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Floral professionals plan for their futures

Here’s something to ask yourself: How ready are you to sell your business, pass it on to a successor or otherwise shift your role?   

During SAF Amelia Island 2019, the Society of American Florists’ 135th annual convention, a number of floral professionals and financial experts will share examples of how businesses in the industry successfully transitioned from one owner to the next — and what the owners did to prep themselves, their companies and staff.  

Two things that can help: Clarify your goals — and start taking action.  

SAF.August2019.3 “One of the important goals of business ownership is the ability to pass it on or sell it and eventually retire,” said former SAF President Shirley Lyons, AAF, PFCI, who sold her flower shop in Eugene, Oregon, last year and will present alongside Paul Goodman, CPA, MBA, PFCI. “In the busy day-to-day, we put those thoughts on the back burner. We want to give owners ideas and tools to make that eventual day easier and the sale more profitable.”  

Lyons and Goodman will cover how to value your business and steps you should take to get your financial statements in order, along with advice on organizing processes and paperwork to make for a smooth handoff.  

“You have to put on your buyer’s hat,” Lyons said. “What would make you as a buyer, or a lender, say, ‘Wow! I want that business’?”  SAF.August2019.4

If you aren’t at that “wow factor” yet, no worries. The pair will also discuss how to get there, including how to handle a physical refresh in-store and ways to improve brand reputation.  

Goodman said the information he plans to share is applicable for all industry professionals, even those who don’t plan to make major ownership changes soon.  

“The nice thing about getting your business ready for sale is that, done right, it will become a very profitable business in the interim,” Goodman added. “It will become a business that runs smoothly and is a joy to work at and manage.”  

In a separate session, Clara Varga-Gonzales of Fleurish Consulting will reflect on lessons she learned running Tiger Lily, a successful, two-location flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina, that she and her husband, Manny, sold last year after owning the business for more than 20 years.  

SAF.August2019.5 Varga-Gonzales will talk about the times the shop almost went out of business, and the dramatic changes they implemented to right their course — including overhauls to how they handled branding, leadership and staffing, and their deep commitment to understanding, tracking, and maybe most important, taking control of their financials. “  

“Numbers are not the sexy part of this business, but failing to account for costs properly is the Number 1 reason a lot of us can’t stay in business,” she said. “We all know what our numbers should be, but what tools do we have to start the process of getting there?”  

Find out more about SAF Amelia Island 2019 at 

Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management for the Society of American Florists.