The Secret to Get Business Blooming From a New York Florist
Starbright Floral Design provides a high-quality product and top-notch customer service to all of its clients. In this episode, hear from owner Nic Faitos on how, nearly 30 years into his business, he’s still having fun and finding unique and creative ways to work with clients and celebrate flowers. Customer Ali S. joins the conversation to share what sets Starbright apart from other floral shops and how Nic’s team goes the extra mile to make customers feel like family.
On the Yelp Blog: Get the inside scoop from Nic on how he’s built lasting customer relationships, including how he brightens up even the most basic interactions, like a simple phone order.
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Typically, I share a story featuring conversations with a business owner as well as someone who wrote them a Yelp review. But this week we’re doing things a little differently. I sat down with former guest and owner of Starbright Floral in New York City – Nic Faitos. We’re joined by my colleague and dear friend Ali Schwartz who has been a customer of Nic’s in many capacities over the years. From ordering your standard bouquet for a friend, to staging large scale events with flowers and greenery, no job is too big or too small for the Starbright team to tackle. Today we’re going to talk about how they make magic happen, and how they extend customer service and care to their clients in a way that makes them come back for any and all floral needs they have in the future. Let’s give our conversation a listen.
ALI: I think Starbright is anything but your average floral shop. You know, I always bring up this quote – it’s one of my all time favorite quotes from Maya Angelo. And it goes something like, I’ve learned, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.
And that’s what Starbright is selling. They’re selling emotion of fun and thoughtfulness and reliability. And most importantly: quality. And they’re giving that to customers while simultaneously making them feel like family and part of this community. And, you know, the cherry on top is that you’re getting a gorgeous bouquet in all of that.
And Starbright and Nic in particular does such a great job at really making the customers feel like they’re family. And so what started as you know, me walking in with a need for flowers has resulted into such a beautiful relationship and true friendship that I now have with Nic and the Starbright team.
EMILY: That was such a great intro. And really it lays the foundation for what we’re talking about today. With that being shared, Nic why don’t you fill in the blanks for me and add your perspective on Starbright given everything Ali just said.
NIC: Well, thank you very much Emily, I appreciate it. And by the way, if you could see me right now, I’m blushing. And, I thank you for having me back on the episode and thank you Ali, for all your kind words. It’s been a great run. I truly, truly enjoy getting together with you guys. And I love everything that you do. From my perspective, when you find your passion, when you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s no longer called work and I’ve come to the point with Starbright, where I’ve truly been able to drill down and find that passion and recognize that I have it.
It’s amazing how many people go to work every day, not realizing how much they enjoy the experience and therefore, don’t transform their work into something that’s fun. And, I’m one of the lucky few I really am—that has been able to make that transition. And a long, long time ago, just to fall back to a story. In the early days of Starbright, my son, who’s now my business partner for the past 15 years. But at the time he was in high school and I used to bring him into the office to work with me on his days off from school and whatnot. And we’re riding in the car in heavy traffic in Long Island and driving in, and we’re laughing up a storm. Just having a good time in the car. And it’s rush hour.
And I said, Steven, take a look at the cars around us. And all I want you to do is pay attention to the fact that everybody is so miserable and they’re on their way to work. They’re just not looking forward to the day and take that and compare it to how you and I feel right now. And realize how lucky and how fortunate we are to be in the position that we’re in.
And no matter what you do, no matter if it’s flowers or if you’re selling charcoal or I don’t care, whatever your business is. If you can go to work every day, smiling, and you can transfer that feeling that you have to your employees, to your culture, to your customers, okay? You will never, ever, ever, put yourself in a position where you have to feel like, where do I go from here? What’s next?
And it’s that transference of feeling, that electricity, that emotion, that positive vibe, that you’re passing along to your clients, that makes them want to come back. And it’s not trickery. It’s not a magnet that you’re creating in order to just build your business. Is it all altruistic? No, it’s not. But you have to recognize that you’re gonna be a much better business person, okay? And much more liked if you transfer positive feelings to your customers. And get them to come back, and have them want to come back. Not because you’re the only choice, but because you’re the one that they want to be with.
