BloomThat Losing $500,000 Per Month?

 

That is correct. That is not a typo. Investors gave these boys 7 million dollars to try and figure out a "new" way to sell fresh flowers.

Yes, that is not a type either. SEVEN MILLION dollars. This is the state of venture capital in Silicon Valley. I would like to think that venture capitalist outside of the San Francisco bubble have some better choices out there?  Does it really make any sense to fund people that have never worked in the flower business or even know the basics? 

This is why few, if any, of the venture-backed companies of the last few years will survive. None of them will be able to figure out a cash flow positive business model before they burn through all of this venture money.

Many of us have to raise capital at some point, but the burn rate of some of these start ups is just off the charts and not sustainable.

If they had bothered to ask us how to deliver flowers in LA, we could have saved them quite a bit!

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Tired of 2% interest rates, how about a 25% return per month?

The 10 year U.S. Treasuries have now hit an all time low. That means your local bank (may) pay your 1% on the cash you have deposited on hand. 

How about if you could make a 25% return on some of your assets? We are talking about each of your delivery trucks of course.  

The average florist spends about $4,000 a month to put a full-time driver on the road (salary and benefits), plus vehicle lease/loan, fuel, and maintenance. 

That is a $48,000 resource per year just waiting to generate income. The average florist says we hope to "break even" on delivery charges. Why is that so? Does anyone think Fed Ex and UPS just hope to "break even" on delivery charges? It does not have to be that way. 

If a florist moves from a fixed flat delivery charge per zip code to a variable delivery charge based on priority (such as by 10:30am, by noon, etc.), they will normally see a 20% increase in delivery revenues. Add to that same truck an optimized route planning trip tool, and you will save another 10-15% on fuel and labor per month.  

Before: 

·      $12 for delivery to 90210

New:

·      $12 for delivery by 6pm

·      $14 for delivery by 4pm

·      $18 for delivery by noon

·      $29 for delivery by 10:30am

·      $39 for exact time delivery

All of the sudden, that $4,000 resource is now generating an extra $1,000 a month in revenue. Bingo, 25% return without investing a single dollar. 

 Don't settle for "break even" on delivery services. No one else in the delivery service industry does, nor should you.  

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So the Queen is selling flowers now?

Look for Queen Latifah at your local supermarket soon. 

In what is a growing trend, celebrities are lending their names to flower ventures to help sell more products to more flower consumers. 

While this licensed lined of arrangements (farm bouquets really) is designed for the mass market, there is considerable upside in having flowers as a lifestyle product gain greater acceptance into the U.S. mass market. 

The more people buying flowers every day, the better for all involved in the flower business. Remember that in Europe the per capita consumption of flowers is many times higher than it is in North America. 

Who thought Americas would pay $5 for a cup of coffee 25 years ago? No one did. Not 7-Eleven, not Dunkin Donuts...not until Howard Schultz came along and started Starbucks. The coffee market is now ten times larger thanks to him. 

A rising tide lifts all ships. Embrace the newcomers, the more the better!

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Is Yelp Holding Your Flower Shop Hostage?

Depositphotos_89387280_m-2015.jpg

We hear this type of story often these days.

A phoney review on Yelp about your flower shop, and Yelp won't do a thing to help you remove it. Unless, of course, you sign up for a $500 per month "plan." Then the salesperson seems to imply, "something can be done."

When we first started hearing this, I found it hard to believe as it is borderline extortion, but then it kept coming up over and over again from different florists in various parts of the country. It was then that I realized the salespeople may be promising a bit more than they can deliver. We can especially see this happening in a high commission sales environment.

For those of you frustrated by this, you will be glad to know Yelp is getting a taste of its own medicine in court now. See article below:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_YELP_DEFAMATION_LAWSUIT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-09-17-10-29-35

If this case is successful in California, maybe this will level the playing field finally with a company that just does not seem to want to do much to prevent false reviews.  

Personally, I think unless the poster is a verified customer, these should not be allowed. 

If you have a similar story to share, please do!

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Does a flower shop need EMV Terminals?

We get asked this question all the time since EMV first rolled out in the United States. 

For over three years we had already been supporting EMV (referred to as Debit-Pin-Chip) in Canada with our florists POS users. 

It is important to note that there is "no" mandatory law that a US merchant use EMV terminals in their business. That is why only 20% of merchants in the US use EMV presently and 80% have taken a wait and see attitude. The high cost of the EMV terminals and software upgrades has not helped either. 

