Thursday, March 19, 2009

More on the "In Lieu Of Flowers" issue

This morning I received the SAF E Brief and included in it was this timely article. I have copied the article into my blog:

Three Steps to Nix 'In Lieu of Flowers,' Build Sympathy Business 

Several members have contacted SAF recently, needing advice and materials to eliminate the “in lieu of flowers” phrase from obituaries and increase sympathy sales. We've created three practical, detailed steps to help make sympathy a profitable segment at your shop and remind you how SAF can help you do just that. 

1.    Examine

There’s no better time than now to reassess your sympathy program, spot your strengths and identify areas that could use a bit of professional polish. Click here for SAF’s Sympathy Business Checklist.

2.    Reach Out 

SAF has contacted newspaper editors about the “in lieu of flowers” phrase, and has found that the phrase originates from the funeral directors who write the obituaries, not the newspapers. Newspapers see obituaries as paid advertising that is published verbatim. 
Some funeral directors regard the "in lieu of flowers" phrase as a convenient, polite way to meet requests for memorial contributions. But others use it because they don't want to deal with flowers. They consider handling and transporting flowers an inconvenience, hassle and expense. (See SAF’s Sympathy Business Checklist above).  
It is important for florists to establish and maintain a positive working relationship with local funeral directors. An open dialogue tends to help make funeral directors feel comfortable voicing concerns and working with florists. Click here for SAF’s tips to Establish Relationships with Funeral Directors.

And, be sure to thank funeral directors who are not using the phrase. It will help solidify your relationship. Use SAF materials available to send them:

  • A note using Funeral Director Thank You Cards (Member price: $1 for a pack of six); or
  • A Thank-You Brochure.

Here are two examples of floral industry members reaching out to the funeral industry:

  • Dana Adkinson, owner of Keepsake Floral, Inc., in Orlando, advertised in the March 2009 edition of Funeral Home & Cemetery News, and the trade publication featured an article, “The ‘Keeping’ of Memorial Flowers,” about her business on the same page.

3.   Promote 

Knowing how to express sympathy can be difficult. Remind customers that flowers add warmth to the service and provide the visible emotional support the bereaved need. SAF provides promotional materials that relay this in a tasteful manner:

  • Statement Stuffers: “Nature’s Sympathy Card” sold in packs of 100; SAF member price: $4.95 for the first four packs. “Commonly Asked Questions — Sympathy” sold in packs of 50. SAF member price: $6.95 per pack.
  • Advertise in local newspapers and community and business newsletters with the 13 black-and-white print ads.
  • Advertise on the radio or your on-hold message with four radio commercial scripts.

For more advice and materials, visit

— Jenny Scala

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