How do I handle grieving families who want to order flowers?
Often, these customers’ emotions are raw and they are overwhelmed with their loss, not to mention the funeral arrangements. Remember, these family members are looking to you for more than just flowers. The important thing is that you take a deep breath and face them with empathy, kindness, respect and professionalism.
There are many types of reactions when a person or a family looses a loved one. Often, the family moves into a coping mechanism of planning, listing and completing tasks. These routines and rituals help them get through the first few days. One of the tasks is making funeral arrangements with a funeral director and/or their local florist. When the family chooses you as their florist, please feel honored that they are entrusting their needs to you.
For some, their needs include the act of ordering the flowers almost equally with the needs for the flowers themselves. These customers deserve an uninterrupted portion of your time and attention regardless of the size of the order. The amount of that time will vary depending upon the number of customers in the group and the amount of flowers and type of expressions they are wanting to order. By devoting your full attention to the grieving family member, you are showing your respect and honoring the deceased.
Past the basic responsibilities of kindness and respect that you have to those customers, as one person in this world to another, your next task is to sell the flowers that are right for the personalities, occasion and budget. Yes, I said “sell”, and no, selling is not in itself a disrespectful act! You are a professional florist, it is your job. You are not doing a good service to a family if you under or over-sell the floral tributes they want and can afford. Take your cues from the family. Do your best not to allow your own money or status issues to cloud the offerings that you make to the family. If the idea of “selling” funeral flowers offends your senses, get over it! No one is saying that you are supposed to take advantage of anyone.
Let me explain. What if you needed to have a set of business forms printed for your new flower shop. And what if you’ve never had any custom print or layout work done. Wouldn’t you want your print shop representative to ask you questions, determine your needs, and offer you the best products to get the job done? That business form with your new logo might be the most emotional decision of your month, and you’re going to be stuck with it for a long time to come. You want a professional to help you. When you picture that professional, does a used car salesman in a plaid suit come to mind? No! Neither are you playing the role of snake oil salesman when you sell funeral flowers. You are providing a much needed service. By being a student of people, by asking questions, by having conversations and by listening, you will learn to fit the flowers to the emotions.
So, that’s your selling funeral flowers pep-talk. Adjust your attitude and the actions will follow. Your funeral business will grow and you’ll lay your head down to rest at night knowing that you helped someone in your community through a rough patch.