As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Franceska McCaughan.
Franceska McCaughan is an international flower designer providing turnkey floral solutions for luxury hotels and the artistic director behind The Hotel Florist. Her work appears worldwide in
JW Marriott Hotels, Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, Hilton Hotels, and more. To learn more about Franceska, or to follow along on her travels, visit thehotelflorist.com.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When I first began my floral design business in 2015 I initially started as a wedding florist — because I assumed that’s where every florist starts. However, it wasn’t long until I realized that it wasn’t what I enjoyed and instead of living for the next floral holiday (Valentine’s day, Christmas, Easter..) I decided to niche down and work ONLY with high paying clients. I became a corporate, retail, and hotel florist offering turn-key floral solutions to luxury hotels such as JW Marriot, Hilton, Fairmont, Four Seasons, as well as luxury brands such as Chanel and the in-house florist for all of Tiffany & Co’s Texas storefronts
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When I began my floral design business, Franzie’s Flower Design, I used my German nickname “Franzi” as I felt floral arrangements were very personal. After four years I felt the business had outgrown the nickname as it served very large international brands, including luxury hotels. As I considered utilizing my background and degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management as well as evaluating our current client list and scope, The Hotel Florist encompassed all things relating to hotels and flowers. It truly defined the brand, providing turnkey floral arrangements for luxury hotels as well as supported the future goals of the company, the expert in hospitality floral design.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Though The Hotel Florist was a service-based business, I was treating it like a travel blog. Instead of focusing on how to attract additiional corporate hotel clients, I was putting all my focus on the travel side and less on the hotel and floral side. What happens when you try and talk to everyone is that you talk to no one. Since then I have shifted my focus and attention to serve only our hotel clients through the solutions we provide and the value we bring to their guest as well as our students who we educate on how to land hotel partnerships through our online course.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I began The Hotel Florist my vision was to become an expert in the hospitality floral design industry by closing a gap in brand standards through florals and education to make the floral community stronger. My purpose was to utilize my previous experience and education in the hospitality industry paired with my expereince and design expertise in the floral industry to serve a niche lucretive market and to raise the bar. Essentially to leave both sectors better than I found them.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
Part of our company’s mission statement is to be “seen, heard, appreciated and loved”. The hospitality industry is all about taking care of people through acts of service while the floral industry is the same but through physical product. Our employees are number one just like our customers. If we take care of both sides of the equation using this mission, it is only natural that everyone will feel taken care of and valued.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
“How can we add the most value” is our number one principle. Value is at the forefront of everything we do whether it’s serving our customers, students or team members. From there everything else falls into place and stays on brand.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I first shifted to The Hotel Florist, I had a bit of an identity crisis. It was like starting a new business from scratch. It was a great idea but I was nervous to “officially” rebrand my exisiting floral design business so I tried running the two parellel. However that just made things confusing and messy. Then COVID hit and I considered giving up on the whole idea completely as I felt overnight my dreams had been crushed as no one was traveling, hotels were shut and many florists were out of business. But I held on to my purpose and gave it a little time. I decided to invest and start an online course educating other florists on how to land hotel partnerships.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
My business goals have never been more clear. The Hotel Florist is the leading expert in the hospitality floral industry as well as the only educator for florists looking to add hotel partnerships to their revenue streams. By always leading with value, The Hotel Florist has become an industry disrupter and will continue to be a market leader.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Get clear on who you serve, how you serve them and most importantly WHY you serve them. When I first started my business, it took a lot of trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t. I call that the “spaghetti method”; throw and see what sticks. It wasn’t until I became clear on who I served, how I actually brought value to them and why I ultimately wanted to work with them, that I saw the most success.
- Determine how you can add the most value to your industry. Often times we benchmark our success based on what our competition is doing. While competition is important (it shows that there is a demand for your product and there is proof of concept) the benchmark should really be, how much value you are bringing to your client? The more time and effort you put into your value proposition, the more irreplaceable you naturally become.
- Authenticity is key. You know what no one has but you? That’s just it. Being you. We often forget that our authenticity is actually our biggest strength. From our stories which offer unique connection to our expertise that sets us worlds apart. Ensure you are always showing up as the most authentic version of yourself. You are the only person who can do that.
- Build a team that supports your future growth. Many times we live/plan for what we need now. What happens is that leaves us living in our comfort zone. Start living/planning for your future self. As if those goals have already been hit and that growth is already here. By building a team with your future growth in mind, not just meeting your present needs, ensures hitting your future goals faster and more sustainably.
- Profit First. The one thing all the business gurus forget to talk about is how to build a sustainable business, which you can only achieve if you are profitable. So how can you make sure your business is always profitable? By following a very easy equation, profit = revenues- expenses and setting aside a percentage of all revenues into five accounts (Income, Profit, Owners Comp, Taxes and Operating Expense). Never again will you have to worry how to pay yourself (and/or your taxes)!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Hands down I’d love to acknowledge and thank Jeff Leatham for inspiring others through his own floral design work. When I first started in the industry, I tried to follow what was trending but often grew frustrated as it didn’t feel in alignment with what I wanted to put out there in the world. Using his work as inspiration and permission in a way to think outside the box, is really what set my brand apart. It also pushed me to be a better designer as well as open to always trying new things.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
There is a lot of waste, especially single-use plastic when it comes to the floral industry. I’d love to start a movement, or add it to our non-profit’s initiative, to reduce, recycle and reuse to ultimately become a more sustainable industry.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Let’s hang out on Instagram @franceska.mccaughan or LinkedIn or our Facebook Page, The Hotel Florist
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!