Beneva Solutions is excited to announce Tina Coker of Designs of the Times Florist in Melbourne, Florida, as this month’s featured Florist. Tina founded Designs of the Times in 1982. When her husband, Robert, joined the company, they formed a business partnership as powerful as their personal one. Here is a brief Q & A between our SCOOP director, Shelby Isaacson and Designs of the Times’, Tina Coker.
Question 1: After reviewing your website and your recent feature in Floral Management. We’re curious how did you decide it was time to “shake things up” and make some changes in your business? Do you have any tips for those wanting to “shake it up?”
Years ago I read a business article on that topic that said if you are successful doing things a certain way, review it in a year, after three years put a microscope to it, and after five years throw it all out and completely change! I’ve always enjoyed looking at every aspect of the business and how it could be changed or tweaked. The catalyst for change came when my husband joined the company. He had a different perspective and has no preconceptions about how a florist is “supposed to” do things. There is value to having an individual who has no background in this industry examine your policies and procedures.
Question 2: Many of us are family run businesses. It seems like you and your husband make an incredible team. Do you have any advice for other couples that work together? How do you keep your work and married life separate? How do you complement each other?
Conventional wisdom is to leave work at work. Of course, the reality is it’s virtually impossible to do that. Work permeates your existence. We do try to catch each other when we start to stray into a work topic after hours. We believe it is important to have time off together doing things other than working. If all your time together is at work, work becomes the marriage. Our work backgrounds and personalities are so different! Robert is a talented writer and teacher and is excellent with our staff. My strength is design, accounting and a wealth of experience in the business. We try not to step on each other’s toes and leverage our strengths for the good of the business.
Question 3: With your husband’s background I would guess a well trained staff is a part of your success. Am I right it thinking this? Can you or your husband share any training tips with our readers?
Robert will tell you that our industry has sort of missed the boat in regard to training. There is a lot of attention paid to sales training, scripting, etc., and no time spent on the skills that are basic to all human interaction. He likes to say it’s like trying to put the roof on a house before you lay the foundation! Body language, voice tones, words to avoid, and how to handle unhappy customers are just a few of the topics he focuses on.
Question 4: Do you have any other thoughts, secrets or tips you would like to share with other couples/ families running a flower shop together?
Try and remember that you are a husband and wife or a mother and son, etc., and that relationship comes first. The human side of family relationships can get lost. Each of us has strengths and working together is about using them in the most effective manner. Find out how you best fit together and don’t worry about any particular business model or what the “experts” think. Remember, there is life outside the shop! Setting goals and focusing on achieving them is a necessity, however, we all have to keep in mind that it really is about the journey.
If you have a florist you would like to nominate for next month’s Featured Florist please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.