Retail Florist Salesperson

May 08


by admin

By Karen Marinelli


The telephone and counter sales person is a key element of your successful retail flower shop business. When Florists ask me for help with their business, the starting place is almost always a sobering look at look at the Profit and Loss Statement. We boil it down to the most basic statement. Sales minus Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) equals Gross Margin (GM). The GM pays all the bills beyond the suppliers’ bills. Though it can be said about any of the big three (Sales, COGS, GM%) without Sales, you’re sunk.

You can follow all the best practices for your retail flower shop to control COGS and Overhead, but if your salespeople are not selling, you’ll not have a business to manage.

So, what can you do to insure that your front line employees are performing in the best way to optimize sales? You can recruit, train and retain great people. This series of articles devotes time to recruiting, hiring, training and retaining great retail flower shop salespeople.

Recruiting and Hiring

Recruiting can and should take place 364 days a year (one day off for Valentine’s Day). Keep your eyes and ears open for great people who have a positive demeanor, good manners and quick movements. Be open to opportunities in the form of great people at every juncture, from church to clubs and school functions. Let it be known that you are always interested in bringing great people in to your shop in one way or another. Bring these people in for holidays and big events to see how they work and how you work with them. Keep a list of people to tap for such occasions and work with them as you can to develop a relationship.

When you are in need of a permanent salesperson, start with that resource list. If the right person is not there, then it’s time to get more pro-active about your recruitment. Advertise in the local papers, hang a sign in the window of the store and one in the window of your delivery vans. Hang signs at community bulletin boards in churches, schools, fitness clubs, community centers, and senior centers.

The ad should be clear and simple. It should include the name of the shop, the nature of the position and and should direct candidates to contact you by phone. Specify a time range and a phone number. For example.

Help Wanted. ABC Flower Shop. Counter and Telephone Sales. Part time, holidays and weekends required. Call Karen 555-5555-555 M-F between 10am and Noon.

The first qualifying test is to see if these candidates can follow the simple direction. The second test is their demeanor and telephone etiquette when they do call you. You’ll need to make allowances for nerves, but in general, you should be able to tell if this candidate has the ability to work the phones.

Have a short list of qualifying questions at the ready for when those phone calls come in. I use a simple worksheet for each candidate. I record the candidate’s name, contact info, etc. Then very briefly outline the position (two sentences max.) and ask if they are still interested. If so, I ask if he or she has a moment to answer a few questions. I will ask qualifying questions such as: what times/days he is available, if he has any floral or sales experience, if he has a drivers license or computer skills, or any other required qualifications. I record the answers on the worksheet. If I am satisfied with those answers, I will arrange an in-shop interview. After hanging up, I make any notes I need to make about attitude, phone manners, etc.

Before the face to face interview, you should have a list of questions prepared. The questions should be written based on the job description and the list of attitude and aptitude requirements you have for the position.Florist3 For instance, if you are looking for a salesperson who will not be afraid to up-sell, ask questions about his last purchase, his idea of a lot of money, or his choice of restaurants or clothing stores to get an idea if the candidate has a money and price frame of reference that fits your chosen market.

When you have made your decision to hire, do it by the book and step by step. It is often very tempting to “fall in love at first sight” with a new employee. We’ve all been there and then been sorry a few weeks or months down the road when the polish is off the apple and we’re saddled with an unfortunate employee situation.

Take time at hiring to clearly set out the out the shop rules and policies. You don’t need to shock or threaten, just be straightforward. Outline guidelines for dress, conduct, customer and co-worker interaction, use of shop property, work hours, breaks, personal phone call policy, parking, breaks, performance evaluations, pay days, vacation policy, sick/personal day policy, contact numbers for shop manager and for new employee, best ways to communicate, etc. I could go on and on. You’ll never think of everything. This is also the time to issue an employee handbook. If you don’t have one, make one!!! I promise you, you’ll be glad you did.

Look for part two of this article… where we will discuss training and provide a telephone script!

Karen Marinelli is a Floral Industry Professional with twenty one years of experience in the academic, retail, and wholesale sectors of the industry. She believes the common goal should be to sell more flowers to more people, more often.