and work on worst case senario - go in prepared and allow for a rough ride thats the only advice I can give.

Xroads Mon 17-Sep-12 08:10:52

Running it from home is tricky, I don't have a big house, have 2 dd's and I currently use it for the business I already have plus our house is like a sauna and flowers wouldn't last long at all.

I am artistic and I think I could do well.

My husband is in IT and makes my websites for me so that's no problem.

Paperwork for a florists is a hell of a lot less paperwork than I currently do so I won't mind too much.

Location - I plan to be on the outskirts of town on a main road.

Art pieces - I will only be selling my own canvas work.

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Teeb Wed 19-Sep-12 10:36:47

The trouble with being on the outskirts of a town is that you won't get the foot fall of passing trade customers, so someone has to have it in mind already that they will want to come out of their way to view your shop. Would that have an impact on your desired market?

I think the idea of owning a florists is a lovely 'lifestyle dream' but the reality of making a go of it, let alone a success, is very very difficult.

Research is the key thing for you to consider now. Do you know what the reality of owning a florist shop is both nationally and locally to you? What the success rate of a start up business is within the first year/5 years? Are you doing this more as a glorified hobby or as a self employed business with profitable income?

Many creative business ideas are good ideas, but there is zero money in it. Your costings, margins and profits are going to be extremely tight, particularly when you are selling a luxury one off item.

greatwork Wed 19-Sep-12 12:15:47

It does sound like you have a lovely dream, although I am wondering how realistic some of it is? I agree with others who have suggested that owning a shop will give you very expensive overheads, yet you do seem very set on this idea.

Have you looked at the financial reality of what you plan to do - the cost of flowers wholesale, the realistic price that you can sell at, the gross profit per bunch / arrangement, the likely wastage. Then work out how many bunches / arrangements you would have to sell each day to pay rent on premises. Does it sounds realistic? In the area where you plan to set up shop do you think there are going to be enough people passing to sell the amount that you need to?

I am wondering, if you have no space at home, where you will store flowers and do the work (making arrangements etc) for your roadside business or for weddings? You are likely to need a lot of space to create and store arrangements for weddings / events.

I ma not sure what you mean by your statement "In 12-18 months I want to have school hours/ term time to focus on flowers/ art". In my experience most flower sales are not during school hours or term time. People arranging events / weddings usually want to speak to you in the evening or at weekends, and the busiest time for weddings is at weekends during the summer months - how would that fit with your plans for school holidays / family holidays? I know form working in the wedding industry that we never have holidays in the summer months, or at Easter, and that Christmas is extremely busy too.

I apologise if I appear to be putting hurdles in your way - it's great to have a dream, but to make that dream come true you need some really concrete and realisable business plans. Good luck.

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