Sociable

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flash Reports, a Peek Inside Your Financials by Georgianne

Oh my.... Is it possible I'm taking the time to not only write a business blog today but I'm writing a blog about a topic that has to do with numbers? Wow, that's almost unheard of here at Monday Morning Flowers were the accounting is usually left up to Kevin and not me.

The last few weeks had Kevin and I traveling up to New England for the East Coast Floral Expo and then back down to Washington, DC for the Society of American Florist volunteer meetings and in both weekends, we spent lots of quality time with other florists. At the NEFE we were able to sit in on quite a few wonderful business seminars and we always take away so much from those events.

So, to the topic of this blog. About 3 years ago, we had a business consultant come into the operation to helps us with the "issues" we were having. Let's face it, it was during the recession and the environment at the shop was very stressful. I expressed a desire to understand what was going on with the company from a financial point of view being my responsibility at the store involves the buying, pricing, designing and marketing side of the operation. With all that on plate and not really being "numbers" person, I felt like I could not get the information quickly enough to make changes in those areas when needed. I was being told to watch my budget, buy, price and design correctly all while building sales. It seemed like I was always behind on information and never knew until after it was "over" if I had failed or succeeded in doing a good job. Needless to say, I was stressed out and there was tension between Kevin and I because he controlled one part and I the other.
An idea the consultant had was for Kevin, as the accountant, to provide me with a weekly "flash report".  This report would be a way of comparing the past week, with the same week the year before. Showing me things like total sales, average order, number of transactions, total dollars for walk in sales (for both shops), wire ins and outs (being we are trying to increase outs and decrease ins) and website order, I could really see how we were doing compared to the previous year.  Given to me by Monday afternoon, each one would show me the percentage of increase or decrease over the last year during the same exact week. I now had very current and easy to understand figures.

As time went on we saw how useful the information was so Kevin began giving me other details such as percentage of fresh and supply budgets used. Now I can see if I was on track to keep to my purchase budgets (this could be a whole other blog for sure). At the end of each month, he does a monthly synopsis for me which includes designer productivity (again, another blog post) and sales averages/totals by each of the order taking employee. Wow, talk about having really great information in a timely fashion!

I know not every shop has a Kevin but the reason for this blog, is that these reports are super easy for anyone to compile once you know what to include. For someone who knows excel and what the spreadsheet needs to do, building it and plugging in the figures is all it takes.  If you have a bookkeeper and use an accounting package such as Quicken or Quickbooks, this information is not that hard to come by.

You may have dreamed of opening your flower shop and working with flowers all day but it is a business and it is down right hard to run a profitable flower shop. Changing how you think and how you do business, is all part of surviving.

Feel free to shoot me an email if you'd like a copy of Kevin's spreadsheet. georgianne@mondayflowers.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On the Floor, On the Fly Management


Over the past several months I’ve been reading a lot articles about various Employee Management and Review processes.  It’s quite common during this time of year because everyone is thinking of how to review their employees performance for the previous year and, if appropriate, how to reward them.  Over the past 30+ years I’ve worked for all types of Company’s, Large and Small, Public and Private, Product and Service based so I’ve been involved with various types of reviews.  Which type of review you use depends on a lot of variables including how large the staff is and your industry.  At our Company we’ve tried the written review process, noting strengths and areas for improvement, grading systems etc. but I think for a small company this is overkill and “worn out”.  

I know the importance of documenting positive and negative behavior of an employee, and we have a separate system for that, but a few years ago we changed how we review job performance.  I like to call it “On the Floor, On the Fly” management.  For the most part it’s exactly as it sounds – reviewing your staff each and everyday as you or your manager(s) interact with them.  Don’t worry about doing this in an open environment, if you handle it properly everyone will benefit.  At the end of each week our staff knows exactly where they stand concerning area’s that they should focus on to improve, as well as their successes.  99% of the time everything that we talk to them about evolves around customer satisfaction.  The greatest strength of this system is its timely; no one tells us “I wish you would have told me sooner”.  Your customers deserve the best service possible and for that to happen your staff deserves the most constructive and timely feedback possible.  To accomplish this I suggest trying “On the Floor, On the Fly” reviews, once you start not only will your staff benefit but more importantly your customers will.

