Paid Consultations versus Free Consultations

If you have been working with brides very long you have undoubtedly been frustrated with brides that don’t show up to scheduled consultations or brides that are only price shopping.  Either situation could make feel like you should be charging at least a nominal amount for consultations. Here are some pros and cons of charging for consultations.

 

Pros:

Brides are more likely to show up.

Even if you call to confirm and send text or email reminders sometimes brides get busy, forget or simply just aren’t ready to meet and fail to show up to a scheduled appointment if they have no skin in the game.

It’s a way to qualify your leads.

If a bride is willing to put up $25, $50 or $100 (or a per hour fee) they are a much better lead than the bride who may not be ready to book for whatever reason.

Bye-bye price shoppers!

Charging a consultation fee will nearly eliminate all the price shoppers. Unless the budget bride is your specialty then that’s something we can all celebrate.

Cons:

You may schedule less consultations.

If a bride is not familiar with your work they may be hesitant to give you money upfront and refuse to schedule a consultation.

Local market may not support it.

Unless it’s common in your area, the simple suggestion of charging for a consultation might turn away brides.

 

Time is precious and anything you can do to eliminate time wasters is worth consideration. Charging a consultation fee will not work for every florist but if it can work for your business then go for it!

10 Habits of Successful Wedding Florists

Network with wedding vendors

Networking with other wedding vendors is undoubtedly the most cost effective way build a constant referral source.  Check for local wedding networking groups and find one that aligns with your business.  Consistently attend the events with the goal in mind of helping others and learning about their business.  Meetup for coffee or lunch with vendors that you would like to work with again with the goal in mind of helping them.  Ask them about their preferred style, ideal client, new projects they are working on, and goals or challenges they are facing in their business.

Listen

I can’t emphasize how important it is to listen to your brides and what they want for their wedding.  Their wedding day is about them. Listen and ask questions about their preferences and challenges.  If they request baby’s breath and carnations in a mason jar don’t provide a quote with hydrangeas and roses because that’s what you prefer.

Share your knowledge with the bride

Hopefully at this point you have networked some and worked on enough weddings that you know a decent amount about your local wedding industry and have a good sense of style.  If your bride is hesitant about something give her your advice and tell her why.  Also, ask your brides what else they have left to do. This is a great way refer other vendors that you think would be a good fit.

Send thank you notes

Remember brides always have other options – they could choose a different florist, recruit a friend or family member or DIY their wedding flowers. Send hand-written thank you notes to your brides after your first consultation.  Let them know you like their style or flowers they have selected and would love the opportunity to work with them.  Let them know you are here to help if they have any questions.

Charge your worth

Not charging your worth or discounting your price is a sure way to devalue yourself and your work. Not only are you leaving money on the table but this will never attract the type of clients you want to work with. If you don’t value your work don’t expect your brides to value it either.

Return calls immediately

Return calls or emails within an hour if at all possible or at least within 24 hours.  If this is the first time a bride has contacted you, it’s entirely possible that she contacted other florists as well.  Get ahead of your competition from the start by responding quickly.  After you have met with a bride it is still very important to respond quickly – make her feel important.

Constantly check costs

Your options for purchasing flowers and supplies are endless.  You don’t have to rely on your local wholesaler. There are plenty of growers, wholesalers and suppliers that ship fresh flowers or supplies.  Price check and try lower cost options.  You might be surprised to find that some lower cost wholesalers and suppliers offer better quality than what you are able to purchase locally.

Provide mockups

Provide complimentary mockups of centerpieces when your bride purchases a specified number of centerpieces. Most people don’t know much about flowers (Nor should they!) and they can’t envision arrangements.  Provide a mockup so they can see it and possibly make changes. This also gives you an opportunity to troubleshoot before the week of the wedding.

Pay attention to quality

I know you may be thinking this is a no-brainer but the lack of attention to detail that I see from some florists amazes me.  Make sure your mechanics are covered, check for damaged blooms and greenery and fill in the holes.  Don’t send out work that you aren’t proud of just for the sake of getting it done quickly. Your brides may not complain but their guests will definitely notice the sloppy work. It’s important to realize that there is always room for improvement and you can always do better quality work. If your budget and time allow, attend design workshops to improve your skills. If that’s not an option there are plenty of great books and resources online.

Here is a list of books:

The Flower Workshop by Ariella Chezar

Wedding Flowers by Paula Pryke

Wedding Flowers by Karen Tran

The Art of Floral and Event Design by Akeshi Akinseye

Designing with Flowers by Preston Bailey

Provide quotes quickly

Brides don’t want to have to wait two weeks for a proposal and they shouldn’t have to. You are losing brides if you don’t provide quotes before they ever walk out the door.  By using an application like sockoflorist.com you are able to provide detailed quotes at the end of your first consultation.

 

What have you done to be more successful as a wedding florist?  Comment below and let us know!

Creating an Experience for Brides

Wedding Image

Weddings are emotional.  Throughout the process there are many positive emotions between the couple, family and friends and likely a handful of negative emotions as well. Couples are engaged, planning weddings and meeting with us as vendors due to emotions.  Creating an outstanding experience for brides plays into these emotions and increases your chances of booking your bride even if you are above their budget.

 

 

Here are a few areas to focus on to help create the experience your brides will fall in love with.

Social Media

Social Media is one of the primary ways brides get ideas and find wedding vendors.  Having a regularly updated account with beautiful wedding photos is crucial and will likely be one of the first experiences a bride has with you.  Freshen up your photography skills and make sure your flowers are showing their best side.

Website

Your website will likely be the second stop for brides.  A poorly designed website with broken links and minimal pictures will not create the experience and emotions your bride desires. Run a broken link checker or spend the time going through your website and testing everything to make sure it works. Links can get broken without you even knowing about it.

As with social media, a lot of attention should be placed on beautiful wedding photos.  I like to keep track of the photographer on every wedding and ask the photographers for pictures following the wedding. The photographers are often excited to send pictures knowing that we give them credit on our website. This has given us hundreds of different pictures to choose from and we select the best to have on our website.

During the Consultation

The consultation is the most obvious time to create an outstanding experience.  Make sure your space is clean, organized and beautifully decorated to fit your style. Brides don’t want to see dust bunnies in the corner or stacks of paperwork on your desk.  You wouldn’t want to eat at a dirty restaurant and brides don’t want to buy flowers for their big day from a disorganized florist.

As florists we know how important design is. Have a set meeting space for brides and don’t overlook the area.  Display pictures, vessels, and wedding décor but don’t get the area too cluttered and overwhelming for the stressed bride.  The décor should fit your design style – i.e. if your preferred style is a natural garden arrangement then don’t have a modern meeting area with lots of glass and shiny metal finishes.  Instead opt for wood, concrete and natural finishes.

It’s a good idea to have bottles of water and candies in the meeting area and offer them at the start of the consultation. Even better, if you do a lot of consultations, provide a complimentary champagne bar with assorted juices and fruit.

 

We hope this gives you some areas to focus on to create a better experience for your bride. We would love to hear what you have done to create a unique experience.  Share in the comments below!