I first met Cheryl Denham, owner of Arizona Family Florist, at the Society of American Florists event in Maui in 2016. I was immediately struck by her friendly, outgoing personality and her playful nature. We had a lot of fun. It was nice to see her 5 months later at the SAF Congressional Action Days in D.C. while presenting to their Retail Councils, of which she sits on the board. It's always nice to see a familiar face, and Cheryl was both friendly and complimentary. It was after this meeting in D.C. that she and her team began implementing Details Flowers Software into their business in Phoenix, Arizona. Getting to know Cheryl and her team has been a treat, and after talking with their team, I realized that their flower company was unlike a lot of event design firms that we work with. Not only do they create outstanding events, but they also have a successful traditional retail house and a wholesale marketplace open to the public.
As we continue to grow our network, we are fond of those florists that have embraced and encouraged their flower friends to utilize our software. We were excited to sit down with Cheryl Denham and the wonderful team at Arizona Family Florists to learn more about what they do and how they do it!
What is your business name and how did you come up with it?
Arizona Family Florist is our parent company and we have a few different brands under the name. We understand the importance of family, and we treat all of our customers like family thus, Arizona Family Florist began.
First and foremost, we are an everyday retail florist. At Arizona Florists, we accept wire in orders, local customer orders, website and walk in traffic on the daily basis. We have a wonderful retail store location and have a traditional base of business to sell floral arrangements and gifts. Daily, we wire in flower orders from Teleflora, FTD, etc. to service our local community.
Along with our retail division, we also have the Arizona Flower Market. This market is where we offer wholesale pricing of flowers, and we are open to the public to browse through our coolers. We actually encourage our customers to come in and purchase product in bulk volume, and they can purchase just like a florist does from this location. It's really great to have people come in off the street and buy fresh flowers. We really have embraced serving all the different components; from the DIY type customer to those customers that want to look and feel flowers. This part of our brand launched 3 years ago after we visited the Miami Flower Market and the Charlotte Flower Market. We found that our city really needed that type of marketplace, and we found a unique niche for the public to purchase flowers. Because we really purchase such large volume, we found that we can offer high quality product to sell to the general public. If it helps the industry why wouldn't we want to have quality product for them to purchase? This offers an alternative to the supermarkets, and has fresher product and a greater variety with better pricing.
Our Lux Floral Design brand launched in 2008 and we regularly service Weddings, Corporate Accounts, House Accounts, and charities of every kind. The Lux brand has completely evolved since we launched and is growing strongly. We recognized that our brides typically want a connection with a boutique type floral business where they can get all of their wedding designs. We like to work closely with wedding planners to bring in clients so that we can show all the best offerings . It's nice to have the market available for our brides to wander through and see the flowers. At Lux, we also do every type of decor and we really offer whatever is requested from the client when custom design is required. We have close relationships with all of our customers and we want to keep everyone happy and do what we do best... Design!
What do you love most about your city and events that you create?
I love that Phoenix is very spread out and open. Our city is not as compact as say Chicago or New York; however, Phoenix has a bit of breathing room and we really like that. We can go from doing a traditional event at a golf club, to a Southwest theme in someone's back yard. We also service a ton of Indian weddings here in Phoenix. And our botanical gardens are always hosting tons of events outside. In Phoenix, our business is busy year around, although we do slow down a bit in the summer with the heat. Overall, we don't have super downtime because the weather is so great. When the heat is up people bring their events inside. This past summer was our busiest summer in a long time and our designers didn't have a lot of time off. It has been a great year for us.
What do you love most about the Wedding Industry?
When you are part of a wedding creation that is the most important day of someones life, it is a special experience for the client and for our team. We really enjoy being able to be creative and develop relationships with our clients through the process. We don't specifically do any one particular style and we like that our clients are very diversified. Their themes are completely different and we like the challenge and variety in the creative process. When we start building relationships with our clients they trust our team to come up with different ideas; that's when we are at our best. Our team loves to have that freedom. That's why we love the wedding flower part of the industry. The more creative we can be makes our jobs more rewarding and it becomes less of a job! Usually what ends up happening when they receive the customer service and quality of service, our brides are customers for life! They enjoy the design process, and they end up becoming great repeat business on the retail side. Referrals are huge for us-- and we love to have them come back for more.
