Business Truth: Your business will face uncertainty.
As a small business owner who focuses on fresh flowers for weddings and events, you may experience a lot of uncertainty!…for example…
Kim asked in my Facebook group (to florists who’ve been in business for many years):
“Do you have “off” seasons where your booking rates are down? Is this a marathon not a sprint?”
The short answer is yes! Business ownership is a long game…and the path to success isn’t a straight line…
So what do successful business owners do when it’s an “off” year?
Here are 5 ways to Take Action when you’re not sure what to do:
#1. Streamline your “Systems”. A “System” is essentially a process for how you accomplish a task in your business. Typically you document your systems in writing (ie your operating procedures), and use them to identify inefficiencies or opportunities for automation in your business.
Systems are critical for a successful business, because they allow for you to:
- generate income with way less effort
- reply faster and more effectively with less stress
- automate and streamline to get more done in less time
I have a system for client communication (and you should too), and I’ve chosen to share my E-mail Reply Templates to help give you a shortcut and you can find there HERE!
#2. Assess your SWOTs. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats?
If you only do 1 thing in an attempt to troubleshoot or plan ahead in your biz, I want to challenge you to take a few minutes to list out your SWOTs. (List as many as you can think of, but 2-5 per category is a good goal for a quick planning exercise.) What are you doing really well?…Which areas “need improvement”?
Now ask yourself:
- How can you address one weakness?
- And…What can you do to accentuate your strengths?
When things feel “off”, it’s essential to take an honest look at what’s going right and what threats or weaknesses you can address. You cannot improve what you do not measure!
#3. Update your website. I say this ALL THE TIME, but that’s only because it’s truly effective.
Here’s where to focus your website efforts before the end of the year:
- If you have your most recent pictures on Instagram, but they’re not on your website yet, make updating your gallery a priority!
- Does your About Page have a photo of you and/or your team? If not, then do that TODAY! I don’t care if it’s a professional headshot or a selfie of you in your studio or at your desk….just let me see your face! Your customers are hiring YOU….don’t be afraid to show your face.
- Improve your sales copy. This can be the trickiest aspect of website “stuff” for many florists, but the words you choose to use on your About Page, Weddings Page, Contact Page, etc. should be clear, concise and speak directly to your ideal customers. You’re not talking to “everybody”; you’re talking to the people who are most interested in what you do!
- Blog. Yup. Still this. Blogging. It’s STILL how you optimize organic SEO, develop the voice of your brand and share your most recent happenings with your fans and followers.
If you need some tricks to make your website more engaging, you can get my BEST website secrets HERE.
#4. Connect with other vendors. Perhaps it’s the mutual referrals that you’ll gain….or perhaps it’s simply a sense of friendship and camaraderie that benefits you both…but “seeking to get” cannot be the motivation. Seeking to connect should be the motive!
You can choose to seek out a new relationship or simply check in with an established connection (perhaps someone whose work you respect, but you haven’t worked with much lately). Fellow florists, photographers, caterers, venues, you name it….if they serve the clients you wish to serve, they have the potential to be a good connection…but make sure it’s a two-way street.
People can sense when you “want something”….we ALL can tell when someone is reaching out to “get something from us”, but your fellow wedding vendors should be connections that you value and nurture…it’s not about what “they can do for you”, but about how you can help each other.
#5. Shorten the turnaround time on proposals. If bookings are slow, it’s important to turn proposals around in a timely manner. The quicker you send it out, the quicker you book it, so don’t drag your feet on proposal writing! The trick is to give enough detail that the client can trust you, but not give away so much detail that it takes 5 hours to write and send a quote to a client who isn’t under contract yet.
You can get my shortcut for writing proposals in less time here: How To Write Proposals That Sell and Book More Weddings More Quickly!
Take some action in your business to plan for the future!…so you can keep doing beautiful work!
Remember: “Insight without action is worthless.” -Marie Forleo
After 17 seasons of running my home-studio business the reality of this is inescapable–at some point, every year, there is no “guaranteed” business for the next year. It may be a GREAT year in business this year, but next year’s success is still yet to be determined.
When you design wedding work, but you don’t have a brick & mortar flower shop, the idea of “repeat business” tends to be out of reach because someone planning a wedding this year, isn’t going to be back again next year!
And if you do run a brick & mortar shop, you have the ability to capture repeat business, but there’s daily stock & inventory to manage, employees you need to pay whether it’s a “good month” or a “bad month” and let’s face it, that’s a lot of pressure, too!
So no matter how you slice it, a business venture brings uncertainty, stress and responsibility….
BUT it also brings freedom, control and choice!…
I hope you’ll take action in your business TODAY to keep reaching for your goals.
Do you ever track how many hours you spend replying to e-mails? I had no idea how much time I’d spend in front of my computer when I started my floral design business nearly 17 years ago.
