Ten tips for selling flowers during slow sales times.
By Teresa P. Lanker

As the pace in a flower shop invariably slows at times throughout the year, often so do your efforts to drum up business. Use the following event and sales promotion ideas to turn slow periods into quick revenue boosters.

  1. Houseplant clinic. Help customers revive their indoor plants with a clinic that includes pruning, grooming and repotting for a nominal fee. Offer plant care advice, and have plenty of soil, fertilizer, containers, pot accessories and related items on hand.

  2. Silk trade-in. Encourage customers to replace their worn-out permanent designs by offering a discount when they bring in something old and replace it with something new. The sales process is simplified because you can see a clear example of what the customer is likely to prefer. Direct mail is an effective means of promotion because it reaches customers at home where their aged designs are on display.

  3. Birthday party. Host a “birthday party” honoring those with birthdays during your slow period. Make it a public event, including token gifts, or invite only preferred customers. Serve cake and punch, and decorate with flowers and balloons. Showcase new products or design styles, and arrange with a local bakery to combine pastries and flowers for a special “party in a box” that customers can order for delivery on birthdays throughout the year.

  4. Sidewalk sale. Plan an event that involves neighboring retailers placing their wares curbside on the same day, week or weekend. Offer deep discounts, especially on items that are “now or never” sales opportunities. Arrange for a radio station to do a live broadcast at your door to attract bargain hunters from far and wide.

  5. Autumn celebration. The first day of autumn is Friday, Sept. 23. Celebrate the changing of the seasons by hosting a fall festival or open house during this weekend. Discount all fresh flowers and plants that are red, orange or yellow—the colors of autumn leaves—or offer a cash-and-carry special on a particular variety of “autumn” flower such as chrysanthemums or on seasonal wreaths.

  6. Design school. Enroll customers in a class that meets weekly or biweekly for floral design or gardening workshops. Promote it among garden clubs and other groups that have an interest in horticulture. Charge an enrollment fee, and sell tools and “practice kits” for students to use for homework or advanced study.

  7. Rainy day/Snowy day discounts. Encourage customers to come in from the rain by promising to brighten every rainy or snowy day with fresh flower discounts that increase 1 percent, 5 percent or 10 percent each day the weather is inclement. You may need to put some parameters around this offer, such as specifying the amount of precipitation or what source you will use to document levels. If your shop is located in a rainy or snowy region, or if you want to limit the discount, set a maximum percent off.

  8. Buck-a-Bloom promo. Hype fresh flower sales with a “Buck-a-Bloom” promotion. Have a $1 flower cooler, or display a couple of vases or buckets of $1 blooms.

  9. One-day-only freebies. Build good will and create walk-in traffic with a promotion on one day of each slow week. Give one free flower to every customer along with a deal on other flowers or merchandise that’s too good to resist. Consider passing along wholesale prices for selected products on this day only.

  10. Package wedding discounts. Attract procrastinating brides by offering a 15 percent to 20 percent discount for wedding flower packages during slow times. Differentiate this service from regularly priced custom wedding flowers by preparing a brochure or flier that outlines your wedding flower packages and the menu of designs and flower types used in each. Use newspaper advertising and distribute promotional literature at bridal salons to spread the word.

Teresa P. Lanker is assistant professor and chair for the Horticultural Technologies Division and coordinator of Floral Design and Marketing at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute. Contact her at

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