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Showing posts from tagged with: Signage

In The Bloom with Maria: Extra Space May Require Extra Coverage

It’s a challenge every business owner faces—how do you bring new customers into your store? With Mother’s Day fast approaching, some florists are giving in store special events a try. But as Hortica Retail Sales Specialist Maria Shepherd found out, doing something extra at your shop may mean you need extra insurance coverage. The March 2016 issue of “Floral Management” from the Society of American Florists, highlights the efforts of a Phoenix florist who came up with a unique promotion for Valentine’s Day. Because the holiday fell on a Sunday in 2016 right in the middle of a long President’s Day weekend, he held a three-hour open house the day before and invited dads and daughters to visit. “The Daddy Daughter Valentine’s Day Experience” featured activities for kids like cookie decorating, the chance to learn about where flowers are grown and what some flowers symbolize. They could also get a keepsake photo and buy pre-made arrangements. While the owner figures he broke even on the event, he hopes to profit from future business since customers are now familiar with his store. Also, as part of the promotion, staff asked visitors if they could be added to the store’s email list so they could tell them about upcoming events—like the next experience planned for Mother’s Day. The florist is also looking at similar programs for Halloween and Thanksgiving. But these kind of events require extra planning, preparation and space. As you well know, floral shops generally don’t have the room to accommodate a couple hundred extra people—especially during busy times like Valentine’s Day. In this case, the florist was able to convince his landlord to let him rent an empty storefront a few doors down from his shop for the day. Such arrangements aren’t uncommon in the floral industry. Overflow space is often utilized by florists and design studios. But spreading around inventory, equipment and staff to other locations often means you need to make an adjustment to your insurance coverage. Remember, seasonal overflow, event space and even storage areas may need to be included on your policy. If you’re using such spaces—or are planning to in the future—talk to a Hortica specialist. We’ll sit down with you to review your business needs and discuss the solutions that’ll make sure you’re protected.

Garden Center Safety

Garden Center Safety It’s that time of year again when garden centers get busy. Customers come in ready to add a little color to their lives after a long winter. What you don’t want them to add is an injury while they’re shopping. The same is true for your workers keeping the inventory stocked. We here at Hortica found some of the most common pitfalls and have suggestions to avoid them. Garden center injuries are generally found in 2 areas—slips, trips and falls, and injuries caused by improperly lifting heavy items. The first can be addressed with some simple housekeeping:

  • Clear warnings: Let customers and employees know that the hoses are out and the water they leave behind can make floors slippery. Slip, trip and fall signs make everyone aware of the dangers around them. Algae is also something to look out for, since it can create a very slippery surface. Liability claims often go higher when algae is involved.
  • Uncluttered walkways: Small plants and displays can be a hazard if left in the way of foot traffic. It’s especially true if something’s on the floor and can’t be seen around a corner. Also look for low-hanging items—such as flower baskets—to protect customers and employees from hitting their head.
  • Proper equipment and training: Make sure equipment like ladders and step-stools are safe and in good condition. Employees should also be trained in ladder safety. In addition, customers should never be allowed to use any ladder. Some of the most costly injuries in the floral industry are the result of falls from ladders.
Working in a garden center often means lifting and moving heavy items. That’s why it’s important you have accurate descriptions outlining the physical demands of each job. Pre-employment medical checks will make sure a candidate is physically able to do the work. You also need to teach workers to:
  • Lift the right way: Train your workers to not twist their back while lifting to avoid injuries like a herniated disc. Supervisors should also be on the lookout for improper lifting and give extra guidance if it’s needed.
  • Know your limits: Set a maximum weight that’ll be a safe lifting limit for one person. Anything above it requires a team lift.
  • Get some help: Encourage the use of lifting devices like a dolly or pallet jack whenever possible. And if something needs to be taken from one end of the building to the other, use a cart to make the move easier.
Of course, there are other safety issues you may face in your garden center. Mobile equipment like forklifts and loaders require separate rules and guidelines. The same is true for machinery used by your employees. But remember, safety isn’t something you talk about once a year and then forget—it changes with the seasons. Have regular training and create a safety team to identify any new needs. Also, talk to a Hortica specialist to look at your workplace and design a safety program customized for you.

