The floral industry is home to numerous female professionals. Consumers routinely see women who own flower shops, work in flower departments of other types of retail establishments, and provide floral design services. A lesser known participant is the wholesale florist, who works directly with growers to supply flowers and merchandise to retailers. With a knowledge of flowers and an understanding of business, you can have a successful career as a wholesale florist.
Combination of Skills
As a wholesale florist, you must have a deep understanding of flowers and plants, including how to care for them, how long they can be stored and which plants may be poisonous. You should know when flowers are in season and the best time for their availability. Wholesale florists should also have management skills to supervise employees and coordinate resources, as well as an understanding of basic business concepts involving sales, marketing, profit margins and inventory control. You also need negotiation skills to discuss and establish prices with your suppliers and customers.
In performing their daily duties, wholesale florists work extensively with fresh flower growers. You determine what types of plants and flowers are available and decide how much inventory to secure. You may also negotiate prices and specific sales terms. A wholesale florist's inventory might also include silk and dried flowers, as well as greenery and decorative containers. After purchasing the merchandise, wholesalers coordinate shipping arrangements and ensure proper storage of the merchandise. Once the shipment is received, the wholesaler reviews the product for quality control and reports any issues to the supplier.
The Retail Customer
The other side of the wholesale coin is selling. Wholesale florists pitch their services to retail florists, who in turn sell the flowers to consumers. As a wholesale florist, you must offer competitive prices and a wide selection to win business, and provide excellent service to keep it. You will meet with clients on a regular basis to discuss their sales needs and inventory. In some cases, you must be prepared to turn around special orders quickly. Your customers are excellent sources of information as you determine what items to purchase. As a wholesaler, you also make suggestions to your clients, introducing them to new products.
Turning a Profit
As with any business, wholesale florists want to make a profit. As a wholesaler, you must ensure that what you bring in from retail clients is enough to cover expenses such as inventory purchases, administrative costs and labor, and still have a nice profit left over. Your desired profit margin depends on a number of factors, including how much you want to pay yourself. Negotiation skills are key to this equation. You must negotiate the lowest possible price when purchasing from growers and the highest possible price when selling to retailers. If you can master this skill, you can create a successful business.
Starting Your Career
There is no formal education requirement to become a wholesale florist, though you should be able to read and understand contracts, and you should have math skills to deal effectively with the financial side of the business. You should also have experience working with flowers so you can speak with authority to growers and retail clients. Wholesale florists need access to transportation methods, as well as adequate storage to keep flowers and merchandise after receipt and before distribution.
2016 Salary Information for Floral Designers
Floral designers earned a median annual salary of $25,850 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, floral designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $21,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $31,970, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 55,000 people were employed in the U.S. as floral designers.
- O*Net Online: Wholesale and Retail Buyers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Floral Designers Do
- Entrepreneur Magazine: How to Start a Wholesale Distribution Business
- Denver Wholesale Florist: Partners
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Floral Designers
- Career Trend: Floral Designers
Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.