There are bound to be some who disagree, but perhaps the most crucial factor in running a successful flower business is trust. Mike Duivenvoorde has built that up over all these years, and when he started for himself two years ago, he had the wind in his sails immediately. How does Duif Flowers fare now?
"The idea was initially to focus on the English florist," Mike explains. "I still do that now, but England is difficult. There is a lot of paperwork and hassle with customs papers, and I also had several customers whom I had to chase in terms of payments. So, gradually, sales shifted from the UK to the mainland. In fact, England is now only about 10%."
Apart from a few dropouts, many customers have mostly joined. When we spoke to Mike two years ago, he did everything alone; now, he has three employees: two for the box and one for accounting/administration. The focus on the florist hasn't changed; from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and further afield, Mike now has a large number of lines running.
He says the most important thing is quality, then comes the rest. Mike: "It has to be fresh, that's what a florist wants. And service, of course. If it has to be slightly more expensive, then so be it, as long as we can give that freshness guarantee. Everything is day trade; I don't keep a stock, and if I don't have it, I point out to my customers where they can get it. And that is appreciated."
Room for expansion
That he is well informed and knows how to get things done is clear Mike has to work hard to keep up with all the inquiries and requests. "We deliberately had to slow down a bit, it was going very fast at one point. With extra people on board, we intended to keep slightly more normal hours, but I still work 70 or 80 hours a week. That's not a bad thing, and of course, we won't just say no, but I want to keep the overview and indeed be able to guarantee quality. Now that there are more of us, we have again created some space for potential new clients."