Dancing for Dollars
10 tips for a profitable prom season
by Teresa P. Lanker
It’s almost prom time — when giddy girls and awkward
boys fret and fantasize over fashions, flowers and formal finery and
when florists fret and sweat over stacks of overly detailed bouquet,
corsage and boutonniere orders.
Now is a good time to enhance your prom procedures and
marketing methods. Here are 10 tips to start you on your way.
Sell your shop all year long.
Create shop visibility among the high-school crowd throughout the
year. Get involved with school clubs and activities. Sponsor a team
or student organization. Place ads in school newspapers and
yearbooks. Present in-school floral demonstrations, or participate
in a school style show or theatrical production. Distribute timely
discount coupons prior to all flower-related functions.
Then, two or three weeks before the proms take place, arrange with
school officials to set up booths at the schools for an hour or so a
day to show examples of your prom creations (maybe using permanent
flowers) as well as the latest varieties of fresh roses, orchids and
other popular prom flowers. Perhaps you can contract with one of the
schools’ student organizations to man the booths and take orders for
you, with a portion of the sales donated to the organizations.
Get on the prom committee.
Volunteer your time and services as a member of, or advisor to, the
prom committee. Offer free consulting services or prop use as well
as low-cost enhancements to the prom décor. Use your influence to
suggest that prom dates be scheduled at nonholiday times. You may
have to beg your way on board, but once the committee sees all you
have to offer, they’ll be begging to have you back for years to
Keep up with prom fashions. Pick
up copies of teen/prom fashions magazines, visit prom-related Web
sites or pass through the evening-wear sections of department
stores. Pay attention to style trends for not only gowns but
tuxedos, too. Prepare some trendy bouquet, corsage and boutonniere
design concepts based on the latest looks.
For instance, with the current domination of strapless and
embellished single-strap gowns, be ready to offer plenty of ideas
for bouquets to carry and for flowers worn in places other than the
shoulder such as on wrists and arms, at the waist, in the hair,
around the neck or ankle, and more.
Organize at the point of sale.
Prepare samples using permanent flowers. Establish specific flower
counts and combinations for bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres at
various price points.
Hand tie and glue. Whether the
prom flower trend in your area is currently focused on corsages or
bouquets, aim to reduce design time by gluing corsages and
boutonnieres (using liquid floral adhesive, not hot-melt, low-temp
or pot-melt glue) and hand-tying bouquets or assembling them in
bouquet holders. Most designers can create glued corsages, hand-tied
bouquets and bouquets in holders in one-half to one-third the time
it takes to wire, tape and assemble the same designs.
Require payment in advance. By
collecting payment at the time of sale, you won’t get caught on prom
night with a cooler full of orders that were never picked up. Be
sure to clearly communicate cancellation policies, though, or you
may have prom drop-outs looking for refunds the week after.
Get in line. If a team of
designers is available for prom work, put a simple assembly line in
place. Choose the flowers and accessories for every order, and pass
them to a staff member who wires and tapes each and then passes them
to the designer who assembles the blooms, adding foliage, ribbon and
embellishments as needed. Packaging is the final step on the
Stand up as long as you can stand it!
Corsage and boutonniere construction often inspires designers to
take a seat. A sitting position, however, is not conducive to
efficient production. When seated, designers tend to rest their arms
or elbows on the table, or they partially recline into a comfortable
position. The result is a significant reduction in design speed.
In order to accomplish more work in less time, stay standing (on
rubber floor mats or other fatigue-fighting surfaces) for as long as
is reasonably comfortable. Occasionally, when necessary, make some
big physical movements (hop, jump or dance about) to keep alert and
Organize for speedy pick up.
Alphabetize order forms, group designs into categories (corsages,
boutonnieres, bouquets) in the cooler and establish a marking system
for any orders requiring special instructions or handling.
Offer delivery. Eliminate some
of the prom-day stress by offering delivery service. Many prom
designs meet or exceed the typical minimum delivery price
requirement set by florists, so why not cater to your
service-oriented clients by offering to deliver their prom flowers
directly to their doors? Prom-goers who are shelling out big bucks
for flashy fashions, fancy meals, dance tickets and the like
probably won’t bat an eye at your delivery fee, no matter how high.
P. Lanker is chair of the horticultural technologies division and
coordinator of floral design and marketing technology at The Ohio State
University Agricultural Technical Institute.