Get ready for Valentine’s Day

Added January 11, 2021

Some retail operations exhale a bit in January after a busy holiday shopping season. But if you're a florist, you take a deep breath and start cranking up your operations to get ready for your busiest times of the year, including Valentine's Day.

Having enough inventory on hand to meet demand is just one of the challenges you face. You also need to consider:

  • Hiring temporary employees

  • Adding delivery drivers

  • Installing additional equipment

  • Prepping retail and online stores

This is a hefty to-do list to add to all of the other daily tasks you have in running your floral operation. Let's walk through each of these topics and address what you need to have in place, along with other questions to consider heading into February.

Hiring temporary employees

For many florists, this is the time of year you bring on temporary employees to help meet demand and fulfill your customers' orders.

This might not seem like a big deal, but there are important steps you need to take in case that worker is injured on the job. One of those steps is understanding your risks as a business owner when adding temporary employees.

A misconception among some business owners is that they can hire temporary employees and give them a 1099 form as a way for the owner to be immune to workers' compensation claims. That's not accurate. There are nuances you need to understand, as Denise Grandame, an underwriting supervisor with Hortica®, explains.

“Just because a temporary worker is paid with a 1099 doesn't make them an independent contractor,” Grandame said. “If they're taking direction from the business with regard to what to do, how to do it, and what time to do it, among other instructions, then they're considered an employee and would be covered under the business's workers' compensation policy.

“If one of these workers is injured, the business's workers' compensation policy would apply,” Grandame reiterated. “Payroll for these employees should be included in the workers' compensation audit. Each state handles this differently, so as an owner, you need to research how your state handles this.”

Grandame said one of the exceptions to this would be if the temporary worker has their own workers' compensation policy.

Ask your insurance provider if you're unsure of your state's parameters surrounding this topic.

Upping your delivery service

Valentine's Day brings high demand for flower deliveries. In the past, many companies had to plan ahead for this if deliveries weren't normally a big component of their business. However, this past year meant an operational change for many in the floral industry, including adding delivery as part of their expected services.

Whether you have a delivery business plan in place or are currently developing one for Valentine's Day and beyond, you want to make sure deliveries are a profitable component of your business. Follow these tips to create a budget-friendly delivery service.

A segment of your temporary employee pool may involve delivery drivers. Grandame stresses that you need to do your homework before having someone deliver product for you.

  • Screen your drivers: Interview them beforehand to get a handle on their experience, comfort level, and competency

  • Review motor vehicle records (MVRs): The MVR offers a glimpse into their driving history, including prior accidents and citations

  • Share your company's safety practices: Advise against distracted driving and make sure your temporary employees understand and adhere to your company's safety practices

Take these steps even if these temporary workers are making deliveries in their own vehicles. Your business could be brought into a suit if there's an accident.

Temporary equipment

For Valentine's Day, adding temporary equipment can involve renting temporary coolers, ranging from stand-alone models to refrigerated trucks and trailers.

What if something goes wrong with the cooler? Here are three questions you should ask up front before renting a temporary cooler:

  • Who maintains the rental unit?

  • When was the last time it was serviced?

  • Who's responsible if the unit malfunctions and all product is lost?

Ask for referrals or recommendations from others in the industry to find a reputable leasing company. Always consider price and quality when deciding which company to lease from.

Once the temporary cooler is in hand, check the thermostat and interior temperature before filling with flowers to make sure it's operating properly and cooling at the correct temperature.

If the cooler is operating properly, don't overstock. If you put too much product inside, the cooling unit can't keep up and may either break down or get too warm, with either scenario damaging the product within.

Know what your insurance covers

Do you know who covers the cost of lost product if the cooling unit malfunctions?

Here's a reminder about coverages and temporary equipment:

  • Your commercial business package policy may not cover lost product in a temporary cooler.

  • Business personal property insurance covers your contents inside your building for certain perils. Some policies also extend this coverage to property in the open within a certain number of feet from the building. Flowers in a refrigerated trailer aren't considered in the open.

  • A temporary storage/cooling unit isn't considered part of the building.

Ask your agent how to insure the contents in a temporary storage unit and what the potential costs might be.

Prepping your retail outlets

You're constantly refining your store to make it more customer friendly. During busy seasons, make sure you don't overcrowd your walkways or create any unnecessary hazards in your store while trying to meet demand.

Continue your COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing measures and curbside/contactless delivery options.

When promoting your business, either through methods like in-store signage or online advertising, emphasize your new product offerings and all the services you offer. Standing out from the rest of the pack can lead to more customers.

For more tips, check out these resources:

Planning and preparation are keys to success. Contact us if you'd like more help making sure your business is properly protected—in busy times and throughout the year.

Related links:

As we welcome a new year, here's a look at 2021 industry trends from a consumer and insurance perspective.

How do you choose the right insurance company for your business? Explore cost, types of coverages, and risk management programs from your prospective provider. Here's what else you should look for.

Have the proper insurance coverages in place in case you miss the warning signs and need to file a claim. We'll walk you through the critical coverages you need.

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