There are more than 8,000 florist shops in the UK, and nearly 7,000 florist businesses in an industry that is now worth £1.5 billion. It’s not surprising that increasing numbers of people are wanting to join the fun.
Described by those involved as a lifestyle, not a job, florist work isn’t just a bed of roses. The florist job description is varied, including early mornings, long shifts, and busy periods that are matched by quiet times; but if they don’t scare you, you might make it work.
Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the things that any budding florist needs to know.
Training to Become a Florist
Training is not crucial but as we all know, knowledge is power, and there are various ways to gain floristry qualifications. Gaining an apprenticeship and learning on the job is one of the most effective ways to learn the trade; witnessing the ins and outs of the everyday and seeing if you’ve got what it takes.
The main path most UK florists take is doing a course. Part-time and full-time courses are available in order to gain practical qualifications; NPTC, BTEC and City & Guilds all offer some sort of award. You can also go back to university and get yourself a degree in Garden Design or Floral Industry. NVQ’s in floristry are also a possibility.
The highest award in floristry in the UK is the National Diploma of the Society of Floristry. Most professional florists in the UK are members of the society, which offers certificates for florists to test, prove and improve their skills.
Competition is an issue in every industry, especially when it comes to conducting your business online. All great businesses must have an impressive online presence and floristry is no different. It’s important to build up a recognisable brand for your loyal customer base.
A large part of your success will depend on your local area and how many successful florists there already are. You want people to think of you on every occasion, and your shop front should tempt people to buy flowers ‘just because’ on the way home. A Unique Selling Point is just as important in floristry as it is in any other industry, so it’s good to work yours out early. What sets you apart from others? What makes you the best in the area?
A typical day like for the owner of a busy flower shop
Early AM starts are common as you’ve got to go to market three times a week, load your van and take the flowers back to your shop. Often these trips are done solo, meaning that being strong and fit is a must in order to carry out all the heavy lifting. Once back from the market it’s time to put together the custom bouquets and ready-made bunches, as well as handling deliveries. Then of course there is making sure your shop is looking its best, helping customers and managing stock.
Most florist businesses are relatively small, with one in four having no employees and 66% employing between one and nine. This may be appealing to many, as handling a small workforce helps retain consistency across the board. Not only will the few employees get to know the business, but your customers will get to know you, and everyone prefers to buy something from people they know and trust. You also want to have a good relationship with market traders in order to get the best deals and advanced knowledge.
The Starting Wage
When it comes to money, floristry can be a lucrative business depending on how well it’s done. If you own your own business, you can earn lots more money by catering for events, where the most profit lies. The starting salary at most London florists is £16,000 a year, with the potential to earn as much as £35,000 as manager. Outside of London, as is so common, wages are lower.
Flowers are appropriate for so many occasions:
- Happy and sad;
- Valentines Day; the list is endless.
The floral business is seasonal, so the busiest times are Valentines Day and Christmas, with smaller, regular business done constantly. Thank-yous and well-wishes make up a big part of a florists sales.
However, the need for flowers means that the aforementioned long hours also stretch to weekends. Most of these hours are spent on your feet, making up flower arrangements, travelling to wholesalers and making deliveries. It’s certainly an industry in which you need real passion and a desire to do well in order to succeed.
Starting Your Own Florist Business
Once you’ve gained all the necessary qualifications and experience, a premises is needed. Most florists are relatively small but in busy locations; outside train stations, on busy high streets – anywhere with a high footfall. This consequently means that premises will not be cheap.
- It’s recommended that you then need anything up to £100,000 in start-up costs depending on where your shop is and the cost of rent;
- This is intended to cover fixtures and fittings, transport, marketing and staff;
- When looking for your first employees, you want those with some in-shop experience who can transfer that knowledge to your business;
- Once you’ve established yourself you can start to look at becoming a place where you may want to take on your own apprentices.
Don’t be afraid to look at other successful florists and see how and what they do. Inspiration comes no better than Jane Packer; one of the world’s most influential florists, she produced works of art. Since earning her first wage as a Saturday girl in the local florist, she died at 52 having created an international brand. Amongst numerous career achievements lies arguably her most notable in providing the flowers for the wedding of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson.
Huge companies like Arena Flowers are also ones to take notes from. Having started as a humble florist online, they have now delivered over 2 million bouquets of flowers globally.
So you still want to be a florist? Why waste any more time? Get the ball rolling and get started today!