A Tale of Two Brides

By Ryan ONeil

Sarah is a florist in Memphis and had two clients: Marla and Stacy. Marla's budget for floral decor was $7,500 and Stacy's budget was $950. Yet, it seemed like Stacy's wedding was taking more work and communication than Marla's. Why did it seem this way? And how can Sarah can get back on track to ensure she's not losing money by dealing with overly demanding clients?

Let's address something first: Whether your brides have a budget of $50,000 or $500, one client's wedding is just as valuable as the other.

Whether you specialize in high-budget or cost-conscious weddings, you should put passion into every wedding you do. It's the most important day of their life.

If you're only doing the wedding because it's cash, you're in the wrong industry. Buy into every client's dream.

If you are advertising, you'll get a wide variety of different budget brides (and still need to make sure you're profitable when advertising). BUT while your brides may have different budgets, there is one thing they all have in common: the same amount of time. No bride has more or less than 24 hours in a day. And when running a wedding flower business, time is money.

To put it another way, each bride has a limited amount of time to spend thinking about and working on their flowers.

Your flexible budget bride will only have the time to email about whether she should add some medium, mixed arrangements to the all large centerpieces on their 25 tables. Then your very next email thread could be with a bride who has been ruminating about whether to add an additional $5 to the budget on each of their ten bridesmaids bouquets.

Both brides are spending the same time thinking about their flowers. Yet one has to make large $500 decisions at a time and another invests that time on a $50 decision.

This is an overhead decision in your shop. Two brides may each require 4 hours of your team's time prior to ever doing their flowers. Simply expressed, that may be $2,000 of revenue per overhead hour for the first client and $150 per hour for the second.

That's a BIG difference.

You care about optimizing all of your processes and that's why you have transitioned your business to Curate. So, how do you handle these varying demands?

Here are a few tips from our experiences:

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?"

Remember: you're the professional here. You have the experience to give guidance, while this is her first time getting married. It's not her responsibility to know all the aspects that she'll have questions on. Done correctly, you'll look ever more professional when you've addressed all of the issues.

Be selective in your clients. 

If you notice that someone is going to take a lot of work, but doesn't have the budget to make it worth it, make the call up front.

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 did want to let you know that we aren't a fit with the vision that you have for your wedding." Or if you're right at being booked up for the weekend anyways, let them know you're out of availability and close off the weekend.

As a wedding shop, we have many times broken our rules on what types of events we work with and then kicked ourselves afterwards when everything we were protecting ourselves against started happening. 

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.

Consider narrowing your audience so that you don't have to make separate rules for separate brides.

Sure, you could charge $100 for each consultation past the third one but your $8,000 bride may end up a little confused if she feels you haven't been able to cover everything well enough in two consultations.

It's much easier to run a company whenever all team members are on the same page and have a streamlined understanding of what kind of budgets you're able to work with.

That said, charging a fee for a consultation isn't a bad thing. Just make sure you're consistent and that you've communicated this up front.

It's a great thing if you've found a niche in $500 to $1,500 brides.

So think of creative ways to expedite the process. Some florists have created online stores so that their clients can work from those options instead of building custom designs. Other florists have done a color palette package where the bride tells her colors and the florist decides how to do the work.



Tags: The Business of Flowers, Tips, Small Business Sally, Curate, Established Ed


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