No one understands the business and desperation of the week of Valentine’s Day better than your local florist. Tom Cao, owner of Flowerama on Parker Road, is no different. In fact, if you show up at his door, right as the shop closes on the eve of one of the biggest flower-selling events of the year, he might let you squeeze in to buy that super-last-minute flower arrangement.
“We get people banging on the door, and it depends on how energetic [our staff] looks. Especially on a Sunday or when guys are getting off work late,” he said. “I want to help them out. I hate turning people away.”
During the week of Valentine’s Day this year, Flowerama expects to go through a total of 12,000-14,000 roses. The staff will make somewhere between 150 and 225 deliveries a day for the three days leading up to the holiday. It isn’t any wonder then that they will start prepping 10 days out, getting vases and greenery ready, and then they will begin building the actual arrangements seven days in advance of the holiday.
“We always want to make sure everyone has the freshest flowers. We keep checking the water levels and making sure there are no blemishes on the flowers,” Tom said. “We need them to last a week at least.”
This time every year Tom admits to getting just four hours of sleep some nights, and joked that at least his mom lives around the corner from the shop so he can crash on her couch if needed.
This career is definitely different than his last one. Tom worked in compliance for an insurance company but he eventually wanted to leave the corporate world. He looked up 60-80 businesses he could possibly buy, and even though he didn’t know a thing about running a floral shop, he bought Flowerama six years ago.
“The staff was great, and I know people buy flowers. It wasn’t a hard thing to figure out,” he said. “I just needed to get the name of the shop out there, and I increased my skill level. Since then sales have doubled.”
Tom took classes and trained in floral design but it has really come naturally for him — you just have to have an eye for it, he said. As for networking, he is a member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce and other local chambers and groups in the area.
“I use chamber members all the time. It’s way better to do business that way, and the more business they do with me,” he said.
Given the kind of business Flowerama is, we thought it would be fun to get a glimpse into a typical day in the life of a florist during the super-crazy week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
A Day in the Life of a Florist
5 a.m. Tom arrives at the shop and cleans up from the previous day, schedules arrangements and assigns staff to making them.
6 a.m. The next two hours are dedicated to opening up the refrigerated truck and getting the flowers out. Flowerama’s cooler isn’t big enough for all of the orders so a 48-foot refrigerated truck stores flowers that are heartier.
8 a.m. Tom gets a short break when the staff arrives for work. He has 11 employees — eight work the day shift and three or four of them will work that night. When they come in the morning, Tom walks next door to Starbucks for a coffee and a short breather.
8 30 a.m. Now it’s on to several hours of making one-dozen and two-dozen rose arrangements, which is, of course, the most popular Valentine’s Day floral gift.
12 p.m. Time to grab lunch for the staff. Tom said he and his employees work and eat at the same time. There’s never really a break in their day during this hectic season.
12 30 p.m. Ideally the next few hours are spent creating arrangements alongside his staff, but Tom makes himself available for whatever may pop up: checking that employees are keeping up with demand, ringing up customers and touching up arrangements that need it.
6 p.m. Tom fits in time to take care of some of the day’s accounting.
7 p.m. It’s back to the sales floor for cleaning and designing. He checks on staff and looks at the next deliveries. Flowerama groups deliveries by zip code and they make sure each order has everything needed — chocolate, teddy bears, etc.
9 p.m. The staff leaves and Tom sticks around to take a quick inventory and make a final check of what’s been accomplished for the day. Then he starts a checklist for the next day and puts flowers away.
11 30 p.m. He (hopefully) arrives home in McKinney, but of course, some nights are longer.
12 a.m. Time for a nice glass of wine and some respite before bed.
Flowerama Plano >