Five Forbidden Questions

Five forbidden questions to ask your customer in order to increase your sales.
I found this article on and I truly believe that it’s Must be read by Every flower shop, florist designer or anybody who dealing with flowers.

Tim Huckabee, AIFSE is one of the most sought-after speakers in the floral industry. He has presented
to groups large and small across North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Tim’s program, ExtraordinaryCustomerCare, is a fresh, dynamic presentation that forces the group to take a hard look
at how they are serving their customers. This is not just a lecture; there is audience participation from
sharing answers to written exercises and role-playing to making test calls (on speakerphone) to local
flower shops. Attendees leave with a sense of empowerment and optimism as well as materials that
they can start using in their stores the next day.

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“Most customers – about 90 per cent of them – don’t know what they want. Some have looked online, but most are starting from zero,” said Huckabee.

“People make a beeline for the counter because they assume you are an expert.”
“Customers will do what you tell them to do,” he added. The trick is to capitalize on this by identifying opportunities to increase sales – something he believes the florist industry tends to do poorly. “The food industry does a good job of selling its products; the florist industry, not so much.”

Five forbidden questions
At the core of Huckabee’s approach are five “forbidden questions” that he believes underserve and undersell customers.

What’s the occasion?
This question limits the potential sales total that can be earned from a customer. When staff ask about the occasion, the customer expects a suggestion in return. Their final purchase is likely going to line up with what your staff – the experts – recommend, even if that final purchase totals less than what the customer originally planned on spending. Instead of asking each customer “what’s the occasion,” staff should use their listening skills to collect clues about the occasion. This is especially easy to do when taking a phone order – just ask the customer for the card message first. The information staff pick out by listening will also help them make appropriate suggestions about the size and type of arrangement while hitting the right price point.

Do you want that to include delivery and tax?
In most retail environments, consumers encounter two prices: one on the product, and a slightly higher amount at the checkout, after taxes and other fees have been factored in. There’s no reason why flower shops should be any different. Besides, Huckabee said, a customer who is ready to spend on taxes and delivery in addition to the budget he’s given you will opt for the lesser spend if given the choice. That doesn’t mean you should spring surprise charges on your customers though. Make a point of telling the customer the price of their arrangement, as well as the total charge once taxes and delivery fees have been factored in.

What do you want to send?
What a wonderful world it would be if every customer shared your passion for flowers! Unfortunately reality isn’t quite so rosy. This question creates far too much work for customers, many of whom can’t tell a carnation from a chrysanthemum. A better question to ask is: “Do you have a design in mind or would you like a suggestion?” This phrasing takes the pressure off the majority of customers who don’t know what they want, and invites those rare few who do to share their ideas with your staff.

What kind of container do you want?
Rather than asking what type of container the customer wants, staff should tell him what type of container he will get. If he wants something else, he will say so; most of the time, he will go along with whatever staff suggest. After all, your staff are the experts!

How much do you want to spend?
Customers may have a budget in mind, but like the hungry diner swayed by a savvywaiter, they can often be convinced to spend at a higher price point – if staff give them the opportunity to do so. Huckabee said that in his experience, customers often surprise you by rejecting a lower spend and instead opting for a higher price point. Remember that many of your customers are choosing flowers to celebrate or commemorate an occasion that stirs strong feelings. Price is a key consideration for many, but it’s not the only consideration.

Huckabee said that weeding these questions out of your shop will streamline the ordering process.

Please, share with us, what do you think about this Five forbidden questions? Did you find it helpful for your business?

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