Retail Florist Business Plan
DESIGNS BY LINDA, INC.
378 Martin Luther King, Jr. Bldg.Columbus, OH 74730
June 10, 1991
Designs by Linda is a full-service retail florist providing decorative planning for weddings and conventions, plant maintenance, and plantscaping. Designs is seeking funding to incorporate its new second location into its current successful enterprise. This plan details how funding would assist in the continued growth of the company.
- MARKETING STRATEGIES
- APPLICATION AND EFFECT OF LOAN
The following is the proposed business plan designed to implement the continued growth of Designs by Linda, Inc. This plan was written by its president, Linda Irvin.
Statement of Purpose
The reason for developing this new business plan is to include our second store located in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building in the University District area of Columbus. We have secured a lease, effective September 27, 1991, in the former location of Wilson & Burton Florist. This space, in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building, has occupied a full-service retail florist since the building opened 63 years ago.
Our second location is an integral part of Designs by Linda, Inc. The expansion will give us over 1600 square feet of new retail space, 300 square feet of office space, and over 2000 square feet of production and storage. Currently, we have only 650 square feet of usable space in our Phoenix Center store.
We are also negotiating with the management company, Phoenix Center Venture, and with Guido Associates, a leasing company, for more suitable facilities within the Phoenix Center.
At this time, 1240 square feet of retail space on the promenade level, formally occupied by Henry's Horticulturals, should be available after the landlord completes legal proceedings to repossess the space.
Designs by Linda, Inc. is seeking to secure financing of $100,000 comprising a $75,000 loan and a $25,000 line of credit. The $75,000 loan would be for five years and the money will be repaid from the proceeds of the Fisher building location and the Phoenix Center location. The $75,000 and the $25,000 line of credit will be spent on leasehold improvements, beginning inventory, and debt restructuring. These monies will supplement a cash allowance of $36,600 that Goble, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building landlord, is supplying Designs by Linda, Inc. for leasehold improvements. A copy of the work letter detailing the cash allowance is enclosed in the appendices.
$45,000 of the loan and $20,000 of the line of credit, along with the $36,600 cash allowance, will give us over $100,000 to open the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building store. This store will enable Designs by Linda, Inc. to more than double our annual sales and will provide us with a facility capable of handling the future growth we plan to produce with our aggressive marketing strategy.
The remaining $30,000 loan and $5,000 line of credit will be used in leasehold improvements at the Phoenix Center location.
Designs by Linda, Inc. is located within the 100 Tower of the Phoenix Center in the former location of the Terra Viridis Plant Boutique.
Designs by Linda, Inc. strives to be one of Columbus's most innovative and unique florists. Our approach to floral design is pure and natural and it explores not only the character of flowers, individually and in combinations, but also the aesthetic relationship between flowers and the setting. We are determined to continue and enhance the tradition of flowers through innovative design, aggressive marketing, and most importantly, quality products and service.
Activities and Services
Designs by Linda, Inc. is a full-service retail florist selling cut flowers, fresh-cut arrangements, silk and dried arrangements, dish gardens, and green and blooming plants. We offer a variety of services such as:
- Decorative planning (including a referral service for caterers and musicians) for conventions, corporate and private parties, weddings, cultural events, and holidays
- Standing floral orders for offices and homes
- Plant maintenance
- Interior and exterior plantscaping
- An AFS floral wire service for out-of-town orders.
In addition to a wide variety of fresh cut flowers and green and blooming plants, Designs by Linda, Inc. sells stuffed plush animals, gift wrapping, greeting cards, ceramics and pottery, crystal and glassware, baby novelties, balloons, and birthday products.
Designs by Linda, Inc. currently maintains eight full-time employees. We supplement regular staff with part-time help as needed for major holidays such as Christmas, Valentine's Day, Sweetest Day, and Secretaries' Week, and for local events such as the Columbus Grand Prix.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s designers have many years of combined experience in the field of design. In addition to skills required in the floral industry, Designs by Linda, Inc.'s designers have experience in architecture, interior design, graphic design, the fine arts, and hospitality industries. The variety and quality of staff experience and skills strengthens Designs by Linda, Inc.'s ability to provide the customer with a variety of approaches-be it traditional or state of the art- and allows them the versatility to choose the style that fits their own individual tastes.
