Ensure the delivery of a quality floral arrangement

Dear Jerry:

These are flowers for Valentine’s Day for my girlfriend. Because she lives in the Midwest, we will be celebrating our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner in March. For now, I want to send her a beautiful flower arrangement and I need your advice.

My history with these national flower delivery services has been disappointing. The quality and freshness of their flower arrangements were not impressive.

What should I do?

Kevin M.

San Francisco, California.

Dear Kevin:

Contact a reputable florist where your girlfriend lives. Place the order directly with the owner, store manager or dedicated employee.

In my experience, when flowers are ordered in one geographic area and delivered to another, there is potentially less motivation for excellence on the part of the florist. This is especially the case during peak periods such as Valentine’s Day. At least hypothetically, the out-of-town florist might conclude that the sender will never see the flowers. Also, a recipient usually does not inform a sender that the flowers were poor.

A consumer who orders flowers must overcome this factor. Start by avoiding national networks. Find a small flower shop in your girlfriend’s community. Then personally communicate with the owner of this store.

For the name of a good florist, contact someone you know who lives in that area. If no one comes to mind, call a local public library. Ideally, choose a secondary library in or near your girlfriend’s neighborhood.

When you speak with a librarian at that branch, explain the situation. The librarian may actually be familiar with a reliable florist. Although librarians normally limit the information they provide to citable resources and not their opinions, you can informally ask for the librarian’s recommendation “off the record”. Beyond their excellent credentials, Master of Library Science (MLS), experience, and conscientious professionalism, librarians can also be very human.

If the librarian is unable to suggest a florist, there are local community documents, ‘yellow pages’ directories and various ‘great finds’ resources. Hopefully, your conversation with the librarian will be a helpful “brainstorming session” and lead to a promising florist lead.

Although I’m confident you’ll reach a friendly librarian the first time, you have the option of calling another branch library and speaking with another librarian. Essentially, you want to speak with someone who embraces your mission and works with you enthusiastically.

Alternatively, if you have a computer with internet access, you can browse online florists in any area and read reviews. However, if you search by this route, you should always contact a specific person, preferably the owner, at the florist you select. Of course, you write down the name and contact details of the person for your file.

Be exceptionally specific with the florist about your expectations. When you finalize your order, ask the florist to email you a photo of the flower arrangement after it’s been prepared. For readers who don’t have a computer, internet access or phone with camera function, ask the florist to email it to a friend.

Make it clear to the florist that you’ll be a loyal customer as long as your girlfriend is “blown away” by your gift.

Jerry Romansky is a syndicated columnist. Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish: Ask Jerry, PO Box 42444, Washington DC 20015. Email [email protected] and (due to a spamming situation) write the name of your log in the header. Questions of general interest are answered in the column. Unpublished letters cannot receive an individual response.

Terisa K. Carn