Vermont Passes Deceptive Advertising Bill, Protects Local Florists
By Brian Gamberini
Vermont lawmakers joined 27 other states this month in passing a bill outlawing deceptive advertising practices.
Two florists — Steve Juiffre, of Chappell’s Florist in South Burlington, and Bonnie Hawley, of Hawley’s Florist in Rutland — lobbied nearly a year for the bill.
The bill initially got some pushback, Juiffre said, but a well-timed press conference in South Burlington in February served as a major turning point. A week before Valentine’s Day, the press conference attracted many local florists, as well as journalists.
“There were news stories done on all three local TV stations and in the print media,” Juiffre said. “This was a big boost to the florists all over Vermont and the support for the bill.”
Juiffre and Hawley both spoke before a House committee via phone about the need to protect local florists. The state House passed by the bill by an overwhelming majority on March 17, and the Senate followed suit by an almost unanimous vote on May 5.
Gov. Peter Shumlin will soon sign the bill into law, Juiffre said. Vermont’s law will govern listings in databases, online and in the Yellow Pages. Unlike most deceptive listings laws in other states, florists in Vermont will be able to pursue financial damages via legal action against advertisers who deceive floral customers.
For more information on other states that have passed deceptive adverting laws, check out SAF’s Deceptive Advertising website. Florists whose state doesn’t currently have a deceptive law on the books, can contact SAF.
Supermarkets, Nurseries See Double-Digit Gains in Mother's Day Shoppers
By Ira Silvergleit
Garden centers, greenhouses and nurseries, a combined category, also experienced a 38 percent increase in shoppers: More than 22 percent of shoppers purchased floral gifts for mom there, up from 16 percent in 2010. And home improvement centers grew by 51 percent for the 2011 holiday and tied with mass merchandisers as the third most popular outlet for Mother’s Day.
Retail florists were the fifth-most used venue, drawing 13 percent of shoppers for the second year in a row, down from 19 percent two years ago.
National Internet floral services, national toll-free floral services and miscellaneous outlets remained in single digits, little changed from a year ago.
Fresh flowers remained the go-to floral gift for two-thirds of consumers for 2011 Mother’s Day, more than twice that of other floral items. Gifts of bedding/garden plants or flowering houseplants were roughly twice as popular as green plants for mom this year.
The holiday isn’t called Mother’s Day for nothing. Mom was the recipient of the floral gifts purchased for the holiday more than half the time, followed by wives/spouses, mothers-in-laws and others. More than 12 percent of the purchases were made for self.
Stormy Weather Mandate: Review Coverage, Be Prepared
By Christy O'Farrell
When it rains, it pours at Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits, one of the largest insurers in the floral industry. As tornadoes and floods continue to batter the country, the company’s experience, as well as those of some recently destroyed or damaged floral businesses, serves as a good reminder to bolster your emergency plans.
Brent Bates, a Hortica senior vice president and director of claims, said the company receives some weather-related claims every year because of spring storms, but the number is higher than usual this year.
“We’re fairly busy and the weather has impacted us more than normal,” Bates said. “It seems this year, it’s been a little more significant in terms of the severity of the storms.”
"Property claims are busier than they’ve been since 2007," he said, citing figures that do not yet include May. "May’s been rather heavy for us."
The number of claims at Hortica, which specializes in the horticultural industry, for 2011 is 12 percent higher than in 2010, an upward trend that has continued, though at a slightly slower rate, for the last four years. In the same timeframe, the company's number of policyholders has been consistent or slightly increased.
"Claims are up more than customer base is up," Bates said.
Business Owners Rebuild
In that vein, several floral businesses hit by tornadoes have had their recovery plans tested in the last month. Most recently, a May 22 twister blew out the windows and broke merchandise in the showroom of Higdon Florist in Joplin, Mo., one of the latest towns victimized by weather’s fury. Two days later, owners Marcia and Dave Baker had set up a generator, boarded up windows and were assessing their computer systems for damage, Marcia Baker said.
But the generator won’t power the coolers, so they probably will lose the flowers inside, she said. Their Springfield, Mo., wholesaler, outside the affected area, delivered flowers three days after the tornado.
Several factors reduced the call for flowers: families have delayed funerals until bodies are released, delivery staff can’t stop at leveled homes, and personnel evacuated St. John’s Regional Medical Center after it was badly damaged.
Still, orders are coming in, Baker said. For example, they delivered a birthday bouquet to an employee of the other hospital in town, Freeman Hospital, who had been working close to 24 hours a day on tornado-related emergencies.
“It doesn’t look like we’re open, but we’re here,” said Baker, whose shop employs 13 people. “We like to be here for people.”
Wire service representatives called and visited member shops in the Joplin area to assess the damage and provide help. Teleflora’s territory sales manager, Suzi Lawrence, said Baker’s is the only physically damaged shop of Teleflora’s five in Joplin. But power, telephone and Internet outages were limiting how much business shops in the area could do, Lawrence said.
