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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New FREE Wedding Flower Planner Available

One of the biggest problems facing many brides-to-be is that there was no "easy" way to figure out "how many of what" they need for their wedding.

Well, all of that just changed! Just go to the wedding section our website, http://flowerhut.com/frweflpl.html and DOWNLOAD our FREE Wedding Flower Planner.
OR call us at 800-525-3162 or email us at sales@flowerhut.com.
This useful new document allows the bride to figure out what she needs in the privacy of her own home. It also conains 7 FREE ideas on how to maximize her floral value and eliminate un-needed costs! An added benefit are the SAMPLE weddings that also contain BUDGETARY line-item pricing.
Once the bride has her planning form filled out, and fabric swatches (samples) in hand, she can make an appointment to meet with one of our bridal consultants who will finalize the quotation and fine tune the bride's floral package.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Illegal NC Florists

Would you buy flowers from someone that you KNEW was doing something illegal?

If you are like most people, the answer is NO!

But that is what is happening RIGHT NOW in North Carolina.

That's because there is a new law on the NC books.This law -- Senate Law 2009-199 -- is designed to protect consumers of perishable goods -- such as flowers -- from deceptive advertising practices. This law became effective October 1, 2009.

Basically, it makes it illegal to misrepresent a business's location such that consumers are led to believe that the business is located in a town where it is not actually located. There are very stiff penalties for violation.

The law may be viewed and printed out at:


On October Second, I wrote the NC Department of Justice regarding several deceptive advertisemnts that I found online. Now its time for others to "chip in."

I urge ALL NC florists and intertested consumers to research their “Yellow” directories as well as doing a search for: “Florist In YOUR CITY”. Accumulate a list and write the NC Department of Justice with this information and a request that the DOJ take action against these Deceptive Advertisers.

The NCDOJ contact information is:

State Of NC
Department of Justice
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001

Attention: Julie D. Daniel

When you write, please be as specific as possible with regard to the website URL and company name/address.

Bill Miller
The Flower Hut

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solving The Economy's Problems

This is from an article in the St. Petersburg Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on

"How Would You Fix the Economy?"

Dear Mr. President,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.

You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered. - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage. - Housing Crisis fixed.

It can't get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress and their constituents pay their taxes...

Mr. President, while you're at it, make congress retire on Social Security and Medicare. I'll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deceptive "National" Florists

Have you ever gone online to search for "Florist In Charlotte?' If so, you probably noticed that both ORGANIC (ie natural Search Engine) and PAID results included names that you did not recognize as being local flower shops. In many instances, that's because they are DECEPTIVE "National" Florists.

These folks tailor both their Search Activities AND their Websites to make it APPEAR that they are either IN Charlotte OR have some kind of "special relationship" with selected local florists.

It ain't so!

Here is what REALLY happens. These folks are usually "call centers." Based on some orders we have seen from them, many of their personnel may have never seen a flower before! They put STANDARD (but often re-named) FTD, Teleflora and/or 1-800-FLOWERS bouquets online with prices that INCLUDE a $7 delivery charge. (Most Charlotte florists charge about $10.)

But these online florists DECEPTIVELY do not tell you about the $7.

When you check out -- they add about $15 for "Delivery and Handling." But they don't charge tax (in violation of NC law) so the customer THINKS he's GETTING A BARGAIN.

But is he?

Lets follow the money. Assume a $50 (total) purchase by an unsuspecting customer. The "National" Florist POCKETS the $15 Delivery and Handling charge. That leaves $35. THEN, they put the order on the FTD, Teleflora or 1-800-FLOWERS Wire Service network where it is sent to a REAL Charlotte Florist. But the florist doesn't receive $35. Instead, the "National" florist KEEPS a 20% ($7) SALES COMMISSION and the Wire Service network keeps another 10%($3.50.)

So, the REAL florist ends up with $50-$15-$7-$3.50 = $24.50. After the REAL florist deducts $10 to cover the delivery charge, he ends up with $14.50 to make an arrangement!

But the customer paid $50!

THAT is why consumers are being ROBBED bt these unscrupulously DECEPTIVE "National" florists!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Police Impressed Me!

About two weeks ago, we pulled up to the store and found one of the front windows shattered. Obviously, we had experienced a break-in!We were concerned that the intruder might still be inside, so we waited until the police arrived.

With guns at the ready, they entered and declared the premises secure.The burglar had CRAWLED under the motion detectors to the cash box, pried it open, took our petty cash, and crawled back out. What was stolen in cash was FAR LESS than the cost to replace the big plate glass window.

