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The Flower Mart Interview

The Flower Mart Interview. Welcome to Reservations!

Transcript of the Video: The Flower Mart Interview

Welcome to another episode of Reservations. I’m Jeff Harrison, and behind the camera is Andrew McCauley. Many times our ideal businesses that we work with our restaurants, but oftentimes the solution they’re looking for comes from outside their industry. Today, we’re going to interview someone who is outside the industry but holds the keys and can show you, they’re doing this, the things we’ve talked about over and over again on the show and see the effectiveness. Now before we get started, I just want to give thanks to our sponsor, Swing Point Media. We really appreciate them sponsoring the show of Reservations. They are a digital marketing company here in the desert that they focus specifically with the restaurants to help them get more, as Andrew say, more bums in the seats and build databases and get reoccurring revenues. So we want to thank Swing Point Media.

So, we’re at the Flower Mart in Palm Desert. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s in a corporate way area. You probably hear some trucks that it’s kind of our ammo over time when we do an outside thing. We now have the burrtec across the road there. But today, we’re going to interview VJ. He has a very interesting story. He has got the longevity of success. We know that in restaurants there’s turnover quite often with help and also for restaurants, the ones that have the highest failure rate.

So we’re going to talk to VJ and we’re going to talk to him about specifically about reviews and we’re also going to talk about databases. What does he do to get a database and really, is it effective? Is it a waste of time? Is there value in it? So Andrew, if you’re ready, let’s go dive in.

What’s The Story Behind Flower Mart?

Welcome, guys. Hey, VJ how are you doing? It’s good to see you. We’re excited to have you on the show today, but before we get started, what I really like to do is have our audience get to know who you are and what’s the story behind Flower Mart? Take your time and tell us a little bit about what’s going on. In 1996, myself and my wife, we moved to the desert. Our kids weren’t even born at the time. We had our original business in Los Angeles, flower market as a whole seller. So idea was to move to the desert, build a family, build a business, and we loved coming out here doing the teen years. It has changed the dynamics of the desert has changed quite a bit since then.

So we started as a wholesaler. We moved to an industrial area. We’re there for two to three years. And then after that, we moved to Smoke Tree Shopping Center. We were there for five years. And then we were in Sun Center for another four years. And for the last five, six years we’ve been here in Palm Desert. My kids go to school in Palm Desert High, so it would just make our houses out of here. So it made more sense to be in a desert. That is absolutely where I’ve been for the past six years now.

We Hand-Pick Every Single One Of Them

Tell us about your business in general. I mean, you say it is wholesale flowers, but tell us, is that open to all? Absolutely, we’re open. Well, we never obviously turn any customers of the spot being in business for almost 20 or 21 years. You have your base already, people that use your services in the past. They have your information being in this center, which really was a big class for me. We have a lot of interior designers, so we’re also open for trade. I do have supermarket or accounts that we do business with, but it’s now really 90% of retail.

So it’s been really good for us, open for trade. We get a lot of interior designers that come in when they do a house. They use our services to meet the flower part of it. We specialize in orchids. We do anything and everything. Also, we do weddings. Well, I notice the front door as I look around the shop, that there’s not only flowers and arrangements, but there’s also things to go with it.

Is that catering more to that designer mentality? Being in palm desert, I find myself that we have a lot of high-end clientele really wants not your average class and they want to take it to the next level. So we bring in a lot of high-end glass-work. That is always an option available. Obviously, we also have our low-end customers and they just want something that is more about the flowers. I do see beautiful orchids in here and see him quite a bit around. So that’s your special, is one of the items I grow too. I go to the growers and hand-pick every single one of them.

It Is Worth It?

I drive a little, an hour and a half, but it’s worth it. I’ve seen stuff like in Trader Joe’s, it’s a whole different quality compared to what they’d get. So with you being in the business as long as you have, this was one of those things with our typical restaurant, they have a very high failure rate. You’ve been doing it here in the desert for over 20 years. Can you feel like if you had to point to something to sit here and this is why we’ve been able to sustain our business for this long period? Staying in touch with your customer base is so important.