In The Bloom with Maria: Cash Flow Statements and the Impact on Insurance

In The Bloom with MarinaIt’s a conundrum often considered by florists—how can I have profits being taxed, but not have the cash available to pay them? With most of us filing tax day into the past, you may want to keep that pile of paperwork out for one last look. Not for Uncle Sam—but to see if you have enough insurance coverage for your floral operation. As Hortica Retail Sales Specialist Maria Shepherd found out, many business owners only look at the balance sheet and the profit and loss report. But you also need to check out a third crucial piece of the puzzle—your cash flow statement. So, just what is a cash flow statement? Simply put, it shows the effects of profit and loss on your business, as well as the changes in your assets and liabilities. That determines how much cash you have available. Derrick P. Meyers of the financial management and accounting firm Crockett, Myers and Associates took a closer look at cash flow statements. He found a few key things to understand: Cash Affected by Operations: This calculates the effect the current operation has on cash flow. If it’s negative, it’s cash used for operations. If it’s positive, it’s considered cash provided by operations. In other words, if inventory is increased, cash is spent. If accounts receivable goes down, cash is on hand because you collected on outstanding bills. Cash Affected by Investing Activities: Cash spent on investments like buying equipment, buildings or even stock in another company reduces what cash is available. Selling an investment increases cash. CashFlowCash Affected by Financing Activities: This is what comes into play with most businesses and has the biggest impact on the notion that profit is the same as cash. Paying things like bank loans, business credit cards and other debt reduces your cash on hand—but leaves your profit intact on the statement. That’s why some florists have no cash, but still have profit. There are ways to avoid cash flow challenges. In Meyer’s article “Cash Flow Catch-Up” in the March 2016 issue of “Floral Management” from the Society of American Florists, he suggests keeping track of the changes in your inventory, accounts receivables and accounts payable. That way you get a sense of the times of year when there’s more cash or less and can budget accordingly. You should also avoid relying solely on your bank balance to see how business is going. By understanding your financial statements and how cash flow works, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the question “Where’s my cash?” when you need it. But a cash flow statement isn’t just for determining your company’s financial strength; it’s also a good reminder to check your insurance coverage. Any time you have an increase or change in inventory, equipment or buildings, you may need a property adjustment in your policies. A Hortica specialist is ready to sit down with you to discuss your business needs and offer some solutions.

Key Partner Spotlight: Society of American Florists

The Society of American Florists (SAF) is one the oldest floral organizations in the country. It represents all segments of the industry—from retailers and growers to wholesalers, importers, suppliers and more. Founded in Chicago in 1884 by 21 members of the American Association of Nurserymen, Florists and Seedsmen, the association grew to 400 members the very next year. In 1887, the organization formed the Florists’ Hail Association of America to protect greenhouse owners against hail damage. Eventually that association became Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company. Today, you know it as Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits. That’s right, we’ve been associated with SAF for almost 130 years! SAF is active on Capitol Hill. There, the association’s representatives discover and track legislative and regulatory issues that could impact on the floral industry. In addition to sharing what they’ve learned with SAF members, they lobby lawmakers from their members’ districts to make sure local opinions on any pending legislation are heard. SAF also organizes a grassroots program to help members build a relationship with their lawmakers. Through the discussion board on the association’s website, hundreds of growers, retailers and others discuss the issues they’ve encountered—and the solutions they’ve found. Publications and industry news also provide a chance to learn and an opportunity for members to grow their business. In fact, it’s a theme repeated in the SAF slogan: “Your Growth is Our Business.” Special events are also scheduled each year. 1-Day Profit Blasts, Congressional Action Days in Washington, D.C., and an annual convention offer networking opportunities and meetings, while educational programs look at the latest trends with customers and suppliers and any other issues that could affect your business. SAF endorses Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits and we’re excited to be a supplier showcase participant and lunch sponsor at their upcoming 1-Day Profit Blast in Cincinnati on April 16th. We’ll also attend the SAF annual convention in Hawaii this September. For more information about the Society of American Florists, to register for an event or become a member, check out their website at: https://safnow.org/.

Pesticide Safety & EPA Regulation Changes

In the horticultural industry, they’re as common as plants and dirt—pesticides and herbicides. As a business owner, odds are you and your workers come into contact with them on a regular basis. Here at Hortica, we’re all about protecting your investment. We’ve gathered some safety suggestions when it comes to handling chemicals:

