Topic #2,305 no one in the floral design industry talks about: How to markup staff in my flower business?

I've gotcha covered. And even better, I'm going to give you my super simple approach to making sure you're set up for success when it comes to quoting for set-up, pack down and delivery on your special event and wedding work.

What is the Right Mark-Up to Use?

Back in my past life of being a fancypants advertising exec, we used to spend hours talking about how to markup staff. It was literally how we made money.

There was a specific revenue to staff ratio we had to stick to. We weren't allowed to hire more staff until we hit a certain sales target and when we did hire new staff members we had to make sure our revenue stayed at a certain ratio.

When our revenue slumped, we had to cut down on staff. When we won new business pitches, we had to stick to a specific ratio for hiring.

Needless to say, I've lived and breathed that ratio for years. The math works. Advertising Agencies make their money based on this proven approach and, heck, if the ratio works for Ad Agencies, it's gotta be good enough for floristry, right?

Here's my super simple approach. Generally speaking, when it comes to how to markup staff in your flower business, I follow this formula

2.5-3 x freelancer hourly rate

So, if you're paying your freelancers $50 an hour, you're going to charge them out at $125 - $150 per hour.

And when you're pulling together your quotes for clients with on-site set-up, that means you're charging this amount for each person who is helping you and for every hour they're helping you.

How Do I Figure Out How Many People and How Many Hours?

Bad news bears...I've never figured out a shortcut to this one. But I do like my approach. It works for me.

The most accurate approach I've found to figure out how many people and how many hours is to sit down with a pen + paper and actually map out the day. Work through it step by step and write it all down.

Yes, if you're working at a venue you're familiar with, this is pretty straightforward. If you're working at a new venue, doing a walkthrough and talking to the venue coordinator is super important. You will want to get their rules around timing for set-up and pack-down (if they have any).

Very specifically, when it comes to figuring out how to markup staff in your flower business, here is my process in a bit more detail. Close your eyes and envision yourself on the day. Start to walk through the full experience from start to end.

Personally, I like to work backwards and start with the end in mind. So, for me, I start with the day after the event and the (dreaded) clean-up of the workspace, van and repacking candles, vases etc. I think about how I want that to go and how many people I want to help me.

I then work backwards from there. I think about what needs to happen to pack down the reception late the night of the wedding, work backwards through the reception set-up, the ceremony clean-up, the ceremony set-up, the bouquet delivery, packing the van that morning, etc. etc. etc.

It can take an hour or so to map this out, depending on how complex the project is, but I find it always gives me the best result.

Plus, the experience of working backwards really forces me to concentrate on what's happening – I find I rarely miss out on things when I approach it back to front. I know it sounds odd, but it really does work!

After I figure out how many hours of support staff I need and how many people to bring, I think do that quick bit of math.

Hourly Rate (2.5-3 x Freelance Rate) x Hours Needed x People Needed = Total Charge

And yes, if your eyes bulge and you think wowzers, that added up fast!!, you're doing it right.

HOT TIP: Instead of having one line item that says: Delivery, Set-up and Pack-down, divide that one line item into 3 or 4 separate line items. This prevents the sticker shock that happens when your clients are looking at one four, five or six-figure line item.

You'll Never Regret Over-Estimating the Hours Required

When it comes to doing wedding set-ups, I lived by the rule of having an extra pair of hands with us on the day.

Last-minute issues, production hick-ups and sudden rainstorms can throw a spanner in the works. And my goal was to be able to say 'Yeah, of course, we can help,' even if the situation had nothing to do with flowering.

Having another pair of hands to help you clean up or help the stylist lay name cards, tidy someone else's mess and help mum sort out some last-minute crises makes you indispensable. And that's what planners and venue coordinators remember the most.

Lots of florists can come in and make a room look spectacular.

But going above and beyond, being OK swiping up the floor, helping the staff reset tables and not having to stress about having someone duck out to move the van is what makes your team look like superheroes. And it's why venue managers and planners want to work with you again and again (and again).

It took me a long time to learn this.

For the first year of my business, I didn't even know I could hire freelancers or that having a pair of hands makes the work 8000 times better, let alone less stressful and easier on the body.

When I did start bringing on a team of support staff, I was always second-guessing my approach.

When I started doing large scale installations, tight turnaround and big jobs, the on-site set-up costs and pack down costs are usually more expensive than the flowering costs.

That's OK. It's totally normal. Usually, we're stuck with super tight deadlines, short set-up timeframes and limited access. That means more hands are required. More hands mean higher costs.

(If you're not sure how to quote for an event, also be sure to check out this blog post.)

How to Markup Staff and Not Freak Out Over Being Able to Charge That Much...

I used to freak out about these charges a much so that I would look at the total, immediately discount and eat into my own profitability...all before I presented the first quote to the client.

Don't do that. Learn from my mistakes.

Instead of assuming your client can't pay that much, reframe your perspective.

Remember this: it wasn't your idea to do an event at a venue with their specific set-up, pack-down and delivery requirements.

In many cases, when we talk about the requirements and timing for set-up and pack-down, it's new news to our clients. They don't learn about these rules until we get involved and tell them how things need to run on the day. And, often, they're super surprised when the labour costs more than the flowers.

At the end of the day, the decision to host an event at that location wasn't your decision. But you can still be super helpful.

Your mission is to educate and inform, give them the information they need to allow them to make the best decision for them. It's not your job to judge your client's ability to pay or worry about whether you can charge that much.

No ma'am.

Remember, your pricing is always based on an equation. Not an emotion.

Next time you need to quote for an event, use this formula for how to markup staff. It works.

Want more helpful tips? Be sure to follow me on Instagram @littlebirdbloom I'm showing up every week, passing along super helpful tips and teaching florists how to build better businesses.