We've experienced break-ins before, and have never had any of the intrusions resolved. So, we were less than excited when the CSI crew (yes, there really is a CSI group in Charlotte) arrived, dusted the box for prints, pulled some blood drops for analysis, and left a half-hour later.

Yesterday, a plain clothes officer arrived with a complaint form for me to sign. He had a big grin on his face. "We caught her," he said.

"Her?" I asked.

He nodded. "We had three other break-ins that night -- all in your area. I thought they might have been done by the same person -- and that person might be out on parole with an ankle bracelet. So I checked the electronic records, and found that one of the bracelets had been near EACH of the four break-ins at about the right time. And that bracelet was issued to a lady parolee with a long history of drug abuse and thefts to support her habit"

"I didn't know that the tracking was so precise," I prompted.

He nodded again. "With this data, at the very least, the lady was in violation of her home-release conditions. So we visited her and explained the evidence that we had obtained -- including the blood whose DNA would certainly link her to the Flower Hut theft. She confessed to all four burglaries, we arrested her, and I suspect that she'll be away for a long time."

I shook his hand. "I AM impressed," I said.

And I still am.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What's The Difference Between Supermarket Flowers and Florist Flowers?

That's the question asked by the young son of a walk-in customer recently. The gentleman smiled and said, "About 5 days."

THIS was a very astute customer!

But it occurred to me that he might not know WHY "Supermarket Flowers" do not last as long as "Florist Flowers." After all, they all come from pretty much the same place.

The primary difference, I believe, is in what happens AFTER the Supermarket receives the flowers. In pretty much every supermarket that I have seen, their flowers are displayed in open air coolers. Most florists keep their ready-to-sell flowers in enclosed coolers.

This seems like a pretty minor detail. But is it?

In an open air cooler, only the stem ends are cooled. The blooms and foliage are in a brightly lit environmentand and are at at ROOM TEMPERATURE.

It is a well known fact that bright light stimulates flowers to bloom. And, if the blooms and foliage are at room temperature, they will start to "age" as soon as they are put on display.

There may be other factors. One MIGHT be that florists are trained in floral preparation. That means that they are more likely to know the proper steps that are needed in order to properly prepare cut flowers for display.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The TRUTH about "Flowers From $29.99"

Starting at Valentine's Day and continuing through Easter and Mother's Day, we saw major National FLOWER BROKERS such as FTD, Teleflora and 1-800-FLOWERS advertising "Flowers from $29.99" (or some such.) The fact is that this is a "come on" and a "gimmick."

Here is why.

First, the price they show IS NOT THE PRICE YOU PAY!

ALL these BROKERS add a "service/delivery charge" of around $14. So your "$29.99 flowers end up costing you about 50% MORE -- around $44!

Second, let's look at the numbers. The Flower Brokers INCLUDE about $7 in that $29.99 price for delivery. After the (roughly) 30% BROKER COMMISSION is deducted from the price, that leaves the INDEPENDENT FLORIST (like the Flower Hut) that receives the order and fills and delivers it about $21. (WE don't even get the $7 delivery fee since that is ALSO reduced by 30% to about $5.)

By the way, the $14 "service/delivery" charge is almost NEVER sent to the local florist! Instead, that fee simply adds to the BROKER's PROFIT!

So that leaves about $16 for the INDEPENDENT FLORIST to buy the flowers and container, pay a floral craftsperson to make it -- at a PROFIT.

Many/most PROFESSIONAL florists have a MINIMUM net order size of about $25 to $30 dollars PLUS a DELIVERY FEE of $7 to $12.

So... what type of flower shop is likely to ACCEPT and FILL an order from a Flower Broker for $29.99 GROSS; $21 NET??

Is THIS the kind of shop that you want to TRUST to convey YOUR feelings of love and affection?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Floral Code Of Ethics

Perhaps one of the problems in the floral industry is that there is no agreement as to what constitutes proper or improper behavior. So, here is my "stab" at a Floral Code Of Ethics.



Companies engaged in the sale of Floral Products to consumers assume certain responsibilities toward customers. These responsibilities arise out of the diverse methods of distribution of their products and services, the perishable nature of the products, and the time-sensitivity of their availability. We hereby set forth the basic fair and ethical principles and practices to which member companies will adhere in the conduct of their business.

1. Deceptive or Unlawful Advertising Practices

No member company shall engage in any deceptive, unlawful or unethical consumer practice. Member company companies shall ensure that no statements, promises or testimonials are made which are likely to mislead consumers.

The following are examples of Deceptive Advertising:

·Advertising in a telephone directory, or other similar print media, that services an area different from that of the company’s actual physical location, without disclosing that the company is not physically located in the local area.