Hours of Operation
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s business hours are from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays. However, we routinely keep the store open past our normal closing hours if there are customers in the shop.
Designs by Linda, Inc. is an S corporation and was chartered under the laws of the state of Ohio in September of 1989. Its 50,000 shares, with 500 shares outstanding, are owned by the president, Linda Irvin.
We assumed the existing lease and bought the assets of the Terra Viridis Plant Boutique for $8,000 in February of 1990. Terra Viridis is a plant maintenance company with over 900 accounts in the metropolitan area.
Designs by Linda, Inc. was established as the result of a combination of circumstances. Terra Viridis's owner, William Wilson, was highly motivated to relinquish his lease on the Plant Boutique after losing the Park Place Hotel plant maintenance contract which carried an annual value of $200,000. Without the Park Place contract and with the store's annual sales only totaling $80,000, the Phoenix Center location was not profitable and became a financial burden.
With my years of experience as a floral designer in the metropolitan area and my familiarity with downtown businesses, hotels, and restaurants, I knew my reputation was established and secure enough to support such a venture. In addition, the $8,000 price was very reasonable for a turnkey operation with such a favorable location. All of these factors—the situation of the previous tenant, the sound price, and my professional experience—contributed to the establishment of the store.
First Year Successes
In its first 12 months, Designs by Linda, Inc. brought in over $210,000 in sales, almost tripling the previous tenant's business.
Our projection of $320,000 in sales for the second twelve months, shows an additional increase of over 50 percent.
Although Designs by Linda, Inc. has nearly quadrupled the previous tenant's sales, we believe the existing facility has hampered potential growth. Our current location has no running water and does not have adequate cooler space for the volume of cut flowers we require. Inadequate refrigeration has also impeded our ability to create, display, and sell stock floral arrangements which, with the existing cooler space, we are unable to store. These floral arrangements are used throughout the industry as an important, proven sales tactic.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s marketing program is geared toward enlarging our customer base, building up corporate accounts, increasing our special-occasion and "cash-and-carry" sales, and expanding our traditional holiday business.
The Phoenix Center has over 10,000 people who work in the center and studies show an additional 4000 people, on average, visit the building daily. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building quotes similar numbers by incorporating residents and visitors of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building, the University District, Columbus Town Center, the Federal Building, and the Hotel St. Regis — all of which are connected by skywalks and tunnels.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s secondary market is any hotel, club, restaurant, or conference center in metropolitan Columbus. The expansion of our corporate client base is a priority because businesses generate a consistent sales flow which covers fixed costs.
Designs by Linda, Inc. is a member of the American Floral Marketing Council (AFMC), an independently funded committee of the Society of American Florists (SAF). AFMC's mission is to provide the industry with a marketing program that builds business between holidays when traditionally sales are slow. AFMC conducts a three-tiered program of advertising, merchandising, and public relations which covers the entire United States.
FTD, AFS, and other floral wire services offer national marketing using radio, television, and print media. In addition, these wire services have national spokespersons making public appearances on television talk shows to inform the public of new ways to purchase flowers and plants. These efforts stimulate consumer demand for flowers which translates into additional sales for our store. In order to boost our in-coming wire service orders and build our reputation outside of Ohio, Designs by Linda, Inc. has established an 800 number in our wire service advertisements to attract more business.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s local marketing program will utilize many of the national marketing tools, but will employ a more direct approach. By exploiting information gathered in our cash register (we track over eighty different items) and analyzing our sales figures, we identify our problems, take advantage of opportunities, and develop marketing objectives and strategies.
