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How 5 Small Firms Handle High Gas Prices

North Raleigh Florist; Raleigh, N.C.
Janice Cutler, president of North Raleigh Florist, is doing her best not to raise delivery prices amid rising gas expenses.

But it sure is difficult. Rising gas prices "definitely affects us directly because we are in the delivery business," Cutler says. "We deliver flowers six days a week."

"People come to us because of the convenience of having something delivered, and if we turn people off because of gas prices then we don't have a business," she says.

North Raleigh Florist has one company van that does the majority of delivery work. When business gets heavier, such as around the holidays, Cutler hires contracted drivers.

In 2008, the last time gas prices rose exponentially, the company put together set delivery areas to save on gas, Cutler says. (It won't go farther than 40 miles without charging extra.) The florist also considered raising delivery prices if prices stayed high.

Thankfully they didn't.

"We did think about it and started to come up with a plan, but it didn't last long enough," she says.

This time, if the florist must raise prices, Cutler says it will be less than $1 per delivery.

"Our delivery prices are reasonable and competitive," she says. "We don't go outside our delivery area unless we charge extra for it. We are starting to think about the threshold for how long we can wait before we raise prices."

Cutler says the company is also starting to get permission from customers to call delivery locations to make sure someone is present to get the flowers. "We don't want to charge somebody another delivery fee just to go back," she says.

But another unintended consequence of rising gas prices is that Cutler's wholesalers are, in certain cases, raising prices. In the end, she'll have no choice but to pass it onto the customer.
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