When an entire community is affected, as with tornadoes, and unlike with a fire, for example, it can take longer for shop owners to get back on their feet, Bates said. "A lot of these people aren't going to be out shopping for discretionary items," he said. "It's going to affect you much longer than if that loss was just strictly to your business operation."
The same is true for states along the Mississippi River. Though flooding may not directly harm shops and wholesalers, “it will have an impact on their businesses,” because homeowners struggle with relocation and related issues, said Rob Willis, manager of Memphis Metro Wholesale Florist.
That’s why it’s important for contingency plans to address both the short- and long-term problems that could arise.
Two Alabama florists, Cullman Florist in Cullman and Stephanie’s Flowers in Tuscaloosa, can attest to the myriad details that must be overseen while rebuilding – physically and business-wise. Tornadoes in late April destroyed the shops, and leveled large parts of the towns. Both were insured, though not by Hortica.
Analyze Insurance Options Carefully
And just ask Mike Renfro, vice president of North Carolina wholesaler Cyn-Mar, about how the right insurance saved him. Having had three-quarters of his business wiped out by a mid-April tornado, he's very happy he added blanket coverage and a loss-of-income provision to his insurance at renewal time last year.
His Mid-Atlantic Insurance Associates agent suggested the additions, and Renfro said they didn't cost him much more than he had been paying.
The coverage will help the company get through the ordeal, he said. "It’s going to make a big difference."
The loss-of-income provision makes up the difference for up to 12 months in what his business would be selling if not for the catastrophe, in part to keep employees on. Cyn-Mar employs about 15 people.
Renfro advised business owners in similar circumstances not to make snap decisions when it comes to choosing contractors.
"You've got to find somebody you can trust," and who will give a fair price, he said. "You've got insurance, but at the same time, you don’t want that insurance to run out at the end."
Cyn-Mar hasn't yet cleared all the wreckage — twisted steel, concrete and plastic debris — from its site, Renfro said. Even the 30-square-foot cooler with a steel shell, housed in a steel building, was destroyed.
"It looked like somebody just opened it with a can opener," Renfro said. They're using a refrigerated trailer for now.
The company has gotten some estimates from greenhouse manufacturers for rebuilding, and Renfro hopes to be back at full capacity by January.
"It's hard to get to," he said. "It’s an effort." But business goes on.
"Every route's been run. Every truck's been loaded. Every customer's order's been filled," Renfro said, adding that they have had to buy some product to meet demands.
Cyn-Mar hopes to plant at least 80 percent of the poinsettias it had last year, depending on how soon the new structures are in place.
"We’ve been so busy we haven’t really had time to feel sorry for ourselves," Renfro said. "I’m sure that time will come."
More advice from Hortica’s Bates, on minimizing damages, both physical and financial, from a natural disaster:
Industry's Assistance Continues For Disaster Victims
By Katie Hendrick
As natural disasters continue to batter the U.S., so do industry members’ efforts to provide assistance to those in need.
Prime Floral, a branch of refrigerated flatbed carrier Prime Inc., supplied two eighteen wheelers to Star 92.9, a Springfield, Mo., radio station for its “Stuff the Truck” promotion on Tuesday. The station asked listeners to donate personal hygiene items, non-perishable food and clothing between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (or until a semi truck was filled) to be delivered to Joplin, a city about an hour and a half away where 124 people were reported killed by a tornado that hit Sunday evening.
As it turned out, residents’ generosity “was overwhelming” and the truck was quickly filled, with reinforcements sent to transport the rest, said Stephanie Andel, Star 92.9’s business manager. “We were hoping to stuff one, but people just gave and gave and gave, and [Prime Inc.] brought a second semi-truck and Simmons [Mattresses] brought a delivery truck,” Andel said. “We ended up filling three vehicles with a little bit of everything.”
Meanwhile, W.J. Cowee, a manufacturer of wooden floral picks, which launched a disaster relief campaign for the American Red Cross May 16, donating 10 percent from all wholesale orders through May 30 (taking five percent from the purchase price and matching it with another five percent) has expanded its efforts by working with Flowers& to solicit individual donations for the American Red Cross. W.J. Cowee added the second joint venture to reach “all manufacturers, suppliers and importers … so that the industry looks strong and united in its assistance,” said CEO Brian Suslak.
Those wishing to make donations should mail a check, payable to “The American Red Cross” to W.J. Cowee, LLC, American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 552, Berlin, NY 12022. Or, contact Kimmy Tavarez, the special designate at the American Red Cross for this drive, at (518)458-8111, ext. 5109, email@example.com.
“Our industry is built upon the belief that it’s important to reach out and connect with others — in both good times and in bad,” Suslak said.
