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The friendly florists at Lee's Marketplace
Floral is an important part of this Utah company's customer-service efforts.
by Cynthia L. McGowan

     At Lee’s Marketplace in northern Utah, a focus on customer care means friendly service throughout the company and in its full-service floral departments, whose bright, cheery products welcome shoppers into Lee’s three stores.
Floral “helps set the tone for our stores,” explains Bill Bohman, director of perishable foods for Lee’s Marketplace, which operates in Logan, North Ogden and Smithfield. “It makes you feel good when you walk in.”

the no. 1 priority
Making customers happy is a key company value, expresses Amy Adams, executive assistant and former floral manager at Lee’s. “Customer service is our No. 1 priority,” she affirms.
The company, founded in 1981 by Shari and the late Lee Badger, puts that value into action by offering grocery carry-out service, singing “Happy Birthday” to customers over the intercom in the North Ogden store and even walking shoppers under umbrellas to their cars during rainstorms.
The stores also engage with customers through contests for food giveaways, tailgate parties (Logan is home to Utah State University), open houses and children’s activities. On its friendly, interactive Facebook page, customers ask and receive answers to questions and share comments about their experience at Lee’s, with typical posts saying, “I love Lee’s” and “Lee’s Marketplace is awesome.”
Lee’s ensures its associates meet its customer service expectations with training both at new employee orientation and during seminars that take place periodically throughout the year. The training involves role playing on how to talk with customers and emphasizes, “Why customer service is so important,” Mrs. Adams remarks.
In addition to service, the company takes care to provide the high-quality products shoppers want. The stores’ amenities include large produce sections, fresh sushi, made-from-scratch bakeries and delis with daily menus posted at least a month ahead. “We want to be known for our quality products and our service, and our stores reflect that,” Mr. Bohman shares.

attention-getting displays
That commitment to quality and service is also seen in the floral departments, where an abundant selection of bouquets, arrangements, flowers by the stem, and blooming and foliage plants greets customers at each store. Although the departments offer some giftware, such as plush items, the focus is on fresh.
The look of each department changes seasonally, setting the ambiance for the entire store. Themed seasonal merchandising also serves to inform customers of what holidays are coming up and to get them thinking about purchases for entertaining and gift giving, reminds Mrs. Adams, who previously managed the Logan floral department for nine years.
The floral managers choose their own merchandising layouts, with little input from headquarters, Mr. Bohman shares. “We turn them loose with their creativity, and we’re usually pretty pleased with the outcome,” he says of their attention-getting displays.

departments “do it all”
Also attracting attention are the departments’ complete range of floral services, delivered by a full-time manager/designer in each store and two or three part-time associates. “They’re there to serve the customers,” Mrs. Adams confirms. “They know how to do all types of designs, anything from weddings and funerals to special occasions to getting them out of the doghouse to ‘have a great day’ type of design. They do it all.”
Customers often pick out flowers from the extensive stem selection and ask the designers to create arrangements while they shop. “They’ll say, ‘I have to pick up a few things; can you have this ready for me in 10 minutes?’” Mrs. Adams shares. “We can definitely do that.”
In addition to in-store purchases, orders come from callers and through FTD flowers-by-wire service, of which Lee’s Marketplace has been a member for more than 10 years. “We have a lot of orders that come in from FTD,” Mrs. Adams says, as many as 10 a day. The stores have far fewer outgoing orders; usually about two a month.
The departments have a thriving wedding business, handling at least one a weekend and sometimes as many as four during the peak season. “For a small department, it’s quite a feat to put together that many weddings and get them all done in a timely manner,” Mrs. Adams comments, adding that “good planning and long hours” are the ingredients for success.
Consultations with brides take place in the stores’ dining areas. “We take the design books and go over what they expect and what they would like for their weddings,” Mrs. Adams explains.
The stores publicize their wedding business at three bridal fairs each year, teaming up with bakery to showcase their nuptial work. The bridal fairs are goods ways to let people know that Lee’s Marketplace offers full-service florals, Mr. Bohman describes. “We get a lot of weddings and some of our bigger orders from bridal fairs,” he explains.
School dances also generate sales for the departments. The dance business is especially growing in the Smithfield store, which sold more than 200 corsages and boutonnieres for homecoming this year, a 20 percent increase over last year. Corsages start at $18.99, which includes decorative wire and jewels.
The stores advertise dance flowers mostly by word-of-mouth and also with signage in the stores. The Smithfield location is close to the high school, and when students go to the store to buy their lunches from the deli, they stop by the floral department to order their dance flowers, Mrs. Adams shares.
Lee’s offers full sympathy services, an area it is seeking to grow. “We’re building a portfolio to deliver to all the funeral homes so they can see our work” and show it to families who need those services, Mrs. Adams remarks.
The stores also offer delivery, taking five to 15 orders a day, per department. The charge for delivery starts at $6 and goes up with the distance from the store.

