Sales

How smart businesses are blooming for Valentine’s Day

Engel Schmidl /

A shipment from South America might make or break Stu White’s Valentine’s Day.

White, co-founder of Sydney florist Jodie McGregor Flowers, is counting down the hours and days until the storm hits. For staff at McGregor’s, Valentine’s Day is nothing short of a war of the roses.

“It’s difficult, a lot of the roses we get now are from South America and last year there was a problem with the airlines, a major issue, and a lot of the roses didn’t come through. But fortunately we had a good relationship [with the supplier] and we got what we needed,” White tells SmartCompany.

Like florists around the country, McGregor’s is gearing up for the biggest single day of its trading year. Its store in the Sydney suburb of Annandale is transformed in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day into a battle room, as staff madly plan and prepare for a day when things can and sometimes do go wrong.

Of course, delivering quality roses plays a big part in all of this.

“We’ve had situations where the quality hasn’t come through and so we’ve had to source more flowers at a much greater price,” White says.

A reliable supply of roses is just one of the issues White and his team have to deal with on a day that’s expected to see Australians spend around $791.4 million on gifts and experiences, according to IBISWorld. 

An IBISWorld report on Valentine’s Day spending says Australians will spend about $86 on average on that special person in their lives, up about 1.8% on last year, with an increasing number of love-struck romantics opting for “premium items” such as weekend getaways or dinner at an expensive restaurant.

While fancier options are on the menu, flowers remain a trusted standby for those looking to woo. IBISWorld estimates Valentine’s Day will generate close to 10% of annual sales for florists, with spending on flowers set to rise by 3.4% to $93.3 million.

For a business like McGregor’s with an annual turnover of about $1.5 million, getting things right for Valentine’s Day is vital. White and his partner, Jodie McGregor, draw up plans well ahead of the day and rely on their staff, and even family and friends, to make sure the day is a success.

“A couple of days out you’re looking over your project plan and you’re running because you’re busy anyway with the day-to-day running of the shop. It’s not like we’ve got a heap of people standing around waiting for Valentine’s Day to happen. You can’t really do that, we’ve still got a business to run,” White says.

As well as making sure things like reliable couriers are in place, White makes sure he takes care of all the little details that can disrupt the smooth running of the operation.

“Invariably, just small things will happen. You might have done all your sundries ordering and then discover on the morning that you don’t have enough sticky tape dispensers. That’s only a small thing, but it becomes a real problem on the day.”

Diamonds are forever – but especially for Valentine’s Day

Shiels Jewellers managing director Toby Bensimon has made sure the managers of the chain’s 40 stores across Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have put on extra staff in preparation for Valentine’s Day trade.

“Absolutely. We have found that most people leave their shopping to the last minute, so we make sure we have additional staff rostered on for the week leading up to Valentine’s Day,” Bensimon tells SmartCompany.

He says Valentine’s Day is the single biggest day of the year for Shiels, so planning begins at least six months in advance, with special attention paid to the types of jewellery items trending overseas.

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