Author Spotlights Meanings of Flowers
By Jenny Scala
If you’re on Facebook, you’ll certainly “like” these status updates. Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of a new novel telling the story of a young woman from the foster-care system who uses flowers, and their Victorian meanings, to make sense of her troubled past, is posting a flower of the day message on her Facebook page. In addition, the author’s website includes links to SAF's new Flower Factor site and Florist Directory, to help further educate readers about the power of flowers and how to find a local florist.
Diffenbaugh’s “The Language of Flowers,” is scheduled for release on Aug. 23, and SAF has partnered with Random House to spread the word on this novel that puts the meaning of flowers and the expertise of florists in the spotlight.
The potential for the book could be advantageous for the floral industry, said SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks. The novel provides a heartfelt depiction of how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives, just as SAF research has shown, and it shows the personal connection a florist has with customers. It also includes a dictionary of the meaning of flowers and plants — a focal point in the story.
“We know consumers are fascinated by the meanings of flowers,” Sparks said, pointing to the most popular section on SAF’s www.aboutflowers.com as evidence. The meaning of flowers section had more than 37,000 unique page views last month alone, and more than 325,000 unique page views in 2010.
Readers nationwide may be talking about The Language of Flowers long after they’ve read it, as it’s an official selection of the Doubleday Book Club and a featured alternate for Rhapsody, Literary Guild, Doubleday Large Print, Book of the Month Club and several others.
"It has potential to become a popular must-read for book clubs nationwide,” Sparks said. “And the industry is poised to benefit."
Sparks suggests a few ways SAF members can start capitalizing on the book now:
“The media tour is sure to spread the word about this book, and florists who are ready with books on hand, as well as special promotions that highlight the meaning of flowers, will no doubt benefit,” Sparks said.
To find out more about the novel and its author, visit www.vanessadiffenbaugh.com. The July issue of Floral Management will feature an interview with Diffenbaugh.
Sparks said SAF will continue its communications with Random House as the media tour and release of the book unfolds to see how florists who carry the book can somehow tie it in on a local level.
FREE Sales Training Opportunity for SAF Members
Want to make summer sales sizzle? Then carve out 30 minutes this Friday, May 27, from 1:00 – 1:30 pm EST, when floral industry sales trainer Tim Huckabee FloralStrategies.com will offer a FREE 30-minute webinar on increasing sales, sponsored by SAF.
You and your entire team can gather around your desktop to soak in Huckabee’s simple, powerful techniques and concepts that every shop can put to use right away. Huckabee guarantees that if you use his tips, you’ll see your average sale increase.
It’s a sample of the same type of training SAF brings its members every month, in Huckabee’s Super Sales Skills webinar, created exclusively for the floral industry.
But don’t delay — attendance is strictly limited to the first 100 shops that sign up. The session will be recorded and available on DVD for the standard shipping/handling fee of $9.95. Sign up today!
Stuck for a Facebook Post? Try This Approach
By Shelley Estersohn
Stumped for something fresh to post to your Facebook fan page or blog? How about some show and tell of your latest work? And don’t be shy about flaunting your expertise, while you’re at it.
Check out these posts from social-media savvy florists Georgianne Vinicombe and Rebecca Redman, who will be sharing best practices for creating, managing and measuring social media content at SAF Growth Solutions, June 22-23 in Dallas.
Set Marketing Ethics Guidelines
As we engage more directly with our customers through social media, it’s more important than ever to be trustworthy. As a starting point, here are seven rules for ethical marketing. Read more.
The 7 Biggest Fan Page Marketing Mistakes
After working with many companies on Facebook marketing, teaching many students, and speaking with many audiences, Brian Carter has discovered some common mistakes that hold companies back from getting results. If you want to get better Facebook fan page marketing results, check this list and find out whether you’re making any of these mistakes. Read more.
App Aims to Cut Down on Gas
By Kate Penn
Show Your Smarts
Create customer confidence with words that convey professionalism and expertise. Art Conforti, of Beneva Flowers & Gifts in Sarasota, Fla., offered these examples:
On the Horizon
SAF Growth Solutions: A Mini-Conference for Florists
June 22-23, 2011
SAF Palm Springs 2011 - 127th Annual Convention
Sept. 14-17, 2011
Westin Mission Hills Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Enterprise Fleet Management
Managing your fleet is taking you away from what you do best – managing your business. Enterprise Fleet Management provides SAF members with cost-effective and comprehensive fleet management solutions for vehicle acquisition, maintenance management, insurance programs, vehicle disposal, fuel programs, license and title renewals, and monthly reporting.
If your business has between 15 and 125 vehicles, contact Enterprise Fleet Management and find out how you can start improving your cash flow.
Visit Enterprise at www.efleets.com, or call toll free at 877-23-FLEET (877-233-5338) for details about individual member savings.
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