|Posted on 22 November, 2017 at 8:55|
I’m in the process of reviewing our price list for the new season and grappling with the one of the trickiest tasks of the flower grower – what to charge!
Flower growing is my (more than) full time job. I don’t do it as a hobby, I don’t have another income to support it and need to make enough money from flower sales to live and to make my business properly sustainable. I’m committed to what we do and I’m willing to work hard, but it has to pay a living wage.
The overheads of a flower farm are significant, from the land, seeds and plants, fencing and equipment, to broadband, training, websites and transport. All of this needs to be factored into the price of a single flower or stem of foliage.
Some flowers and foliage are harder work than others, take up space for longer, or are more expensive to start off. This is reflected in the price per stem. Marigold seed is cheap, they grow easily, take little looking after and flower for a long period. Roses are expensive to buy, need specialist expertise, use prime space all year round, take years to become productive and are tricky to cut. Tree foliage takes little looking after, but is hard work to cut and collect and the land is in use all year round. Trees also take years to mature so that time of land in use without any payback also has to be factored in.
What do florists get from Mill Pond Flower Farm?
Quality flowers –every stem is checked, we don’t sell anything that we aren’t proud of
Huge variety – a great range of properly seasonal flowers and foliage, many unusual varieties and colours that aren’t commercially available.
No minimum order - if you want 3 stems of a flower and 37 stems of foliage that’s what you get!
Bespoke service – We provide tailored advice and guidance on the available flowers, how they can be used, how long they last, how they’ll behave, suggest alternatives and substitutes for familiar blooms. We get to know florists and what they like to use.
Cut to order – we go out into the field and cut specifically for the order that a florist places with us. Everything is cut to be at its best on the day it’s needed.
Reliability – we will take an order in advance and do our best to deliver it. If it’s not going to be possible, we’ll let you know well in advance. There will be no nasty surprises.
Stable Prices – our prices are set at the beginning of the year and don’t vary.
No hidden costs and no VAT
The alternative to buying locally grown flowers is to use a flower wholesaler, either ordering online or going in person to a flower market.
Understanding the wholesale flower market
When florists buy flowers from a wholesaler the price is set – it’s whatever the wholesaler paid at the auction, plus a percentage of their overheads and profit.
Most wholesalers are large companies and their prices don’t vary depending on location, so the price of a rose will be the same in London as it is in Glasgow.
The price of a single flower can vary dramatically from week to week depending on availability, demand and seasonality. If it’s a popular flower such as a café au lait dahlia at the height of wedding season the price can change by as much as 400% from day to day. Equally, if there’s a glut of cornflowers or sweet peas they’ll be sold off cheaply at a discount.
Imported flowers are priced by the stem but sold in bulk, in wraps of 25, 50 or 100 stems so although the quoted price is per stem, the florist has to be sure of using or selling every stem in the wrap to actually pay that price. Every stem unused or wasted raises the price per stem of the order.
Every wholesale order has VAT added and delivery or the price of collection - mileage plus florist time.
Although the product of wholesalers and local growers is flowers or foliage, it's not really a like for like comparison. I do share information with other similar growers across the UK and take note of feedback on pricing from florists, as well as whether individual items sell well and the strength of demand is for particular varieities.
We have very good relationships with our wholesale customers and want to provide them with fabulous flowers and a great service, so that they keep on ordering and we can grow more gorgeous flowers. They are also small businesses and need to make a profit. I know that they work long hours, juggle lives and making a living, and also create the most beautiful arrangements with our flowers. They're generous and supportive in their praise and promotion of what we do.
And so, bearing all of that in mind, I’ll be updating our price list over the next few days. As with most elements of running a small business, it’s not a scientific exercise but one of balance - Does it feel right? Will it be OK? Can I live with it? – wish me luck!