Kevin Vinicombe has over 25 years of management experience, first in Manufacturing and then assisting Georgianne at the flower shop. He has an MBA from Rider University with a concentration in Finance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Story Told of Cherie's Bouquet

It's not all the time that we get to do wild and crazy things with flowers but boy did we ever get to do that with Cherie's flowers in May. Don't you just love the natural feel of her bouquet? Roses, berries, callas, arabicum, soft green hanging amaranthus, hydrangea, loops of curly willow vine and galax leaves all combine to be anything but boring! The brides maids carried simple cream hydrangea which looked so pretty against their soft, antique lavender dresses. The mens boutonieres were green hypericum with a double galax leaf treatment behind. The amazing and unusual - Grounds for Sculpture of Trenton was the setting for the ceremony. A wedding made in heaven if you ask me! To see more of this wedding check out the "Photos Sent By Our Brides" album on our Fan Page at www.facebook.com/localflorist or visit our wedding website at www.perfectweddingflowers.com

A special thanks to Reena Rose and Erin Hoyt for their amazing photography.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Society of American Florists Convention

It's been awhile since I've written a blog for Speaking Florally but it's not for lack of something to say! First off, I want to thank both Rick Canale and Mandy Majerik, AIFD for sharing the stage with me at the Orlando Conference last month. It was not only wonderful for me to pass on whatever tips I had about Social Networking for Florists but it was wonderful to learn from them as well.

Ok, which brings me to the point of this blog. What a wonderful time at the Conference I had. Kevin and I met so many amazing people and how inspiring they were! People that I have read about for years in the pages of floral magazines became real people to me. If you are in the floral industry and you are not a member of SAF, then you must become a member right away. I'm not going to twist your arm I'm going to let you find out for yourself. Visit their website at http://www.safnow.org/ to see the wealth of information available to it's members.

In their words: "SAF is the only national trade association that represents all segments of the U.S. floral industry. Our 15,000 members are the industry's top retailers, growers, wholesalers, importers, manufacturers, suppliers, educators, students and allied organizations. SAF is the face and voice of a strong, unified floral industry". If you think you can't afford to be a member, you are wrong. You can't afford not to be!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Build a Spreadsheet by Georgianne

Dreaded words - build a spreadsheet. Well, at least they are dreaded by me but certainly not my husband, he's a whiz at those. Thank goodness I dragged the guy into working with me full time because I don't know what I'd do without him. Ok, back to the dreaded spreadsheet comment.... Actually, I love spreadsheets. I have no idea how to build them but man, I don't think I could live without them and so the inspiration for this business blog.

What spreadsheets do I use and love? Well, the hubby has built me a spreadsheet that I use for ordering wedding flowers. I put in the items needed such as bouquets, corsages, centerpieces, etc along with how many of each are needed. I fill in the flowers to be used, determine how many go in each and magically I get a grand flower total. As long as my math is good on giving the bride the correct number of flowers to fit the budget and I order that many flowers, everything works out perfectly. When the time comes to create each piece, I hand off my handy dandy spreadsheet to the designer and everything works out like a dream. No shorting the bride or stuffing the piece with extra flowers all done with very little hand holding being needed. The designer has everything he or she needs to create the wedding designs correctly.

Another spread sheet he built for me is one that I use for ordering my flowers each week. It breaks my order down to flowers, fillers, roses and greens and adds it all up so that I can stick to my budget. I send a copy to my wholesaler, put a copy in our incoming products book so the staff know what's coming in and when and then I can put my feet up and relax (just kidding on that one).

