No time to waste, maximize your profits, enhance your designs and brides will make sales for you.
As a florist, you know what a well-designed wedding can do for the overall mood of the event. When you put your skills and vision to work, the flowers are impossible to ignore and people always ask, “who did the flowers?!” You’ll know this was guests’ reaction when the family and friends seek you out after. Your current work sells itself and generates reoccurring, high-quality business. That way, you can focus on what you like – less business and more design (or that’s the hope – if not, keep reading). All too often though, a bride approaches you whose business, for whatever reason, doesn’t fit well. I believe that sometimes it’s ok to say “No” to brides. Here are some considerations to keep in mind during your consultations and how to say “No” in a way that won’t burn bridges.
Do the Numbers
There are simple calculations you can perform to project your annual revenue, profit margins, and operating costs. This calculator is a great tool you can utilize. You can use it to pick and choose the winners from the losers. Remember your time is money, and if you’re doing summer weddings, every hour of every day becomes important. Essentially, the more winners you pick, the more of a winer you will be!
As a general rule of thumb, your markup should be at least 3-5x the cost of your flowers if you’re sticking to mostly floral design and are in a more suburban market. While if you’re in a downtown, high-end market and include other rented props within your design package, the markup can be upwards of 7-10x the cost of your flowers (these ranges include labor, setup, delivery, cleanup, and other associated costs as well). This is probably the number one reason you should reject a wedding – if the numbers don’t work out in your favor. You may tell yourself, “even if I’m breaking-even or just making a little bit, doing something is better than nothing. This bride might refer a higher paying bride later on.” While this thinking is common, you must consider these facts:
- Like bride like friend: This bride’s friends are most likely just like her. She’ll be telling her friends how cheaply she got her flowers and to come to you. They’ll then expect the same deal and feel personally insulted if you don’t give it to them. You won’t be getting any referrals that way…
- Setting you up for failure: If your designs seem less than spectacular due to the limits of their budget, nobody will say, “if only she had a larger budget, her flowers would have been great.” It’s not fair, but the mediocre reputation falls back onto you. So, when the large-budget brides view that work, they’ll think you’re not capable of something more, and you miss out on their events.
- Back to Basics: When you try talking to everyone, you talk to no one. People ARE looking for high-quality, original designs. So by being open, honest and projecting that’s all you do, those niche clients will have a MUCH easier time finding you.
Think Product Availability
We all know brides want peonies when peonies aren’t in season. This is just one example of many. When a bride comes to you with her Pinterest dream board filled with out of season flowers, do your best to show her what is possible within that same theme. Also, be sure to tell her why it’s in her best interest to pick other flowers. Picture examples always help convert a bride. If you can’t convince her to pick flowers that you can guarantee availability, then it’s probably best to tell her you can’t serve her. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure, no referrals, potential complaints, and no future business.
Think Long Term
Some of the considerations above can be overlooked if you ask yourself, “will this bride be willing and ABLE to spread word about my work?” The heart and soul of your business is built on word of mouth. Sure, today’s social media and all the tech is great, but what you’re selling is tangible. Therefore, it will always be spread through real life relationships. You have to keep that trend going during all the summers throughout your career.
I’m sure you have a consultation script already, so if it isn’t already included, you should have a section that inquires about her friends’ weddings. Often, friends get married within a 5-year window of each other, so this can be 5 years of reoccurring business for you! This inquiry can be part of your “close.” At the end of the consultation ask, “How many of your friends are getting married within the next year?” Her response will tell you if there’s potential for some near-term business. Also, you can offer her a slight discount if any of her friends book their weddings with you before “X” date. This then gives her incentive to get her friends to book with you – you’ll not only book this wedding but also have your own personal sales person. Then, after the wedding, follow up with a phone call and/or email inquiring which of her bride-to-be friends she would recommend you reach out to. Have her call her friend(s) for you or make an email introduction with you Cc’d.
How to say “No” without burning the bridge
Okay, so let’s say you’ve decided to say “No” for whatever reason. It’s important to do it in a way that the bride feels appreciative to you for it. Sound hard to do? Not so much, as long as you AND SHE knows you’re doing it in the bride’s best interest. When you communicate it in this way, she’ll be on your side and pass you referrals whether you work with her or not! Here’s how:
- Hear her out: the bride needs to know that you’re saying “no” not because you don’t respect her potential business, but because you understand exactly what she wants and that you’re not the best person for it. At the end of the day, she wants to be understood.
- Be Personable: tell her what you do and what you specialize in. Explain how what you specialize in isn’t what she’s looking for. This helps when you’re clearly able to articulate what it is that she wants and contrast it from what you are best in (I’d recommend not making it a minimum budget issue if I were you – talk more about design. We don’t want to make her feel cheap and unimportant). This way, she completely understands what you do, and that you’re not rejecting her; it’s just a mismatch. By making this distinction, when one of her friends is doing an event that is a match for you, she’ll be more than happy to make the referral even though she didn’t use you!
- State why it’s in her best interest: “This is the most important day of your life up to this point, and I know how much it means to you. I don’t think I’m the best fit for you on this special day, but I still want to help!”… see #4.
- Refer her to another florist: have a florist network of good designers who fit different budgets and designs. Make an arrangement with them that you get a piece of every referral you send them. Your florist friend will appreciate this, you will gain, and the bride will be appreciative that she didn’t leave the consultation empty handed. Most importantly, she will feel you still helped her out on this special day and will be happy to make a referral for you when one of her friends is the right match.
It’s not always a bad thing to turn down a bride. If you play your cards right, who knows, she may be sending some down the pipeline that you should say yes to! Most of all, design with no regrets.
Do you ever turn down brides? If not, why? If so, tell us how!