·Advertising online using keywords associated with a specific city or location that is different from the company’s physical location, without disclosing that the company is not physically located in that city or location.

·Including the name of a city or location in the business name when the company is not physically located in that city or location.

·If floral products are shipped in a box, utilizing photos or drawings of floral arrangements without advising the customer that the floral products are shipped in a box, are NOT supplied fully arranged, and may be left at the addressee’s location if the recipient is not home.

·Advertising that leads the customer to believe that the products will be shipped from the grower to the customer, when the products will be shipped through an intermediate location.

2. Products or Services

The offer of products or services for sale by member company companies shall be accurate and truthful as to price, grade, quality, value, quantity, and availability.

·A consumer's order for products and services shall be fulfilled in a timely manner. Notwithstanding, the member company should not accept orders with unrealistic delivery dates and times, such as delivery after 4PM, delivery before 9AM and Sunday or National Holiday delivery without first verifying that such a delivery is in fact practical.

·If the price includes delivery, this fact must be prominently displayed along with the dollar value of the delivery.

·The member company shall screen all orders for appropriateness of language. Examples would include obscene or indecent remarks in the card message, inappropriate sentiments in a funeral message, etc.

·The member company shall screen all orders for appropriateness of product content or type. Examples include pink flowers in a baby boy arrangement or funeral piece for a man, a cross going to a Buddhist funeral, gourmet basket with pork products addressed to someone with a traditionally Muslim name, etc.

3. Terms of Sale

Prior to completion of the order, the member company shall communicate to the customer, in language that is clear and free of ambiguity:

·The name and physical address of the member company;

·All the terms and conditions of sale, with specification of the total amount the customer will be required to pay, including itemized service charges and fees, and other costs and expenses;

·If the member company will be using any third party to supply the product, this fact must be communicated in language that is clear and free of ambiguity.

4. Warranties and Guarantees

The terms of any warranty or guarantee offered by the member company shall be furnished to the buyer in language that is clear and free of ambiguity. The member company shall fully and promptly perform in accordance with the terms of all warranties and guarantees offered to consumers.

5. Identification and Privacy

Member companies shall truthfully identify their company and their products in all of their solicitations to prospective customers.

The member company shall take appropriate steps to ensure that customer’s proprietary information, including but not limited to Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address, and Payment Information will remain proprietary. This information will not be given, sold or bartered to any third party.

No member company shall in any way attempt to persuade, induce or coerce another party to breach this Code, and the member companies agree that the inducing of the breach of this Code is considered a violation of the Code.

6. Required Publication

All member companies are required to publicize this Code of Ethics to its consumers. The publicity plan shall contain, at a minimum, the following:

·An inclusion on the company’s web site of the Code of Ethics with a step-by-step explanation as to how to file a complaint; and

·A copy of the Code of Ethics prominently displayed within their shop


All the best!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Flowers Are Useless

You can’t live in a flower. You cannot hop into a flower and take the kids to school. You can’t – with certain exceptions – EAT a flower. And, unless you happen to be Polynesian, you cannot WEAR a flower.

But for as long as we human beings have been what we laughingly call “civilized,” flowers have been a part of our lives.

Consider the paintings on the walls of an Egyptian tomb. They often depict both Pharoahs and Common Folk smelling lotus blossoms. Look at the inventory of grave goods from an archaeological dig and, chances are, you’ll find “Remnants Of Flowers” listed along with the necklaces, and axe heads and sandals. The little Inca Children that were brutally sacrificed on a mountaintop in the Andes a thousand years ago had flowers tucked into their woolen clothing.

And flowers maintain their place in today’s diverse “modern” society.

Can anyone ever forget the throngs of mourners lining the streets of London, tossing flower bouquets as Diana’s hearse carried her to her last resting place?

Consider the joyous look on the face of a beauty pageant winner, as she receives the celebratory bouquet of roses? Would it be the same with a necklace of iPods?

What about the guy on his first date that shyly hands his friend an inexpensive pink carnation? Would anyone suggest that he should have given her a One Dollar Bill instead?

What, then, is so remarkable about flowers? Why were they an integral part of all ancient societies? And why do they remain a part of the high-tech, fast-paced lives of today?

Simply put, flowers help us deal with situations that we do not understand, and all-too-often cannot control. And they do it in a way that no other item, whether made by God or by man, ever could… or ever will.

And maybe that’s not so useless, after all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

ProFlowers: Bargain or Rip Off?

Here is a link to Florist Detective regarding ProFlowers.

