MIAMI — “What’s Next?” was the theme, and it covered both the new generation of leaders and the dominance of social media in the industry in the years ahead. The annual Floral Distribution Conference for the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association’s was the event, held here Oct. 24-26.
Bob Wendover of the Center for Generational Studies, in his keynote address and a follow-up workshop, offered advice on managing young employees who by their sheer numbers will change the industry, he said. “Delegate by outcome instead of by task; get out of the way and let them get the job done,” he suggested. “We are digital immigrants, they are digital natives,” he added, “better connected and comfortable in a multi-channel world.”
Mr. Wendover pointed out that “young people don’t draw from experience; they use Facebook to get new solutions from a larger audience.” He encouraged floral employers to “use a website to allow them to apply for jobs online, and to provide a video of what it’s like to work here.” As he described how easy it was to make a 90-second video using a smartphone, an audience member did just that.
In a session on buying decisions, Jerome Raska of Detroit, who is an owner of two retail and event operations there, decried a disconnect between growers and buyers.
“Special events is a different audience,” he said. “The grower needs to know when the flowers need to be open.” As he discussed social media, an observer calculated that one in six of the roughly 70 attendees were texting on their cellphones.
Deborah DeLaFlor, a Miami designer who operates florist and garden center operations, lauded technology with an anecdote about the time she was notified at the last minute that her supplier could not fill an order she had booked. “I put a request on Facebook for 415 flowers and in 20 minutes I got it filled from another state.”
Ms. DeLaFlora also stocks hard goods, she said, because customers like one-stop shopping. She urged wholesalers to get to know their customers better and visit them often.
Charles Hall of Texas A&M University described the new publication he has authored, Social Media Guide for Retailers and Wholesalers, as a one-stop destination for all things floral in the social media.
Business social media was also addressed by Bob DeStefano, an online marketing strategist, who said that a website is the hub for all social media applications and efforts. He also spent his time at the conference providing free website analyses to attendees.