As we mentioned in our April LivRio issue, we want to give you as much information as possible to make it easy for you to develop a productive and profitable partnership with a floral wholesaler (or more than one).
In the last issue, we discussed how to choose a floral wholesaler, what to do when opening an account, the basics of pricing, and the importance of cold chain delivery. This month, we’re covering some essential points about flower ordering and how to communicate with your wholesaler effectively.
Communicating with Your Wholesaler
The key to effective communication with your wholesale sales rep is to develop a team relationship. Be open to learning from your wholesaler because it’s their job to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right choice for your arrangements and events.
The first conversation with your sales rep should be all about you: your target client, your brand, your design style, and your likes and dislikes. Providing this information will help them give you exactly what you need and suggest appropriate substitutions.
And don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want. After all, most sales reps have years of industry experience, and there’s probably no question they haven’t heard or answered! If you have any doubt about whether a particular flower is a good choice, ask. And make sure to get their suggestions for available flowers that you may not even know about. They have a LOT of knowledge, so tap into it!
You’ll develop a trusted partnership by communicating openly and honestly with your sales rep from the beginning of your relationship. And that can help you in so many ways when ordering your flowers.
The Ordering Process and What to Include
Wholesalers work with multiple growers worldwide and keep a close watch on floral trends and any weather-related issues. They also determine which flowers to order based on what their customers (i.e., you) request. That’s why it’s so important to include as much information as possible in every order. This can include:
A specific list of items grouped by type (such as roses, other flowers, and greenery).
Noting whether you’re ordering each item by the bunch or by the stem.
A list of alternatives or substitutions.
Date of delivery or pick up.
If you’re ordering for an even, include the name and date of the event, type of venue, color palette, vase sizes, linens used, and design specifics.
A mood board for the event to give your sales rep a point of reference and help them make any needed substitutions.
What to Avoid When Ordering
Coming back to the point of clear communication, here are a few things NOT to do when you’re placing an order:
Don’t ask for a flower by a color name (i.e., peach or beige) because names can mean different things to different people. Instead, send a color palette with your order so your sales rep can see the exact colors you want.
Don’t send a photo asking your rep to get the flower you indicate in the picture. These images are most likely adjusted for color, so the flower may not be the same color you intended. Instead, refer to a specific flower by name, or if you can’t, request that your sales rep find a flower as close to the color in the photo as possible.
Keep records of your past orders. This will save time for both you and your sales rep because you can give them the exact information on the flower you want, from which farm, and any other specifics.
Order Timing and Flexibility
Order flowers as early as possible. The earlier you order, the better your chances of getting the product you want. A two-to-three-week lead time, for example, gives the wholesaler enough time to source the products, negotiate prices, and deal with supply chain disruptions. It will also give your sales rep time to provide ideas for substitutions if the flowers you request aren’t available.
And that’s an important point: Be flexible with your product choices and be open to substitutions. We’re still dealing with supply chain issues these days, so work with your wholesaler to come up with great alternatives. They’re most likely very used to doing this and can provide you with some terrific suggestions!
Picking Up Your Order
If you’re close by your wholesaler and can pick up your order in person, keep these points in mind:
When filling your order, the staff will look through the product for any spoilage, and if they find questionable product, they’ll ask you if you want to pull substitutes from the cooler.
Even if you don’t need to substitute product, take this opportunity to see if there are any other items in their cooler that will complement the flowers you’re picking up. They may have some unique local products that you might love.
Review your invoice before leaving to ensure you weren’t overcharged or undercharged.
Receiving Your Order
When the wholesaler ships an order to you, make sure you do the following:
Immediately check your order against the invoice and packing slip. If there are any overages, shortages, or damages, contact your sales rep right away.A couple of bad or broken stems in a shipment isn’t a cause for concern, but if you have multiple spoilage in one or more bunches, contact your sales rep right away to be credited or have fresh product shipped out.
If you receive a product that you didn’t order and were charged for it, take a photo, and email it to your sales rep along with your original order information. This way, they can do whatever they need to do to make it right.
Process your flowers and greenery as soon as possible to prevent any spoilage. And if you find that your flowers aren’t lasting as long as you think they should contact your sales rep to see if there’s something else you could be doing to help them stay fresher.
We hope this has given you a better understanding of what to look for when dealing with your wholesaler and ordering flowers. What it comes down to, in the end, is COMMUNICATION. The better you can work with your wholesaler, the more successful you’ll be.