Category Archives: Improvements

Tip #214 – Form Letters Using Word & Mail Merge


Tip #214
Form Letters Using Word & Mail Merge

As you probably know, flowerSoft lets you type your own form letters through its database. However, a database is not a word processor and when compared to something like Word, does a pretty poor job of formatting a letter.
A database however, does a great job of locating and selecting records that can then be used to generate the form letters.
In the past, I’ve tried to provide several form letters and let you pick which one you want to use. However, everyone has their own opinion of what the letters should look like and I’ve been making changes to the letters on an individual basis.

I have decided that it is much better for all involved, to let you use Word to write your own form letters and teach you how to use the data extracted from flowerSoft to generate the letters. It is not that difficult.
The examples shown here were created with Word 2007. Other versions of Word should be very similar.
I am also assuming that you will be using your own letterheads for this process. If you are printing on plain paper, you will need to add your name and address to the top of the letter.

Here is how to do it…

  1. Open Microsoft Word (yes, it is required) and create your form letter.

    The first thing you need to do when you open your blank document is to use the line spacing option and select to remove the space after a Paragraph. See below…

    The reason we need to do this is that Word’s mail merge inserts a space after each line of the address block and it just does not look good.

  2. Now type your letter. Just the body of the letter, do not enter a customer’s address or a salutation. It should look something like this…

After you have composed your letter, save it giving it a name that you will remember later. For example, we could call this one “New Recipient Letter”

  1. Now we will need to extract the recipient data in flowerSoft to use with the form letter. Here is how we do that:
  • Go to the Manager’s menu and select the Marketing option. From there, select the Import/Export option.

    From there select the Export Recipients to a CSV file option

    Since this is a letter to be sent to new recipients, we are going to select option #4 of the menu.
    You could also use option #5 if you want but that option will select recipients you’ve delivered to before and might have gotten the letter already.

    Next, answer all the questions flowerSoft will ask…

So not we have our data source for the form letters. Please remember the name and location of the file, you will need it later.
I suggest saving all the data files to the \FSROOT\EXPORT folder, that way you will always know where to find them later.

  1. Now let’s open up the form letter you created before and see what we have to do now.

    Notice the Mailings tab. Click on it.

    Click on the Select Recipients option and then click on the Use Existing List option.

    Navigate to the location where you stored the recipients list. This would be \FSROOT\EXPORT\ unless you used something different, and find your file.

    Once you select the file, Word will pop up the window below asking to verify the data layout.

    Just click on OK. Do not select any other options.

    After you click on OK, Word will display the document again…

    Now is time to insert the data we want to extract from our recipient file.

    The first thing we want to do, assuming you are using a single window envelope, is place the recipient’s address on the letter.

    We do this by selecting the “Address Block” from the Mailings tab.

    You can experiment with the location but I’ve found that entering the data starting 5 or 6 lines from the top of the letter works well.

    Never print all your letters without first checking to see that the customer’s address shows through the envelope’s window.

    Print just one letter to verify correctness of the address block position.

    When you click on Address Block, Word will again display this window…

    And you should just click on OK again.

    Next, Word will show you how it will format the Address Block. Because of the way flowerSoft names the recipient’s name field, Word will not select it as part of the address block.

    All you have to do to fix this is click on the Match Fields button.

    Click on the down arrowhead for the “First Name field…

    And select Recipient Name from the list of fields.

    Do not try to match the “Last Name” or any of the other fields marked (not matched). Just click OK.

    Word will now display the correct address block.

    Click on OK and Word will insert the address block on the letter.

    Now let’s insert the Greeting Line. Click on the Greeting Line option of the Mailings tab.

    Word will respond with this…

    As you can see, Word has the correct data for the greeting line, so all we have to do is click OK.

    And Word will insert the greeting line tag on the letter.

    The last action to take is to tell Word to create the merge…

    We do that by clicking on the Finish & Merge option.

    We should select the “Edit Individual Documents” option unless you are absolutely sure everything is correct.

    Word will then ask if you want to merge all the records or just the current one. Select all the records…

    Word will then display all the merged records on the screen.
    You can review all the letters and make corrections as necessary and then print them.

    That is all there is to it. It takes a lot longer to explain the process than to actually do it.

    This method of doing form letters allows you a lot more flexibility.

    Since Word is doing the printing, you can select any font you like and you can print to any printer, even host-based printers.

    If you have any questions, please let me know.

     

     

     

 

Tip #213 – Mass Mailings (Exporting Your Top Accounts)


Tip #213
Mass Mailings (Exporting Your Top Accounts)

Suppose you want to do (or have someone do for you) a mass mailing to your top accounts. How would you go about it?

