From their box at the auction in Aalsmeer, Willem and Dennis Liefting supply a large number of Dutch florists. And in terms of revenue, this is their best year yet: in addition to Dutch florists remaining open for business (in contrast to many of their colleagues in Europe), trade has continued at an unusually high level. While the market has calmed down a bit now, it's likely that records will be broken.
Dennis and his three colleagues purchase for his clients on a daily basis - around one hundred florists throughout the Netherlands - most of them based in Amsterdam. A part of the product is purchased based on pre-registered demand, while most, perhaps 80%, is purchased "on the fly". The purchased products are immediately listed in the webshop, where clients can order, and they're free to take a look around the box. "Some stop by during the afternoon or even in the evening, because they want something extra or something special for the next day. That's why I always want to have ample supplies."
Dennis' father, Willem, was 14 years old when he joined his father's trading company 53 years ago. That was the start of a life as a flower trader, a profession he would pass on to his son Dennis. With an initial focus on Germany and Denmark, about a decade ago their attention shifted to the Dutch florist. Willem has taken a step back after getting up at 4 AM all his working life, and now Dennis is in charge of the company. Willem usually comes in at around 8, when Dennis and his colleagues have already purchased most of the flowers and plants. With another 5 or 6 team members they make sure all products find their way to the client, and vice versa.
Pushing the button
The traders don't purchase in the auction hall anymore, but directly from their own box. They did take the auction button with them from the hall. While pressing the space bar also works, this method is faster, according to Dennis. "Maybe it's a fraction, perhaps even a millisecond, but it is noticeable." Starting at around 5 AM, they take a look at the clients' wishes and what's on offer, the actual trading starts at six. Depending on the day, they'll be busy for anything from two to four hours, assisting where needed and answering phone calls from clients throughout the day.
A solid webshop is an absolute must nowadays, Willem says. "Maybe we would have gone bankrupt, maybe we wouldn't have been here if we hadn't launched our own webshop 15 years ago." Liefting was one of the first to do so, and the gentlemen are always looking to improve upon it. Two years ago, they launched a completely new webshop, the Advisor 3.0, and recently they installed a new, updated version.
Extra pair of hands
Although their combined experience in trade will soon exceed a hundred years, 2020 is a whole new chapter. "I'm surprised everything keeps going," Dennis says. "Revenue is maybe 20% higher than last year," Willem continues. They also have their eye on the boxes around them, an expansion might be on the cards. And they're looking for an extra pair of hands, so anyone looking for a nice challenge in a growing, flourishing trade is warmly invited to send an e-mail.