Behind the Scenes with Flowers of Southport

In life, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race of the corporate world and lose touch with your creative side. If you know what it feels like to sit through yet another board meeting, looking at yet another Powerpoint presentation, and go through yet more reports, you probably know what life was like for Glynda. Sometimes though, there comes a point when you’re brave enough to stand apart from the crowd and follow your passion.

When she opened Flowers of Southport on the Gold Coast, Glynda grabbed at the chance to be master of her own destiny. A true artist in every sense of the word, she wanted to give her customers more than just your average flower shop. She wanted a beautiful haven, a secret garden bursting with fresh blooms; a place where people could literally stop to smell the roses.

If you really want to get to know Glynda though, there’s no better source than her partner in crime, Alan. Let’s see what he has to say!

Hi Alan, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. What’s the story behind Flowers of Southport?  

Flowers of Southport was originally established in 1995, primarily servicing the Gold Coast Hospital with New Baby and Get Well flowers, teddy bears and balloons. We purchased it in 2012, widening the focus to include corporate, weddings & events, birthdays, romance, gift baskets, funeral and sympathy flowers.   

Glynda originally came from a large corporate background, and by the time she hit 40 she was feeling increasingly frustrated. Following serious health issues, Glynda decided to follow her true passion, so she resigned from her job and went back to college to retrain for a new career. As Glynda is also an artist, she used her love of all things creative to build The Lilac Tree Wedding & Events Florist from scratch, commencing that in 2009. She received a number of awards from the Australian Bridal Industry Association for her floristry designs and customer care, and as a result the business grew. Glynda also wished to expand the floristry to widen her range into retail arrangements and bouquets, as well as Funerals and Corporate Designs. Therefore, we purchased Flowers of Southport, and I came into the business full time as manager. My strengths were needed in organisation and details – as Glynda, being creative, is not so strong on that side of business!

With our extensive background in business, we introduced systems and procedures to ensure the smooth running of the shop. We had a new website built so that our customers could order online day or night, which previously had not been a major part of the shopping experience for customers.    

As the Gold Coast Hospital moved, and the introduction of the light rail required the removal of on-street parking in Nerang Street, Southport, we made the decision to relocate our premises. We are now on the ground floor of a beautiful old Queenslander built in 1898, at 61 Meron Street, Southport, with ample free parking out the front.

We have continued to expand our range, and Glynda likes to change the designs on the website approximately every four months. We don’t have the same things all the time, as this can be boring for customers to select from. With the larger premises, we have also been able to take on more corporate work. Our large, bold, striking designs give the impact our clients wish to have. 

In our retail store, we have a range of freshly-made bouquets and arrangements. However, we can now also offer walk-in customers the luxury of selecting the colours and exact flowers from our flower fridge, so that we make something to their exact requirements. They can relax on our sofas in the shop area for the 5- 15 minutes it takes, depending on the size and intricacy of the design they want. We also have a much greater range online than when we initially took ownership of the business, as well as offering live chat and phone orders.

Wow, what a rich history! What do you love the most having a local business in the Gold Coast?

It is a joy to come to work in the sunshine, and to rarely have a week where there are grey skies. The weather is consistently lovely, and it is nice to have people pop into our shop to enjoy the air conditioning and browse, instead of running in from the rain!

What made you want to start your own small business?

We wanted the freedom to make our own decisions on the direction of our business – to be master of our own destinies and create a strong business with an identity that we are proud of. We didn’t want to have to run ideas through several channels to see if they would be accepted, as when you work in a large corporate environment. Also, it meant a lot for Glynda to never have to sit through another Powerpoint presentation!

It is wonderful to discuss an idea, throw around different viewpoints on it, and then just make the decision to either go with it or not. Glynda loves the freedom to finally be able to work in a creative industry rather than suppressing that side of her all the time, as in the corporate world.

Is there any product/service that you offer that that your regulars love?

One of our customers’ favourites is the Boxed Arrangement and Cupcakes – a lovely pastel boxed arrangement of roses, lilies and lisianthus, with two delicious cupcakes in a separate cupcake box!

How do you go over and above to create a customer experience that people love coming back to?

We try to ensure that we not only offer a comfortable, bright, clean and welcoming physical retail shop for our customers to come into, but that other aspects of our retail service are also reviewed and kept up to date, to reflect the online world we all inhabit.  

We also introduced an online chat last year, which is very helpful for potential overseas customers. It is much easier for them than picking up the phone, and they can ask any questions they have and receive a prompt reply.  

Our website is regularly reviewed and we have introduced a big help button in red that customers can click, and it links to answers to most frequently asked questions. We also run monthly specials that take advantage of flowers in season, so that people always can get the best value for money.  

Recently, we introduced an urgent delivery option for customers, on top of our existing same day delivery. Now customers can select the urgent delivery for a small additional fee, and have the gift made and delivered within two hours of placing the order (within our normal trading days and hours).

Our phones are diverted to our personal phones, which means we are always personally available to take orders or answer questions from customers, not just during business hours.

Do you have any advice for other small businesses who are starting up?

Research, research, research. You need to fully know the industry that you are opening your business in, so that you can offer your customers the highest service. Be prepared to be flexible with hours – some days you may work until midnight; another day you may be able to close early to take advantage of the Gold Coast weather! You also have to put your customers’ needs first – if there is a funeral on a Saturday afternoon, then you are working Saturday.  

Keep a sense of humour, especially with the commitment and long hours it takes, and always ensure you have good quality coffee in-store for you and your staff!

One of the five-star reviews on your listing says “Southport flowers went above and beyond to get my flowers delivered in such a short period of time. Flowers were more than expected, huge and beautiful. Thank you so much, will only use Flowers of Southport florist in the future!” Locals supporting locals is something we really believe in. How valuable have you found online reviews and feedback to you as a local business?

It is incredibly important, as it gives people the opportunity to find out if they have found a good quality supplier through their internet searching.  

We always rely on internet reviews ourselves when booking restaurants, hotels and for any trade work on our home. With so much movement these days, it is unlikely that a supplier will have been there for 50 years and have a great local reputation everyone knows about, so it is helpful to be able to search these reviews to find out how others have found the service of a company.

Flowers of Southport does a really great job at getting online reviews. What advice do you have for other local businesses who might want to increase their online reviews on platforms like True Local?

The review option on True Local is a very user-friendly system, and we’ve been extremely fortunate that customers who have found us through True Local have chosen to review us. We don’t actually ask anyone, but we should probably promote more to do so!  

It’s important for small businesses to have the support and recommendations of the locals to boost the community. What are your favourite local business in your area?

Our favourite local businesses are Domani’s Italian Restaurant in Main Beach, Glow Properties in Labrador, Action Tyres in Southport, and we have always found our local Ashmore branch of Westpac incredibly helpful and adaptable. For a bank, that is remarkable!

Lastly, for a bit of fun – what’s one quirky fact about Flowers of Southport people might not know? 

A quirky fact – every year there is always at least one person who is sending Valentine’s Day roses to two (or three) different ladies, or a lady who is receiving bouquets from two different gentlemen who are clearly both smitten with her!

For beautiful bouquets and floral arrangements, visit Flowers of Southport at 61 Meron St, Southport. You can also head to their website to order!

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