  • Protect Exposed Skin: Here, covering is key. Proper clothing will insulate and protect you from exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Eye protection and gloves are also a must. Remember, even if you’re being careful, a shift in wind could send that spray right back at you.
  • Proper Clean-up: Wash your hands and face before eating, drinking, smoking or using the restroom. When you get home, bathe or shower with plenty of soap and water. The same is true for your work clothes and shoes. But don’t throw them in with the family laundry. Work things need to be washed separately to avoid spreading any pesticides/herbicides to other clothes. And don’t forget about your protection gear. It needs to be properly cleaned and maintained.
  • Handling Any Exposure: If you’ve been exposed, take action right away. If chemicals get in your eyes, rinse with water for 15 minutes and get medical help. If it’s on your skin, wash the affected area thoroughly and take off any clothing that was contaminated. And always know where a first aid kit is and where you can get emergency care.
Some of these suggestions are detailed in the new revisions to the federal 1992 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the changes mean more than two million farmworkers and pesticide handlers will now have health protections similar to workers in other industries. Among the major changes going into effect January 2nd, 2017, safety training on pesticides is required yearly, instead of every five years. For the first time, children under 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides. More safety issues are also addressed—including take-home exposure from work clothes. Here’s a quick look at some other revisions:
  • Training for workers increases from 11 to 23 subjects. Handlers’ training now covers 36 items, up from 13. All employees have 2 years from the start of the new rule to complete the extra training.
  • An expansion of no-entry signs posted around sprayed fields with the most dangerous chemicals, while 100 feet application-exclusion zones around equipment limits overspray exposure.
  • Employers must supply a respirator to workers who need one and provide fit testing, training and a medical evaluation.
  • Set amounts of water must be at job sites for routine washing, emergency eye flushing and other decontamination.
  • Exemption rules for farm owners and their immediate family continue. However, the definition of “immediate family” is expanded.
These are just some of the changes made by the EPA to its worker protection rules. It’s important that you review all of them to make sure your business is in compliance. Be sure to get legal advice if you have concerns. For more information and a complete list of the changes, use the link below to reach the EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/revisions-worker-protection-standard Sure, there will always be a need for pesticides and herbicides in your business. But following these new rules will go a long way toward keeping your workers safe. To make sure you’re properly protected in case something would happen, talk with a Hortica specialist to look at your current insurance coverage or design a safety program customized for you.

In The Bloom with Maria: How increased sales in 2016 can affect your premium

More business is a good thing. Increased sales is something every grower wants. But it may have an unexpected effect. As you know, loss of business income coverage covers any loss you have following a disaster as well as reimburses you for any profits lost that would’ve been earned during this down time. But as Hortica Retail Sales Specialist Maria Shepherd explains, many business owners don’t know an increase in sales means adjusting your coverage and premium. Loss of business income coverage is standard on most business policies. It becomes crucial when you have to close your business for a period of time or run at a reduced capacity. This down time can be caused by a fire, windstorm, water break, or a variety of different causes as outlined in your policy. The insurance restores you financially to the same place you were before the loss. Here’s how it works: If your shop is located in a strip mall and is damaged in an accident, your landlord may offer you the use of an empty suite located in the same strip. That’ll give you the chance to remain open while your shop is repaired. Using your loss of business income coverage allows you to keep paying employees and cover any additional operating expenses. It’s forecasted that retail spending will grow by 3.1 percent in 2016. If it holds true for you and you and your business is not subject to an annual sales audit at renewal, talk to your insurance agent. Let them know your revised estimated gross annual sales which may affect your premium and coverage. Having loss of business income coverage is extremely important for every business owner. It provides you with peace of mind knowing that you can continue operating while rebuilding if the worst were to happen. Allow Hortica to show you all of the benefits that come with our loss of business income policy. --------------------------------- http://www.hortica.com http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/business/economy/consumer-spending-gains-offset-recession-fears.html

10 Things You Should Do When Giving Employee Feedback

Giving Employee Feedback As a business owner, you want to make sure you have the best employees providing the best service to your customers. But your workers need something from you, too—feedback on how they’re doing their job. The way you provide feedback is just as important as what you say. Here at Hortica, we found 10 ways to make your words powerful while avoiding the negative:

  1. Don’t get loud: You may feel yelling is the best way to gain the attention of the employee you are speaking with. Turns out it’s the fastest way to make someone defensive.
  2. Keep your emotions out of it: Even if your employee really messed up, don’t approach them while you’re still upset. Giving yourself time to calm down before giving them feedback will help you get your point across.
  3. Avoid stressing just the negative: We don’t mean that you should never deliver negative feedback to your worker. But don’t forget to say something positive, too. Let them know there are aspects of their job performance you think are being done well.
  4. Don’t compare them to other employees: Comparing one employee to another is one sure way to create friction in the workplace. When speaking to a staff member, your focus should be strictly on their performance.
  5. Avoid giving feedback in public: If you see an employee doing something incorrectly or something you don’t approve of and it’s serious enough, you may have correct them right then and there. But if it can wait, save your critique for a time when the two of you can speak privately to discuss the issue.
  6. Stay on topic: When giving feedback—positive or negative—stay focused and on topic. Don’t become distracted with other things going on. Let them know that they have your full attention and that they are important to you.
  7. Be genuine: Positive or negative, it’s important for your feedback to be genuine. Saying things that are over the top or seem unnatural could make your employee take you less seriously.
  8. Avoid being funny: Sometimes in uncomfortable situations, it’s a person’s natural reaction to laugh. So, when giving feedback, make a conscious effort to stay serious without being funny.
  9. Don’t make things up: This might seem like a no brainer, but always be sure that your feedback is honest and can be backed up with facts. Don’t create something to say just to give someone positive or negative feedback.
  10. Don’t forget important things: The last thing you want to do is forget the important things when giving an employee feedback. Make a list of all of the topics you want to cover. That way you won’t feel like you missed something later.
Feedback is one of the most important things a business owner or manager can give their workers. Be sure to get the most out of your employee reviews by following these 10 tips and make sure it’s an experience both of you will appreciate.

