Kellee Pham • East Melbourne
Kellee Pham has been running Kellee Flowers from her East Melbourne shop since 2000. When the store closed temporarily for COVID-19 restrictions, she decided to use the unprecedented downtime to develop herself and her business. Upskill my Business’ Sales Excellence course gave Kellee and her staff the skills and confidence to engage with clientele, redevelop their customer base and hit the ground running when they were able to reopen.
“Absolutely… I feel very lucky to have gotten the support that we did from the government, that gave us the opportunity to enhance our customer service skills and rebuild our customer base and customer trust once we were able to reopen after COVID-19.“
The Sales Excellence course gave Kellee hope that she and her staff could hit the ground running and re-engage with clients as soon as they were able to reopen.
“Our biggest concern for this year was being able to keep our staff and provide for them. [The course] gave us the skills and confidence to interact with clients, understand their needs and provide the best possible service solution.”
“Sometimes you don’t see something that’s obvious because you’re too bogged down in your daily routine. It’s great to stop for a second and learn how to take on a new step or new procedure to upskill and improve your business.”
Kellee Pham’s small business journey began in 2000 when she purchased her shop in East Melbourne and dedicated herself to creating a flower business founded on passion and attention to detail.
Kellee worked as a pathology collector at a Melbourne hospital for three years when she decided she needed a change of pace.
“I felt limited working in a job where you couldn’t do more than what you were paid to do. I wanted to be able to be creative, implement my own changes and make things happen at my own pace,” she says.
Her love for flowers led her to a TAFE course in Floristry at Box Hill. She was taking a chance on her passion.
“My work colleagues at the hospital were really supportive and would give me cash to go down to the flower shop and build a bouquet for their wives or mothers on special occasions. It gave me confidence not only in my ability, but that people were willing to pay for a good, personalised service.”
Today, Kellee Flowers not only sells beautiful flowers both online and in-store but also specialises in event-based floral arrangements and bouquets for any occasion.
Kellee says that the care and passion she puts into her arrangements is the key to her success, and this is what makes Kellee Flowers so special.
“I put as much energy into a small wedding bouquet as I put into a $10,000 wedding. The care factor is, if anything, too much… sometimes my staff tell me I’m just being over the top with how much I care about the flowers, and the outcome for customers.”
While it can be stressful when things in her business don’t go to plan, ultimately Kellee says she loves making people happy, and that it is all worth it in the end.
“After 21 years, we’re still trading, we’re still happy, I haven’t burnt out, and I’m still passionate about what I’m doing.
“I get to make all these beautiful arrangements, and then get to make people happy with them. Seeing people so pleased with what you’ve made for them, and having them show their appreciation, that’s what I love the most about running a small business.”
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, Kellee was forced to adapt her business to changing restrictions along with the rest of the floristry sector. With all events and corporate functions cancelled, they also had to close the store for a period of time through lockdown.
“It was stressful not knowing what was going to happen, and most of all not knowing what to do with, or how to help, our staff without any event work for them.”
Jobkeeper payments allowed them to continue to trade online doing click and collect. They rearranged their staff around taking phone orders, creating flower arrangements, and working in the warehouse.
Changes to the structure of her business during COVID-19 left Kellee with an unprecedented amount of downtime. This led her to participate in the Upskill My Business course in Sales Excellence by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (which has since finished).
The course focused on the importance of increasing revenue through selling. The course description states:
“When you’re running a business, you’re a salesperson, marketing specialist and HR all rolled into one. It’s hard to find time to develop yourself,” Kellee says.
“So, when the opportunity to work on our customer service abilities and better our customer experience came up for the business, I thought, yeah – I can do this from home, in my own time, and my staff gets to experience some training.”
Kellee’s biggest takeaway from the Upskill My Business program was that she was able to make time to rethink the core structure of the business.
“If you don’t invest the time to learn about these important aspects, you never get to develop your skills, and you don’t even realise how important it is,” she says.
The course specifically worked through picking up on customer cues, including body language, facial expressions, and choice of words, to work out how best to serve them. It emphasised how important it is for staff to be confident in delivering the best possible outcome for each individual customer and knowing how to handle difficult or complicated client requests. The ultimate goal was to build a larger, more loyal customer base backed up by positive experiences.
“The course helped our staff to be more understanding and confident and give them the right tools to think through situations and solve problems for all the different sorts of clientele that come through,” Kellee says.
“For me personally, it gives hope that these tools will allow us to remain in business and keep improving ourselves.”
With events postponed last year returning, and corporate clients coming back in 2021, Kellee Flowers’ future is bright and exciting.
“We love working in our business. We feel very lucky to have gotten the government support that we did to help keep our staff and upskill our business.”
Kellee says that the long-lasting impact of the Upskill My Business course has been very positive.
“It can only do good to learn from other people. To be honest, I hadn’t been taking the time out that I needed to invest in developing my and my staff’s skills.
“Now, I feel like I have a new superpower – a new tool to help us rebuild and get back to where we were before 2020, and hopefully more!”
Find out more about Upskill My Business.