A seasoned entrepreneur knows that it’s easier to retain an existing customer than to win a new one. Repeat business is your goal, and the key to repeat business is providing a superior consumer experience. In our line of work, that means delivering eye-catching floral design, personalized service, and fresh cut flowers that last and last.
When it comes to fresh, long-lasting flowers, best practices yield best results. Using the right tools and flower food are definitely a plus. But these are only effective when accompanied by good care and handling practices. This includes properly mixing flower food, proper temperature management, ethylene and botrytis control, and sanitization at every stage of the flower’s Journey to Fresh.
The Journey to Fresh Begins With...
Variety Selection: Partner with suppliers who carefully select varieties after extensive testing, then choose only the best performing, hardiest and most disease resistant ones.
Cut Stage Management: Growers must harvest flowers at precisely the right moment. This ensures optimal opening, as well as the least amount of stress or mechanical damage during shipping.
Good Temperature Management: This is critical throughout the distribution chain to the quality, freshness and ultimate longevity of the flowers. Place flowers in a 34 - 38° F (1 - 3° C) cooler / 55 - 65° F (13 - 18° C) for tropicals with 75 - 85% humidity. Maintaining low temperature and high humidity is important to minimize water loss and maximize shelf life.
Disease Prevention: Preventing diseases, such as botrytis, requires constant monitoring. Control measures include:
- Temperature management.
- Minimizing or eliminating temperature fluctuations.
- Proper sanitation.
- Gently removing all grower packaging from bunches when unpacking boxes.
- Avoiding getting flower blooms wet.
- Avoiding touching or handling flowers by their blooms.
- Avoiding dropping or throwing flower boxes to prevent physical damage.
- Avoiding displaying near ripening produce or products that produce ethylene. Make sure to check that your supplier has treated the product with an ethylene action inhibitor, such as EthylBloc™.
The Journey Reaches the Retail Shop...
At this point the grower and the transporters have hopefully done their part, and you receive a shipment of full, fresh, and vital stems. It is now up to you to shepherd these flowers on the next steps of their journey. Fortunately, you have at your disposal a list of Care and Handling Dos & Don’ts to guide your path! You also have what we call…
The 5 Steps to Fresh
- Sanitize: Clean and sanitize your buckets, tools, work surfaces, cooler walls or anything that comes into direct contact with flowers (non-porous surfaces only) with a professional cleaning and sanitizing product formulated specifically for the floral industry, such as FloraLife® D.C.D.® Cleaner. Unlike bleach, professional floral cleaning products have a residual effect that helps keep these items clean and sanitized for a while after treatment.
- Hydrate: Use an instant hydrating treatment such as FloraLife® Quick Dip to provide an optimal hydration jump start. This can be especially helpful with field grown crops. It’s a must for Roses and Gerbera Daisies to help prevent bent necks.
- Feed & Nourish: Cut or don’t cut stem ends if using the FloraLife® Express Technology* flower food products. When using a traditional cut flower food, recut stems approximately 1” (2.5cm) using clean, sanitized clippers or knife. Then immediately place the freshly cut flower stems into a properly dosed flower food solution. Use a dosing unit that is properly calibrated, or hand mix the solution according to label instructions. Flowers need to be nourished to ensure maximum quality and enjoyment.Use the Store and Transport solution for storing and displaying flowers. It contains just enough nutrients for the natural development of flowers but prevents them from opening too soon. Use the Feed solution for flower arrangements in vases and in floral foam. It contains all the ingredients needed for the flowers to open beautifully while keeping them in optimal condition. It can also be used to stimulate bud opening of immature flowers. *The FloraLife® Express technology performs at its optimum only when accompanied with good care and handling practices.
- Protect: Use a professional finishing spray such as FloraLife® Finishing Touch to refresh, hydrate, and protect your flowers. Quick and easy to apply, this is a final measure of insurance before your arrangement goes out the door. A simple fine mist spray is all it takes to maximize customer satisfaction and extend the enjoyment of receiving flowers!
- Customer Care: Educate your customers and the recipients of your flowers on how to care for the flowers. Caution them about placing flowers in direct sunlight, drafty places, or near heating and cooling vents. Remind them to change the flower food solution when needed. And provide flower food sachets with every purchase and delivery – enough to enable consumers to change the solution throughout the life of the arrangement or bouquet. This is your best insurance policy to guarantee that the freshness will continue.
At Journey’s End...
When your flowers’ Journey to Fresh reaches a successful conclusion in the customer’s home, it will be due to the dedication, teamwork, and expert care & handling provided by every floral professional along the way, including you. And together, we will all reap the reward of repeat business!
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