And, truthfully, that’s what I enjoy most about the experience. It’s been a great run. September 14th we’re gonna celebrate the start of our 29th year. And, I could not think of a better way to spend my time for my life for almost 30 years now. But doing what we do.
EMILY: That’s so incredible! I didn’t realize it was about to be 30 years Nic. That’s wild. I knew it had been a long time, but I was not aware it was that long.
NIC: Yea! And you told me that I could interrupt you …
EMILY: Oh please!
NIC: We’re negotiating to take a billboard in Times Square. We’re taking the NASDAQ board and the Marriott marquis board, both on the same day, bringing our staff down to Times Square, and we’re gonna have an unlicensed, no permit party in the middle of Times Square – taking pictures of ourselves with our billboard in the background, that’s gonna run something like 500 times over the course of a day.
EMILY: That is so cool. And I mean, that actually is a great example of literally what we came together today to talk about. Which is how you’ve diversified these offerings and the way that you connect with people through flowers. I mean, everything from your social media coordinator going on the subway with the bouquet and taking cool shots.
I know you guys are always thinking outside the box. Ali, do you wanna start maybe, and talk me through some of the ways you’ve used Starbright outside of the traditional ordering of a bouquet?
ALI: Yeah, for sure. I’ll take any excuse to work with Nic and the Starbright team, ‘cause they’re always just such a pleasure to work with. You know, working in the role that I’m in, we’re constantly in need of different and unique and cool venue spaces. I’m hosting events for business owners. This could be anywhere from a 20 person elite event to a 200 person networking happy hour to a 50 person workshop. They really vary, but Nic and I were chatting and we thought it would be such a unique experience with this group of business owners that we really wanted to treat them, to have them actually go to Nic’s shop.
And not only is it networking and it’s let’s connect and get to know one another in a small and intimate space, but it’s also, let’s give them something to take away. Which is making your own bouquet. And let’s have specialists there, which is all Nic and the Starbright team. This wasn’t my idea. This was an offering that came with renting the space. But, let’s actually create an environment where we can have experts educate and help make the bouquets while letting the businesses, AKA the event, attendees, run wild with their creativity and imagination to make a bouquet that they could then walk out with.
So your traditional maybe event venue, space or restaurant where you come in and you’re getting food and drinks and some casual conversation is really just elevated to the maximum because you’re using creativity. It’s such a great conversation starter to hear businesses saying, ‘Oh, I like what you did there. Do you know what flower that is? I wanna use that one. Hey, where’d you get that? Oh, what do you think of this?’
And kind of that warmth that came from people exercising their creativity, and being in an environment that the Starbright team created was so unique. And that event was four or five years ago now and it is still talked about by the business owners that I connect with on a quarterly basis. So it was so cool to work in that capacity. And again, Nic’s flower shop is stunning and bright – but it’s not your typical event venue space. And they had to push tables aside and really rearrange the space to accommodate 30 plus businesses in a relatively small shop.
And of course Nic and his team were there and they gave us the tour and they gave us education and created a love for what he does at the business level. So much more than maybe just the base knowledge that we had about what goes into running a flower shop.
NIC: No, I was just gonna say that was, that day was such a blast. I still remember it as well. And so many other events like it were birthed from that event. And, it was a day that we really, really enjoyed. It was a lot of fun.
Emily: I love talking about that event because I remember when it happened, the business owners were having so much fun that the rest of us in all the other cities were like, “Oh my God, I wish we had a florist we could do this with!” It was so unique and engaging and they really loved it. It was artistic but not too challenging where anyone couldn’t try.
I have to ask you Nic, when an opportunity like that comes your way—I think some business owners look at that and they say, ‘Oh my God, that’s so much work” or “Oh, that sounds fun, but that’s really gonna mess with our day-to-day operations.”
They just think of all the reasons why they shouldn’t do it. Tell me what you think when you get that opportunity and how you maybe look at it as a positive and something that you wanna put together with your team.
NIC: Every time I go out and something like this comes up as an opportunity, my staff is scared to death of what I’m gonna come back with. Okay, what are we doing now?