supplier relationships
The floral managers order products for their own departments, ensuring they will have the flowers and plants suited to their customers’ tastes. Products come from a variety of sources including wholesalers; local, national and international growers; and Salt Lake City-based retailer-cooperative Associated Food Stores (AFS), of which Lee’s Marketplace is a member.
The company cultivates relationships with suppliers to develop ad programs and make sure they will have the products needed in advance of important floral holidays. That is particularly the case for Memorial Day, when 6-inch potted mums are in high demand to place at loved ones’ graves. Mr. Bohman works with a local grower to choose colors and determine quantities.
Last year, Lee’s sold 21,000 potted mums companywide for Memorial Day. A satisfied customer posted on Facebook, “We ordered flowers from you this year and are very pleased with the results. You will have our business next year. They looked beautiful on our mother’s and aunt’s graves. Thanks!!!!!”
Other popular plants include seasonal blooming varieties as well as foliage plants in attractive containers that sell for as much as $129. “We sell them for funerals,” Mrs. Adams reveals.
The floral departments maintain garden center areas in the spring and early summer. Products are displayed on sidewalks in front of the stores, and the selection includes annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs, with hanging baskets of blooming plants selling best.
Among cut flowers, the single-stem selection includes a large range of seasonal varieties. Gerberas, selling for $4 a stem, are customers’ favorites.
Ready-made bouquet prices vary from $6.99 to $29.99. “We do well with all of them,” Mr. Bohman expresses, “but the $14.99 is the most popular.” Customers favor styles with Gerberas, lilies and roses.
Arrangements, at $9.99 and up, are good sellers. Customers buy styles from traditional to trendy, so “we try to have a good variety in the cooler,” Mrs. Adams shares.

training for success
Lee’s Marketplace takes advantage of training opportunities to ensure the designers can offer the design styles customers want. The floral staff attends about three AFS seminars a year and also receives training from Lee’s vendor partners.
At those seminars, the designers learn new techniques and find out what the latest trends are. As an example, Mrs. Adams cites a session that instructed the designers about new uses for wire in corsages. “We were the first in our area to introduce” the new looks, thanks to the seminar, she recalls.
One-on-one engagement also helps the floral designers discern their clients’ needs. “We encourage them to talk and to create relationships with [clients] and to get to know them by name,” Mrs. Adams elaborates. The designers find out what’s going on in their clients’ lives, whether it’s weddings, babies or funerals, and “we let them know how we can help them,” she explains.
Customers respond to the personalized care, with many feeling loyal to favorite designers, Mrs. Adams and Mr. Bohman relate. Indeed, in Facebook postings, Lee’s Marketplace customers mention their go-to florists. One writes of a designer, “I have her make all my arrangements, and they’re always GORGEOUS!!!”
The floral staff takes care to deliver the friendly service Lee’s is known for, including sometimes giving balloons to calm restless children. A grateful mother wrote on Facebook that a free balloon quieted her daughter’s tears and “really made her day!”
The florists’ locations at the front of the stores also let them help get customers’ shopping off on a friendly note. Reminds Mrs. Adams, “You’re the first person they see, and you get to say hi to everyone who walks in.”  sfr

 


  lee's marketplace  
 

LOCATIONS Three stores, in Logan, North Ogden
and Smithfield, Utah
OWNER Shari Badger, who founded the company with her late
husband, Lee, in 1981; member of retailer-owned cooperative Associated Food Stores (AFS) of Salt Lake City, Utah
STORE SIZE Averages 45,000 to 50,000 square feet
FLORAL DEPARTMENT SIZE Averages 400 square feet
EMPLOYEES 400 companywide
FLORAL EMPLOYEES 3-4 per store, full time and part time
BIGGEST FLORAL HOLIDAY Valentine’s Day
FLORAL’S CONTRIBUTION TO COMPANY SALES 1 percent to 3 percent, depending on the quarter
FLORAL SERVICES Full-service floral departments, offering custom designs; delivery; sympathy, wedding and event services; and FTD flowers-by-wire service
DIRECTOR OF PERISHABLE FOODS Bill Bohman
COMPANY WEBSITE www.leesmarketplace.com
FLORAL WEBSITE www.leesmarketplacefloral.com

 
 

keys to success

 
 

SERVICE
The floral departments at the three Lee’s Marketplace locations offer a complete range of floral services, from custom designs to weddings.

CUSTOMER LOYALTY

The designers develop relationships with customers, ensuring satisfaction and loyalty.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Customers learn about Lee’s flowers through word-of-mouth advertising, weekly newspaper ads, Facebook, the company’s dedicated floral website, www.leesmarketplacefloral.com, and bridal fairs. The company also has two open houses a year, one for Christmas in November and one for “customer appreciation” in May, during which floral decorates the stores and showcases its work.


 

 

Reach Editor in Chief Cynthia L. McGowan at cmcgowan@superfloralretailing.com or (800) 355-8086.

 



 Copyright 2017
WildFlower Media Inc.