Just three years ago, Bryan Burkhart knew nothing about flowers. But now Burkhart (pictured) spends his days as CEO of H.Bloom, a floral service that sends fresh-cut bouquets to more than 500 corporate subscribers every week. The company, which employs 74 people and serves five major U.S. markets, reported a 700 percent increase in revenue last year.
“We started H.Bloom [in 2010] with the idea that if we could apply advanced technology and talent development in an antiquated industry, then we could do something really great,” says Burkhart, who co-founded the company and devotes at least half of his time to coaching employees.
“We really believe we are setting a new precedent. If you focus from the onset on hiring great people and giving them extraordinary amount of training, you can get remarkable results.”
Since 2011, H.Bloom has provided extensive training for select full-time employees through its SEED program (Startup Education and Entrepreneurial Development), a formal talent development initiative launched to identify and train individuals with the leadership potential to run H.Bloom’s local operations across the country. After completing the four-to-12 month program, which consists of case readings, class lectures, group discussions, and skills assessments, graduates are given the opportunity to start and run their own H.Bloom location in a new market.
Building on the success of the SEED program, in December the company launched H.Bloom University, which expands the SEED program to sales and management positions and will incorporate additional leadership topics and guest lectures from H.Bloom executives.
“This is a really unique opportunity for someone who wants to run a business and knows that they need some training,” Burkhart says. “It is a great way to learn what it takes [and] have help along the way.”
In addition to its expansion efforts, H.Bloom has increased its revenue by limiting waste: The company boasts a mere 2 percent spoilage rate compared with the 30 to 50 percent industry average. Because it’s a subscription service, the company can purchase only the flowers and supplies it needs. What’s more, H.Bloom operates online and does not maintain retail storefronts, so it has lower overhead than many other florists. This also allows the company to offer very competitive pricing.
But being CEO of H.Bloom isn’t just a job, Burkhart says. “There is a personal side to this for me. I believe that anyone can be anything if they dream big and work hard. I love that … we have an environment where we can help people do that. It is a very meaningful way to spend my workday.”