Sometimes what they will end up doing their own bridal shower flowers or baby shower flowers, and they enjoy coming in and getting their personal flowers and they can go to the market. This really is a huge advantage for us, and we are able to capture their business. People have a lot of fun going to the market too. Our team takes them to the market for them to select the flowers they like best. We have probably every flower you can imagine-- they can go into the market and see all the floral that they provide. We even have an indoor greenhouse that is not a traditional flower shop. Great selling point for us and we really have all the possibilities at their finger tips.
What do you dislike about the floral industry?
I don't think there is anything I don't like about the industry! On the wedding & event side, the unseen variables of nature that you cannot control what happens to the product all the time. It's hard to meet the expectation when fresh product is decided by nature or weather. The unpredictable side and managing expectations is probably the toughest "challenge". We cannot control when something just isn't available, and that is the hardest part of the job. We are sensitive to these moments and the toughest part is if the customer is not able to understand.
What are your biggest daily challenges and how do you overcome them?
My biggest daily challenge is that there are not enough hours in the day. It's a good challenge to have. Because we are so diversified... there is never a dull moment. Not enough time to give 100% on everything we have to do all the time so organizing the day is tough. It is extremely important that everything we touch on is covered on a daily basis. We are now in a world that is in need of immediate gratification and the answers are desired immediately. If not, the client moves on to the next thing. Sometimes it's hard to know what something is going to cost so to bring to that back around it helps us to always be a bit quicker to our client. Capture more business... using Details is really great for us as it allows us to be faster to the clientele and to give that instant gratification that they desire and need.
What is your favorite design story and why?
Our team recently worked on a wedding that wanted to incorporate all the elements that are traditionally Arizona, they are the 5 C's of Arizona: Copper, Cotton, Cattle, Climate & Citrus. The client wanted to find a way to incorporate all 5 of these to make it beautiful. The client really pushed our team to think outside of the box and to think different. It was great fun and a great success. We incorporated beautiful Kumquats trees, lots of Cotton, even a Cattle Skull, and Cactus; We found things everywhere and pulled elements from all over the place. It was a "family" commitment and we connected with all kinds of people. It really pushed us to be different. So easy to get caught up in the everyday but one client really allowed us to step back and be unique. Everyone on our team really enjoyed this event.
What is your biggest business motivator?
Innovation! Offering services to the public that are different. Innovation is really key to stay ever evolving and challenged. Money has never been our motivator but helping our team grow is definitely high on our list of motivation. We've seen and helped some of our employees buy their first home. We wake up every day helping people and helping them to be able to provide for their family is really gratifying. Blessings are huge. Being innovative is definitely something we pride ourselves on. We've worked in the florist industry for the last 13-14 years and you have to think outside the box to be successful. The flower industry has changed so much, we've found that if businesses are complacent, they do not succeed. So we've always tried to be innovators.
How does Details Flowers Software improve your bottom line?
Definitely think that Details has helped us grow our bottom line. In only a few months we found that we were not pricing a several things properly. It did take a bit of work to get it going, but now, we are not over or under ordering. When you are doing it by hand, there is a lot of room for human error. Details has allowed us to be on top of our pricing and has really helped to become more profitable. It has also helped us to capture the sale easier and has been a huge tool for our design team. We really have enjoyed some of the benefits immediately. I can tell you, we're very diligent with communication and Details has definitely helped with getting proposals out quickly. And the images have improved with the proposals! It's also helped with inventory, and we all feel more confident. Choose more things. Details Software gives us more confidence with all of our endeavors such as resort lobbies, Neiman-Marcus and with each entire set up.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see that the business evolving and we foresee a ton of growth. We hope to add a few more sales people and a larger design team for Lux. We'd also like to add a lot more corporate event work. We'd love more design tools and resources incorporated into our daily habits. That is something I will have a bit more confidence in when those things happen. We're really big in getting in touch with our community and we look forward to having a larger presence in the next ten years. Community outreach and bringing families into the market is a huge goal and one we treasure.
Thank you Cheryl and your team at Arizona Family Florist for allowing us to take a peek into your daily life of flowers in Arizona! If you would like to check out more of their work, please visit their website Arizona Family Florist.
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