“Customer engagement”? That’s just a fancy term for connecting with your customers!
Once a month, we host a design class after our shop, Designs of the Times, closes. In the beginning, we only had three or four attendees for each class, but now it has now bloomed (pardon the pun!) to the point where we have a waiting list every month.
Some folks in our industry might object to teaching customers how to design, but we believe there are some wonderful benefits. During the hour-long class, we reinforce their love for fresh flowers and how to best care for them. Exploring basic and advanced design techniques increases their appreciation of the skills and artistry of a trained designer. After an hour working to master a particular design technique, they come to understand it’s not as easy as we make it look!
Perhaps the most significant benefit of teaching design classes is that your participants become so attached to your shop that they become more loyal than ever. Talk about customer engagement, it’s like they are part of your extended flower family! They will buy more frequently and their purchases tend to exceed the average sale amount. I don’t have to remind anyone how important it is to increase your base of truly loyal customers.
Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our process for delivering the instruction. A few insights we’ve gleaned:
- Publishing an entire year’s class schedule online makes it easy for customers to plan for upcoming classes.
- Giving customers the ability to register for classes online is extremely helpful.
- The week of class, send out an email with a link to register. If you send the email too early, you might have people register and then forget to attend. Attendees can also call the shop to register if they prefer.
- Create an attendance sheet so you know when the class is full. This also helps you track who paid in advance and if you have any no-shows.
Order your product a week or two ahead to be sure you can negotiate the best price. To prepare for the class, create an arrangement ahead of time and set aside flowers to create another one while you provide step-by-step step instruction. We set up workspaces ahead of time with a vase containing everything attendees need for that month’s recipe. Make sure everyone’s flowers are the same to save time, energy and frustration.
I like to have some talking points written down before class to be sure I give attendees a new design tip or technique each month. Keeping a diary of what topics and techniques you’ve covered will keep the classes fresh for your regular students. We take pictures of the class working on their designs and post them on our Facebook page. Finally, when the class is finished, I go around to each design and give some positive feedback, recognizing at least one element in the design that is well done. The participants love this part and give each other a round of applause for a job well done!
Do you offer these events in your store? What are your tips for making them successful? Tell us in the comments section below!1