Have you ever wondered how restaurants – even fancy restaurants – are able to turn around fresh, hot meals so quickly? Especially when those same meals would take you hours of work at home? What’s their secret?
The answer is that chefs do a practice that’s called par-cooking (which stands for “partially cooking”). What this basically means is you cook something most of the way ahead of time. Then, when someone orders their food, you finish the cooking process et voila – a fresh, hot meal in less time.
Ok. So. Why am I bringing this up in a Valentine’s Day post? Because Valentine’s Day, classically, is an exceedingly last-minute gift-giving holiday. (Consider this – are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Have you shopped yet?)
The good news as a florist, is that aside from chocolates and candy, your products are the top gift solution. That means you have a great shot at an uptick in business. The bad news is - it’s possible that all of these orders will come in at once!
So, your solution here is par-cooking. Or rather, par-crafting.
For an effective, efficient, and profitable Valentine’s Day season, here’s what I might recommend:
- First, dye a bunch of classic Valentine’s Day flowers, such as roses (American Beauties, Sophia, Thelma and Ranunculus are classics) and peonies (Ruffled Peonies and Matured Peonies are the most cost effective styles of peonies). You can also think outside the box with the flowers you select (a Charleston with just the petal edges and center comes to mind or some spikey edged petals like Sugar and Spice). Red, pink, and white are the traditional colors, of course. But you can also be creative with the colors you choose! Purples, metallics and black are all very viable options but you might want to dye less of the non-traditional colors if your primary target audience is a more traditional type of shopper.
- Glue each flower onto a stem. For the stem, I would use something that could stand on its own as a single stem rather than floral wire.
- Set tissue paper and/or sleeves aside.
- Price out your materials (2.5”-3” standard flowers range from ~$1-$2 each retail, $0.75-$1.50 per special single stem, $0.25-$1 per sleeve/wrap, ~$0.50 for paint/glue) and determine what you want your profit margin to be per item.
- Get on social media to announce you are taking orders.
- And then…you’re ready.
What you’ll have effectively done is created a streamlined Valentine’s Day production line. This allows you to be prepared for the last minute rush.
Suppose someone wants a single red rose to commemorate a first date. Pop a flower into a sleeve or wrap with tissue paper, out the door.
How about a half dozen roses? Or a full dozen? Same as above, but with that number of flowers. Add ribbon to hold them together. Wrap with tissue paper, boom. That’s out the door too.
Now, of course, you don’t have to only do single flowers or bouquets built from those singles! The main take-away from that suggestion is to separate your products into distinct processes and then do batch crafting for each step. And the more you prep the beginning steps, the quicker you can get a finished product out the door!
If you are doing Valentine’s home decor pieces to market as gifts (wreaths, heart boards, etc) you should be cognizant of your price points and may want to keep the colors in mind. Often, shoppers aren’t looking for high ticket decor items on Valentine’s Day since it’s a short holiday season. So, consider creating pieces that could transfer into more neutral decor once the season is over. Example - red flowers can be year round. Even red and white can be used for multiple seasons. Red, white and pink, however, is a combination that’s pretty specific to Valentine's Day. So for that higher-priced merch, consider using color stories that have some seasonal flexibility.
This is one of the few times of the year where you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that buyers are out there and they are desperate for flowers. Be their solution. And even better – be quick!