|- This will come as a surprise for entrepreneurs from other industries where fax machines have become nearly extinct with the advent of the internet..A fax machine is essential at this time in the florist world. Suppliers use the Fax machine to send flower, plant and supply availabilities. They also use them to advertise specials. Wholesalers, for the most part, do not have catalogs. Their inventory and prices change at such a rapid rate, and wholesale margins are low, so producing a catalog is not a financially viable option. You will need to rely on the daily and weekly faxes from your wholesalers to let you know what is available and what prices are running.
Last but not least, now, about phones. Consider an extra phone line or two... depending upon your business plan. Set up a back up system in case your customer cannot reach you on the first try... an answering machine or voice mail system of some sort. Make sure the message is clear, brief and the system is easy to use. Be certain to return calls promptly and professionally. Have at least 2 messages, one for when you are open but cannot take the call personally and one for when you are closed. Because funeral orders happen at all times of the day, night and week, be sure to offer a way for customers to leave an order or get in touch with an order taker... if this service is a part of your business plan.
When I was working in wholesale sales, I could tell you which shops badly needed an extra phone line. Wholesale salespeople call their clients at least once a day, if not more. When I would get a busy signal over and over and it would take more than an hour to get in touch with a client, I knew that their customers must be having similar difficulties. Smaller shops have a hard time justifying the expense of a second phone line, but I can tell you that those are also the shops that don't grow or succeed.
You can purchase phone equipment from local big box retailers or from office supply stores with varied success depending upon your requirements. It is worth the investment to purchase the correct phone equipment the first time. I have used Hello Direct as a vendor of phone equipment. Their knowledge of phone systems and their ability to keep track of your phone system for you is invaluable.