June 4-6, 2025 • Broward County Convention Center • Fort Lauderdale, FL

Thar’ She Blows! Saving the Whales in Your Floral Shop

— North America's Largest B2B Floral Show —

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Author: Cindy Hanauer

Have you seen any whales floating around your floral shop?  No…not the half-ton ocean whales!  I’m talking about the Las Vegas type of whales – those loyal high-rollers who frequent your establishment and lavishly spend money there. 

In Las Vegas, the word “whale” is used to describe a gambler who wagers a large amount of money at the tables on a regular basis.  Whales receive opulent casino “comps” to lure them to the gambling floor.  The ultimate goal of the casino is to keep big spenders engaged by catering to their needs with free private jets, posh hotel suites and personal limousines.  Casino whales not only spend a large amount of money in an establishment, but they also bring clout and big-name status to casinos who want to keep their brand on the tips of the high-rollers’ tongues….or, more specifically, keep their brand in the folds of a big-spender’s wallet!

In our own businesses, our customers are considered “whales” in the same way.  They spend incremental income on what’s considered lavish products, and those who spend dollars in the floral department are likely spending more lavishly in the rest of the store.  Even those who don’t spend hundreds of dollars in the floral shop at one time, are likely those who return with greater frequency than the average consumer.  In the world of incremental selling, the frequency of the purchaser ranks much higher, financially, than a one-time big spender.

So how do we keep those high-rolling whales coming back?  Here are the five most winning hands:

  1.  House Advantage

The more you know your customers, the better you can serve them.  The most important technology in today’s retail environment is the availability of loyalty card and scan data.  This information is the gateway between passively selling what we like, versus actively selling what the customer likes.  Analyzing loyalty and scan data each week will provide your organization with a big advantage of knowing what’s in the dealer’s hand and avoiding unnecessary risk.       

Tip: Follow the golden rule of casino boss, Ace Rothstein, played by Robert DeNiro in the movie, Casino: “There’s three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the way I do it.”   Customers simply want it done the way “they do it”, and we have many tools today that allow us to accomplish that goal. 

  1. Opulence

Customers think of floral purchasing as distinguished and extravagant.  They purchase because they want to improve the environment around them or be positively recognized by others.  No, it doesn’t take gold and crystal chandeliers to create opulence!  Creating a “clean and pristine” ambience in each shop will reinforce the feeling of opulence in the customer’s mind and engage them in the process of buying.

Tip:  Create a specific cleaning schedule: Two scheduled days per week for deep cleaning – on the other days, make it a best practice to dust a display’s surface each time new product is added to it. 

  1. Double or Nothing

One area that’s always worth a “double-down” is the quality and longevity of the goods purchased.  If not accomplished, the whales will move their chips to another establishment.  There are many layers in achieving end-to-end quality, but if the product is purchased from a quality supplier, then our part on the retail side is to implement these six maintenance checkpoints at DC and store level:

  • Uninterrupted cold chain from truck to DC slotting
  • Uninterrupted cold chain from store off-loading to sales floor
  • Sanitation of all areas that come into contact with fresh-cut product: Counters, tools, containers and surfaces
  • Uninterrupted fresh-cut temperature of 34-38 degrees, with the exception of tropical flowers which should be stored at 50-55 degrees.
  •  Uninterrupted relative humidity of 80-90%
  • Accurate dosing of flower food in every display container and vased arrangement

  1. All In

Visual merchandising serves three important purposes:

  1. To attract a customer into the purchase radius of the floral department
  2. To communicate the attributes of the product through lighting, signage, presentation and packaging
  3. To rotate inventory and manage sell-by dates, providing customers with the freshest product

Merchandising creativity involves breaking out of normal patterns, and showing products to the consumer in new, unexpected ways.  

Tips: Create an all-in merchandising program by following these six core principles of display: balance, proportion, rhythm, contrast, harmony and unity

  1. At Your Service

Today’s customers don’t simply expect products – they expect experiences.  Social media applications provide a forum for customers to communicate their experiences – good or bad- to thousands of people within their community using a few simple keystrokes.  Here are five simple ways to keep the whales in your flower shop returning for more:

  • Understand the basic attributes of the product and the basic expectations of the customer
  • Greet customers in a natural way that fits the individual situation
  • Offer to help without following the customer around, staying within full sight
  • Treat a non-purchasing customer as well as a purchasing customer
  • Package and prepare the product like a “trophy” in a way that well-represents your establishment

With a plan to save the whales in your floral shop and the training to keep them coming back, you’ll hit the royal flush of financial success in record time: sales growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction – JACKPOT!  

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