Reprinted from lbknews.com
Conforti has built a bustling operation of more than 40 employees garnering 70% of Sarasota’s floral market share.
What does football, clam chowder, a geranium and a hibachi grill have in common? Everything, according to Beneva Flowers President, Arthur Conforti. “My business is like a football franchise; I am the coach and my employees are my team, our clients are the fans. My coaching philosophy is simple. We have 100 yards to score a touchdown. 100 yards is a long way, but if we break it down into 10-yard plays we can make it to the goal in 10 plays,” says Conforti.
It wasn’t always that way for Conforti. When he launched his family floral business, it was just his mother, father and himself in a small flower shop at 6980 Beneva Road in Sarasota. But with his commitment to clients and his strong repeat client base, Conforti has built a bustling empire of over 40 employees garnering 70% of Sarasota’s market share.
Today, Conforti’s shop occupies the entire business plaza at the corner of Beneva and Clark. The floral empire encompasses a showroom, telephone sales center, floral design studio, delivery dispatch center, wedding consultation studio and a worldwide marketing division.
Conforti is touted throughout the floral industry as the gold standard for floral operations. In-fact, his operation and management has been so successful Conforti also owns Beneva Solutions, a coaching and consulting business offered to start up florists. “Businesses need to stop focusing on the top-line and redirect their focus to the bottom-line. Take today’s economy: everyone is worrying about slow sales. Sales are down, that is true. So what if sales are down? What are you doing to bring your operating costs down? A well-run business can report profits if run correctly regardless if sales are up or down. Through changing economies, politics and demographics Conforti has adjusted to meet ever-fluctuating needs. He has added 24-hour delivery, Internet shopping and live web cams for clients. He has trimmed payroll, streamlined delivery methods by organizing his delivery routes and using GPS technology efficiently.
One thing Conforti has not done is open new locations. “The overhead cost expansion adds to your bottom-line can be the most destructive line item for a business. Conforti maintains that his centralized operation allows him to deliver one of his most important business edicts, “Give customers what they want and need.”
And what customers want and need often exceed your basic flower order. In-fact last week he was posed with a very specific request. The caller, a young woman from Maine, asked if Conforti and his team could round-up and deliver a can of clam chowder, a geraniums and a hibachi. Instead of asking “Are you crazy,” Conforti immediately and instinctively assured her that it would be done!
For Conforti, this request was not out of the ordinary. He says that in a typical week Beneva Flowers delivers everything from romantic gestures, sometimes highly personal and unique gift ideas, down to somber flowers sent to those in mourning. It is the act of fulfilling the unique demands and vision of his customers that is hallmark to his company’s ongoing success.
Though Conforti has been in the flower business for over 20 years, he learned his business lessons while driving a SCAT bus, his first job here after relocating from New York. He learned that knowing your customer is key to providing exceptional customer service. While driving the bus, he remembered faces, names, locations, favorite stops, etc. He transformed those tenets into a business that spans wedding planning to business coaching and marketing. He has seen flower trends come and go, and by anticipating those changes in taste and design, Conforti stays ahead of the game by tapping into his greatest resource, his clients.