Forming your Fantastic Floral Team
There is no shortage of work at a flower shop and while it can be scary to trust someone to take over the critical design work, you aren’t going to be able to do it yourself. There is a lot more than just design work though. Here are a few of the many things that happen behind the scenes that you as the business owner are going to have to get done:
Each member of your staff should have a clear understanding of their primary role in the shop. They should also be cross-trained so that they can fill in where needed during busy times. Florists need to be flexible problem solvers. Don’t limit your resources by allowing specialists in a single field to exist on your team!
Do not underestimate the cost of your own labor in your shop. Always remember that your time valuable. Many shop owners find themselves working long hours. Sweat equity is one thing, working 60 hours a week to break even, month after month, year after year is another. When you consider investing in time-saving products or services think about the time will you save yourself that you could use in a more productive manner.
For example… Let’s say you could spend two hours on van maintenance that would cost you $50 at the garage down the road. Could you spend those two hours selling a wedding or sending out your bills? Wouldn’t you generate more than $50 in sales and profits?
Further, don’t forget that the cost of labor is more than just the hourly rate that you pay your employees…you have workman’s comp insurance, payroll taxes, and benefits to pay on top of the hourly wage.
Finding Future Florists
If it helps, you’re not alone, finding and keeping valuable employees is high on the list of challenges that all business people face. The first step is to define the jobs and tasks that need to be done (see above). Then, define any firm requirements that simply must be met. For instance, a delivery driver absolutely must hold a valid driver’s license. A retail sales clerk must be available for work during your store hours, etc. Then, with an open mind for creative solutions, begin your search for people whose talents and skills match the jobs to be done.
Use the traditional classified ad outlets for advertising and back them up with non-traditional methods. Word of mouth is invaluable. Post jobs at your local senior center, YMCA, church bulletin boards, in your store window, community service organization newsletters, etc.
Screen potential employees on the telephone with some set questions that get to the root of your requirements for attitude and ability. Ten minutes on the phone can save you an hour or more on a face-to-face interview that you can tell in the first moments is going nowhere.
Florist Job Descriptions
There are a number of things to look out for when hiring the ideal flower shop employee. Many floral designers get their experience on the job and can take up to two years to get someone proficient at doing good work.
When screening candidates, some requirements to ask for in your job ad include:
Education – You are going to typically want to see someone with a high school diploma or equivalent. Floral experience is typically learned on the job as there aren’t typically a lot of people with experience looking for work. Some community colleges offer programs in floriculture, floral design, greenhouses and others. If you have a program near you, this can be a good source of employees.
Customer Service – Florists use their knowledge of flowers while working with clients who are sometimes emotional. Interpersonal skills are a must to keep customers happy. Otherwise, they may as well buy online.
Passion – Successful florists are interested in farming and plants and are creative.
Work ethic – A demonstrated history of a good work ethic is important when looking for long-term employees.
Personality – Finding someone who is energetic, a positive attitude and, doesn’t bring drama to work is key to a successful and harmonious workplace.
Purchasing – Maybe not the first task to hire out, but once you have a seasoned employee, they can help with the purchasing of flowers and other products and help manage inventory.
Organization skills – Seeing a candidate who is organized will be appreciated, especially during special events and holidays.
Retail – Employees can perform general retail service duties such as keeping financial records, answering phones and emails, answering general questions and running the cash register.
Certification – Maybe a wish but someone who has taken the time to get a certification with floral design will be a huge plus since your time in training is minimized. The American Institute of Floral Designers offers a Certified Floral Designer program. This may be beneficial to invest in your employee.
Work experience – Experience working in the floral industry is usually a plus. It can be from the floral department of a grocery store, or working with a wholesale florist, or just about anywhere. Don’t assume off the bat that since they have the experience, their skills are going to be useful.
While most people learn on the job, if you can find someone with a good attitude, interest in the industry, positive spirit, and good at talking with people, don’t rule them out because of experience. You can start them maybe part-time with general cleaning duties, decoration of buildings for events and job shadowing, and then slowly let them learn how to do floral arrangements.