Here is how…

Go to Manager’s menu – Client Operations


  • Select Option #5 – YTD Purchases


  • Select Option F – Same as Above but for Any Period (Option E does only 1 year)


  • Select a period of time to calculate


  • Let flowerSoft run through your accounts and calculate the purchases for the period selected.


  • When flowerSoft finishes calculating the purchases, it will ask you how many you want to print.

    Select the number of records you want to export and print to the screen (unless you want a hard copy).

    You must print either to paper or the screen as this is what actually ranks the customers.


  • flowerSoft will then ask you if you want to export the accounts. Answer “Y”.


  • Tell flowerSoft where you want the exported csv file to be placed and what name to give it.


  • flowerSoft will give you a chance to change your mind or correct a mistake.


  • More than likely, you will not want to print address labels for the top accounts but if you do, answer “Y”

    The label size is the standard 1″ x 2 5/8″ , 3-across.


  • flowerSoft will first print to the screen (unless told otherwise) the accounts in rank # order.

 


 

and export the csv file with the name you gave it to the location you specified.


 

If you had the accounts already ranked as you wanted, you could do the following…

  • Import/Export Menu option of the Manager’s Client Operations menu.

 



  • The select option C – Export Clients to a CSV File.

  • Select the customers by rank (option R)


  • Tell flowerSoft the highest rank to select…


  • Give the csv file a name…


  • Verify the file name…


  • Then tell flowerSoft where you want the file placed…


  • Answer the question about exporting the headings. Accept the default unless you know better…


  • flowerSoft will tell you how many records were exported.

(Notice that is a couple less than what you asked for, but now you know why.)


  • flowerSoft will then ask you if you want to see the information exported…


  • Answer “Y” if you want to see it or send it to someone directly from Excel.


Note that the file is exported in customer name order, not customer rank order.

Probably takes longer to explain this it than to actually do it.

 


Tip #198 – Recording ON ACCOUNT Payments by Statement Number


Tip #198
Recording ON ACCOUNT Payments by Statement Number

Please Note:
While a flowerSoft customer (Larry of Flowerworks in Lincoln, Nebraska) was testing this feature he noticed that it was not working for him, so he called me to find out why.  While looking into his system, I noticed that he was trying to use this feature on a statement for a customer that had missed making a payment for the previous statement sent.
Since this is a new feature, I was trying to seed the systems of the flower shops where I had installed the latest version, by running a process that reads the statement transactions file (which contain both the invoice # and the statement #) and looking up the invoice number in the sales file and updating a new field in that file file with the statement number where the invoices were shown.
This process seemed to work perfectly during my testing.  Things always work perfectly when I am doing the testing, the problems always come up when you guys start using the new features.
The problem was that I was using a system that generated “open item” statements, not “balance forward” statements to do my testing.
The process also worked on “balance forward” statements with one caveat, there could be no balance forward.  Why?  Because “balance forward” statements  only show current period transactions.  Any un-paid transactions are part of the “previous balance” amount.  The invoice number is not shown on the statement.
Since previous un-paid transactions are not part of the statement, the process I was running was not updating the un-paid invoices with the latest statement number.  The statement that Larry was trying to pay contained only 1 transaction, the finance charge.  The invoices he was trying to pay contained a different statement number, so flowerSoft could not find them when looking for the statement number Larry had entered.
So, for those of you running “balance forward” statements and thinking of using this new feature, you may or will run into problems if you try to use it on accounts that have either missed a payment or not paid the full amount of the previous statement.  This will hold true until you run statements again.  When you run the statements, flowerSoft will update each invoice with the latest statement #, so when you try to use the feature, it will always be able to find the invoices that were part of the latest statement, whether they are part of the previous balance amount or new transactions for the current period.
Those of you using “open item” statements should not have any problems since your statements always include all invoices with outstanding balances.

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Let me start by saying that this is a brand new feature and most of you do not have it yet.

I received an email a couple of days ago from a flowerSoft user asking…

“George
I have a client who likes to pay by reference instead of invoice number.
Can you please in writing tell me how to do this?
I have had trouble with this issue a few times in the past.”

Well, as you probably know, there is no way to pay by reference (statement) number in flowerSoft.  Until now…

Although no one has asked for this in the past 28 years, I thought about it and it is possible for someone with an very active account to send you a check and just include the statement’s reference number.  I guess, the only option at that point was to go into that statement and see which invoices were charged on the statement and then select each invoice through the A/R Add Payments option.

Well, now there is a way to tell flowerSoft what statement number you want to pay and flowerSoft will gather the invoices shown on that statement for you.  All you have to do is enter the customer’s check number.

There are some restrictions with this method, however.

The first one is that the statement cannot have shown more than 24 charges (including finance/rebilling) charges.

The second one is that there is no deviation from the amount paid.  It will always be the outstanding amount shown on the statement.  There is no option to waive finance charges or re-billing charges and no option for sales allowances.