It’s a rewarding experience. It really, really is. And, you know, it’s rewarding on both sides. And, understand one thing is that I’m doing it for the fun of it. Okay. I’m doing it because of my love for flowers. And at every one of these events, whenever we host something like this, I always say, I want you to love flowers.
Flowers are a spa for the mind. And I don’t care where you buy them from. Sure, I’d love to have you come back to Starbright, but the more people love flowers and the more people bring flowers into their homes. I’m like a general PR agency when it comes to the floral industry. And that’s exactly what I wanna be.
And at the same time, if I have a staff of let’s say 10, 15, 20 people catering and helping and showing 30 or 40 other people, how to make a bouquet and how to select flowers and talk about the flowers. And I’m not center stage at the event. My team is. I guarantee you that they’re having just as much fun as the guests are because it’s not part of their day-to-day routine. And that fun—that bonding that happens between our clients and our team—brings a whole new level of enthusiasm, and support, to the organization.
And I go back to a cosmopolitan billboard, cosmopolitan magazine, that I saw years and years ago in the early days of Starbright. And, they were promoting Cosmo as a magazine and, you know, subscriptions and whatnot, and it was on telephone kiosks in the city. And the tagline was: ‘Fun, fearless, female.’
Okay, well, I’m not gender specific. But we’re fun and we’re fearless. And I took that mantra and I ran with it. As I’ve stolen many things from Madison Avenue advertising agencies over the years. And I’ve grabbed ideas here and I’ve grabbed ideas there and tried to make ’em work for me and some have succeeded others haven’t.
But in my own mind, who is Starbright? Starbright is fun. And I want everybody who interacts with us to feel that way, to some degree or another. And you know, placing an order over the telephone, to have flowers sent to somebody clear across town or clear across the world, you do not know what those flowers are gonna look like. All you know is the voice on the telephone that you’re talking to. And I want that voice to be confident. I want that voice to smile. I want there to be enthusiasm and I want there to be knowledge. I want the customer service to be excellent, but that’s not enough because anybody can offer excellent customer service.
I want it to be an enthusiastic conversation. I want the client to come off that call and say something to the effect of, “How can an organization that has it so together; how can a person that is so enthusiastic, so positive and so nice; how can that person possibly send ugly flowers? That cannot happen.”
And that transference of feeling that feel good experience has to go from the beginning to the end and sending somebody flowers is happy, okay? It’s a feel good moment and it should be a feel good moment for the person who’s sending them and for the person who’s receiving it. And throughout the entire experience from the beginning to the end, there can be no friction. There can be no frustration, and there can’t be anything but positive vibes. And that’s what we’re about.
ALI: I will say, as an event marketer, it’s my priority to make sure that the event is in the best interest of our future attendees, which in my current role, are business owners. And so Nic and his team really did deliver on the things Nic was just saying, as far as positivity. Nic really sat at the same side of the table as me. You know, again, I’ve planned hundreds of events, and it’s usually pretty transactional when you’re talking to a venue. It’s like, “I want this. Hey, can you give me that?” And I’m really dictating as the event planner in that moment what I want.
But that wasn’t the case with Starbright. Nic brought to the table different things that we could do and made it interactive. And he qualified me to see what my needs were. Okay we want it to be networking. So we’re not gonna have a quiet lesson where people aren’t chatting. We’re gonna make sure that we make it interactive.
So Nic qualified me, he made sure to get my needs as the event host, and then did everything and went above and beyond as far as my expectations to put on an amazing event as my partner, not just as the venue that I hired.
EMILY: That partnership and relationship are so important, and the trust that was built has led to so many other cool projects as well. Ali, do you want to talk about the collaboration you did for DivaDance?
ALI: Absolutely. So Diva Dance is an amazing business. They started in New York city, which is how I was connected to them. I am an instructor and choreographer for them, so I host classes. We call it a sweaty, stress-free, confident environment and community where anyone really, (mostly women) can come and without the pressure and the stress of trying to learn a dance, which could be pretty intimidating. But we’re all levels.