I’ve got a list of probably close to 2000 names, phone numbers, and addresses that we have done business with in the past. I have a system in place where I gather all their information and whenever it’s a holiday I sent them a message, letting them know what our specials are, what it is in season or what’s a new look for flowers. They appreciate that they like that. So every time I get a message from you, you’re not trying to sell me something. Not necessarily. I just kind of standing at the end of the day, I do want you to recover that money. But really that’s not the point.

That is just letting them know, number one that I’m still around. Number two, it’s winter, these are the flowers that are really popular at this time of the year. And number three it’s Valentine’s, your loved one is going to be looking for some fresh flowers, so please keep us in mind. So let us dive into that whole idea, VJ about a database.

How Do You We Do It?

If there’s I-don’t-do-it-very-well, it’s getting names and email addresses and any way to follow up. How do you do it? I mean obviously if I’m going to have flowers that are arrangements for this to be delivered, you have to ask them information, right? So whenever I send a message, obviously they’re there. We’ll have the phone numbers that we’ll have our website. So if an older generation is not really computer savvy, they will pick up the phone and call us. If somebody’s got the free time, they will drive to our address.

Somebody who’s savvy with on the phone, they will just tap a couple of buttons and they’ll get on my website and then it’ll just walk them right through it. And so they really ever had to pick up a phone call. You never have to deliver. I have customers probably 20 years now that I haven’t seen him for probably 15. I run into them at the restaurant and stuff, which is great.

But it has changed. The business has changed a lot. So a lot of this is automated pretty much. Unless they’re calling the store, then we’re obviously here for them. Here’s a great takeaway that I think what I’m hearing is you kept evolving as the market evolves. As you said, you started out, gathering information and now you’re following up and you have a system in place. But you said something before we came on about you use a process to send out some information. So there’s a company that I’ve got involved in about the four months now it’s a company that you input all your cell phone numbers and you can just do massive marketing by just with a couple of buttons.

They Will Take Action On Your Offer

I put all their information in a system and I create whenever I want it, it’s available to me.  And I created a little note that I can also include pictures and messages and that just send it. I like just the other day we’re getting closer to a valentine and created something that we’ll have specials on for red roses and we just send it out. And honestly that was done yesterday and this morning I came and my computer, there were already three orders.

It’s just honestly we’re still a month before. A lot of people don’t want to deal with that last minute because you can run into a lot of, what I was running out of the rock. You’ve got are already 250 orders that need to go out. So if somebody calls in the last minute, they’re going to be pretty much at the end of the alarm.

So these are the things that I mentioned all that so people know, they’ve got the Valentine and messages in there and so it works out well. Here’s the cool part I did. I like what oftentimes we’ll call it database a click for cash. It’s like an ATM. Like you said, if you send out a message, and I know you haven’t usually very long, but we’ll send out a message to our clients, customers, and we’re seeing we’re from a 10 to 30%, but whatever that database is, they’ll take action on that offer. So it becomes very predictable. The other thing that we also do is just so if I don’t understand you correctly, we’ll put out specials.

It Doesn’t Work That Way In Our Industry

That would be another thing that I put up sometimes you know our growers reach out to us, say, Hey, I’ve got a lot of this product I really need to move with and can you help me? And we just put up like we this week we have a special on this or the other. So that really helps and customers always love to save money. So is that allowing you then VJ to actually finally bought and I call it, you say I have this that I really need to get rid of or that I’d like to move and get rid of it or move. Do you send a message up before you ever make a commitment to say, Hey, I’m going to bring you in and pre-sell it sometimes?

