Sharon and Charlie
“About ten years ago, I realised that perhaps I should be changing how my business operates, lots of other businesses were coming off the high street and I knew it was something that I needed to be doing, but for a very long time, I was reluctant to take the plunge. It was a scary thought- and I loved the shop, the customers, my lovely team of girls that I had around me- I thrived off that! However, I could see how much our high street was changing and how much other businesses in my industry were benefitting from similar changes.My lease was coming to an end and It was a good time to seriously think about doing it, so I started researching as to what it would involve, where I could go, see the costings and try to figure out how it would all work. We made the decision to begin putting our plans into motion about two years ago, the girls – my staff at the shop, knew two years ago too. It was a difficult decision to have to make as I would need to downsize the team to just me, Charlie and our driver Nick. But we are all great friends and they have all been so supportive of the need to keep up with the times and evolve the business. Luckily, they have all found other jobs now and are all happy bunnies- so I feel like a contended mother chicken!
So, after Mother’s Day this year, we decided to finally go for it, and we moved to our lovely studio here in Broadwater. It’s absolutely perfect, the scenery is beautiful and we’re right in amongst the nature which is very inspiring and motivational. We do still miss the buzz of the shop and our customers coming in, but this private space now means that we have time to get on with the essentials - basically the money-making things! Our main business now, is phone business and website orders with the majority being via funeral directors, weddings, functions etc. Obviously when we moved, our turnover dropped, as we no longer had the walk-in customers or plant sales, but without the huge costs that come with running a shop, the bottom line is looking much better.
The pressure has been taken off somewhat now, and we are really enjoying having the time to put 110% into each arrangement, instead of having to put our bouquet down every 5 minutes. However, we don’t have the high street presence, so we do have to actively get out there and market ourselves more effectively. Social media is a massive part of our marketing, Charlie does a fantastic job on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and because of that we get a lot of wedding work – our industry is very pictorial, so we’ve got to use that opportunity. We’re starting to move and shake in the wedding industry a lot more now. Charlie is passionate about weddings and has worked hard to grow that side of the business. We have lots of plans in the pipeline that we are really excited about- our next move is to start doing our own deliveries across the whole of the country, in our own packaging with next day delivery, as an alternative to using a relay service. We also have a few more plans in the works that we haven’t announced yet- so watch this space!”
About the business
Colonnade Florist has been the local flower expert in Tunbridge Wells, Kent for almost 20 years. It is owned and run by Sharon Wood, a Chelsea Flower Gold Medal Winner and Florist of the Year Finalist with more than 30 years’ experience.