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Going Corporate

Working with businesses to get their business

Written by Bernice Klassen
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Let your corporate clients know how flowers can add life and style to the waiting area, hallway or communal area of an office.
The corporate market can be a lucrative one for florists. These are customers who are looking for designs to impress their clients and employees, and they are people who will buy frequently to keep up appearances. The difficult part can be gaining access to businesses and corporations. These clients are busy and don’t have time to track you down; you need to reach out to them to establish a trusting relationship that will pay off for you again and again.

So how do you get your foot in the door? The number 1 person to approach is the gateway person or receptionist. This person must be on your side in order for you to succeed! Bring along a little special something for the receptionist – a small vase with a few buds could endear her to recommend and refer you to others. Introduce yourself and find out who would be in charge of actually ordering from your shop. Get their contact information and give them a call once you get back to the shop. Don’t expect to meet with them on the day of your visit because managers are busy people that are not usually open to drop-in appointments. Leave behind marketing materials as a first point of contact. If you are introducing yourself to this business for the first time, start with a nicely designed flyer that showcases your work – be careful though, because they will all want to order exactly what is in the picture!

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The receptionist is a key contact for establishing a relationship.
 
Hand-deliver any marketing materials you have in person. Businesses won’t want to deal with your delivery person, they don’t want an e-mail and they most certainly won’t take notice of a fax. They want the owner because you are the connection. When you give them your promotional materials, make sure they have plenty of ways to contact you so it’s easy to order.

When you finally connect with the person in charge of ordering flowers, the next step is to show the corporate customer how exactly shopping with you will benefit them in the end. Sometimes you can get away with resting on your laurels with regular customers, but not with corporations. They are in business as well and they want to know how your product will benefit them. You need to sell the advantages of your product by letting them know that your beautiful floral designs will help a business make its customers feel special. Flowers create an inviting environment and add life to a stuffy office or waiting area. Your product also provides employees with a sense of pride and adds value to the company. Not only will these employees view you as a go-to florist for their own needs, but also it’s a great idea to grant corporate staff members an incentive to order with you – give them a special discount whenever they purchase flowers from your shop.

There are also special incentives you can provide corporate accounts to make working with you more appealing. One idea you could try relates to billing: if the business likes once-a-month invoicing and pays within 15 days, you’ll give them two per cent off the invoice. Companies love this stuff.

Another way to secure business clients is through cross-marketing. This is where you share promotions and work together to promote each other. Team up with a restaurant or a hotel and ask them to hand out a coupon to their customers. In return you direct customers to their venue. It’s a win-win for both. Be creative with your joint campaign and the results will be even better.

One of the biggest strengths you can offer a fellow business is customization. Show your client that you care and are willing to go the extra mile for them by suiting the flowers to the work environment. What does the space look like? What are the wall and fixture colours and what is the lighting like? Taking note of how the heating and cooling system works will also ensure your blooms live as long a life as possible. Consider the dimensions of the spot the flowers are going into. You don’t want employees to constantly run into a branch or a long stem to create a fire hazard. Take photos of the office space you are working with so you can refer to them when designing. I don’t know of any interior designer who doesn’t take photos. Why should you be any different?

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Work with the business to ensure that your flowers match the style and design of the space.

 
It’s also important to discuss how long the client expects the flowers to last. One company might have a draw at the end of every week for the bouquet that was delivered on Monday. Product would have to last well into the following week, then, in order for the recipient to actually enjoy the bouquet. Are there floral likes and dislikes? If the person in charge of the ordering hates sunflowers, it won’t matter how lovely the bouquet is; you will probably receive a complaint that week!

You’ll be placing these flowers in a public space, so take into account the fact that people could have allergies. Stay away from heavily scented flowers. It’s also wise to avoid flowers that shed or require cleaning, in order to reduce the amount of maintenance involved.

To generate extra business for yourself, you could ask the business account to provide you with a list of employees and their birthdays. Tell them you’ll take the work out of their hands by automatically providing employees with flowers or a gourmet gift basket to celebrate the occasion.

Once you’ve secured the corporate customer, be sure to treat them just as special as you would any other client. Thank them for their business! Do a phone blitz at least once a year just to show your gratitude for their business or send a thank-you card. In return, ask if they would mind writing a short note on why they do business with you. Use this everywhere: in your e-mail signature, in your flyers, on your website and on your Facebook page. Testimonials are the number 1 way of validating your services and products.

The best way to appeal to another business is to show you’re a true professional – so get out there, be smart, be prepared and look the part!

M.G. Bernice Klassen is experienced in nearly every aspect of the floral industry, including retail, wholesale and grocery chain. Armed with a usiness administration degree, with a specialty in marketing and management, Bernice is now offering her services as a floral consultant to the industry. Contact Bernice directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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October 2011

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