Saturday, July 5, 2008

Work-related: Paphiopedilum 'Gina Short'

A customer asked a few months ago if we had any Paphiopedilums in stock, and we didn't, so I said I'd see what I could do when the June plants came in and give her a call if we managed to get any. Well, we could, and I called, and I didn't get an answer back, but I brought in two anyway (of the same variety), and the customer is apparently no longer interested.

This sort of thing happens. We got stuck with a really big and really expensive Schefflera actinophylla in March because we ordered one for a customer who then balked at the price. (I'd estimated $70, and she was okay with that, but when it actually arrived we had to price it at $110, and that was too much.)

Sometimes for special orders, I won't put the full markup on a plant, because if it's pre-sold then we won't have to put that much energy into caring for it while waiting for it to sell, which is what a lot of the markup is for. I've regretted this a few times now, because I've been nice and priced things a bit low for people who wanted specific stuff, and then when the item comes in we end up taking care of it anyway. We have a Ficus benjamina 'Midnight' standard that someone specifically requested, that I wouldn't have brought in if not for the request, and then when it was finally here, the customer turned it down, saying she didn't have the money for it at the moment. There's a Bismarckia palm in the store now that a guy asked for, and as far as I know he still wants it, but it's been four weeks now and he hasn't come to pick it up, or called to say whether his mind has changed.

In both of those cases, I was lowering the price slightly for the customers, and now it's looking like we're stuck with them. It's not that I can't sympathize, but come on, I went to some extra trouble for you: the least you could do is not cause me a bunch more. By the time he comes to get the Bismarckia, he's probably not going to want it anymore: it's so big we don't have a good place to put it, so it's not getting the care it wants, so it's starting to decline a bit. Nothing devastating yet, but I worry.

With the Paphiopedilums, this is less of an issue. I think they'll probably sell on their own eventually. And it has been neat to look at: I've liked having them around. I just hope it holds the flowers long enough to sell: the heat is not being kind to the orchids, and we're still far enough behind schedule right now (because of the chaos brought by the flood) that we can't move them outside yet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Paul said...

Orchids are pretty tough as whole. I don't grow paphs myself but with many orchids, good air circulation can really help them endure higher temps.

Btw, when things do get to the point iof being able to put them outside, don't forget that you'll have to plan on using something like shade cloth as opposed to just having them sit out in full sun.

mr_subjunctive said...

Yeah, we've got a shade structure, which is also under a tree -- that's where they went last summer, at least for a while (I think they got moved to a south exposure by the building for part of September and October). There's just still not room yet for them outside, so they have to be in the greenhouse for a bit longer.

I'm not so much worried about the plants actually dying as I am about the plants losing their blooms and becoming significantly less sellable; a lot of flowers have dropped lately, but then they were also (mostly) in bloom when they arrived, and we've had them for a month now, so I suppose that would have had to happen eventually anyway.

Daphne said...

Just a suggestion, but it seems like you need to change your store policy. Make people pay in advance for their orders and have them come in within a certain time limit after it comes in.

mr_subjunctive said...

True. And there are arrangements in place to do that (generally more of a deposit-type arrangement: 25% of the price now, 75% at pick-up) -- I think technically I maybe should have been doing that all along. But it's an extra hassle for me, and if it sounds like somebody's really interested in the plant and will buy it anyway, then it sounds like unnecessary work and I don't wind up doing it.

I think part of the problem, too, is perspectival: I can't imagine myself asking for somebody to order a plant for me and not picking it up as soon as they told me it had arrived. So, because it's kind of alien to me psychologically, I forget to factor it in.

My LIttle Family: said...

Orchids are much easier to sell in bloom. That phaph won't be nearly as inviting when it's a green plant - except to orchid collectors like me ;) I agree with the idea of putting a non-refundable deposit down, say 20%.


Anonymous said...

It might pay to check around for others' policies on buying plants in for known and unknown customers.

If I was a regular customer of yours then I'd appreciate having to pay only a fifth of the price as a surety, and be sure you'd acquire what I was wanting.

If I was new at your outlet - surely I'd have to establish my credentials and reliability just as your company does when approaching a new supplier?

Sadness is seeing a dumpster load of plants that did not sell...:-(.

Peter said...

We make people pay in full in advance for everything; special orders, repots, holding plants. No deposits means no hassles. It seems to me if you have a deposit and then the person wants to back out, you've got a much worse customer service problem than just telling them you don't take deposits in the first place. A regular customer of course, well, that's different.

RJ Flamingo said...

Blooms, no blooms, I would take the paphs in a heartbeat! Of course, shipping might be a tad steep... :-)