Flowers and Interiorscaping: What You Should Know

Foliage and flowers go hand and hand. Thus, it seems natural to add a cut flower division to any interiorscape company. After all, most of us already deal with orchids, bonsai, dish gardens, and more, so why not capitalize on those opportunities by providing fresh arrangements? While many interiorscape companies offer both, do not jump to the conclusion that you should incorporate a floral shop into your business. After I looked into acquiring an existing flower business, I had major doubts.

A Fantasy in Flowers

The first interiorscape company I purchased was called A-1 Office Plants. Like the generic name states, the revenue stream came from maintaining indoor plants strictly on the commercial side. Simple, easy, and slightly boring. My creative side craved something more. I began exploring options, specifically to incorporate an existing florist. But I soon realized working with flowers is nowhere near as glamourous as I pictured.

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A Fantasy in Flowers was the first shop I inquired about. After thirty years in business, the husband and wife team were ready to sell everything, buy a boat, and sail around the world. Though they each worked six days a week, one look at their P&L statement showed me their combined salary was less than mine. I was shocked. I had no idea how much overhead there was between employee labor, materials, vehicles, rent, and wire service fees. 

With my interiorscape business, rarely did I ever work weekends – this couple was working almost every Saturday! I didn’t relish the idea of sacrificing my family weekends, especially with minimal return. The information got even worse when the husband mentioned, if a designer added an extra flower to an arrangement, it could ruin your profit margin. I’m not a meticulous person to begin with and having to watch where every single flower stem went seemed impossible.

As he continued discussing flower waste, coolers malfunctioning, entire cases of vases shattering, and pissing off brides, my vision of flower bliss turned into a financial nightmare. Just in case their story was not the norm, I met with a couple other shop owners to get information. I ended up with the same conclusion. The floral industry is very demanding, extremely competitive, and very risky for a novice like me. 

Hello Flowers

Looking back, it seems ironic to me that fresh flowers now generate a quarter of my sales with my second company. Those few years between owning interiorscape companies, I gained valuable insight into the floral world while working part-time at a local shop. In fact, I immediately offered cut flower arrangements at the start of my second business, since I had a talented friend with years of designer and owner experience willing to partner. She was going to handle that entire side … until she fell in love again with her high school sweetheart and decided to move four states away before our first client wedding. Luckily, between my part-time experience and her knowledge, I pulled off a smooth wedding event. After that, my wedding business blossomed. Here are a few things I discovered that make a difference.

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Skip the Flower Wire System

Most people are familiar with FTD, the original floral wire system that began back in 1910. Extremely successful, the Florist Telegram (now Transworld) Delivery company excels at promotion. For a local florist shop, being an FTD vendor can be your main source for sales and also your Achilles heel. To keep FTD orders consistent, shops must purchase their designer containers, maintain a specific flower inventory, pay fees on every order, licensing, and also purchase software updates. By the time you finish paying FTD, I understand why using an extra flower can erase any profit. 

Knowing all the variables associated with cut flowers such as wilting, breaking, and decaying, I opted not to use any wire service. In fact, I don’t handle any day to day fresh flower orders unless one of my interiorscape client requests an arrangement, understanding it will have the foliage, flowers, or containers I have available that day. This way, I maintain very little material waste and every arrangement is custom designed.

Go for the Wedding Flowers

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I discovered the real fresh flower profits are in weddings and special events. I do no extra marketing or wedding expos, nor do I belong to any wedding websites. I have found belonging to industry websites only created more unpaid work, since I spent hours on the computer creating proposals for potential brides who were not serious or competing with multiple florists. The same goes for expensive bridal expos where you are in a giant venue with fifty or more florists. You are lucky if any bride can remember who she talked to. 

My floral promotion budget is pretty much zero. I find all my business from word of mouth, interiorscape clients, and referrals from previous weddings. That alone gives me one to two, sometimes three, events per month, which is the most I want to handle. While I love being able to create beautiful bouquets, the stress of a couple days prep time, the propensity of flower death, and orchestrating delivery and set-up perfectly is why I’ll always keep interiorscaping as my main revenue source. 

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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