Minimizing Distractions in the Workplace

Do Not Disturb As a business owner, you want your employees to be focused on work during work hours - even though that doesn’t always happen. Constant distractions happen throughout the workday. But there are things everyone can do to stay on track. Create a schedule and stick to it. If you’re like most people, your day is filled with constant emails, phone calls and texts. It’s hard not to respond when they arrive. Creating a schedule to focus on one thing at a time will allow you to put all of your attention on one particular task. That includes scheduling time to check emails and texts and responding to messages left for you. Sticking to a schedule will decrease the amount of time you spend distracted. Don’t be afraid to say no. You don’t want to be rude to any of your coworkers, but sometimes you may have to decline when they ask you to do something. When you are trying to focus on your own work, you can easily become distracted by the many other things that others have asked you to do. Stay focused on your work and let them know you will be available to help once that is completed. Keep a clean workspace. That stack of things to do on your desk or workspace can be a big distraction. It’s a reminder of all you have to do. Consider moving them off your desk. No, not to the garbage can, but to a drawer or a shelf. Taking on one project at a time will keep you focused. When it’s done, move on to the next. At Hortica, we understand that it can be difficult to stay focused throughout the day. Use these helpful tips to eliminate distractions and have a more productive work day.

Tips for Getting More Customers into Your Floral Shop

Tips for Getting More Customers into Your Floral Shop Like any business owner, you want to serve as many customers as you can. You know your quality service will keep them coming back – but the trick is getting them in the door in the first place. There are some simple things you can do to set your flower shop apart from the others to get the foot traffic moving. Workshops. The popular thing right now comes down to three words – Do It Yourself. So, give your customers the chance to become their own DIY floral designer. Offering different workshops under your professional care can bring the curious in. After that positive experience, chances are they’ll return – and maybe bring friends! To make sure everyone knows what you’re planning and when, keep a schedule on all social media accounts and make posts before each event to remind people. Weekly specials. Consider offering a special on a specific flower on the same weekday. Promote it on all social media accounts and send emails out to your customers with a photo of the flower on sale and a detailed description. But you have to stick with it. That’ll allow your current customers to look forward to future specials and will hopefully get them to tell their family and friends. Window displays. But it’s not just about social media and emails – don’t forget about your shop. Odds are you have a nice big window or display area out front. Use it. Having an attractive floral display by the door is like an invitation to come in. Potential customers will stop in if you catch their eye and spark their curiosity with a creative and well-designed display. These are just some of the ways you can get the attention of new customers so they come in and, hopefully, return again.

Keeping Your Employees Motivated

Make Things Happen Your employees play a huge part in the overall well-being of your company, so it’s important that they have the ability to stay focused and motivated throughout the workday. It’s especially crucial during busy season. While your staff can have an off day where they don’t feel as driven as they should, there are things you can do to help keep the motivation high. Make the goals known. It’s crucial to make sure all employees know and understand the goals of the company. It’s hard for someone to stay motivated on the job when they don’t know what they’re working towards. Every position within your business should be thoroughly explained and every person should have a complete understanding of the work that is required of them. That’ll make it easier for your team to stay motivated and be successful. Be the leader that you are. When you’re in a leadership role, you’re expected to be a great example for all employees to look up to. If you have set rules for your staff, you need to follow them, too. If your team sees you staying focused on your work, it’ll motivate them to do the same. Set the best example that you possibly can and that’ll keep your workers headed in the right direction. Be supportive of their ideas. It’s difficult for any employee to stay positive and motivated when they don’t feel like their ideas are supported. As a leader in any business, it’s important to make sure your staff feels comfortable approaching you. Keep the line of communication open with all of your employees and let them know that their concerns or ideas are heard and respected. With the employees of your company playing such an important role in every aspect of your business, it’s important to keep everyone motivated. Using these tips will make for a much happier and positive team.