Those of you who have been following my shenanigans, keeping up with my constant trying to get you to part with your hard-earned money, or who just like something nondescript to read while you have your coffee, will know it's very rare for me to be here at the weekend, hassling you all, yet here I am.
The rain is hammering down outside as I sit in the office at work tapping away on a keyboard, making words appear on the screen that will be shared with you all. I should be catching up on paperwork, sorting the shops accounts yet I found myself having a nose around google to see if I was able to share the adverts I have on my main blog page on here (it's a small way to earn some extra pennies) and I was happy to find I can do such a thing, so logged this on to pop the code in - apologies to those of you that hate adverts on blogs but I'm doing all I can myself to try and raise some funds too, and figured while I was here I would give you an update. Not that I have anything new to share with you but it gives me another chance to let you know what kind of person I am (that is someone who hates the accounting side of running a business - I am so not good when it comes to paperwork and had I wanted to be an accountant or book keeper I would never have wasted all that time training to be a florist).
Of course, I've never shared with you what it is that I do - it might go some way now to explaining why I am asking lovely strangers to help me fund my road trip. I am a florist. I have my own florist shop. I am constantly being squeezed in every direction by the supermarkets who can undercut us, so much so that they can sell their flowers cheaper than I can buy them - the reason for this is they offer the growers X amount, who really need Y amount to make any money but want the regular order from the supermarkets so we then pay extra to make up the difference. For example. The grower needs to sell a flower at 20p per stem to cover their costs. The supermarkets want several million stems but will only pay 12p per stem. The grower then has to sell to us at 28p per stem to (or more depending on how many stems the supermarkets have taken). The supermarkets can then sell to their customers at 25p per stem (this gives them a cracking mark-up). This is still less than we have paid. I then have customers come in having a go that I am ripping them off. I find that so hurtful when I go out of my way to keep the mark-up on the flowers I sell as low as is possible so as not to rip-off anyone. I got told a while back to up my prices but I'm in an area where people don't have the funds to spend more - if I was to up the price I'd end up losing even more customers to the supermarkets.
Now, the supermarkets can't offer the personal service we do, they don't deliver (although several use courier companies to send out bouquets but look into the reviews of such companies and you'll see you'd really be wasting your money) but there are a lot of people these days who will do an evening class at a local college then set themselves up at home as a florist. The amount of weddings I have had to sort out for brides who have used one of these home-workers is ridiculous. Of course, they can again undercut me on price. They don't have the same running costs I do. They work from a room in their house. Sadly a lot of them don't even have insurances which is ok as long as nothing goes wrong but means a bride could have her day ruined if it did. A lot (not all, there are some who are genuine and honest) of them don't declare their earnings to the taxman. They take the money from the brides pay for their flowers then bank the rest for themselves. Running a shop you can't do such a thing, so again the homeworker can undercut me. I have business rates, contents insurance, buildings insurance, public liability insurance, vehicle insurance, an insurance to cover the flowers should the vehicle be damaged enroute (this is in addition to normal vehicle insurance). I pay personal tax and national insurance, my business then also has to pay those against my wages (yep, we really do pay twice). Utility bills are higher on a business property than they are a domestic one. Then there are the bank charges, credit card processing fees. A homeworker normally gets paid in cash which they either spend, or a cheque they bank in a personal account - they don't have to pay standing fees, percentage fees and transaction fees. I have to pay to register for data protection and pci compliance. If I wanted to listen to a radio (ipod or cd player) while at work I'd have to pay a fee to do so. Someone working from home doesn't have to pay out for half the things those of us with a shop do, so again we get undercut on prices and accused of ripping off brides. That is the thing with most homeworkers - they will only deal with weddings. So few of them will make funeral tributes - the reason for that is because they may have to buy 10 different types of flowers for just 1 tribute, therefore they would not make any money. With a wedding it's different. You usually have just 3 or 4 varieties that you spread out over many different items, therefore making them more profitable than any of the other day-to-day florist activities.
All of the above is just a small amount of the daily battles a #realflorist deals with in regards to the supermarkets, petrol stations and home workers. It's a wonder at times flower shops still exist any more in this day and age. The good thing is that you know if one is still going and has been for more than 4 or 5 years it's because they are exceptionally good at what they do. They are definitely worth you visiting. They will have battled hard to still be going (I've been doing this 10 years now and still can't always pay myself each month) but I've never been late paying a wholesaler, I've never missed a bill, I've never let anyone down and I can see that things are moving in a good direction - if I could just get my outgoing costs down and show the majority of everyday customers that them buying from a supermarket will mean one day florists disappear completely at which point they will only ever be able to buy from the supermarkets who can hike their prices as high as they wish, then things would be really good. There would be enough money for the world to go round.
For those of you wondering, I do still buy my vegetables from a farm shop, my meat from the same place (or a local butcher) bread from a bakers. I will buy products online but only from retailers who have a high street shop too - never from someone who just has a central warehouse somewhere. I am all too aware how general businesses are being crushed and run into the ground by those who don't have a high street presence and know just how badly the economy of this country will fail if the online only businesses were to take complete control. Sadly the way the world is going I can see in 20 years there being only the big 5 supermarkets and amazon - everything and everyone in between will have been exterminated. I dread to think what will happen to the economy, peoples incomes and the country as a whole when that finally happens. There will be no going back from it either, for nobody will be in the position to open up a small outlet and take any of them on.
That's me; this is who I am. I work hard, long hours doing something I love. It's not always about making the most money - it's about providing a service to people at the right price for them, and more importantly about being able to do a job I love. It's because of this I spend so much time here, asking for your help.