Where there are flowers, there is shrink. “Someone just starting out in floral may experience a 20-25 percent level of shrink,” said Bob Shea, director of marketing, La Fleurette, Miami, FL. “But I want to think the average is around 10 percent. Maybe 7-10 percent.”
There are chains that have succeeded in lowering that figure to five percent and less, but attacking shrink head on requires a concerted effort that begins with the purchase and follows through to the receiving dock, and into the store.
The following is a checklist list to assist the floral director in developing a plan to reduce floral department shrink:
Insist on quality product. Find out if growers are using proper post-harvest procedures, such as treatments with STS, or silver thiosulfate, which protects flowers against ethylene damage. Are growers and distributors shipping in refrigerated transport vehicles?
Tighten receiving practices. Flowers should not be stored near ethylene-producing fruit or near a banana ripening room in the warehouse. If they are held at the warehouse for more than a few hours, they should be placed in a cooler as close to 36 degrees as possible.
Equip stores with proper storage facilities. For optimum shelf like, store flowers at 36 degrees, with a five degree temperature differential, and a relative humidity of 90-95 percent. Additionally, there should b a gentle air flow. Neither the produce cooler, the dairy cooler nor the beer cooler provide these conditions.
Order only what can be sold. Keeping tight controls on store level inventory ensures maximum freshness and guards against damage that might result from unfavorable storage conditions. This requires an exact handle on what is selling at each store. Because many supermarkets do not have a floral key on their cash registers, headquarters is not the best source of this information. The best source is the store-level floral manager.
Give your floral employees the training required to perform. a flower is not a box of cereal, and employees need to be trained to understand the highly perishable nature of floral. A properly trained employee will know how to recognize the danger signals a flower gives off that could result in widespread shrink.
Make the store floral manager accountable. Store level floral managers should report shrink on a daily or weekly basis to enable the director to identify problems.
Use preservatives in floral buckets. There are many preservatives on the market, and they are all designed to lower the pH factor, thereby increasing water uptake. They play a significant role in insuring maximum shelf life.
Care and Handling:
Pay scrupulous attention to care procedures. Stems must be cut; leaves below the bucket waterline need to be trimmed; and employees must continuously cull through buckets to remove flowers with broken stems and crushed leaves. Anytime a stem is cut, a leaf is bent, or a bud removed, the flower produces ethylene, which hurries it towards a premature death.
Observe careful housekeeping rituals. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that cleanliness is ext to godliness in the floral department. Slimy buckets mean bacteria is multiplying rapidly, and bacteria produces ethylene. In addition to buckets, coolers and anywhere else flowers are stored or displayed must be regularly cleaned with a disinfectant.
Convey tips on care to the consumer at the point of purchase. Any time a stem is cut, a callus develops. If consumers are reminded to trim the stems under running water and add a preservative to the water in the vase, they will be rewarded with a longer lasting bouquet.