And so, DivaDance’s core principles are actually quite similar to Starbright’s in the sense of, making sure that it’s positive and there’s confidence and it’s fun. That’s what DivaDance, what they’re selling, is fun. It’s not, “Hey, come be the best dancer you’ve ever been. Hey come to the studio and you may, or may not feel like crap when you walk out.” It’s like, no, you’re gonna come and you’re gonna have a community of women that just uplift you.
So I’m an instructor for them and the CEO and founder of DivaDance, which they’re now a franchise business in over 40 cities. Her name is Jami Stigliano. Nic and Jami were a business owner panel together that I had put on, and so it’s just so funny how you know, networking and meeting different people throughout the course of your life and the timing of this all. So they met with one another. Jami immediately followed up with me and was like, who is this Nic guy? He’s amazing. He was so eloquent in everything that he said. He’s fantastic.
And then fast forward to, you know, a couple of years later, and Nic and I were chatting one day at his shop and Nic had the idea that we would maybe have a private event for our community. Our members at DivaDance in his shop. So similarly to how we had the business owners a few years prior, like maybe we would do a private event for our dancers.
And it was, again, just so much fun, especially bringing those two brands together. Whereas the first private event we did with Nic was bringing a group of professionals in and it was still so much fun. But with this, these women that came in there are the most loyal members. We did a Friendsgiving, so it was a special event just for our members and it was so much fun. We were dancing around with flowers as our backdrop. I don’t know that I, as a dancer, or the other community members will ever be in a unique environment like that again. Regardless of what areas or locations they use when they’re doing photo shoots and video dance shoot, but to have flowers as the backdrop, and then also, similar to the Yelp event, everyone took home a bouquet and they were making their own. And I mean, the ladies were shimmying with roses in their hands. It was just so fun. And so unique and so special.
And so I jumped around a little bit, but when Nic first presented the idea to me, of course, naturally, I’m all for it. I’m so excited. I’m like, I have to be the one to teach this class. This is amazing! But I reached out to Jami and, Immediately her response was, of course I remember Nic. I’m so stoked for this to be an opportunity where the brands come together. And I think I’ve talked a lot about collaborations across like different panels or marketing events, two businesses. It’s like, how do you know who to partner with and how to collaborate? And I think those like brand partnerships come in all different shapes and sizes. And you would never think that a flower shop and an adults-only all levels dance company would partner together for an event. But it just worked so well. And hats off to Nic because it was all his idea.
NIC: Well, thank you
EMILY: So Nic, I get it – having all of these women in your store, getting them to see your incredible product and meet your team is a great opportunity. But again, it kind of circles back to like a lot of work. So what are some ways that you look at this event to gauge success?
Obviously you guys had a great time, you had fun, but what are some things you’re looking at, maybe from the business side to see the impact of something like this?
NIC: Absolutely. Good question. Before I answer you though, I have to go back to the panel that Jami and I were on and the one thing that stuck in my mind that I remember more than anything else, and I absolutely loved it when I heard it. I think the tagline is “Slay is my cardio.”
NIC: And I thought that was so cool. I loved it. And from that point on, I decided that I would do everything that I could to make sure that we became friends. I just saw a brand who had a lot of the same philosophies that we did. Was definitely success minded. And approached marketing from the same side of the table. And so I saw that there was a partnership brewing there. And the fact that Ali was involved was all that much more intriguing. And, you know, I started watching the videos and the reels on Instagram and everything that they were doing now over a period of time, never anything triggering in my head.
And then I said, you know, wouldn’t it be cool if we offered to do one of these classes in our store? We certainly have the space. It could be fun. Certainly everybody that comes is gonna have a good time. And now I look at it from my standpoint. Okay, as you said, as a business person. What am I gonna get out of this?
Well, I got an awful lot of goodwill. I met some people who love flowers and hopefully they’ve bought some more anywhere since then. And that’s great. Okay. But the big driver. And what we constantly look for in anything promotional that we do, when you’re in a highly competitive media market, like New York, it costs a lot of money to advertise. Okay. And aside from the basic online advertising that everybody does, and, you know, we spend some money doing that. It’s very hard to go outside of that and make an impact because the market is so expensive. So what you really have to do is make a lot of noise. And you gotta make noise in different ways and find ways to make noise that’s impactful. I want somebody to see that video on our Instagram feed or wherever it’s posted or wherever it lives forever. I want them to see this and say, wow! And if I can create a lot of those moments, across many different platforms, with many, many different ideas, not just one. I’m building a community of followers. I’m building a community of enthusiasts and what I call sneezers. Okay. Now a sneezer is somebody who, when you sneeze and you don’t put your hand over your mouth, you’re spreading germs, okay?
