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Pricing Right: Premium Roses

The markup should reflect the perceived value of the flower

Bridal bouquet featuring Juliet (Ausjameson) and Purity (Ausoblige) garden roses
A bridal bouquet featuring Juliet (Ausjameson) and Purity (Ausoblige) garden roses. Design by Joseph Massie.

Your clients approach you, dreaming of a wedding replete with soft peach English garden roses such as Juliet (Ausjameson)—and you want to make their dreams come true. Then comes sticker shock. Once you’ve applied your usual markup to the wholesale cost of those roses—or of any high-priced, premium flower—the dream seems out of reach. Is it?

Pricing systems differ, and so do markups—and so they should, because every florist’s market situation is different. Some florists first apply a markup to the flowers that is intended to cover just overhead and profit; then they add a labor charge percentage on top of that. Others apply a higher markup that is intended to cover everything: overhead, profit and labor.

Whatever system is used, wedding work—especially flowers to wear and carry—can be labor-intensive, and the markup needs to reflect that. But what happens when you apply a markup of, say, 5x to a premium rose?

If an ordinary rose costs you $1, then a 5x markup covers that cost and adds $4 to the retail price. But if you want a special rose that costs $3, $4 or even $5 per stem wholesale, then a 5x markup now increases your retail price by as much as $20 per stem.

Have you or your staff worked five times as long to process and design with that higher-priced rose? No. Yet, the markup inflates the difference in cost to the point where the rose that is your client’s heart’s desire—and that can win you kudos and new clients—is priced out of the market.

“With premium flowers, most of the time it doesn’t make sense to take the usual markup,” says Vonda LaFever AIFD, PFCI, CEO at Flower Clique, an online florist community and service provider. “Even if you take a smaller markup, you are still making a larger profit on the premium rose.” In the end, she suggests, the appropriate markup depends on the perceived value of the flower.

Rose-filled centerpieces of Effie (Ausgray) garden roses. Design by Janne Ford.
Rose-filled centerpieces of Effie (Ausgray) garden roses. Design by Janne Ford.

One Size Does Not Fit All

“Florists need the right tools for pricing high-end weddings,” says Corrine Heck, founder and CEO of Details Flowers Software, a platform geared to helping florists with profitability, productivity, and organization, especially for weddings and events. Flexibility is key—even while you keep a sharp eye on profit margins to make sure you are getting well paid for your time and covering all your costs.

“Using just one standard, across-the-board markup doesn’t really work,” Corrine further explains. Alongside the wide difference in wholesale cost between standard and premium flowers, different types of wedding designs vary widely in the labor time they require. The labor time on a boutonniere, for example, could be 8x or 9x the cost of the flowers—while a centerpiece takes more flowers but less time.

The Details software that helps florists with pricing gives flexibility by allowing for different markups on different items within the wedding. Using the system, you can even slide the markup for individual items up or down, while the system shows you what the impact is on your profit margin for that item.

“Maybe you want a 300% profit margin on everything you do,” says Corrine. “You can enter that into the system, and it will show you what you should charge for any individual item”—a bouquet or a centerpiece, for example.

“But maybe you also know that your client isn’t going to go over $400 for her bouquet,” she continues. At a 5x markup, the premium roses your client lusts after might push the retail price over her limit. “You may choose to say, I’m going to accept a slightly lower margin on this bouquet, and that’s OK with me,” because you know that those roses will draw oohs, aahs—and referrals.

Meanwhile, you can make adjustments elsewhere, and the system can assure you that your profit margin on the wedding overall will still meet your goal.

Pricing wedding flowers for both profit and competitive market appeal is complicated, but the solution is not to oversimplify. Rather, refine your system and work with the best tools. Once you come up with a pricing formula that seems to work well for a variety of clients, you can use that as a template going in and still be flexible in the details.

Whatever system or software you use, it should not get in the way of giving your clients the very best, without compromise to the profits that you so richly deserve!

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