Here is how it works…

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Tip # 188 – Calculating Reciprocity


Tip #188
Calculating Reciprocity

As you should know, one of the options available in the End of Year procedures is the calculation of the reciprocity between you and other flower shops.ffr01ffr02ffr03ffr04
ffr05ffr07ffr08 ffr06ffr09ffr10Once you calculate the reciprocity through these menu options, flowerSoft will keep the reciprocity up-to-date in real time.
This reciprocity is displayed when you select a florist for an outgoing order.

Normally, when the reciprocity is calculated through the Periodic Procedures menu, you select to calculate the reciprocity for all the flower shops in the database but if you need to see your reciprocity with a certain florist before entering an order, you can access the single-shop reciprocity program from a “Quick Access” key.  By pressing the tilde (~), flowerSoft will put you directly into the program without the need to first access the reciprocity menu.ffr11

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To calculate the reciprocity, you must enter the flower shop’s code with the wire service, but I am sure you have enough trouble remembering your own codes let alone someone else’s.
Knowing this, flowerSoft lets you select the desired shop by entering the wire service and the name of the shop.
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Upon doing this, flowerSoft will display a list of all the shops matching the wire service name and at least the first 5 characters of the name you entered. You must then highlight and select the correct shop from the list.  Be aware that there may be many shops with similar names within each wire service so make sure you select the one you want.
The list is sorted by wire service name, shop name, city, state and zip code.

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Once you’ve selected the correct shop, flowerSoft will calculate and display your reciprocity with that shop.

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Tip #186 – Help Eliminate Below Average Orders


Tip #186
Help Eliminate Below Average Orders

As floral industry experts such as Tim Huckabee of Floral Strategies and Dan McManus of Team Floral advocate in their training sessions, you and your employees should always try to get your customers to spend more than what they normally spend; but do it in such a way that is not offensive and does not make you look like you are always pushing higher priced items.

But, how do you know how much your customer normally spends on flowers?
Well, flowerSoft has a couple of tools to help you with that.

If the customer is a returning customer, flowerSoft will know how much the customer spends on average for the product (not including delivery, sales tax or other charges) and will display that on the screen during order entry.

I’ve improved that old feature by letting you and your employees know if the order being entered is below what the customer normally spends.

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flowerSoft will display this message while in the product entry screen and then again just before the method of payment screen.

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Of course, this only works when the customer has a purchase history with you.  The first time a customer calls your shop you’ll have to rely on Tim’s and Dan’s teachings or your own experience to determine how much the customer is willing to spend.

Another flowerSoft tool you can use to increase sales is by the use of “price points”.
The “price points” feature was explained on Tip #140
https://flowersoftsilver.com/2013/07/09/tip-139/

flowerSoft does offer one more tool to help increase the total of the order by the use of “upsells”.

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How to activate the “upsells” feature and details on how to use it have been posted before.  Take a look at these old posts…

Tip #095
https://flowersoftsilver.com/2012/08/02/tip-095/

and Tip #128
https://flowersoftsilver.com/2013/04/27/tip-128/

and Tip #061
https://flowersoftsilver.com/2012/01/29/tip-061/

 

 

 

 

 

Tip #167 – Improvements to Obits Feature (Revised)


Tip #167
Improvements to Obits Feature

In order to make the obits feature easier to get to and use, I’ve made the following improvements to it:

  • You can now access the Obits Menu from the “source” field of an order.

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  • The Obituaries menu has a new option

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This new option allows you to view obituary records from all over the US and Canada by simply typing the deceased’s first and last names.

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The web site will then scan all the obituaries for that name during the past 3 days and display a list of names for you to select from.

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Once you select a name from the list, all the pertinent information for the deceased will be displayed,  See example below…

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I’ve also made this new feature available when entering a new obit.  See below.

  1. Access the Obituaries menu from the source field by pressing F4
  2. Once in the Obituaries menu, select option A – Add New Obituaries
  3. Enter the first and last name of the deceased.  Only the first and last name and in that order.  In other words, no Mr. John Smith or Smith, John.  Just the first and last name with no punctuation and then press the F4 key.

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The same list as shown above with all the John Smith deceased during the last 3 days will be displayed, but this saves you having to enter the first and last names separately and clicking on the search button.  I thought about restricting the search to your state only, but we do have shops that deliver to neighboring states and that would prevent you from seeing any of the deceased names in other states.  It also would disable the feature for outgoing orders, so I’ve decided to display all the names and let you pick.  I only got 3 hits with John Smith, so I suspect the lists will not be very long.