Emily: You remember the first time you told me the sneezer story? It was the start of the pandemic and you were like this is not good for right now. Anyway, keep going. Your sneezers.
NIC: So, you know, the sneezer. But I believe in that, I really do. And I believe that word of mouth travels and it travels in the most incredible ways. And just to give you a story, there was a time when AT&T wireless was our carrier for our phones. And I got a phone call from Houston, from their headquarters, wanting to use Starbright for an online spokesperson. For a commercial that they wanted to film in our store. Now, why would I ever say no to that? I wouldn’t, okay? Well, I’m standing outside my store for our 12 o’clock appointment and all of a sudden, Chris Gardner shows up. Now, Chris is the real life person behind the pursuit of happiness. And he’s the one who’s gonna interview me for the commercial. That commercial is still online and you can still find it years later, with me shaking hands with Chris Gardner. Now, the fact of the matter is Chris and I are still very good friends. Okay. I’m his florist. I made sure of that. He loves our flowers. Now, but is that the most important thing? No, it’s the fact that I can talk about it and make the noise. It’s the difference between why we eat chicken eggs instead of duck eggs. Duck eggs are much more nutritious than eggs that come from chickens. But a chicken makes a whole lot more noise every time she lays an egg. And it’s the enthusiasm of the chicken that causes us to buy the chicken egg and eat it. Okay. So that’s all I’m doing and that’s what it comes down to.
Emily: That was an incredible analogy and I cannot believe you met him! That is so cool. And like one of my all time favorite movies.
NIC: No, and he’s a great guy and you should follow him on social media. He does some phenomenal things. In fact, he’s coming to New York, he just booked a program with the trade schools of New York City, to mentor kids that are in junior high and high school that are gonna go into the trades, okay. To give them reason, to look into entrepreneurship and to support and so on and so forth. And in the conversation we had with him, he says, I don’t know Nic, if you realize how many seventh graders there are out there that are Nic Fatoses of the future, and I want you to meet them. And he’s gonna bring me into his programs and I’m gonna get to work with some really, really cool kids.
And I’m very excited.
EMILY: That is so cool Nic! I love that. So many Nic Faitoses of the world. That’s so cute. Ok, I wanna bring this conversation full circle, and we’ve been talking about it alot but Starbright is your florist Ali. And you think of them for everything. Like I know for your wedding, it’s gonna be Starbright, right? But also you think of them outside the box. Like, you’re a singer. You had this really cool concert that you were putting on and I remember you and I talking a couple of weeks before it, and you were trying to figure out how to make the scene look good. And you wanted greenery. I remember you had a vision. And you went to Nic, but Nic doesn’t necessarily have a service for staging stages. So talk to me about how you think of Nic, how you approach him for those kinds of the out of the box things. And then I’ll go to Nic for how he sometimes helps a friend out and how that can turn into some ripple effect word of mouth.
ALI: Yeah, for sure. I mean, what makes Starbright so great is that Nic and the Starbright team are so generous in their resources, in their advice. And in all that they do, all that enthusiasm, all that fun that seeps through when they’re talking to a customer, no matter who that customer is. And so because of my, and Nic’s relationship and the fact that I’ve worked with him in so many different capacities, through Yelp events, through DivaDance events, as just a standard customer. A friend lost his job, I ordered a bouquet, right? So, I think of him as the holy grail when it comes to knowledge of flowers and plants, and things of that nature.
And so I remember I had just finished a tech rehearsal at this space and this space was bare. And originally that was the intent. We wanted it to be very sleek and easy to film and not too much noise. But it just didn’t look good. It was just all white and it didn’t look good. And I, to your point, Emily had this vision of like greenery on each side of the stage. And so Nic, who I think of as an advisor of many things, one of which of course, florals. But also marketing and entrepreneurship and business advice. But I had just sent Nic an email and asked him if he rented out any greenery or plants.
