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On the Level with Neville

On the Level with Neville

What Next? (No, Seriously!)

Well, 2020 certainly was a year for the record books. Many people didn’t survive, sadly, and many businesses and livelihoods were lost forever. We, thankfully, hung on with no staff, and my husband, who lost his job as a hair stylist, jumped in to work with me. Now, working with your partner is a topic for a whole other article—maybe even a book or university thesis—but we made it. In fact, we joined Weight Watchers two days before the lockdown, but all we lost was the money we spent!

Now, on to a glorious new year filled with hope for a brighter and more prosperous future. 2021 will allow us, as designers, marketers, retailers and entrepreneurs, to expand and try new things. I intend to work on a few trends, to see which may stick. Remember, of course, the best way to get inspiration and prepare for the months to come is to look at the past year.

If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to develop and improve your online business. In 2020, we sold a lot online, and along with a remote debit/credit machine, we also got into curbside pick-up. Many consumers quickly became used to this way of shopping, so now’s the time to promote and encourage this newer trend. Let’s face it, too: It’s a lot easier than customers coming in or spending a lot of time on the telephone. (I love seeing prepaid orders awaiting my attention!) There are many online services out there to choose from, so ask me or other florists what they do or who they use.

Plants were the big hit in 2020, and they will continue to be hotter than tickets to a One Direction concert in 2021. The problem last year was that too many people who knew nothing about plants suddenly Googled their way into buying a bit of everything, and many did not have much success. We let folks know that we are plant experts, and many came for advice on the best choices. (Bring in easier-care plants to offer, and suggest smaller plants that can grow into their new homes.) I love the young ladies who come in telling me how they move their plants every day—watering, misting and singing to them. I offer them this piece of sage advice: “Treat your plants like a new boyfriend: Ignore them as much as you can, and they’ll try harder!” As we all know, plants are better under cared for than over cared for, so when people get good results from your words of wisdom, they become good customers.

We’ve all offered dish gardens and potted plants for years, so why not take it up a notch—if you haven’t already? You can offer short online tutorials to get folks watching you more, and this is a great time to show what’s new in your store and also to promote the next holiday or event. If you don’t have them already, try stocking a collection of seeds to sell and/or pop into an arrangement, selling them as an add-on for gardeners-at-heart. We started selling a few plant and garden books, too, which received good reviews (the Cannabis one did really well!), as well as a larger selection of plant pots, potting soil and plant food. Make the plant-buying experience in your store as much of a “one stop” as possible!

The popularity of permanent botanicals is also on the rise, and we’ve seen this trend trickling in during the past year or so. Here’s the thing: Don’t call these offerings “artificial” and certainly not “fake.” Both words are negatives with many of today’s consumers—especially younger ones, so try using “permanent” or my favorite, “forever flowers,” when selling these alternatives to fresh flowers. I’ve started offering the addition of a “forever rose” or other flower to a special fresh arrangement.

We are still seeing many know-it-alls (I mean do-it-yourselfers), and although in-house classes are, for many, still more taboo than wearing white after Labor Day, we can offer all the “fixins” for those who want to make their own bouquets and arrangements. Look at creating a “menu board” with a list of hard goods you offer. like foam, wire, dishes, pins, etc. You’ll be surprised how quickly those little sales add up, so don’t be afraid to offer them. For the most part, DIYers aren’t going to steal your business (they’re going to make their cousin’s bridal bouquet anyway!), so this could prevent them from going to a craft store and bring you more revenue.

2021 is the year to try new things, but remember this: It’s like trying a new food; try a little, and see what the feeling is before you bet the house on it. You never know! I ordered six retro Kit-Cat Klocks (you know, the ones with the moving eyes and tails) just for me to have and give as gifts. Well, I posted them on social media, and surprise to me, I sold 36 of them in a week! Tick tock, I sold a clock! And there was no labor involved! (Check out kit-cat.com/wholesale application.)

Here’s to a super 2021, filled with happiness, health and prosperity! (And if I could lose my COVID weight, then all the better!) Stay safe and well, and continue to share love through the beauty of flowers!

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