Friday, 29 June 2012

Fridays in June

Oh and this is another reason why I don't get into the office as often as I might - a typical June Friday in the packing house and this is only part of it. There was also a blue purple and cream picking and bouquets, and yesterday 18 table centres plus bouquets. It has been a busy few weeks for the gardens, thank heavens it actually stopped raining today and I was even able to pick my summer favourite poppies.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Admin improvement on the way!

OK, I probably need to apologise to all you lovely brides who get rather poor communication from me sometimes. I promise it is not that I am ignoring you, and I really do understand that it is your special day and want to help make that happen in any way I can, but often I am just so busy that I don't have time for a proper chat about details about weddings that are several months, or years (sometimes) away because i would rather not chat than have a quick conversation in a terrific hurry. So I do put you off sometimes and I apologise. But things are set to improve. Anna Hicks, who is not only an exceptionally talented  garden designer but also a wonderful business person is coming into the business with me to find ways of making the admin side work a whole lot better. I can hardly believe that she actually wants to take hold of all the business bits that I actually find rather tedious so I have time for the bits I am better at. So in future I should have time to talk to people rather than trying to keep fifty balls in the air and juggle them to hope none will fall. Fantastic. Thanks so much Anna!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

more good news

And my gorgeous son and his wonderful girlfriend are getting married.... more celebrations, it's a wonderful world!

four frantic days

Well, lots going on since last Friday - here a few glimpses of bits of two very different weddings, another wild bouquet and bits of the gardens looking green rather than very floral though there actually seem to be a lot of flowers out there waiting to be turned into arrangements of one kind or another.... And now the sun has been out the roses are looking wonderful but photos of them will have to wait another day.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Blowse on

Who can resist a peony? The advantage of rotten weather is that my cottage is always full of cast off blooms not good enough to sell....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

customer service

Hmm. Perhaps I need tips on customer service. Do tell me how I should have handled this one.
Very very occasionally there is a problem with the time of delivery of mail order flowers, with someone not being there to receive flowers or the courier doesn't leave them where asked as a signature is really required. And if there is any kind of dissatisfaction, I really do try to help and usually send a replacement bouquet whatever. And it rarely happens, but this weekend there was a complaint from a lady who had asked for flowers to be delivered on Saturday morning.  I wasn't over delighted with the tone of this customer's correspondence which arrived in my inbox on Sunday afternoon, and if someone seems to be deliberately on the attack it really doesn't make me feel good, but I did get straight on the case:

Re the order confirmed below it did not arrive. This was very disappointing for me and also my mother who assumed i had forgotten her on her birthday.As i payed extra for a Saturday delivery this is a double disappointment. Please let me know without delay how you intend to rectify this poor service and provide appropriate redress.
Dear xxx
I received your mail and have looked straight into it. I packed the flowers myself and sent them to the courier. The order was sent off and I have just looked up the tracking system. The flower parcel went out from the Bridport delivery office on Saturday morning but unfortunately there was no reply from the recipient when they attempted to deliver and a card was left stating that they had been unable to deliver. I'm afraid that a signature is required upon delivery so somebody does need to receive the flowers in person.

I am very sorry for the disappointment - particularly as the flowers will not be in best shape after three days. I am not sure what you would like me to do about this as we did what we could. Do let me know.
My mother does not go out unless she has someone to take her and was in all day on Saturday. I suspect your courier did not allow her time to get to the door. I suggest you take the matter up with your courier and give me a full refund without hesitation in order for me to arrange some replacement flowers. 

Dear xxx As I said, I am sorry for the disappointment, if we had known that the flowers were a gift for someone elderly who might take a while to answer the door we would have certainly flagged that up for the delivery person so they would have known to make an extra effort to rouse the recipient or wait for a considerably longer time than usual but I have no reason at all to suppose they were in any way not doing their job properly. As the delivery person waited long enough to leave a card and pop that through the letter box they obviously were not hurrying and I do not believe they could have done more. I am very sorry but I believe we all carried out or jobs to the best of our ability. As a gesture of goodwill I will send another bouquet for you to a recipient of your choice for half price, but I cannot send you a full refund for providing a service that was carried out as it should have been.
Please note that I have also taken the time to reply to your queries on a Sunday afternoon/evening well out of any work hours because I really want our customers to be happy with the service we provide and wanted to deal with any issue as swiftly as possible. 