Designs by Linda, Inc. studies the current marketing situation on a daily and monthly basis to analyze trends and identify sources of business growth. Designs by Linda, Inc.'s owners are on hand daily to insure customer service. Our services include products of the highest quality and a prompt response to feedback from customers and clients. Our extensive and highly detailed financial statements, produced monthly, have enabled us to stay competitive and exploit presented opportunities. Copies of our financial statements are available upon request.
Our objective in setting a marketing budget has been to keep it between two and five percent of our estimated annual gross sales. Our main marketing "fixed costs" have come from our participation in AFMC and AFS. The remaining marketing programs have been more discretionary. Some examples are:
- Promotion expenses (free gifts for coming in the shop)
- Printed materials (pamphlets, fliers, postcards)
- Media advertisements (radio, newspapers, outdoors)
- Bartering (exchanging our products for ad placement)
- Product donations (door prizes, building promotions, charities)
Our overall goal is to continue to offer excellent quality, service, and value.
Increase corporate sales by fifteen percent.
Strategy We will use our metropolitan Columbus chamber of commerce to target prospective contacts. We will mail letters to each prospect describing our corporate services. We will follow-up with phone calls and product samples.
Increase standing orders for floral arrangements by 200 percent.
Strategy We will exploit our corporate and hotel contacts which will be our best source for new clients.
Increase overall sales by fifteen percent.
Strategy We will monitor our sales figures and data to confirm that products in demand are well-stocked and slow moving products are phased-out. We will improve telephone skills of employees to boost phone orders.
Increase sales for Mothers' Day by ten percent.
Strategy We will advertise with flyers, distributed throughout Phoenix Center offices, in an effort to capture more of the outgoing wire orders. We will decorate the shops early and promote specials.
Increase sales for Secretaries Week by twenty percent.
Strategy We will advertise through direct mail campaigns aimed at all offices in the Phoenix Center and in surrounding buildings. Free delivery to local offices will be offered. We will follow-up direct mail campaigns with phone calls to the larger offices. We will coordinate our efforts with The Phoenix Club and other downtown restaurants to promote the holiday.
Increase sales of our Christmas decorating services.
Strategy We will set up appointments with prospective clients and follow-up with product samples and photographs of past work.
Increase overall sales by 300 percent within a two year period by opening Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location and moving or remodeling Phoenix Center Location.
Strategy We will increase our market share by the tactics listed above. We will also increase our plant maintenance program in order to boost our overall sales. With our increased buying power, we expect to be in the position to offer discount prices on particular items which will, in return, encourage clients to buy more flowers more frequently.
Monitoring Marketing Results
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s financial statements will offer excellent data to track all phases of sales. These are available for review on a daily basis.
Designs by Linda, Inc. has three main competitors: Alexander's Flowers, Blossoms Fresh Flower Market, and Rowers Plus. Our main downtown competition, Henry's Horticulturals, has recently gone out of business and their Westside Center location has been taken over by Alexander's Flowers.
Headquartered at: Trapper's Alley, Columbus, OHAdditional Locations at: Ashley's, Westside Center, Columbus, OH
Strengths Alexander's is run by a hands-on owner. Located in the University District for over ten years, the shop continues to do well even though Trapper's Alley has been struck particularly hard by the recession and has had difficulty keeping tenants.
Weaknesses With the recent establishment of their second location in the Westside Center (doing business as Ashley's), Alexander's could have overextended itself. The Westside Center location, with its marginal success record, could prove itself a burden on the University District location.
Blossoms Fresh Flower Market
Owned by: Ron Silk and Dale MorganHeadquartered at: 2338 Carpenter Highway, Dayton, OHAdditional Locations at: 154 W. Maple, Columbus, OH; 115 Kercheval, Columbus, OH
Strengths Blossoms, in business for over ten years, is well-known for their avant-garde design and imported products that are high in quality and originality. Their business is expanding and they are recognized for their high profile parties and weddings.