Just recently, Target and Walmart filed suit against the major credit card companies objecting to the current rules put in place by Visa and MasterCard. So there is clearly a ways to go before all the US standards are sorted out. 

Keep in mind, as a florist, EMV liability rules ONLY affect "in person" transactions. If someone walks in and uses a bad card, and you did not have a EMV terminal, you are liable for that transaction. Ask yourself this, when was the last time that happened? 

For most flower shops we talk to, it is less than one in one thousand transactions. It is important to know, this does NOT change anything with telephone and online orders. You are still fully responsible for those orders (in most cases), and nothing has changed there. 

This is not to say cardholder security is not an important issue as it clearly is. But there are so many more security gaps in many flower shops we see every day, that EMV is not the magic bullet that is going to solve all your liability issues. 

Common sense still is the best method. If you received a $44,000 flower order (like that florist in Ontario) from a caller in Africa, don't fill the order until you can properly verify the cardholder actually placed the order! In that case Chase took back the funds after she filled the order.

Sometime next year, we suspect there will be a move towards smart cards and pin codes for each transaction, as opposed to smart card and signature we have now. At that point it will make more sense to look at what the EMV offers from your processor are and if they make economic sense for your flower shop. 

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QuickFlora: One System, No Limits

QuickFlora: One System, No Limits

Point of Sale is what many people think of when they think of QuickFlora, and while it is central to what we offer there are some other tools that can really transform the way you run your business.

Alerts

Is your system texting you when it detects a delivery is running late or not left the building before the scheduled delivery time? 

Activity Costing

Does your system calculate the exact cost of each delivery stop with labor and fuel costs so you know if you made or lost money on each delivery? 

Digital Signage

Would you like your customers to see your "featured" specials each day on a monitor in the front of your store? 

Call us for more information on any of QuickFlora’s unique features that can lower your costs and increase your sales. 

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Why 5am is the Most Productive Time of Day

Do you love what you do each day? 

I am so glad to see the Wall Street Journal agrees with me....!!!! 

For years people have been giving me a hard time about hitting the floor running at 5am or 6am sharp (voluntarily I might add).  

It's really easy to explain. Do you love what you do? For me, every day is an amazing day filled with new opportunities and sheer joy. Optimism coupled with drive fuels me at that early hour.  

When I think about our boys serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan going to "work" each day and getting shot at left and right, I can't imagine ever complaining about my day job after watching Restrepo. When you think about that perspective, who would not be happy to go to work here each day? 

The silence at 5am is deafening. Sometimes, if I am alone in the office, you will hear very loud music at that hour. Lots of people give me dirty looks at 8am when they roll in. 

The Zen time is actually the hours I am most creative. The lack of distractions allows the mind to think outside the box. Some days I will be at the beach with my laptop working there while the sun comes up.  

I love zipping down the freeway just when the stars are still fading out. It is exhilarating to feel so far ahead of every else at that hour! :-)  By the time 8 am rolls around, and I am on the second cup of coffee, I could easily run a marathon some mornings.  

So the next time you see a white car blow by you on the freeway doing 100 at six am you will know where I am going. 

Seize the day early risers! 

P.S. Contrary to people thinking I am a workaholic, my "shift" ends at 6pm EST SHARP and begins the next day at 6am EST. You do have to have a separation between "business" and a "personal" life to have a proper life/work balance.

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How the "On Demand" Economy is Shaping the Flower Business

How long does it take you to deliver flowers?

Can you tell people you deliver all your orders within 90 minutes? Most florists would say that is ridiculous and not even physically possible. Really?

There are already venture-funded startups that are doing just that. Take a look at BloomThat in San Francisco.  Some investors gave them 5M to prove it. They did. Now they want to take as many orders away from tradition flower shops as possible.  

If your local customers have a choice between 90 minute delivery and six hour delivery at the same cost, which one do you think they will choose? Which one do you choose when you are shopping at Amazon? Correct, why would your customers be any different?  

Fed Ex learned long ago that speed is essential in coming out of nowhere to dominate the overnight package business, in spite of major players like UPS that were already in the market. It has taken UPS decades to catch up to Fed Ex. 

Amazon is learning the same thing with Amazon Prime, same day delivery, even same hour in some major markets now. 

If you are not offering one hour delivery to your customers, you are losing a lot of new business (especially young people that only order on smart phones). 

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