This is my arrangement. I work as a florist (for my day job) and have since 1988. The flower business has changed dramatically since then, and order gatherers and wire services have taken over the industry. Many people find themselves unhappy with what they receive when they order a flower arrangement online or through a national service and will ask me how they can be sure their floral gift will not be a disappointment.
My first response is to advise them to order their flowers through a local florist, not a service. You see, wire services and order gatherers are companies who take an approximate cut of 30% of the money you spend on flowers, so the florist that is filling your order is getting far less than you are spending - and in turn you are getting a far smaller gift than you would get if you cut out that middle man and went directly to the local florist yourself. If you spend $50 on your flowers, the national service will then charge you tax and $10 - $20 in service fees for taking your order, meaning you will spend more than $70 for that order. The receiving florist will get your order for $50 total (and will receive approximately $35 because of the 30% cut) and will have to take an average delivery fee of $9.95 out of that total, so what is left is the value of your flower arrangement — about $25. Those order gatherers are expensive! Cut out the middle man and you will get full value on your order — and save the service fees as well.
Finding a local florist is not hard, but it does take some knowledge to avoid the advertising tactics of the national services - who tend to masquerade as a local business in their ads. Go to the local yellow pages or to florist listing sites like www.findaflorist.com. Know the address and zip code where you want your flowers delivered, and you can look up a florist in that area to call. Yes, call. Pick up the thousand pound phone and call them. Ask them about the town and where they are located in it. Ask them if they deliver to the address you are sending flowers to, and if they don’t, ask them to recommend a closer florist. This is how you can be sure you are calling a local shop and not a service. You can also get a feel of the business and see if they are a friendly, professional business or not.
Once you are sure you are talking to a local shop you can ask for their website. Most (if not all) professional florists have a website you can order from. It’s even better if they have a social media page where you can see photos of their actual arrangements - made in their shop and not just the professional catalog photos on the website. Once on their site, choose a flower arrangement you like. Substitutions are common, so choose an arrangement for the colors and style shown and you should be happy with the outcome. If you must have a specific flower in your arrangement, it is best to order over the phone instead of online, so you can communicate the specifics to the florist and find out if the flower you want is available (flowers are seasonal). If you have a very specific request, you should try to order early to give the florist time to special order your flowers from their supplier. During peak floral holiday times (Sweetest’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines, Secretaries Day, Easter, Mother’s Day) it is best to order as early as possible. A week ahead is ideal.
Forget the coupons! Many local shops have specials that will save you a bit while still providing a nice gift for your loved one. Shop and compare to save money (call a few different local shops and compare their prices for the same arrangement). I have yet to speak with a person who got a 50% off “deal” with flowers who was happy with the outcome. This is because many bargain companies who offer such deals take a 50% cut of the face value of your “deal” and very few independent florists will accept these orders. When they do, they definitely skimp on what you get.
Really, the best way to send flowers is to order direct from the local florist. Local shops are usually independently owned and operated, so talk to them, see if you like the shop before you place your order and avoid the wire services! Order seasonal arrangements and if you want something specific call the shop to see if they can get it for you. National services like to tell you whatever you want to hear, but few are pleased with the outcome. Shop local and you will be far happier in the end. -Gina