|Posted on 6 January, 2016 at 11:50|
Flower farmers are always looking forwards, even before the first frost blackens the dahlias we’re planting bulbs for the Spring and piling up seed catalogues ready for the next season. It would be easy to just keep on moving onwards but it’s important to find some time to reflect on how things have gone and look for learning points that can inform and improve growing in the next year.
I was asked recently how I approcahed reviews so I thought I'd share it here - this is what I do:
• Refer to my notes of growing, weather, sales, good and not so good events, what's flowering when. I keep a notebook every year with a double pge for each week and scribble notes most days. The notebook lives down the side of the sofa so that when I flop down at the end of a busy day i can just reach over and catch up without moving. The blank pages tend to be when things have really whizzed away and I haven't had time to complete it, so even the gaps tell a story.
• Get my accounts up to date and look at income from particular varieties, what sold well, what was an expensive outlay, income versus expenditure. I admit to being very poor at keeping accounts up to date and it's always the last thing on my To Do list. Once it's done I find it really interesting though so should relly be more diligent.
• Review my diary for the season, look for any busy/quiet times, pinch points, business gained or missed and the reasons for this
• Collate feedback from customers – or send out a feedback form - I use mostly use email to communicate with customers so it's quite straightforward to gather information.
• Review social media posts to find what has been well received (favourites/likes), created comment, and recorded – social media can provide a very different record of the year in posts and pictures and it varies depending on the platform that's used. I find I post more of the day to day on Twitter so will more likely have info on disasters, challenges and irritations than on Facebook or Instagram.
• Get together with others and discuss shared challenges and successes and what made them - email and online chats are great, #britishflowers Twitter hour is fabulous, but there's nothng quite like a group of flower farmers in a room talking seeds!
While I'm reviewing it’s easy to think ‘oh that was good’ or ‘hmmm, not sure that worked’ but the most important element to look at it is WHY it was that way, was there anything that might have made it different, would another approach have made things better or worse? When trying to repeat a success or improve on a challenge if I can figure out the WHY, I'm well on my way!