Florists For Change Atlanta – Day 2

October 4, 2011

Coverage of Day 2 of FFC Atlanta

Read Day 1 Coverage here


Day 2 in Atlanta is under way!

Betsy is giving the welcome and inviting people to fill out the new membership application forms. I see several have been submitted already!



Holy cow … a STACK of completed membership forms just appeared beside me!



Mike is recapping the mission of FFC and the findings from yesterday. I’m trying to type AND fill out my member app.

  • F2F Direct alternative
  • Buy Local Flowers
  • Improve profitability of incoming orders
  • Remove deceptive marketers


  • 501(c)(6) established
  • Committees created
  • Reviewed potential associate member candidates
  • Building memberships
  • Started process for building marketing fund
  • Next meeting at Michigan Floral Association March 2-5


FFC Structure

  • Florist-controlled organization – only florists vote
  • Board of Directors
  • Committees:
    • Organization
    • Communications: internal and external
    • F2F Order Transmission: optional WS bypass
    • Legislative: anti-deceptive marketing
    • Liaison: Industry groups, WSs, trade groups
    • Finance & Accounting
    • Memership: Regular (florists), Associates (vendors)
    • Marketing & Advertising: Buy flowers!


Questions & Comments from the floor:

  • A gentlemen wants more notice and explanation on WS fee increases and additions
  • Dawn Baumgarten wants the audience to be professional and courteous when hearing from the wire services. Mike recaps that FFC is not anti-wire service, we just want to build a better and more mutually beneficial relationship in some areas.


Each WS will give a presentation, and the other WSs will leave the room.

FTD just informed us that they will not be presenting. (FTD sent one delegate, TF has 4+ top-level guys, and BloomNet has several in attendance)

Live streaming will continue during the presentation.



BloomNet is set to present first. Gino Marotta will be speaking.

Gino is passing on an apology from Mark Nance, who could not attend because of board meetings in NYC.

BloomNet has declined affiliate membership in FFC at the moment, due to a significant number of unanswered questions concerning areas of the agreement.

Quick hits on who BloomNet is (in their words):

  • Business solutions provider
  • One service is the ability to transmit orders
  • Committed to offering the best technology, education and products
  • Pricing options that are florist-friendly, with no increases in 3 years
    • 7 tier system based on number of incoming orders filled by the florist
    • Optional sending / receiving at 80/20 or 90/10, with the typical clearinghouse fees (coming soon)
      (Gino is reminding us that the clearinghouse acts as a bank to ensure the filler gets filled – tells the story of a big sender that stuck them with a 0k balance, but the florists got paid)
  • Support anti-deceptive legislation targeting false local information
  • Working with SAF and congressional action days
  • Floriology Institute is the premier industry-accredited education centre
  • Funding the marketing campaign:
    • BloomNet will/may extend a 20% product discount to all FFC associates, providing an opt-in option where by the florist elects to contribute 5% of the discount to the FFC national fund (final discount therefore 15%)
    • Talking hardgoods ATM, but will look into all areas
Question from the floor:
  • Can you address SRPs on items: Gino asks “1-800-flowers products or BloomNet products? They are different companies.” BloomNet products are florist-priced. 1-800-Flowers is the biggest customer of BloomNet, and they choose to send through BloomNet or other partners.
  • Will the 1-800-Flowers orders ever become 90/10: It’s an option for every sender, incl 1-800-Flowers, but they can’t mandate that members participate – it’s an option.
  • Reciprocity: BloomNet does not have a reciprocity fee, only a low sending fee. Fair distribution of sending, and they will waive the fee.
Mike stopped proceedings for a moment to get florists in line. Someone from the back is complaining about fighting a low sending fee for 3 months … but this is hardly the forum for dealing with individual account issues.
  • Mark from FloristWare reminds everyone that BloomNet is the only WS to interface with many POS systems
  • Tony Fiannaca asks if BloomNet can split the 7% (and everyone starts talking over each other again). Gino agrees to look into it, and acknowledges that he and his team need the florists to be successful in order to provide for his family. They will investigate all options, and run them past the board of directors.
  • Mike asks if we went to 90/10 and split clearinghouse, and the WS stays revenue neutral, that one WS will be cannibalized. The big 3 have said they can’t all make that change at the same time because that’s collusion … but don’t the big 3 already have the same pricing structures essentially? Is it really impossible legally to get all three on the same page?: This would require a massive collaboration to co-operation between the boards and management of the three corporations.
  • Someone asked if BloomNet might be willing to take the membership hit from splitting clearinghouse fees in order to have higher quality filling shops because “right now you’re not getting the top tier florists”: Gino asked for a show of hands to see who in the room is with BloomNet … (embarrassing) Are those not top tier shops?
  • Doesn’t BloomNet punish florists who reject 1-800-Flowers orders: No, but they handle the customer service aspect directly since they can give a better experience than the 1-800 call centre. The BloomNet CSI report does not affect F2F orders, only 1-800 order distribution of orders.
  • Questioning the validity of the manual reporting fee for phoned in orders and delivery confirmation fee: The .25 is a transmission fee, and they credit back $CONTENT.75 for delivery confirmations.


