Coming Up Roses

A New Way to Assure Quality Floral Tributes

Texas Director – Volume 64, Issue 6
by Alice Adams, June 2015

roses

Mary Brown (not her real name) had friends all over the country, so when she died last summer, the funeral home making arrangements for her services was inundated with ship-in flowers from some of the popular online florists.

“Many came with vases”, said the director. “We were running around, looking for anything to put those flowers in… but that wasn’t nearly as time consuming as the flowers that came in boxes, all for us to arrange (after we weeded out the dead ones), even if they were accompanied by a vase. Many of these flowers had already begun dropping petals, so we did the best we could to make the arrangements look decent.”

One of Mary’s cousins sent flowers via a national online florists, and then decided at the last minute to make the trip and attend the funeral. When she arrived at the visitation, she look around for the gold mums she has ordered. None had arrived.

Later, the funeral home did some research and had to report the online florist’s local contact didn’t have gold mums and had substituted yellow Gerber Daisies. Needless to say, Mary’s cousin wasn’t happy. The substitution fell short of her expectations, although it would be impossible for every local florist to stock flowers for nationally advertised arrangements.

One Solution
Enter PerferredFlorist.com, founded in Kerville by Layng and Karen Guerriero with the belief that each family served by funeral service providers and their preferred florists is unique. The team at PreferredFlorist.com is made of professionals who have worked in funeral service. Their goal is to make sympathy purchases, such as floral tributes, comfort foods and other items, more convenient expressions of condolence for the community each funeral home serves.

“Consulting with several leaders in funeral service, we developed a unique Internet-based portal that makes it easy for families and friends to choose and send flowers,” said Layng, “and we realize every funeral director wants to maintain a high level of service, not only for their families but also the community that wants to recognize the loss and pay tribute.”

In building the business, the Guerriero’s wanted to provide an opportunity to funeral homes to build relationships with one or more florists of their choice. “We set it up, follow up with orders, make it easy for a family to order their flowers during the arrangement conference and if, for any reason, someone is not pleased, make refunds as easy and stress-less as possible,” Layng said.

Allowing that most new companie are started to solve problems, PreferredFlorist.com was begun to solve the problems being created by the growing popularity of flowers-by-mail and other online floral firms.

“No director wants a service to look shabby because flowers are substandard,” Layng said. “PreferredFlorist.com allows a closer relationship with the florists supplying flowers from others for the service and fulfilling the orders for floral tributes ordered by the family. At the same time, the is service removes all the middle men between the florist and the funeral director. It also assures florists they will be paid fairly for their services… something that doesn’t always happen with national floral sites.”

Track Record So Far

The portal allows florists to set prices and present inventory more suited to their access from vendors. To date, customer service is through the roof. In the case of wire services, there’s an 8 to 10 percent charge back. “For years, funeral homes would send the family down the street for flowers,” said the co-owner. “Our firm allows families to make their flower decisions on the spot. We’ve also found funeral homes offer a discount card for floral orders, even though the family may be having the service at an off-site location, such as a hotel, restaurant or other event venue.”

Layng said if a funeral home doesn’t have an online solution on their website, they run the risk of people ordering from shippers who may not include a vase, send loose flowers that need to be arranged or present the funeral home with other time-consuming problems. “If you have a wire service solution, the local florists often doesn’t get paid enough, and this could be reflected in the quality of the arrangement,” he added.

The new company’s services have been embraced by members of the National Select Morticians and funeral homes whose reputations have been long-established on integrity and quality.

In larger communities— like Austin— funeral homes like Weed-Corely-Fish have embraced PreferredFlorist.com to spread the business around.

“The funeral homes select the florists, the florists agree on pricing and we manage the rest, including setting up the portal for the funeral home so floral selections can be made during arrangements. We also can help with pricing, provide tracking of floral revenues and serve as a partner when it comes to special requests, any problems or client family questions.”

“On our website, we help customers word their sympathy cards, providing meaningful poems, Bible verses and sentiments,” Layng said. Everything is focused on funerals. We research service information and, if the flowers are ordered too late to be delivered to the service, we’ll work with the florists to deliver the flowers to the home of the decedent’s family.

Partner Experience

Among PreferredFlorist.com’s first partners were the 90-plus funeral homes in the Legacy Group as well as the multiple Weed-Corely-Fish locations in the Greater Austin area.

“I had been looking for a nationwide florist for our locations and Layng’s company didn’t cut out the local florist,” said Michael Soper, President and CEO of Legacy Funeral Group. “I also like that PreferredFlorist.com maintained the quality of the flowers and the service for those ordering flowers for services at our funeral home.” Soper said he began looking for a national florist because his staff was being inundated by flowers ordered online that came in boxes. “My staff had to clean up every order and even with the time they spent, the customers who ordered the flowers weren’t pleased when they saw them, so we wanted to limit the number of those boxes coming in.”

As a user, when Soper acquires a new funeral home, the manager selects a local florist or florists they want to work with. Then Layng meets with the manager and the florist(s), solidifies pricing and sets up their online presence for the funeral home.

“When people come to a funeral home’s website to sign the guestbook— and these are often people who live out of town— there is the convenience of ordering flowers at any time of the day or night,” Soper explained. “This adds out-of-town business for the local florists and the ease of ordering (so they don’t have to wait until morning to call) creates an impact sale.”

Soper said families most often still opt to go to the local florist to purchase casket sprays and floral tributes. But they do have the convenience of ordering flowers from PreferredFlorist.com after making arrangements if they so choose.

He also said that with PreferredFlorist.com, the local florist who delivers the flowers gets paid for their time and floral materials. “The way the wire florists work, by the time it comes to the local florist, there are so many other people involved, their piece of the pie is very small. We wanted to protect them as well,” he said.

“These industry leaders are not just turning over their floral business to a third party,” said the founder. “Our service is tied to theirs, compared to the big wire and online floral companies, who are simply trying to sell flowers.”

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