If there’s one thing in this world that will never go out of fashion, it’s flowers. They’re timeless, and they’ve been used for hundreds of years as a way for people to express how they’re feeling – from red roses to symbolise love, through to white chrysanthemums for grief. Flowers are a beautiful gift for the parents of a new baby, as a farewell for a work colleague, or to say sorry to someone you’ve upset. And the florist industry is booming.
According to IBISWorld, the floral industry in Australia has an estimated value of $826 million, and there are around 2,500 businesses in the industry. And while many other small businesses have experienced setbacks as a result of COVID-19, florists have actually seen a boom. With family members unable to see each other for much of 2020 and into 2021 (depending where you’re located and what restrictions are in place), the sale of Australian flowers has skyrocketed. Some retailers are reporting 400% increases.
If there was ever a good time to learn how to start a floral business, this is it. But before you jump in the deep end, there’s a few things you need to know about how to start a florist business, and what you need to do to open a flower shop.
Skills, Training & Qualifications Needed To Become A Florist
Before you can become a florist, you need to understand what it entails. Unfortunately, it’s not just about choosing pretty flowers and putting them together in a bunch to sell. You’re going to also need to unpack stock when it arrives, arrange the flowers in a way they are more likely to sell, and of course, water the flowers to keep them alive and well. You’ll also need to arrange and print merchandise, take phone calls and manage customers, handle payments through a variety of payment methods, keep your online store and inventory up to date, handle the finances and insurances, and of course, arrange delivery of the flowers. And everything in between.
When it comes to training, you don’t need to have any specific qualifications to be a florist. But you need to be experienced, or willing to learn, the right skills to be able to arrange the flowers effectively. You’ll also need marketing skills, possibly photography skills, as well as sales and accounting skills, and of course, great customer service. You might consider a floristry course, or just put your creativity to good use and see how effective it is.
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What Do You Need To Start A Floral Business?
To start your business, you’re going to need the following hard items:
- A shop or workspace
- Wire cutters
- A toolkit, just in case
- Delivery vehicle
- POS machine
You’re also going to need plenty of know-how. And before you open your business, you should set up a business plan and action any of the key aspects you include in that plan.
Create A Business Plan: Key Considerations & Actions
1. Organising Finances
If you’re not sure how to create a plan to build a successful floral business, start with the finances. Work out what it might cost you to start the business, and the ongoing costs once you get it up and running. A flower shop will generally cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to open. This includes a lease, the first order of flowers, supplies, and wages. Ongoing expenses also include fridges where you can keep the flowers fresh and cool, and a delivery van or vehicle.
2. Customer Market
Next in your business plan, you want to define your customer market. Who are you going to be targeting with your flowers? The easy part about this is that you could actually be targeting anyone – from baby boomers to Generation Y, no age group is exempt from buying flowers. It’s just that their habits differ. According to past research, Generation Y is the most likely to purchase flowers in person, while Generation X is most likely to purchase online. Baby boomers and Gen X purchase as gifts, while Gen Y are more likely to buy for themselves. Women are more likely to buy flowers than men, holding 65% of transactions.
3. Legalities And Regulations
The next step is all the legalities. What are you going to name your business? Check the Australian Business Register to make sure it hasn’t already been used, and then once final, you need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Then, you should decide if you want to stick to just an ABN or to register as a company or trust. At this stage, you might want to open a bank account for the business and arrange your insurance.
4. Pricing Strategy
You will also want to consider how much you’re going to charge for your flower arrangements, and the payment methods you’ll accept once you open the business itself. There are plenty of options, whether all products are ordered through your eCommerce store, or if you have a brick and mortar store, do you want to accept cash and card payments, and if so, do you prefer to use EFTPOS?
5. Business Operations
Finally, you need to think about your general business operations. This can include your online systems, which need to be as efficient as possible for ordering, customer communication and marketing. Stock management systems are one way you can make life a lot easier. It could also include your staff members, keeping in mind that outsourcing is an affordable way of handing some of the workload to other people.
How To Market Your Business
One of the most important features of your floral business is your marketing. You’ve already established who you’re going to market to, but how are you going to do that? There are plenty of options available, from word of mouth to online marketing. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Provide Good Customer Service
Good customer service = great word of mouth. If you can provide quality customer service experience to your customers, you’re more likely to have them return. Not only that, but they’re also more likely to tell others about your business. Word of mouth actually drives five times more sales than other forms of advertising, so it’s well worth taking the time to be nice.
2. Create An Online Store
Your website is your business’ backbone. Whether you want to run an eCommerce store, or you simply want to promote your flowers, a website is a business essential. Keep your website clean, don’t overdo the content, but also don’t have too little information. Your website needs to look good – first impressions matter. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, the content is well-written and high-quality English, that it’s modern and suits your branding. Include your hours of operation, location, phone number, and of course information about your products. You could also consider a blog, which is great to link to social media marketing.
3. Social Media Marketing
Speaking of social media marketing, once you’ve established your audience you can target your posts to suit. Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are perfect sources of marketing for a floral business, allowing you to post photos of your creations and to advertise special deals. You can also boost your posts so that they reach the right target markets.
It won’t be easy
While business might be booming for florists, don’t go into this business decision thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park (or gardens…). Running any business takes time and a lot of work, and with a florist business, you can expect to start out working long hours getting the business ready – and accumulating clients. You not only need to be prepared financially, but also mentally. There will be setbacks and you’ll have to put in hard work, so be prepared.
… but it will be worth it
There are many benefits of running a florist business, so despite the hard work you need to put into it, it will be worth it. To start with, you get to work with flowers all the time – and there’s no doubt the beautiful scents and stunning colours will make you feel happier. Not only will you feel happier, but you’ll be bringing joy into other people’s lives. Starting your own florist business will also give you more flexible life-work options. You can be your own boss. You get to be creative, coming up with new floral arrangements and designs; and there’s plenty of opportunity for growth.
If you’re planning on starting your own floral business, follow the above tips and you’ll have a greater chance of success in the long run.