Another thing you can do once you’ve selected the name you want, is to copy (as in copy and paste) a portion of the obit and then paste it into the obit record as reference.
For example,

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You can (using your mouse) highlight the obit information you can use and then right-click and select “Copy”
This will copy what you’ve highlighted into the Windows clipboard.
You can then exit the obit web page.  This will put you back into flowerSoft’s obit record at the top of the screen.  This is called the “paste” field.
At that point you can use your mouse again to right-click and click on “Paste”.  Whatever you copied from the obit web page will now be displayed in this “paste” field (up to 479 characters) allowing you to refer to it to complete the obit entry.

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Now using some of the information pasted you can complete some of the remaining fields.

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Once the record is saved, the pasted information will no longer be visible from Edit/View Obits.

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As usual any suggestions for improvement are welcomed.

Tip #163 – New Appointment Program


Tip # 163
New Appointment Program

A revamped appointment scheduler program is now available with flowerSoft Silver 2014.  Here are the new features…

First, we have a new menu.

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and a new input screen…

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The new program will check for conflicts after the “Appointment For”, “Appointment Date” and “From” fields are filled.
If a conflict is found, a screen displaying the conflicting appointment is displayed, but no other action is taken.  In other words, you can have conflicting appointments if you want.

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At any point during the input process, you can select to display other appointments for the employee selected by pressing the F8 key.  If no initials have been entered yet, the appointments for all the employees will be displayed.  Also note that you have additional options available for the appointment highlighted, such as view, delete and update.

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There is a 3-month calendar available by pressing the F3 key from any field on the form. there is also a field to enter an account number, if the customer has an account with you.

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There is also an account number field…

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If a valid account number is entered, flowerSoft will fill some of the remaining fields, like name, phone number and e-mail address (if available) but still give you the opportunity to change them if you must.

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As you can see above, there is also an “Occasion” field which allows you to define the reason for the appointment.

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There are also 3 lines to briefly describe the reason for the appointment.

The most significant improvement to the appointment calendar if the addition of an email reminder feature.
This new feature will allow you to send e-mail reminders to your customers starting at a pre-determined number of days before the appointment date.
The program defaults to 3 days prior and just 1 e-mail reminder, but you can change these settings at will. An e-mail reminder can only be sent once every day, unless you use the option to clear the “e-mail sent” flag from the file, which is available from the menu.
So if you enter that you want to start sending reminders 3 days prior the appointment date and then enter that you want to send a maximum of 6 reminders, flowerSoft will respond with…

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If at any time you select to view an existing appointment, flowerSoft will let you know when was the last time it sent an e-mail reminder to the customer and how many reminders have been sent.

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This is what the e-mail reminder to the customer will look like:

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The e-mail reminders are sent automatically, but only if you select to send them for each specific appointment by entering a “Y” in the “E-Mail Reminder?” field.
While this is the default for every reminder entered which is accompanied by an e-mail address, you always have the opportunity to enter “N” in that field.

You also have the option to send the e-mail remainders manually by selecting option R from the Appointments menu but remember that if the e-mail was already sent on that date, it will not be sent again unless you clear the e-mail sent flag through option C of the same menu.

If you want to send an e-maul reminder again just for a specific appointment, it is best to do it from the appointment record itself.
Just access the record via option E of the menu and when the record you want to send an e-mail reminder is in view, press the letter E and the e-mail will be sent again even if it has already been sent during the same day.

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and of course, a report can be printed for appointments recorded for one or all employees, for the selected date range.

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flowerSoft will give you a warning of an upcoming appointment…

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but only if you have the appointments warning enabled!

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If you have wedding or any other event consultation, you should start using the Appointment Calendar feature, and if you come up with some ideas for improvements (for this or any other program), please let me know.

Tip #162 – Improvements to Obits Feature


Tip #162
Improvement to
Obits Feature

This improvement comes to you as a result of a suggestion by Jaque Halverson of Brainerd Floral in beautiful Brainerd, Minnesota.

The obits feature is a great feature to use if you have the time to enter the obituaries for each day.  This, of course, would be very time-consuming if you are in a big city, but if you are in a smaller town you should use it.

To learn about the obits feature, take a look at Tip #003

Once obits have been entered, should you get an order for one of the entries in the obits file, flowerSoft will fill the recipient area with the obit information, as well as provide other visual information should you customer ask for it such as the starting time of the viewing, religion, etc., etc.

One thing flowerSoft did not do was fill the delivery date field.  The reason for that was that I did not think I could provide a fairly accurate date unless the order was  entered on the first or last day of the viewing.

However, Jaque’s suggestion made me realize that if the order is placed on or before the first viewing day, I could provide the delivery date by extracting the first viewing date from the obits file.  So now flowerSoft will be able to provide the delivery date when the order is entered on or before the first viewing day or on the last viewing day.   flowerSoft will not fill the delivery date field if the order is placed after the first viewing day and before the last viewing date, but in those cases you can just hit the <Enter> key from the field and get that day’s date.

So, thank you Jaque, for helping me improve flowerSoft.