Weaknesses Because of Blossoms' concentration on lavish imported products, they have effectively priced themselves out of the downtown Columbus market. Although their business is expanding, it is growing mainly in the suburbs. They have failed to maintain a steady repeat business in the downtown area, a necessity in the floral industry, because along with their high quality comes extremely high prices. Their emphasis on imported flowers has been very successful for their suburban locations, but they have been unable to translate this success to the downtown area because they misunderstand the different type of customer. With the recent closing of their Westside Center store, the result of low sales, they are concentrating their efforts in the more affluent suburbs.
Headquartered at: Columbus Town Center, Columbus, OHAdditional Locations at: Algonquin Building, Columbus, OH
Strengths Flowers Plus is a well-managed operation that concentrates on providing products at reasonable prices.
Weaknesses Both stores operating under the Flowers Plus name are not owneroperated which impedes their ability to make decisions and results in a less personal approach to customer satisfaction. The recent closing of their store in the Columbus Dispatch Building illustrates the disadvantages of not having an owner on the premises.
Designs by Linda, Inc.
Our store has the aggressive sales strategy necessary to compete in the downtown market. We take the initiative to show clients, like The Phoenix Club, the Park Place Hotel, and the Dayton Inn, the type of work and the quality of service we can provide. In the few months since the closing of Henry's Horticulturals, Designs by Linda, Inc. has moved quickly to absorb several of their major accounts including the Park Place Hotel, the Columbus Athletic Club, and several corporate accounts located in the Phoenix Center.
Although there has been a general decline in the number of florists in the downtown area in the past few years, we have been successful in expanding our client base. Our business continues to grow because we concentrate on satisfying every patron, whether corporate or individual. We are determined that every customer will walk away happy regardless of their budget. We have found our customers appreciate having the owner on the premises taking an active part in every order. It is a guarantee that their business is important and will be given undivided attention and care.
Our sound business practices have resulted in credit accounts with every major Columbus wholesaler allowing us the flexibility to make wise and speedy purchases. All competitors cited within this report have a strict cash on delivery relationship with wholesalers impeding their ability to maintain a wide variety of products.
Although our competition may try to undercut our prices, we feel we will be able to meet their challenge because our reputation is both financially and artistically reliable. Growth in the Columbus floral industry during the 1990s will come from market share. Although the number of downtown florists has shrunk dramatically, the demand for flowers has not, making this the ideal time for Designs by Linda, Inc. to expand. Our clients and our suppliers trust that we will deliver.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Location: Designs by Linda, Inc. has been extremely fortunate to assume the former location of Wilson & Burton's within the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building. Taking over a location that has been identified as a flower shop for more than sixty years carries tremendous recognition value and almost certainly guarantees a secure client base.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location will give Designs by Linda, Inc. 1600 square feet of sales space, over 300 feet of office space in the mezzanine level, and over 2000 feet of storage and production space directly accessible to the store. We have the option of expanding the storage and production space to over 5000 feet as business warrants.
Lease Agreement The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building is owned by Goble Properties, Inc. and terms of our lease are available.
Renovations The necessary renovations to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location are as follows:
- Installation of air-conditioning
- Structural repairs to marble cooler
- Construction of check-out and production counters
- New floor covering
- Updated lighting
- Painting and other general cosmetic repairs
Goble is giving us a cash allowance of $36,600. (A copy of the work letter detailing the cash allowance is available.) We believe in order to complete renovations, buy necessary fixtures, and purchase a beginning inventory, it will cost an additional $65,000. We are currently working with John Olgensen, A.I.A., P.C., and they have recently completed a set of drawing working within a budget of $40,000 or less.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Tenants: Major tenants of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building include Unisys Corporation, Capitol City Communications, Alexander and Alexander of Ohio Inc., MLK Hospital, and the Columbus Theater. Connected to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building by extensive sky walks and tunnels are Columbus Town Center, University District One, the Hotel St. Regis, and the Algonquin Building.
Parking Goble Management offers shoppers validated parking to encourage commerce.
Location Possibilities The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location offers Designs by Linda, Inc. the latitude and space to meet our growing needs. Although over five times larger than our Phoenix Center location, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building store has essentially the same operating costs. Given its sixty year history as a flower shop, the equitable lease and work allowance we negotiated with Goble Properties, and its well-balanced division of production, retail, and office space, we believe this location is the best possible option for Designs by Linda, Inc.