Now it’s Teleflora’s turn. Tom Butler, Mark Freeman (no relation, he’s much better looking), Jack Howard & Rick Davis

Tom turns to the live stream camera and says: “Hi, Mark! Hi, Rob! Where are you guys??”  <huge applause>

Tom says there are four of them here not because they had nothing better to do, but because it’s important for them to listen to the florists because change is necessary. It’s a world-wide problem – he just came back from their international meetings in Poland and the same concerns are presented there.

Tom says TF is really well aligned with the goals of FFC, they need the retail florists to be successful. He’s going to give a quick presentation to show how TF views the industry.

Jack at the mic: TF is a technology company, with 26 lines of business. 7,500 CC users, 12,000 web users, 15,000 Dove user, 5,000 POS users. Half of the retail florists in North America are on TF web sites.

Mark’s turn: TF is committed to 100% florist filled orders. When they run a Super Bowl ad they see volume jump across ALL sites.

“The Others” are taking business:

  • Drop Ship
    • ProFlowers 6M orders, 0,000,000
    • 1-800 7M orders, 0,000,000
    • FTD 3M orders, 0,000,000
    • Total of 0M from local florists into drop ship (incl gifts)
  • Florist Filled:
    • FTD 2M orders
    • 1-800 3M orders
Tom is talking about how to differentiate in the customer’s mind between drop ship boxed flowers and designed florist-delivered flowers. Not that flowers in a box are bad, but that flowers from a florist are better.
Tom believes TF needs to be a steward of the industry. They are active and participating with florist associations and state shows (attending all of them), meeting with over 10k florists per year. Heavy emphasis on education, shifting focus from primarily design to business. New edition of book from Paul Goodman, The Profit Minded florist.
TF is the largest supporter of SAF. In all the other industries that Roll Int’l is involved in they have their own lobbyists, Teleflora is the only branch that supports a 3rd party lobby group.
Supporter of 43 Units around the US to further floral education.
And now for Rick: What’s TF going to look like 5-10 yrs down the road?
  • Committed to remaining the biggest advertiser in the industry
  • private ownership
  • premier provider of POS technology
  • industry’s leading ecommerce provider
  • supporting the traditional retail florist
  • having 100% of orders hand-delivered by a traditional florist
Jack is explaining the new versions of Dove POS – enterprise solutions and options for smallest florists.
Things they won’t do:
  • Drop-ship
  • Adv in YP
  • no grocery / mass merch div
  • No Missiles in the silo
How can we work together?
  • Deceptive ads
    • TF contributing to legislation changes in OR, helping in other states
    • vigorously enforcing ethical behaviour by order gatherers – have kicked out many members for deception, incl one recent very notable company
    • they want to hear about problem senders – please contact them
  • National Advertising Fund
    • MN State Assoc has opt-in contributions to marketing via WS statement (similar to SAF model)
  • They are here to listen – any and all issues


Questions from the floor:

