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Yes! But it is already in the past. We experienced it in 2008-09. The floral industry has been on the road to fiscal responsibility for more than three years. We can and will not only survive in this environment, we will grow and prosper.

Floral products are a part of everyday life in most European countries. It has taken over 50 years, but the United States now enjoys many of these same lifestyle practices. We are not on the same level as Europe, but every day we are gaining ground. Our products are featured in magazines, TV programs, Facebook, Twitter, movies, newspapers and any other form of media one can dream up.

LAVAGETTO-OUTLOOK-2013-TOM-Tom LavagettoWhat we do with this exposure is ultimately up to us; we need to be the masters of our own destiny. How did the various segments of our industry perform in 2012 and where are they going in 2013? Here is the report card.

The mass market. Clearly the leader in moving our industry forward, this segment promoted itself and demanded better-quality products from its vendors, resulting in positive sales and margin results. While there are still mountains to climb, if we keep the pedal to the metal, we can continue our quest to rival our European counterparts.

The key continues to be to demand quality. Basic business philosophy does not change. When purchasing floral products, consumers do not remember what they paid for it, they only remember how long it lasted and where they purchased it. Satisfied customers are repeat and expanded customers.

The retail florist. The shakeout in this category continues. The best get better and the weak go away. There is and likely will always be the need for top-flight, service-oriented and creative florists. I have two in my town and I spend money with them consistently because no one else can duplicate what they do.

The independent garden center. Its challenge is almost identical to that of the mass market and the retail florist. Competing with the big box stores can only be accomplished by consistently delivering superior quality, service and variety. It is a daunting goal at times, but it is attainable. Where would you go for knowledgeable advice for your yard and garden?

The distributor. Whether you are a supplier of fresh flowers, potted plants, bedding plants or non-perishables, your mandate must mirror that of your retailer. Your job is to know the retail market as well as or better than your customer. A completely integrated vendor is a must in this and future business environments. With the information highway moving at speeds previously unfathomable, this segment must bring it to the table.

Outlook for 2013. In 2012, we continued to climb our way back from the floral fiscal cliff. As long as we hold true to our mantra of selling quality products with value pricing, our industry will grow. We can dictate at what speed we travel. The question for all of us is, “What speed limit sign are we going to pay attention to?” Or, is there a speed limit?

Tom Lavagetto is president of Floral Consulting Group in Spokane, WA, and was Floral Marketer of the Year in 1995. He can be reached at 509/536-7957 or through his website at www.floralconsultinggroup.com.