By Art Conforti, Coast to Coast Flowers founder
Thirty-three years ago, I started a company called Beneva Flowers and Gifts in Sarasota. After generating $4 million in sales, I put the company up for sale to enjoy an early retirement, but I didn’t feel the job was done.
My passion for this industry never faded and neither did my desire to help local flower shops by giving them the tools and time-honored strategies needed to thrive in today’s crowded marketplace.
One thing I learned from running my own shop (I know because I surveyed them) was that over 40% of my customers that ordered flowers from me locally were also using 1-800-Flowers or FTD.com when they wanted to send flowers out of town. We don’t want to believe that it is true, but it is.
Customers may think of us first for flowers, but many don’t even realize that we can send flowers anywhere in the country as well. That’s a lot of orders (and revenue) that we’re losing out on from our own customers who would happily order with us if they only knew they could.
As an industry, we just aren’t very good about getting that message out there. Companies like FTD and 1-800Flowers.com spend so much money on advertising that most consumers just automatically turn to them if they want to send flowers out of town because they don’t realize there are better options – like their local florists. Ask them yourself, I did:
I hate to see people disappointed when they fall for the “too good to be true” offers that the big box and online floral retailers make, and I really don’t like to see a local florist missing out on an order every time FTD ships someone a box of flowers from their own warehouse instead of letting a local florist fill it.
That’s why Coast to Coast Flowers had taken a different approach to ordering flowers that serves everyone well. Our goal is to create the easiest and best experience possible for people ordering flowers out of town.
Just like Teleflora, Coast to Coast prides itself in ensuring every order is sent to a local florist, whatever the destination may be. What’s more, we also offer local listings at LocalFlowerShop.com. At the end of the day, I truly believe nobody is doing as much for the floral industry.
A note on “order gatherers”
As florists, the only way we can compete with the big box and online flower sellers it by helping each other out. We have such a fear of deceptive order gatherers that many of us get suspicious of any shop who calls up and attempts to send an order.
The term “order gatherers” has taken on such a negative connotation but in reality – we’re all order gatherers. We need to gather orders to make money, so what good does it do to question where the orders come from? Turning down orders from other shops not only hurts that shop but it also hurts your bottom line, so is it really a smart business decision to do so? It’s a shame we choose to focus on the wrong things. At the end of the day, it should all be about providing a great experience for the customer – if not, we all lose.