  • Mike is asking the price fixing question to Mark and Tom: Tom says many, many florists have contacted them asking to maintain the commission split. They want to listen and talk to florists but have to weigh all opinions. He also mentions that the biggest issue they see in their test orders is over-stuffing, which really eats into profitability. Jack states they want to hear from florists and consider the optional split model.
  • Elizabeth Crisp is asking how TF (as she did with BloomNet) can address SRPs from Jack says their avg order is , only 6% under .
  • Clarification from the floor: The issue isn’t price points, it’s price for the item sold. Even an arrangement can be unprofitable. Jack says they have a marketing group with florists to help determine price points, but they have heard this concern before and have already raised prices … but will take this back to the marketing group.
  • Another question about the 90/10 split – will TF consider making it optional: Jack confirms they will consider different ideas incl 90/10 and passing rebates to the filler, but will remain 80/20.
  • What about florists named after their cities: TF will do a negative keyword match on their PPC. Organic is a trickier issue to address.
  • Small florist at the mic, under 0k, business education & such, new florist: Bought a shop with all 3 WS, quickly figured out that didn’t work and kicked out … her numbers don’t work, and now she’s crying about the unprofitability of her TF relationship. Literally, crying. Her statement is 8 pages long and she doesn’t like sending a cheque every month. [Not sure if the cheque is for fees or for outgoing orders.]  What can TF do to simplify the fees for her?: (Betsy steps in to say that she isn’t silly for being upset – this is our lives, it pays our mortgages, supports our families.) Tom hugs her and thanks her. They can work with her to go over her statement and remove optional items that don’t make sense.
  • Mike thanks TF for their candour, and again says the problem and burden is too much on the filling shop.: Mark recalls that back in the day 70-80% of shops got a check at the end of the month and were thrilled. Now, it’s a different landscape because of all the additional services that add line items to the statement.
We’re out of time for TF, so Tom is wrapping up. He appreciates the opportunity to hear from a large, interested group. They work with a lot of florists to tailor solutions that fit each shop. Maybe they have to make some adjustments, and all the feedback will go back to HQ for consideration. They will maintain a dialogue with the FFC board.


Mike is thanking TF and reiterating that they want to develop a situation where the WS AND the florists are all making money.



Dirk and the Fab 4 are at the front.

Dirk reminds us that they met at Top Member meetings. These are big senders, but they really feel the need for change.

Betsy says that she worked in a flower shop since high school, then married into the shop. This past year she realized she didn’t feel like she was working for herself any more – felt like she was working for the WS. After talking to other shops she realized she wasn’t alone and there were others of the same mindset. On her anniversary trip she got a call from Dirk inviting her to Vegas … and the rest is history.

Mike grew up a florist, but left the industry for a time. Came back to the family business because he loves the people in the industry.

Keith says they don’t fill any dot com orders, only florist to florist wire orders. They heard complaints regarding incoming orders but didn’t really understand the situation. This past Mother’s Day they had a crisis in fulfilment – not that shops weren’t in the WS, but that the shops were gone. It was a wake up call that the industry is losing members fast. He sees a really need for coverage – not to fill HIS orders, but to be a healthy industry. If florists don’t cover all areas, customers will buy other gifts. We’re heading for disaster if we don’t change. We are at risk of losing our status as a national industry and being relegated to the status of corner gift shop. Keith’s background in the dental field showed the importance of a strong peer-review and advocate system that’s lacking in the floral industry.

Elizabeth Crisp has been told to stand up. Dirk says she was up all night (he knows because she told him!). Not sure what that was about, sorry.

Shirley Lyons, pres elect of SAF, is at the front. Dirk puts her on the spot and asks about SAF’s work on deceptive advertising. Shirley stresses that she’s a retail florist, just like the rest of us. SAF has compiled data on various state processes and complaints about YP deceptive marketing. SAF really does have a file about internet trade deceptive ads, too. Honest! They are doing some work on it and want to be a resource available to florists and FFC. She says it is a growing issue.




Dirk is reading a letter from a florist received (last night)?



Toomie is back to give his challenge again. We need to be a single, united voice otherwise we’ll never have any voice or any effect – leading to further decline.

He’s really stressing the need to just make 10 sincere calls to other florists, and get those florists to contact 5 more.



We don’t individually have the economic might, but together can affect change for the better.



Dirk asks how do we get the Big 3 to work together? By creating the Big 4 – FFC is by the florist, for the florist, to be a unifying and directing force.



Betsy is passing out the exit surveys.

Thanks to burton + BURTON for supplying name badges and big-time support, and giving showroom access, etc.

Total attendance registered 130, plus unknown walkins, 50 (cap) on the live stream, 500+ following the live blog.




And that’s a wrap! Some florists are off to AmericasMart, some to the delivery pool … and I’m off to the airport.