Waaaaay back in 1999 I was about to experience my very first Valentine's Day as a florist. I was trying to wrap my brain around what to buy with pretty much zero guidance from my boss; a business owner who'd already checked out and had apparently been trying to sell the business for the entiriety of my 9 months working there. I'd been in charge of buying for a few months and was told I should just order what they'd ordered last year because they'd sold out. Sold out? But then, shouldn't we buy more? Well, no, they just wanted to sell out because they hadn't found a buyer and planned to close after Valentine's Day UNLESS- I wanted to buy the business and keep it going...
I remember being hungover and pouring over the Valentine's pricelist trying to figure out what we'd need when I got the call telling me that if I didn't want to take over the shop I'd be out of a job after the holiday. I was devastated. I loved this job! And I was in school, I didn't want to look for another job but I certainly had no business running a business. What to do, what to do?
So, probably not a big surprise if you're here reading this, I took the plunge. I bought the business and here we are 23 Valentine's Days under my belt and, I'm not going to lie, they still scare me. A recovering people pleaser and perfectionist I really struggle with not being able to take care of everyone who wants to order even right up to the last minute. I always end up spending too much time on the orders I do take getting them 'just so' even after all these years. I tell myself there's no such thing as perfect but, I still like to spend a LOT of time getting my arrangements precisely how I want them. There's no getting around the amount of time flowers take to be done well and I won't settle for less even at the expense of turning away business. I hate to do it, especially long time customers, but there are only so many hours in the day and even if I spend ALL of them on flowers I can still only manage a finite number of arrangements.
There are customers who have been coming to By the Bunch for their Valentine's Day flowers from all the way back to when I was just working here and have stayed faithful supporters ever since. While I hate turning away those who used to come here to pick from the stem bar or have us put together the last minute wrap bouquets it does allow me to focus my skill and energy on creating the kind of arrangements I love for the people who have steadfastly supported me in this endeavor.
I get that Valentine's day, out in the regular world, is not that big of deal. I can see how it would fall off the radar- it wasn't on mine until I got into this business. What I wanted to do was create an option for these folks that know they're going to want Valentine's Day flowers, birthday flowers, Mother's Day and maybe some just because flowers to be able to be at the top of my list (officially, not just in the back of my head) and have all those dates locked and loaded and not have to think about them again. So, I created the VIP founders membership. A completely customized subscription that you pay for monthly to have top priority for big flower holidays and between 2-4 other dates of your choice over the year depending on the level of investment you choose. Earlier this summer I wasn't able to deliver anniversary flowers for one of my favorite customers just because it wasn't already on my radar and calendar. As I lean into studio hours and bring in flowers and work more flexibly this was totally preventable with just a little planning. I'm trying to use my creative problem solving skills to figure out how to take better care of the customers who have supported me for so long. This is a new offering and may shift with feedback from those I designed it for. I'm always ready to bend over backwards to get you phenomenal flowers I just need to know when I'm going to need to do them. Of course I can anticipate Valentine's Day and Mother's Day but I want to be able to take care of the dates that are unique to you. Right now I'm setting up 3 levels of investment that bill monthly as a way to create more stable support for the business that you can lock in either 4 or 6 delivery dates throughout the year. They assume priority placement for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day but you can opt out of either or both of those holidays. It's a way to spread payments out on a monthly basis for pre-scheduled deliveries either 4 or 6 dates over the year. I also want to offer 10% discount for any other flower orders once you've joined. As a new option I'd love any feedback on this idea
So that's what's new on my 24th Valentine's Day, throwing something new out there since I finally feel like we have a pretty good system in place for all the other chaos that comes with Valentine's Day. I wouldn't be able to do it if I was still trying to manage doing retail sales. It's just another way to better serve the folks who have stuck with me, and order with enough time for me to get their flowers and arrange them just for them. I just want them to have the very best.