I have been working in the floral industry for over eight years, gaining personal knowledge and experience in all phases of the industry from horticulture to wholesale to retail. Prior to working in the floral industry, I worked in party stores gaining experience in running small businesses.
I have had college course work in business administration, banking and finance, investments, and commercial credit management. I have also attended several FED management seminars.
Reasons for entering the business include the personal challenge.
Duties and Responsibilities: Currently, I handle all aspects of planning, purchasing, sales, personnel, promotion, and production. As the company grows, a more formal management hierarchy will be developed.
Financial growth is monitored by myself and by an accountant who completes monthly statements used to make sound management decisions. A "check and balance" system is in place and entails the cross-checking of daily receipts against the cash register tape and the accountant's review of bookkeeping for errors.
I draw an annual salary of $60,000 from the business although most of this goes to repay loans to finance Designs by Linda, Inc.'s start-up costs. These loans will be paid-in-full by March of 1993. One additional fringe benefit is membership in The Phoenix Club, which is a business tool used to maintain a good working relationship with the Club (one of our larger clients) and its members.
Resources Available to the Business
- AccountantS.L. Schornack, P.C.26847 Grand RiverRedford, OH
- AttorneyLJ. Bowden, P.C.2115 LivernoisTroy, OH
- Insurance BrokerD.C.DavisFlorists' Mutual500 St Aidan St.Edwards ville, IL
Floral wire services, such as FTD and AFS, and wholesale suppliers offer assistance in marketing, design, accounting, and management practices. In addition to FTD and AFS advice, Designs by Linda, Inc. is currently a member of the American Floral Marketing Council, the Ohio Floral Association, the Society of American Florists, and the National Association of the Self-Employed, all of which are professional associations designed to assist small businesses.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s personnel structure is that of one company with two locations. Many of the employees will work at both stores depending on production needs. The office staff, located at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building, will service both stores. Drivers will also serve both stores simultaneously.
Phoenix Center Location We currently employ eight full-time people. We supplement core staff with additional part-time help during holidays and special events. We expect to transfer some personnel to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location when the store opens.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Location We expect to employ four to six additional full-time people for this location. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building store will function as the main facility for Designs by Linda, Inc. because it has over 2,000 square feet of production space. The Phoenix Center store does not have running water, sufficient storage space, adequate coolers, or enough design tables. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location was designed as a flower shop and has functioned as such for over 60 years. In addition, this location has over 300 square feet on the mezzanine level which will be used as our office.
Skills and Abilities Staff must have a high school education, be self-motivating, and have strong customer service skills. Previous experience in the floral industry is preferred.
Recruitment Designs by Linda, Inc. has found that local wholesalers and personal referrals are an excellent source for experienced designers and sales clerks. We have not had much success with published classified ads.
Training and Supervision Training is largely accomplished through hands-on experience with supplemental instruction given on more complicated design projects. Additional knowledge is gained through FTD and wholesaler design shows, and industry books, magazines, design manuals, and promotional materials. Designs by Linda, Inc. fosters professional development and independence in all phases of our business. Supervision is task-oriented and the quantity is dependent on the complexity of the job assignment. More experienced employees are responsible for managing certain aspects of production.
Salaries and Benefits Designs by Linda, Inc. pays from $5 to $15 an hour depending on experience. An employee discount of 30 to 50 percent on merchandise is offered. As business warrants, we hope to put together a benefit package that includes insurance, parking, and paid vacations.
APPLICATION AND EFFECT OF LOAN
The secured monies will be applied as detailed below and will enable Designs by Linda, Inc. to increase our overall sales to over one million dollars annually within the next two years.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Building As stated earlier, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location, with its production and office space, gives Designs by Linda, Inc. the facilities to increase our market share in the downtown area.
