Monday, November 16, 2009

Do's and Don'ts of Orchid Selling

When I think of the Do's and Don'ts of Orchid Selling I realize that with Motes Orchids it's the Don'ts that stand out, that define us best.

1. Don't mix politics and religion with business!

Where's the fun in that? Our philosophy at Motes Orchids is: if you are going to be open to the public and selling things what better time than to talk about Darwin, politics and anything else that stirs us up? Otherwise, with all due respect, we might as well be bank tellers or greeters at Walmart.

2. Don't kid around too much especially with new people.

I once told a gentleman from Chicago, visiting with friends, "Yes, we have a Porta Potty but Martin always says for guys: "Why waste the nitrates! Just go into the grove!"
He was a tall, imposing man and I still remember the look on his face as he gazed down at me.

3. Don't kid around Part II

When people very nicely ask if they may just look around? Do not answer: "Of course! Just remember there are electronic devices at all exits! Ha ha!"
This actually is a visual joke and may be lost on those unfamiliar with the appearance of Motes Orchids. Those who are, always get the joke.

4. Don't hover. (Around a customer).

Actually, we don't. (Usually too busy talking and, or, arguing - see above.)
Whatever is said about personal service and attention to customers being the most important thing for small businesses competing with the likes of Walmart or Home Depot- don't ever hover-hovering is so out. If you stand around at a customer's elbow, with or without helpful suggestions, and follow them from plant to plant, you will not encourage them to prefer you to the impersonal garden center at Target- you will merely look like you're keeping an eye on them because you think they might be trying to pinch something.

5. Don't turn off the radio if only one person has ventured into the nursery early on, especially someone new. Leave the radio on, otherwise an ominous silence will develop and scare them away.

6. BUT Don't bully customers to listen to Car Talk just because you think it's the best thing on Saturday morning.

7. Don't immediately try out your elementary or quite good Spanish when you hear a Spanish accent.

It is tempting to practice or show off and often your attempts will be met with exclamations of surprise and delight and appreciation and Motes Orchids will triumph once again but sometimes not. And it is well to remember that this individual who does not appreciate your helping out, may well have been in South Florida far longer than the average English speaker, and may well have a richer vocabulary than you do -given the latinate nature of so much Spanish vocabulary- (ie: long words).

8. SO Don't hand out orchid culture sheets in Spanish when you hear an accent unless you hand out the English one as you do so, saying: "Well, probably grandmother will be looking after the orchids too!Ha ha!"

9. Don't make too many suggestions and give too many options to customers who have a hard job making up their minds.

You know you've lost a sale when the comments slide from: "Oh! They're both so lovely I can't decide!" to-"Oh, heavens - what do you think of this one too?" To-"Oh, I really just can't decide. They're ALL so lovely!" and off they drift.

And 10 Don't start a long gloomy economic history of the pricing of orchids.

People have come for the flowers and (if they know us) bracing argument and conversation. Though I do think it is TOTALLY legitimate to point out why vandas should be more expensive than cute little commercial phalaenopsis and oncidiums and dendrobiums- those little Barbie doll orchids. Because vandas and often ascocendas too, are older and often have gone through a lot. Our orchids are more like parrots - they can outlive you if treated right. And a slightly battered appearance merely means these are five, six, seven years old (and on you can go-) Some of these orchids remember Andrew(1992.) If they could speak what a tale they could tell! Whereas your little phals- under two years old! Theyre like little Miss Worlds with their pretty, empty little heads! I'm sure they're all for World Peace and recycling but that's about it.

BUT PSSST! If it weren't for being Mrs motesiana and married to vandas and ascocendas- if I were fresh into orchids, with my frugal Clearance Rail First! philosophy, my Goodwill or Goodbye! I'd be the first one there, dumpster diving on rescue missions for little orphaned, fading Phalaenopsis round the back of Home Depot.

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