What To Do When A Client Is Less Than A Great Fit

By Ryan ONeil


We've shared Sarah's story before.

It's the classic Tale of Two Brides, one with a budget of $7,500 and the other with a budget of $950.

Both brides may require 4 hours of Sarah's team's time prior to ever doing their flowers.

Simply expressed, that's the difference between $2,000 of revenue per overhead hour for the first client and $150 per hour for the second.

Is the $150 enough to keep Sarah's business strong? Probably not, unless she has a steady flow of other business to compensate for it. Maybe it's time to consider that the bride with the smaller budget simply isn't the right fit for her.

Another case is that of Lauren, a large shop owner who has developed a niche in creating beautiful rustic floral designs.

It's off-season and she has a client who comes in wanting something very traditional, completely unlike anything Lauren has ever created. Lauren suggests something just a little bit more up her alley which the client likes but, being a bit unsure of how the style will work with her overall vision for the wedding, wants to be involved in every step along the way.

Lauren can already imagine the multiple phone calls asking to trade out flowers and hardgood items. Even though she could use the business, she probably won't enjoy the process very much.

There are many reasons why a client is a poor fit for you. They may have too small or too big of an event for you to reasonably take on considering finances and commitments to other clients. They may have a vision that is completely different from your style. They may be too needy (we've all had that bride), or too bossy (can you say bridezilla?), or their personality simply doesn't mesh with your own.

Whatever the reason, what can you do when a client simply isn't a good fit for you?

Be Selective

It is okay to be selective in your clients. In fact, we encourage it. At our shop, we have certain types of events that we know we can help best with. On occasion, we have had a client who begged us to still help and we caved. And every single time, we have ended up facing the issues we were trying to protect ourselves from in the first place. 
You've determined your markups and rental costs because that's what you need to survive. If you accept clients who eat up the overhead, your markups no longer reflect the profitability needed. And if you accept clients that don't mesh with your floral design style, you lose the ability to be as creative as you possibly can because you're too busy trying to fit their mold.

Be Up Front

Communicate the process explicitly up front. If you don't give you client guardrails, you're going to want to drive them off the cliff. Let them know exactly how many consultations they should plan on and give them a list of items that you'll be addressing with them. In the first consultation, be sure you follow up your list with, "Do you have any other questions that we need to address?"
The most important thing about this upfront approach is that it saves everyone time. The client can decide whether they have the additional funds to spend and you can spare yourself the time and effort of multiple rounds of proposal edits for someone who was never going to be your client in the first place because they simply need something that you can’t provide.
My wife, Rachael, will many times see a Pinterest photo that the bride has her heart set on and realize that it's not her style at all. She'll typically say, "That's a beautiful photo. That's not the style we work in but let me show you some other beautiful options we can do."

You can use Curate in a consultation to instantly give the client a clear look at what is required financially to make their dreams come true. If someone is shocked by the proposal price, they aren't the right fit. Be okay with that. You can't be the right fit for everyone. 

There are times when you simply have to say, "We know this is a day you've looked forward to all your life and we want your vision to happen. Because of that, I wanted to let you know that we aren't a fit with the vision that you have for your wedding." 

Offer a Solution

If you aren't the right fit for them, do you know who is? It's so important to network with local wedding and event florists to refer these clients to. Even though you're not the right fit, someone else may be. 

For example, there is one Curate florist who does tons of small events each year and has developed a terrific niche for that.

When a client came to her wanting her to do a very big wedding, it was tempting to say yes but she knew she did not have the time necessary to do that event well. However, she had a florist friend in the next town over who specializes in doing a few large weddings each year and whose style better matched what the client wanted anyway. So instead of accepting the client, she told the client that she wasn't the best fit and got the client connected with her floral friend. The wedding came together beautifully because this florist wasn't afraid to be up front with the client and had connections with other florists in the area.

It's easy to see other local florists as your competition, causing you to shy away from connecting with them. But building those connections can really help those prospective clients that just aren't the right fit for you. Even though they will not get to see your work in action on their big day, they will leave your consultation with a great impression about you because of your willingness to help make their day as amazing as possible.


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Tags: Tips, Efficiency, Small Business Sally, Curate, Established Ed


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