By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - The front of the house of Connie's Flowers shows off the exquisite work of artists with a flair for design and an eye for color.
But behind the scenes, the owners, Bob and Dawn Miller, inspect bouquets, know the shelf life of each stem, wipe down counters, ensure their delivery staff is presentable and receive fresh flowers three times per day.
"A lot of people think this is all frills and fragrance, but there's a lot of hauling boxes and sweeping floors," Ms. Miller said. "A lot goes into making sure we create wonderful arrangements for our customers, People pay good money for flowers and they deserve that."
It's this ability to balance quality control with artistry that earned the Millers' business a top honor in its industry.
Florists' Transworld Delivery or FTD, which links more than 40,000 florists, assigned Connie's Flowers its "Master Florist" designation, an award held by the top 20 percent of its membership.
"We're the only florist in our area to quality for this," Ms. Miller said. "The closest one is in Palm Beach."
FTD sent an undercover representative to make a purchase from Connie's Flowers. The shopper evaluated the area store's performance against a list of criteria that measures service and product quality.
Everything, from the telephone greeting to the shape of the floral arrangement and the delivery driver's demeanor and appearance, were under scrutiny.
FTD also considered the store's longevity and its history of complimentary customer feedback.
"It feels good to be finally recognized at the corporate level for the hard work we put in," said Ms. Miller, who's run the store for 11 years with her husband, Bob, and daughter, Devinee.
"It's a hard business. If you can stay at the top of an organization like FTD, you're doing pretty well," she said.
Connie's Flowers has been in Martin County for 55 years. The Millers are its sixth owners. It provides floral arrangements for all holidays and special occasions, such as large dinners or birthdays.
It also sells several other specialty gift items, including plants, balloons, chocolates, stuffed animals and fruit gourmet baskets with fresh fruit, sausage, cheese, candy and nuts. Staff can customize each gift to suit the receiver.
"We get a lot of compliments on those," Ms. Miller said.
Connie's Flowers is located at 1952 S.E. Federal Highway, Stuart. For more information, call (772) 287-3060 or (800) 462-6543.