Not necessarily because we’re dealing with a perishable item, right? It isn’t something I can bring it in and the store it. Then if I saw that this week, I’ll get rid of it next week. It doesn’t work that way in our industry, but it is just pretty much replacing an item. So you know what you’re going to do. I hope you’re not too on how much business do you going to do and mean you have history you can look into, but if I know for that week I have this item. I mentioned that this item is on sale, so whenever whoever decide using my services, well the staff is already trained. There will say, well we got beautiful souls. It’s just selling the product.

Making Things Simple For Your Client

Now I want to just hit you one more little ride on that database. If you had to share what the one value of having a database over the time of your business has meant to you in your bottom line, what would you share to somebody and say, I don’t have a database and haven’t thought about it and why should I have? In our industry, honestly, it’s just staying in touch with your customer and nothing else. I mean not everybody and have a birthday every day. Not everybody’s anniversary’s every day.

But let me tell you if you’re in their phone sending that message, if it’s not today, if it’s not next week, sooner or later they’re going to need something. They messed up at the home, you know, they’re in a dog house. If it’s an anniversary or if it’s a birthday, they’re invited to a party, they will use you. It’s just making things simple for your clients. I love that.

So before we move on, because I want to get a little bit of a look at what do you have going on in because you get quite an operation. The couple of great things that I think I’m a little bit different than other flower shops is I always welcome interior designers. Not a lot of people, when you’re a flower shop, you go in, if you say, I just want to get a bunch of Serkin flower, they’re probably going to say no to you.

When You’re Available They Will Come To You

Or if they say yes to you, they’re probably going to charge you a retail price. I don’t do that. Anybody’s welcome to come in, buy a bunch of Casa Blanca or a bunch of roses. I give him a fair price. I think that’s great. And then we do incredible arrangements. I do a lot of weddings. The other thing that we do is specialize in. We do about 40 weddings a year. When in a season I have a lot of clubhouse accounts. We have weekly of flowers that we change for them. Then whenever they have a special event, they always use our services. We have house accounts. So we keep busy doing that. So how important are those relationships?

It didn’t happen overnight. I mean, these are people that they walk in, they try you out, they like your service, and then they start comparing, and do I want to go with this one or the other one? So over time it just happens. Honestly, I cannot tell you. My house accounts, I’ve been doing it for four or five years. Last month, we do their Christmas decorations. Honestly, there is really not a set plan, but when you’re available they will come to you. They know your service, they know you, and they know your product so it works out. I love that.

Reviews Are Critical

One of the things I want to talk about because in the restaurant industry, reviews are critical. It’s even to the point we were just read a study and we did a show on it what maybe six weeks ago that 94% of the people in the United States before they make a decision on where to eat, they’ll look at the reviews. How important is it in your industry and how do you see that affecting your future sales?

Honestly, if you don’t have a good rating, why would people come to you? And if you mess up and you took advantage of people, why would they come to you? People look for that. You got Yelp, you’ve got the Google pages and all that. There are reviews everywhere. It’s a perishable item that we deal with. There is a situation where somehow we dropped the ball, we sent the product that was not up to their standards and that happens. One out of a hundred it will happen. You can’t help it.

The most important thing is when somebody writes that review, I follow up on, I give them a call and I apologize. I replaced because it is perishable items. So that is so important. And you know, Yelp plays a big role in our base. Honestly. I mean I’ve got maybe a hundred over reviews and thank God I’ve been pretty good. It’s 4.5% the stars, so we’ve been good. What about anything that you do, like say for instance, I come in, I’m a customer, uh, and I purchased something. Do you do anything to trigger to get me to to give a review, whether it’s Facebook or Yelp? I think that that would be pushing it. I don’t like to do it.

Reviews Are Something That’s Got To Come From The Heart

Reviews are something that’s got to come from your heart. I don’t want to push my customers because if I do that, then the whole Yelp will blow up. I want to give you an example. Just the other day, a gentleman came in, actually he called first. He wanted tropical flowers and then I give him directions to come and he was coming from Rancho Mirage. He came in from Rancho Mirage, got my address, walked in here, and then he realized when the time to pay, he didn’t have his wallet.

