60 Seconds with Karen Lindsay
FLOWERS BY KAREN, KILMARNOCK
Meet Karen Lindsay who started as a Saturday girl in a florist at the age of 14 and has been running Flowers By Karen in Kilmarnock for nearly two decades. A passionate advocate for great customer service, she’d rather be in her shop than anywhere else in the world.
Why did you decide to join the GFG?
We want to be the best, and part of the elite, because we’re proud of what we do here. It’s great being able to tell our customers that we’re part of this merit-based organisation. We’re your wee local flower shop and we’re good enough, look what we can do! I’ve met lots of florist friends through the group and the members Facebook page is great. We’re throwing ideas out to each other and everyone is so helpful. I made a big fuss about it and our local newspaper gave us fab coverage. We take our framed GFG Certificate to awards and demonstrations to let everyone see what we’re part of.
Best business decision?
Coming out of Interflora. We were part of it for 11 years and the profit margins were squeezed so much I think we were making £1.19 in profit per order by the time they take all the charges off. I spoke to other people and it became apparent to me that we’d been running around for 11 years being busy fools and treading water.
Worst business decision?
I’m pretty fortunate that we meander from year to year and we’ve grown every year.
If you weren't a florist, what would you like to do?
A midwife. I love babies! I just love babies… (Karen has five children!)
Describe your perfect day
My perfect day is a really busy day at work where everything just goes to plan. I don’t like having a day off, I feel lost! I don’t know of any other job that you could get up on a Monday morning and not dread it ever.
What's your greatest indulgence?
I’ve got five kids, I’ve got no time for myself! A glass of wine in the bath with a bath bomb and nobody chapping the door for a pee! It doesn’t happen very often…
Your biggest pet hate?
Order gatherers on the Internet who will put in a local phone number to dupe the customer into thinking they’re ordering locally. Don’t be fooled, they put in a local phone number, they do it in every city in every town, it’s actually illegal. These guys are taking the order, taking a chunk of money and then phoning one of the local shops in the town or sending it from a factory.
What do you find most difficult?
Cashflow and keeping hold of profit when it’s there. It goes back into the business continually. We’re successful, we do well but I’ve got six members of staff because we’re busy. If we could clone ourselves and do it with two members of staff we’d be rolling in it.
Is the customer always right?
I’m going to say yes because we bend over backwards to make sure they are. And if they’re not right we grit our teeth and bear it. We rarely have a complaint but if we do we turn it into a positive thing and that customer leaves thinking that was very good customer service.
Best piece of advice for someone starting out?
Be seen and be in front of your customers. Be personal about it. My shop name is the most boring name ‘Flowers By Karen’ but from the moment they come in, they have a name. If you’re not an outgoing personality, employ somebody who is. You can be the best florist in the world but if people don’t like you, it won’t work, you have to have a nice manner.
What are you most excited about in the next year?
I’m excited to get the peaks out of the way, getting Valentines Day and Mothers’ Day done and dusted. I’m looking forward to the future to maybe not just the job but to me being more well known in the industry, doing demonstrations and doing more for the GFG.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you're only allowed one flower?
Oh God. I’m more of a foliage person. But I’d have to say Acacia because I love it through everything. It adds a lovely texture and dimension.
What are the local businesses you'd recommend?
Cafe Da Vinci – it’s a family run Italian restaurant and the food is amazing.
Allure Hair and Beauty – this is a great example of a business adapting to ever changing trends. The girls are amazingly talented and customer service is key.
The Coffee Club – home made baking and sandwiches as well as gorgeous soup! Fraser and his team really make you feel at home.