Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gambling for the Holidays

Ordering and preparing for a busy holiday is a lot like gambling.  Especially when dealing with fresh perishable product.  Florists have to look at previous years sales, economic growth, weather forecasts, sales trends for the year to date. When we look at all of those factors we then have to "guess" how much to order.  We don't want to run out of flowers too early.  We don't want to be stuck with red roses after Valentines day. 

Trying to figure out how many bunches of a particular flower to order is time consuming and stressful.   How many arrangements with lilies did we sell last year?  How many do we think we will sell this year?  What is the cut off date from our suppliers to get the best price?  The longer you wait to order the higher the price. 

Most flowers are sold by the bunch.  Each bunch is either a 10 stem bunch, a 5-7 stem bunch, or sold by weight with various stem counts. Baby's breath and other "filler flowers" are often sold by weight.  Sometimes it comes with 5 stems with huge clusters of blossoms, other times it comes with up to 15 stems of sparse clusters of flowers.  It is weighed using the Metric system which is even more complicated when trying to convert on an American measuring scale.  Why weigh it?  To sell at a more reasonable price. 

Another factor is how the product has been arriving so far this year.  Maybe there has been too much rain in South America and the gerberas have not been coming in as nice.  Do you cut back?  Do you delete it from your order?

Which supplier do you order from?  Company A is selling carnations slightly cheaper than Company B.  But Company B's product has been consistently good from their growers all year long.  Do you save money with A or go with the consistency of B?

After all of this planning and gambling, I don't know if I've done a good job until after the holiday is over.  And by then, it's too late to adjust or make changes, you're left with the choices you made.  Much like choosing a horse on Derby day, you don't know if you picked a winner until the race is over.