And I said, don’t worry about it, you’re trustworthy. So we loaded him up. He went home. He called back and gives me his credit card, great guy. Five minutes later, he put in a review on Yelp. Well that is a million dollars to me. That’s worth anything. So, little like that but you went above and beyond. But honestly, I love that.

Special Tour

Well give us a little bit of a tour. I’m going to have Andrew, if you’ll come over here, this will be just for me to do. So he’ll have a chance to go by. So, tell us a little bit about what we’re going to see. Andrew, I want you to know that we really, I mean obviously items such as like this is not going to be working for average person was just, you know, want to spend $50 to $60. We have a lot of clientele that are willing to go, and budget is not an issue for them. So you have to do what you have to do to make things look the stunning.

Orchids as I’ve mentioned to you, we’re a little low. I was actually scheduled to get orchids tomorrow, so if you come in tomorrow, there’ll be like sixties to hundreds orchids in here. This is our walking cooler. Those are just ready to go out. And then succulent is something that we really specialize in. It’s a new thing now. Everybody loves succulents in their arrangements or even garden look. So we do quite a bit of business with succulents as well. So I want to make sure that this is not a second, this was a display. This is something actually we use for Christmas tree decorations. I was concerned that you know. We can use it an arrangement with orchids and stuff.

Build Relationships

So there’s a lot of things the guys are very creative. Well VJ, any last thoughts before we sign off today? First of all, thank you so much for all your time and your ideas. Again, the whole idea today was first, to let people know you’re here. Get a little idea of your store, but also to share some ideas with our restaurant clients and those people who run restaurants that hey, how valuable are databases? How important it is to have that relationship and then the power of reviews. Obviously, you’ve done it really well because you’ve done it here in the desert for over 20 years.

All the things that you mentioned the most important in succeeding in anything, if you stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis, it’s just a matter of time that they will re use your service. If you don’t have a good review, you’re dead. You’re done. It’s just a matter of time. So it’s very important. If you even have a bad review, its okay to have one every one day, but the most important is stay on top of it. Correct the problem and build that relationship. Let them know that you’re going out of your way, pleasing them.

What Is The Best Way To Get Here

VJ, for those people watching and said I like what VJ says. I love the store, love orchids. My wife’s probably watching right now is how can they find you? Where’s the best way to get here. Physically or you can get on my website, you can buy everything directly off of the website. It’s Our phone calls are always open. (760) 416-3302 they can call it. Or we’d love them to visit our city center because honestly it’s not just us. We have incredible galleries. We have great interior designers. So we will welcome everyone to come in and love to meet them off. Fantastic.

We’ll see. Address. What’s your address here? 4180 Corporate Way, Palm desert, California. I’m in unit number 12. That’s great. Well thank you so much. Also, thank you for being part of the show today and I want to say special thanks to Swing Point Media for again, sponsoring these into these Reservation shows. Swing Point Media, is a digital marketing company helping businesses, specifically restaurants grow their business. Just as VJ said, build a database, get reoccurring customer, stay in touch with them. That’s what we specialize in.

Special Offer

So again, thank you so much for joining us, VJ. Again, thank you. Come see VJ. Oh wait a second. Now, this is something I always throw everybody under the bus on this because I will say if you had a special or something you want to offer, and we say it’s only for people who come and say, Hey, I saw your reservations. Anything, you’d like to offer? Our orchid plants, because I’m sure you hear from you guys. I will be selling anybody that mentions that watch this for $35. Whoa. Is that the cascading?

And you could see the quality of this product. Just come on in and say, well, you saw the show and we’ll put it in a beautiful container for you. Fantastic. Well, there you go. So, the parking lot should be filling up for, or the phones should be ringing right away. Thanks again for joining us. We’ll see again on Reservations. Thank you.

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