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The hustle and bustle of Valentine’s Day has florists around the world at one of their busiest times of the year, but for Lezlie Rolf of Cambridge Floral, this year marks her 20th Valentine’s Day as owner, and she’s perfected her method.
“Valentine’s week planning starts months in advance, with us first looking at last year’s note and numbers to reflect on what we did and how we can improve and make it stronger and better,” Rolf said. “We have staff meetings to decide on our vision, and try to be as prepared as we can for the big day.”
The goal for Rolf and her florists is to provide clients with a one-stop-shop for people looking for items from a floral shop. With that in mind, the team met with suppliers for both flowers and plants to determine what is trending this year.
“We are huge on quality, so while we are at the supply house, I’m looking at hundreds of roses coming in from dozens of growers from all over the world and deciding on what quality I want to carry. For my customers here in Cambridge, only the very best for the red roses will do. I want the red roses to give customers a successful show; I don’t want to get the four-day-old complaint, I want them to come back and be happy about what they purchased and the look,” Rolf said.
Carefully placing her order for the number of roses she believes will be sold during the holiday, Rolf makes sure to order a few extras for those people waiting until the last minute, but is careful not to order too many that she’s left with an overabundance in the store after purchases.
“It’s really a gamble for me: I either win by selling out or lose by overbuying and underselling,” Rolf said. “Our order has increased over the years, and that’s why I reflect to my notes to decide what the order will be.”
Also impacting the amount purchased is the day of the week that Valentine’s falls on; this year with the big day falling on a Friday, Rolf knows that in previous years that’s meant sales have been a bit lower.
“With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday, more people are going out, and sometimes that means they aren’t going out and shopping as much, which is another thing to take into consideration,” Rolf said.
At the conclusion of their visit with the suppliers, Rolf and her team return to the store with specially chosen beautifully cut flowers they hope to incorporate into designing website featured items, according to Rolf.
“We live in a very traditional community when it comes to red roses. I’ve tried some very nice non-traditional options, but the originals really are popular in our community,” Rolf said.
Knowing the community and her shoppers is a huge benefit to Rolf and her team when designing for Cambridge Floral each year.
“We have our exclusive designs for Cambridge Floral that we feature on our website. Each design is of a different price point, allowing options for everyone looking for the perfect floral gift. We offer the classic dozen roses — that’s what they love — we also have a lot of other designs in our Valentine’s section for those who are looking for something other than roses,” Rolf said.
The perfect gift for not only those in love, but for friends, family and co-workers, are also available on the website.
“We have flowers for everyone looking. We not only have what’s available online, but we can customize for those who have their own ideas for designs,” Rolf said. “Each order is made up the day of delivery or pick-up, or sometimes the day before to ensure freshness, so everything is always freshly made.”
Not only does Cambridge Floral provide floral arrangements, but also cards, teddy bears, and chocolates as an add-on to the floral purchases.
“We always encourage people to come in and purchase their flowers ahead of time or order online,” Rolf added. “We also encourage people who are purchasing other types of gifts to add flowers to those gifts.”
In order to accommodate the needs and wants of each customer, Rolf makes it a point to offer a variety of arrangements from a variety of price points.
“I’ve had to consider that there’s a need for reasonably priced items as well. We also encourage people to look at things besides the traditional red roses,” Rolf said.
Providing a variety for shoppers, while still including the classics, has become more of a focus for Rolf and her designers, with arrangements including a variety of different flowers as well as plant arrangements.
“There’s always going to be those traditional clients that are looking for roses, but we also have those looking for fresh and new ideas to purchase,” Rolf said.
Valentine’s Day rush
From making sure each and every order made online and in store is ready to go as requested, to doorstep delivery and ensuring that each arrangement is specially made and up to standards, Rolf and her team put in long days prior to and the day of Valentine’s Day.
“The day hits us extremely hard — it’s a fast and furious storm of activity,” Rolf said. “The flowers begin to arrive on the 12th, they are processed and refrigerated for optimum success.”
Specific procedures for hydration and refrigeration, along with dipping the flowers all contribute to the success of each flower’s show.
“There’s really a lot to the processing procedure and that is crazy busy. Even before we begin to design, it’s easily a 70-hour week for us. Once that’s done, we are ready to design orders as they are flowing in,” Rolf said.
With a more low-key staff throughout the year, Rolf employs additional helpers throughout the Valentine’s week, from designers to drivers and even what she calls a router, who has one of the most important jobs of all.
“I have a router who’s assigned to as many as four drivers, to accommodate Cambridge, Isanti and the greater community within approximately a 30 mile radius. We have a database with all of our delivery and order information, which our router uses,” Rolf said.
“The job of the router is to pull all of the orders that are ready to go out, manage time lines — both school and business time lines — and make sure that people are available to receive their flowers at their residence. It’s a really hard job, and a really important one. In additional to pulling the orders, the router also schedules the routes,” Rolf added.
In addition to the preparation work, the router is also in charge of helping bundle the flowers for the weather and load the drivers’ vehicles to prepare for deliveries.
“For Valentine’s Day the router and the drivers really work together to help us be successful. Being able to have additional staff on hand to help during the day and preparing is important to our success,” Rolf said.
Not only is Cambridge Floral’s success seen in their ability to fill orders with the best quality arrangements, but in seeing the faces of those receiving and even those purchasing arrangements for their special day.
“I’ve always strived to provide the very nicest for our community and have top-quality handmade arrangements for everyone, no matter what they can afford,” Rolf said. “Knowing that the person on the receiving end of our arrangements is completely elated is the best. I love that the person giving the arrangement is proud of what they’ve been given and what they’ve been able to give.”
For more information on Cambridge Floral, or to see available arrangements visit www.cambridgefloral.net, call 763-689-2040, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop in the shop located at 122 Main St. N. in Cambridge.