Phoenix Center By moving our shop to the Promenade Level with its large walkin cooler, running water, and greater production area, Designs by Linda, Inc. expects to gain efficiency, improve the store's image, and increase gross sales. An additional benefit is the guarantee of the Park Place Hotel's banquet contract (estimated sales worth $200,000 to $300,000 annually) which is a condition of the lease agreement. The expanded space and promise of a lucrative contract make this relocation a financially sound decision.
Equipment Purchasing a computer with adequate software packages to satisfy our accounting needs is a priority. We expect to set up a system for $5,000. Cash registers for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building store, duplicates of the models currently used in the Phoenix Center, will cost $1,000. A zon machine (credit card data capture machine) costs approximately $300. The purchase and installation of telephones for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building will cost at the most $5,000. We plan to purchase used office equipment to supplement our existing fixtures. We plan to spend no more than $4,000 for office equipment.
Leasehold Improvements The bulk of the load will go towards leasehold improvements at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building store. These include:
- Tile floorcovering
- New and upgraded lighting
- Structural repair to marble cooler
- General and specialty painting
- Check-out and design counters
- Other carpentry and metal work
We have asked our architect to work within the budget of $50 per square foot, or less, for these improvements not to exceed $80,000. Designs by Linda, Inc., along with Goble Management, are acting as general contractors and have begun to gather bids.
With the expected relocation of our current store in the Phoenix Center to the Promenade Level, certain leasehold improvements will be necessary including:
- Upgraded lighting
- New signs
- Repairs to work counters and cabinets
- Repairs to glass doors
A budget of $25 per square foot, not to exceed $30,000, is our starting point for this project as this space does not require the extensive repairs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building site does.
Operating Capital The remaining monies, comprising most of the line of credit, will cover:
- Any cost overruns
- Start-up costs
- Moving expenses
- Initial advertising and promotional costs associated with the move and opening
- Additional tool purchases
- Security deposits
- FID and AFS wire service fees and membership expenses
- Additional insurance premiums.
Designs by Linda, Inc. has experienced trememdous growth and success in its first two years of existence. We have outgrown our current facility in the Phoenix Center. Our production has expanded far beyond what our current facilities can handle and it has hampered our ability to deliver quality service. Our primary goal is to increase customer satisfaction by providing quality products and attentive service. Relocation is the only answer to our problems with production and storage space. We believe our new stores within the Phoenix Center and in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building will satisfy current and future plans for expansion.
Both stores are located in areas where the demand for flowers has been proven. These locations have already established reputations as flower shops and, based on our experience with the Terra Viridis space, we know this is an advantage over an untried location.
Our recent successes have been, in part, a result of less competition. It is imperative that Designs by Linda, Inc. take advantage of this opportunity and move quickly to capture business left in a void by the recent closing of our main competitor, Henry's Horticulturals. We are better suited to do this than other downtown florists because of our key commercial accounts and the customer loyalty we have built over the last two years.
By expanding our production facilities and client base, Designs by Linda, Inc. will have positioned itself as the dominant florist in both the downtown and University District area. Because our reputation is established with the down-town work force (most of whom reside in the suburbs), we have an added edge over suburban florists because their business rarely overflows their neighborhoods. This lays the groundwork for potential future growth into the suburbs.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building location will provide us with ample production and office space as well as being a desirable retail space. It is also very reasonably priced.
By moving to the Promenade Level of the Park Place Hotel, we would be guaranteed the Hotel's Banquet business with an annual value of $200,000 to $300,000. The 1,200 square feet of retail space is enough to insure that this would not become a satellite shop to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building, but will be a full-service flower shop capable of satisfying the majority of what this location generated in terms of business.
Designs by Linda, Inc.'s two years in business has eliminated the time needed to experiment and establish management techniques that work the best for our company. We are confident that our success can be translated to more than one store.
To finance our planned expansion, we are asking for $100,000 which comprises loans and lines of credit. We are open to suggestions as to the best way to secure this type of financing. We welcome the chance to meet and interview with any prospective party interested and willing to help us excel.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Building lease and work letter, letters of intent, and architectural drawings are available upon request.