Dear Charlie, 
 Nowhere on your website is it apparent that a signature would be required.(There is) Nowhere is there a request for information regarding special conditions for delivery.(There is) There was no opportunity to give alternative delivery instructions.(There is, and there is also a telephone) Besides all that my mother has not had problems like this before.I am under the impression your "courier' is in fact the post office. If this is correct why did I pay extra for Saturday delivery? (£13.20 standard Saturday delivery charge from the PO)
I would suggest this is not appropriate for the delivery of flowers as if delivery is not made on Saturday the flowers would quite obviously be dead by the time they could be redelivered or collected on Monday. Quite clearly the service was not provided as it should have been as my mother did not receive her flowers.
I again request a refund of my money. I chose your company because I hoped to find something a bit different and was prepared to pay a premium for this, I am certainly not willing to pay you more money.
 I will in future be returning to interflora who have never let me down in deliveries of flowers to my mother or experienced any difficulty "rousing"her to accept delivery. I will not be recommending your company to any one.
 I find the tone of your replies unhelpful and not at all suggestive of a desire to provide good customer service I am prepared to take this matter further as I believe there has been a breach of contract.
I look forward to hearing from you ,at your convenience ,within working hours of course.

was that a weekend?

Once again a weekend flies by and once again I don't pick up a camera - lovely wedding and nearby, half Sri Lankan so Buddhist and Christian. And very very very wet, but it was still lovely and everyone was very very very happy. Me too with urnfuls of crambe and larkspur, lots of froth and peonies on the sills, jugs and wedgwood white vases full of roses and summer flowers, simple loose bouquets.... but I'd got the cake flower instructions wrong so there was a last minute attempt at floral circlets for each layer while the clock ticked.  There was also a 21st party on Friday night and a lunchtime party on Saturday. Somehow everything happened and all were pleased. I was knackered and drove to a party and nearly fell asleep at the wheel to be woken from nodding off by the floors cascading onto the windscreen. Whoops. I appeared briefly at the party then went to a friend's house to sleep. Not terrifically exciting on the social front but sleep was good!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

growing flowers and selling dreams

Little time to blog or breathe lately, or so it has felt. In the last week I have had a photographer here (just before the torrential rain), provided flowers for two weddings and a funeral and the big Rangerover Hay Festival party, plus weathered weather..... and probably been less charming than I should have been to people who have phoned up just because I have been so blooming busy, apologies to anyone who found me a little brusque this week!

One of the weddings last week became rather obsessive and made me question many assumptions. I know full well that it is always best to be prepared but relaxed, and that micromanagement tends to mean mistakes and disappointment. The bride in this case was very pleasant and excited if a little intense when we met for the initial consultation way back when. She seemed to understand just what we do and how we operate, and the kind of flowers we would provide and the sort of style that works best for these flowers and all the options for her particular venue from classic Constance Spry style to relaxed country. But as the months went by things changed, and not subtly until at one point she was asking for trailing dendrobium orchids for her bouquet, and later on asking for bouvardia having seen it in a shop display. My job is to please, and to make sure that every bride gets the flowers that she wants, but within the spectrum of what we provide and do well. I suggested that I was after all perhaps not the right person to provide the flowers for her dream day, but she assured me that was not the case. But it meant that the lead up to her wedding was not the usual delight (anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I actually love my flowers and really want them to shine for people) but became really rather uber stressful until I was fairly sure that whatever I provided might not be what she really dreamt of. And she got married over two days, a privateish civil ceremony on day one and the whole church blessing and big party on day two, which required different bouquets for different outfits - and all nearly 2 hours away, and the day after the long bank holiday..... On Day One I made bouquets for her and her bridesmaids from the most delicious creamy philadelphus, p. aura, spending hours stripping off every single leaf to make beautiful elegantly simple scented delicate bouquets. I don't know if she loved them, I did, but all I know is that my helper delivered them earlier than she was expecting which apparently was controversial, sadly. Day Two I went more trad with peonies and roses and astrantia and foliages for her and adult bridesmaids and the little ones had delicious posies of rosebuds which smelt so heavenly.... I hope she liked them. Tent decorations also included roses and peonies and lots of lovely greens and froth, and the church had huge white china gallon jugs full of larkspur and delphiniums and peonies and greenery and more froth. It was beautiful but I was still left wondering if it really fitted her dream. And I haven't heard.

On the other hand, a country wedding in Glamorgan was delightfully easy, pretty and I knew we were providing just what was wanted for the bride and her groom and for the barn where they were celebrating. And the bride (and her very happy littlest bridesmaid) was delighted with everything because it was all the right fit. I particularly liked the hanging decorations on the whitewashed walls.

And the festival party was also an easy fit, they wanted wild and meadow like and generous so I did swathes of things in bushel boxes and gave them thousands of flowers with which to fill hundreds of vintage glass containers on the tables. That worked well.

But it has made me think about what I am doing. It is not just growing flowers, for brides in particular it is selling dreams. And if the dream is not a good fit that could be a nightmare.

Oh and as well as everything else my beautiful new yurt is now up at the bottom of the little orchard below the flower gardens!