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Grow­ing in Glas­gow

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Where are they now?

Sha­heen Khan, owner of Flo­ral Haven, Glas­gow

She’s work­ing harder and smarter, putting in longer hours and keep­ing tighter con­trol of her buy­ing – and that’s why Sha­heen believes her busi­ness is still thriv­ing whilst oth­ers in the area have fallen by the wayside.

In fact, some highly respected and old-​established florists have van­ished from the Glas­gow scene in recent years as the econ­omy has toughened.

The­o­ret­i­cally, that means more busi­ness for the ones that remain – but it cer­tainly doesn’t come through the door with­out effort.

Nobody is safe,” says Sha­heen. “You have to keep your eye on the ball con­stantly, and once you’ve made that impor­tant first sale, work extra hard at mak­ing that per­son a cus­tomer for life”.

This is par­tic­u­larly true for wed­dings, where brides now expect much more per­sonal con­tact and con­sul­ta­tion in advance – often for a lower bud­get than previously.

inside-passion-tree-floral-haven-intro-glasgow-florist-where-now-successful-business-retail-shop-flowers“It’s about build­ing a rap­port with them and offer­ing high stan­dards of per­sonal ser­vice, trust and reliability”

For Sha­heen, that even means now offer­ing a full design and cost­ing brief after every con­sul­ta­tion. It all means extra work, but shows a high level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism so most brides come back and book on the strength of it.

Whilst there’s always the risk that a few will choose to take all that prep work to a rival florist and hag­gle for a lower price, it’s one that Sha­heen reck­ons she has to take.

Aver­age wed­ding bud­gets have fallen to the £500600 mark, and she offers to help bridal bud­gets by sug­gest­ing fam­i­lies bring their own vases for table cen­tres which can be used for handtied posies.

She has taken to exhibit at more local venues as brides dates are closer rather than two or some­times three years away!

When it comes to her own cost-​cutting to main­tain profit mar­gins, she has focused her atten­tion on staffing and suppliers.

tree-floral-haven-intro-glasgow-florist-where-now-successful-business-retail-shop-flowersSha­heen has opted to work longer hours her­self and employ one part-​time florist and one full time florist.

Her deliv­ery driver’s paid hours have been stretched fur­ther by com­bin­ing the dri­ving role with cut­ting and con­di­tion­ing flowers.

This is in addi­tion to now doing all the stock buy­ing her­self. It’s a fine bal­ance between ensur­ing vari­ety and keep­ing a tighter con­trol on spend­ing, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the qual­ity of fresh flow­ers and plants.

Sha­heen also takes twice yearly trips to Hol­land to source sea­sonal sun­dries which com­ple­ment her flow­ers and plants. She found that the local sun­dries sup­pli­ers were not strictly “trade only”, so trav­el­ling over­seas ensures she offers some­thing different.

Her reg­u­lar Dutch­man is happy to deliver the sun­dries for her, so this is an exer­cise she is keen to con­tinue, with her next trip planned ahead of Moth­ers Day.

Keep­ing the shop look­ing fresh and inspir­ing is another of Shaheen’s pri­or­i­ties. Since our last visit, she has changed the liv­ery from the old Harrods-​type dark green to a much lighter and more contemporary-​looking shade.

She says: “Our main dis­play win­dows change fort­nightly, invit­ing lots of com­pli­ments whilst show­ing off our cre­ative flair.”

window-tree-floral-haven-intro-glasgow-florist-where-now-successful-business-retail-shop-flowersBut she’s also acutely aware that many of her cus­tomers never visit the shop in per­son – which is why she is so pleased with a new Google fea­ture she has incor­po­rated into her inter­ac­tive web­site. It allows view­ers to remotely “walk around” the shop, and see that it’s a real work­ing florist’s as opposed to a ware­house on an indus­trial estate.

She has had an online order­ing facil­ity on her bespoke web­site for years, where her own work is show­cased, with a wed­ding gallery of actual wed­dings. She has recently worked with a local pho­tog­ra­pher to take pro­fes­sional images. She com­ments “these weren’t too expen­sive, pre­vi­ously we tried to do them ourselves.”

Updat­ing the web­site is impor­tant and although this accounts for a rel­a­tive small per­cent­age of orders, she reck­ons it’s vital to offer the service.

It’s for the same rea­son that she offers a relay ser­vice with direct2florist. She does not rely on orders through the sys­tem though, as her core busi­ness is from her own cus­tomer base. Work­ing with a relay com­pany makes it a one stop shop for send­ing flowers.

“We have to con­cen­trate more and more on the ser­vice side of the busi­ness, on build­ing rela­tion­ships with cus­tomers” she says, “because if you offer that, then I believe you have a sus­tain­able busi­ness, with scope to grow.”

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