And so when I went to him for advice, he so generously offered to allow me to utilize plants that he has, for the duration of the concert that I was throwing. And I mean, honestly, I was teary eyed when he said that it was so nice. It was so thoughtful. I wasn’t anticipating anything like that. I really was going to Nic for advice like, ‘Hey, you’re in this space, where could I go to get this thing? You, you know, the deal you offer this thing, like, where could I go? Do you have it?’
EMILY: She’s a big time sneezer! We’re going to take a quick break. But when we come back we’ll talk about this level of customer service and if it was because of your friendship and relationship with Ali, or if that service extends to the rest of your customers. Hint hint, it definitely does and you can read their reviews to prove it!
I know you did all of that because she is a dear friend of yours. And that’s a relationship that you’ve been growing for a long time. But I think that’s a part of your entrepreneurial spirit and the way you run Starbright that really extends to a lot of your customers. You treat your customers like family.
Can you talk a little bit about that and how you make yourself available as that resource? And don’t just always keep it in the box of the menu of offerings you have.
NIC: Well, it’s not a color by numbers business. No business is. And I’m gonna revert back to Yelp for a minute. And obviously I’m a Yelp advertiser, and I’ve spent my fair share of money over the years and that’s fine. And if I was to measure my success with Yelp purely by the advertising dollars versus the orders that we’ve received, I can’t tell you whether I’ve profited 10 times over or doubled my money or how profitable it is, okay? But what I see Yelp as, is a license to promote your business. In other words, I took my Yelp advertising budget and multiplied it 10 times over by the things I got to do with Yelp.
In addition to the orders that came from the pay per click. And that’s great. And would I do, would I be on Yelp if that was the only thing I got out of it? Absolutely. But I see it as a license to join a country club, okay? To be a part of a network into which I can expand it and build that chicken I was talking about.
And with every opportunity that we have, wherever it comes up, I’ll find – and yes, during the pandemic, when money was tight and, you know, we all kind of crawled back into our cocoons. You know, we sort of took a second look at things. But, the fact of the matter is that I will listen to an opportunity. I will hear about something that’s coming up and rather than starting with a negative, no. And try to be sold on why I should do it. Or have the other person on their hands and knees begging. Okay, which I never do. I will find ways. ‘Gee, how could this work to my advantage? How can I benefit from this?’
Whether it’s a nonprofit, whether it’s an organization that we work with, whether it’s an individual, whether it’s somebody up and coming, whether it’s, you know, whatever the case is, I will look for some way to find a way to make it work and be beneficial enough, that I can springboard from it. And like I said before, it’s not all altruistic, but there are some times where you just have to take a step back and say, it’s not just about the money. It’s not just about the revenue. It’s not about growth. It’s about the community. I’ve said this quote that I’m about to share with you several times in, at Yelp meetings, especially when I’m talking to teams at Yelp and which I’ve had the opportunity to do in the past.
And it’s not just about what you have for yourself. No, man is an island. None goes his way alone. What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own. And you never know where it’s gonna come back from. You never know. When I offered the plants to Ali for her show, I had no idea that five years later, or whenever we would be talking about it on this podcast. I really didn’t and I didn’t do it with that intention.
I didn’t even know that she was gonna talk about us that night. Pleasantly surprised. Highly appreciative, yes. Okay. But all I know is that, if you sprinkle enough pixie dust, okay, it’s gonna come back. You’re gonna feel good at the moment. And you’re building a book, you’re building a portfolio, you’re building a life story that is more than just, ‘Hey, come buy flowers from me’ or whatever it is that you’re selling.
EMILY: It’s always bigger than the single transaction. As you both shared, it’s about a feeling. A connection. And that connection is what causes consumers to want to spread the word. Ali, can you share a bit more from the consumer perspective and what in-person experiences often translate to online reviews or brand advocacy?