Anyway, I'd be happy to share a spreadsheet or two if you shoot me an email to georgianne@mondayflowers.com but truthfully, if you have a person at your company that is pretty good with Excel, they are easy to make. Sometimes the hardest part is making the connection between what can be done and how it can make your job easier!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Incorporating a Little Kaizen by Kevin Vinicombe

A few weeks ago I made a point of discussing our Toss/Work Loss percentage with our Design Team. Over the summer months I noticed that our percentages had been "creeping" up. Basically when those percentages go up it could mean that we are “stuffing“ the arrangements with unpaid for flowers, tossing out too many flowers (perhaps proper rotation methods are not being followed) or we are purchasing too much for our current sales volume. I was trying to find a different approach with the staff and started thinking back to similar situations in my pre-floral career. I remembered the "Kaizen" concept I learned back in college. Kaizen was a concept I had used many times before in my previous corporate life.

Loosely defined Kaizen is the Japanese word for "Improvement" or "Change for Better". It's an ongoing, continuous process that never stops and teaches us to always look for a better, more efficient way to conduct our business. The process of continuous improvement can be applied to all industry's, including the floral business. Lets face it, the floral industry is "a hybrid industry" comprised of Service, Manufacturing and Consultative all under one roof. Not a single day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company. Toyota is one of the leaders in the Kaizen process and among other things they promote:
  • Everyone's involvement in continuous improvement
  • All processes and areas of a company participating
  • A strong desire to eliminate waste at every step of the process
  • Small incremental improvements resulting in big results
  • Team work
  • Discipline
  • An open environment for staff suggestions
Each area of a flower shop should try to incorporate some Kaizen, as outlined above by Toyota, and make it on-going and continuous. After all, trying to do better each and every day results in a better product and service experience for our customer. Isn’t that the point of being in business - to serve the customer better? In our shop we are constantly measuring our performance against our previous best and trying to do better. We not only know what to do but now know what to call it! Kaizen!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Employee Incentives - Yes or No?

Honestly, Kevin and I were very resistant to giving our design and sales staff incentives over the years but a recent visit to a floral conference had us rethink the concept. We thought - hey, they work for us, we are good to them, our employees should do whatever is in the best interest of the company, right? Well, human nature doesn't work that way.

Let's face it, as business owners, we have a big incentive each and every month to have our sales be as high as possible and our expenses and low as possible - it's called paying the bills. If you don't do what needs to be done, you can't pay your staff, yourself or your bills. Each month as owners we stare at that check book and know we need to get out there and sell effectively or die trying!  

Sometimes even the best employees in the world could use a boost and why not reward them for their efforts, right? This past year we revisited the concept of incentives, first for our sales staff and then for our designers. For the sales staff, each week we give them certain items that we'd like to see them suggestive sell. It might be a dozen red roses (because maybe roses were a good price that week and are very plentiful) or even a box of chocolates. We mix up the incentives often to keep it fresh and fun and have weekly meetings to discuss our successes with each other. Our biggest success to date has been increasing our greeting card sales. We've increased the number of cards we've sold this year to 4 times as many for the same period last year! Wow, that's a lot right?

For the design staff we often have special rewards for using certain containers effectively. Three years ago we were so overloaded on seasonal containers from previous years that we started what was called the push cart. On this cart were seasonal containers from the previous years that really needed to get used and used quickly. Each container needed to be used in it's correct form (a vase when requested, for example) and at full retail value. For each container used the designer was paid a $1.00. Wow, the first fall and Christmas we effectively used over $3,000 of left over inventory and the designers were paid in excess of $300 for their efforts. Was it worth it? You betcha! Turning perfectly good product that might not otherwise be high on the designers list to design in allowed me to manage my purchasing budget better, not to mention really cleared out space! Their reward? Dollars in their pocket each week and money for new containers that I might not have otherwise been able to bring into the shop.  Designers love new containers but now ours know you have to clean out the old before you are rewarded with the new. The end result for us, is that we have virtually no left over containers from holiday to holiday and season to season. Talk about turning your product.

Remember, your staff works hard for you and most likely their heart is in the right place. Having incentives is both fun and profitable for your business and you know what they say, you have to spend money to make money. If you haven't tried incentives, give them a thought. Questions about what we have done? Feel free to e-mail me at georgianne@mondayflowers.com and I'll be sure to e-mail you back quickly. Happy Selling!!