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Flower power - - this bud's for you

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kmccarron@crain.com

AKRON (May 9, 2012) - - Flowers have an innate ability to deliver warm feelings to the recipient.

Flowers are given to cheer up the sick, send a message of affection or celebrate a special occasion.

Flowers will be adorning tables and mantels of many homes in America as Mother's Day approaches. (Spoiler alert: It's this Sunday, in case you forgot!)

Recently I met a tire dealer at the New England Tire & Service Association convention who has taken the power of flowers one step further and is using them to build customer impressions long after they leave his shop.

"Fifteen years ago I went to a Tire Warehouse meeting and one of the managers said, 'It was Mothers Day and I bought some flowers and gave out a flower to everyone that came through.' Since then I said 'Why are we waiting for Mother's Day?' So we have a pot of carnations and everybody gets a flower," said Lennie Weeks, a Tire Warehouse franchisee in Greenfield, Mass.

Every day a customer comes into his store, they leave with a flower, both men and women.

"It sounds silly but it goes on and on. And that one flower that they pick up lasts three weeks on their piano and who do you think they're thinking of when they see that flower? So it's worked incredibly well," he said during a tire dealer panel discussion at the convention.

"The men get flowers and they get all embarrassed and don't know what to do with it. But it works," he said. He admitted he's not a "numbers guy" when it comes to calculating profits and margins, but he half-jokingly noted that he knows when it's been a good day for business by the number of flowers that were given out.

Speaking from personal experience, I have to admit, as a customer, I was quite impressed when I received flowers long after I paid my bill for a service. There was the travel agent who sent a bouquet of flowers the day after my family returned from our trip as a "thank you" for our business.

Then there was my local grocery store that delivered a bouquet of roses to my house because I was a "valued customer."

There are always the popular coupons and follow-up phone calls to enhance customer satisfaction. But never underestimate the positive impression a simple flower can deliver.

Tire Business reporter Kathy McCarron is NOT on the payroll of Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD), the floral wire service, retailer and wholesaler. But she'll gladly accept a bud from secret admirers - - uh . . . flowers, that is, not beer.

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