It kinda says it all!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

How We Do Valentine's Day

Sometimes I chat with executives in other industries. When I do, I often pose the following challenge: "You know, 12 months in advance, that in a three day period, your sales will increase by over 100 times. You have no limitations other than profitability in planning for this sales increase. You can hire anybody you wish. Because your products are perishable, you cannot build any products ahead of time, and put them in inventory. At least 50% of the products that you offer for sale have no sales history. You must supply all your customers during this three day period with products and services that meet or exceed your company's normal quality standards. Could you do it?"

Most executives think about this for a bit and slowly shake their heads, "NO."

But that's what we do at The Flower Hut EVERY VALENTINE'S WEEK!

So I thought it might be interesting to tell you a bit about how this all happens.

First, after every Valentine's Day, we do a "post mortem" analysis. We document everything that we did, haw we did it, and how it worked. We pay particular attention to things that we did RIGHT (so we can do those again) as well as what we did WRONG (so we can figure out what we did wrong and decide how to fix it.)

Starting just after Christmas, we do a forecast of expected sales volume. We rely on data from previous years (we have a 20 year data base to draw from.) Usually, Wednesday and Thursday Valentines are the most active. Friday, surprisingly is not all that active. (Why? Friday is also "date night" and many frugal guys opt for a fancy dinner(only) rather than dinner AND flowers.

Based on this sales forecast -- fine tuned by our sense of how the economy is going -- in early January we enter our orders with our grower-direct suppliers. We schedule the orders for air freight delivery starting about six days before Valentine's Day. Fragile flowers (like roses and lilies) get delivered later. Robust flowers like carnations and mums arrive earlier.

We reserve a 45 foot refrigerated trailer to be delivered about a week before Valentine's Day. Also, we start recruiting contract drivers to help us handle the delivery overload. Usually, about 30% to 50% of our contract drivers are returnees from previous years. The rest are "rookies." As each new driver is recruited, he/she is assigned a start time for the 13th and the 14th. We also recruit a dispatcher whose function is to make sure that every driver has an optimum quantity of products, that every order is complete, that all products are in perfect condition, and that each driver has flower carriers, a map, delivery instructions and other delivery aids.

We also recruit additional staff. We seldom bring in temporary designers (it is VERY difficult to find designers that meet our standards.) However, we usually have openings for computer order entry personnel, telephone personnel, and general shop work.

In mid-January, our Valentine's website goes "up." Soon, we start to see Valentine's orders appearing. We track these very carefully as they help us "fine tune" our sales (and raw materials) ordering projections.

We categorize our products as being for either "standard" or "custom." A standard product is one that we make on a "production line." Examples would include a DZ RED roses in a vase (ALWAYS a best seller) and featured FTD and Teleflora Valentine's designs. Custom products are anything other than standard. Examples might include a vase of stargazer lilies, 11 red and 1 white roses, etc.

As orders come in, we check them for completeness and accuracy. We do not accept orders with time limits during Feb 13 or 14. We also do not accept orders containing multiple balloons -- this is a potential safety hazard!

Meanwhile, the refrigerated trailer is filled with tables to hold our products. We set aside specific areas for "standard" products. We also set aside areas for the 13th and 14th where "custom" products are placed alphabetically.

Starting a day or two before the delivery date, we start grouping orders geographically. We do this so that a driver will not have to go from one side of the city to the other in order to complete a delivery load. Instead, we try to group orders together so that -- as much as is possible -- all the orders on a load will be in the same general geographic area.

Starting in the afternoon before the 13th, the dispatcher and assistant(s) begin staging orders. They do this by taking a geographic group, putting cards on all the products, and putting them in the same area of the trailer. This often continues until late in the PM.

The next morning, the dispatcher and assistants arrive at about 7 AM. We load the Flower Hut driver's vehicles first so that when the drivers arrive at 8 AM, they are ready to go. At that time, we print a delivery log from our computer.

Contract drivers arrive at 9AM and continue to arrive at 15 minute intervals. Each driver receives flower carriers and his load of flowers, and a printed log.

The above is complicated by last-minute orders and last minute changes.

As each driver completes his run, he turns in the log, reports on any delivery issues, and is issued another load of flowers.

A comprehensive set of instructions guides the drivers and dispatcher in the event of a mis-delivery. The most common causes for a mis-delivery are: incorrect address and nobody home (and no practical place to leave the flowers.)

Starting late afternoon on the 13th, and continuing until fairly late that evening, we repeat the staging process. The next morning, the process repeats.

How well does it work?

This year, we had just ONE mis-delivery, and that was dealt with by the close of day.

OK just 11 months until NEXT Valentine's Day!