ALI: So I think when a business knows who they are and they have core principles that you can feel, you know, I don’t know necessarily what Starbright’s core principles are, but I can feel the enthusiasm. I can feel the fun, I can feel what they stand for. And anytime I am talking to anyone from the Starbright team, they put a smile on my face, whether that’s a phone call or an email or a person. They create such positivity with everyone that they speak to. And I know it’s not just me because I have so many people in all facets from both the DivaDance community, since we did an event with them. Business owners, events that we’ve done at Starbright. Friends, colleagues within the Yelp community. I mean, so many people just have the same positive things to say over and over about Starbright.
So it’s so unique that as a customer Starbright is also putting a smile on your face. And I get excited to say, I know the place that you can go and feeling like undoubtedly, that they will get an exceptional customer experience and if I could write a review, I totally would. Because of my role at Yelp, I don’t write reviews and I can’t write reviews for local businesses. But if I could, I would totally start with that standard, ‘If I could give six stars instead of five, I would,’ because that’s how I feel. I wanna scream them from the rooftop. And so I do that in a way that maybe isn’t a review on Yelp. But it is me spreading the word to anyone I know that is in need of flowers or would be in need of flowers in the future, which is kind of everyone.
Emily: Yeah, and something you said really caught my attention there. You know, when you’re referring someone – friend, family, colleague, you don’t even question whether they’re gonna get the same service you did. You know that everyone at Starbright, no matter who they interact with – whether Nic knows them as a personal friend or not, they’re going to get this incredible experience.
So Nic, I wanna bring it back to you. I mean, I know you have a huge influence on your customers and you are a big and active part of your brand. But you also have a massive team. I mean, everything from the people designing the bouquets to delivery to everything! How do you feel you create that on the inside so that they’re able to create that external experience?
NIC: Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm within the organization and I believe just as a core principle that I truly live by – you treat your employees and your team members the same way you want them to treat your customers and where this all congrues and it comes together is that you’re creating a Starbright way. And when somebody new joins the team, I’ve heard it more than once when somebody does or says something. Not by me, by their colleagues. They’re corrected, not criticized, but corrected. And they’ll say something like, Hey, that’s not the Starbright way. And to me, that’s emotional. When that gets born from the inside. And there is a Starbright way.
And I was joking with a couple of guys the other night from our office. And I said, you know, when you have a business and you’re defined by the customer service that you give. Because anybody can buy anything they want, and that people have choices, they can buy whatever they want, wherever they want, and they choose to come to you.
And that’s an honor that you should respect. And on the scale of one to five, you have at the bottom customer service that is completely unacceptable and I’ll never go back there. Customer service in the middle, that is ho hum and ho drum. Then you have excellent customer service. And then the final level – which we strive for – is where your name becomes a verb.
And when I hear a liquor store or a hardware store or any other business say, I’m gonna Starbright my customer, and they use Starbright as a verb. And they’re talking about customer service as being the definition and the highest point. When I get to hear that, I will be totally blessed and flattered. And you know, I’d say my job is done.
We’re not there yet, and I haven’t heard that phrase at any liquor store, but it’s the goal and it’s what we all strive for. And it’s what we want to give our customers. And we want it to come from the heart. We want it to be sincere. It can’t be of the moment. It can’t be fake. And you know, when a smile is fake. You know when someone is reading a script. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to on the phone – customer service related, where I’m the customer being serviced. And I can, I’m one line ahead of them on the script that they’re reading to me.
You know, I threaten to put mirrors in front of everybody’s desk, so that they can look at themselves and smile when they’re on the phone. Okay? Because a customer can feel a smile on the telephone, and I’ve never actually put those mirrors on anybody’s desk. I just thought it was a funny story and, you know, we suggested it one day much to everybody’s rebellion. But that’s what I said in the beginning. It’s the transfer of feeling and, sharing stories and talking to our team, creates an environment into which the team then carries that forward to the client.
I cannot be a tough boss that is unreasonable—or leader, not boss. I don’t like the word boss. I cannot be tough with my team in an unreasonable way. And then expect them to be pleasant when talking to our clients. It flows and it has to be clearly guided. Okay. But with enthusiasm. And for the love of wanting to be here, and that’s really what it comes down to.