For YEARS I found myself struggling with how to tell someone I couldn’t hold their date without a deposit,…or firmly explain that I will not reduce my price,… or how to strike a balance on how “tough” to *really* get when requesting a payment that’s overdue.
The reality of modern-day customer service is this: E-mail is a critical form of client communication; it’s how they get to know you!
Your customers can’t see your facial expressions or interpret your “tone”… so it’s critical that every word you choose is meaningful and accurate.
But it takes so much time to craft the perfect reply, right?!!
It took years to hone my voice so it felt professional, authentic and clear.
So let me ask you a question…
Do your e-mails increase your authority, grow trust with your clients, and make them feel well cared for?
What if you could…
- Feel CONFIDENT when explaining your terms to a client,
- Forget FEARS about not being taken seriously,
- Gain AUTHORITY as you build trust with your prompt, concise replies,
- Make stronger CONNECTIONS so your customers can actually understand your expectations,
- Increase the INCOME you’ll be able to generate when you state your minimums clearly so clients say YES to your next proposal, no questions asked!
Confidence. Authority. Connections. Income.
… Do you want these things in your business?
Confidently establishing your authority…
Boldly claiming your role as the leader your clients need you to be…
Seamlessly building trust with clients who “get you”…
- staring at your computer screen searching for the “right thing to say”…
- wondering if you’ll ever hear back from a prospect…
- feeling like your clients are in the driver’s seat….
For my wedding and event clients, I often send the same basic e-mails over and over again throughout the season, so after about 15 years in business I created 12 E-mail Templates for Florists with some of my most frequent (& sometimes tricky!) customer conversations, as well as 10 More Templates with Difficult Client Conversations Made Easy!
Here’s what ya get in 10 E-mail Templates:
- Tell someone you can no longer “hold their date”.
- Present a proposal that’s over budget.
- Ask someone why they did NOT book with you.
- Tell someone you’re not a good fit for their event.
- Reply to a complaint.
- Bill for damaged or missing rental items after an event.
- Explain you won’t order flowers until full payment is received.
- Tell someone that their most recent changes/additions will result in a price increase.
- Tell someone you will not update their proposal (again) or meet (again) without a deposit.
- Respond when a wedding is cancelled.
- Say, Hello in an introduction e-mail.
- Present a minimum.
- Present a proposal, contract and invoice.
- Tell someone you’re unavailable for their date.
- Tell someone you will not lower your price.
- Follow up if you don’t hear back from a prospect.
- Tell someone you cannot hold their date without deposit.
- Confirm receipt of contract & deposit.
- Confirm receipt of contract, but missing deposit.
- Confirm receipt of deposit, but missing contract.
- Request final changes and final payment.
- Confirm receipt of final payment before event.
Plus These Bonuses:
- 5 E-Mail Etiquette Tips
- How To Ask For a Testimonial
This is the lowest price I’ve ever offered on templates!
…so if there is even an inkling of a desire to grab these templates, jump on it right now.
I’m closing the doors on this sale at 3pm EST on Oct. 31.
Templates save you time! You can customize your own e-mail templates by modifying the language and phrasing provided in my templates. Simply create an e-mail folder for your most commonly used conversations, then, copy, paste into a new e-mail and adjust as needed to suit your client!
Florists often tell me they use these e-mail templates the same day they buy them! Copy, paste, rinse, repeat!
If you have questions for me, get in touch! email@example.com
How do you book more weddings?
First, you have to attract the customer, then you have to close the sale.
I’ve seen an influx of florists asking about “ghosting” in my Facebook group. Particularly the question, “What can I do to fix this?”
If you, too, are experiencing customers who “disappear” without a word, check out today’s video where I talk about 2 reasons this may be happening plus 4 tips to help you correct this problem in my live chat on “Closing the sale”.
Click to watch if you’re getting ghosted:
The slow fade.
Every florist can relate to your frustration when a customer just walks away! You’re not alone.
At this point in my business I have an excellent pre-qualification process. I think instead of just “weeding out” price shoppers, prequalification serves as a form of “customer service” by letting potential clients know some important details before we move forward:
#1. My requested minimum for THEIR event (if it’s further away, the minimum is more, for example, if there are 8 bridesmaids, it’s more than if you have 2 bridesmaids, etc.),
#2. That our first contact is via phone consultation,
#3. I will provide them some preliminary details and a quote and THEN THEY CAN BOOK OR NOT, but we’re not going further down this road (with multiple revisions, meetings, etc.) unless we’re on the same page at this point regarding price, style and trust….and a deposit.
Now, that said, I really do feel your pain; it’s not easy to “start from scratch” each season as we do in the wedding industry. No “repeat business” from last year’s couples makes what we do in the wedding biz very uniquely, stressful and we must be resilient when faced with rejection. Which is easier said than done sometimes.
But here’s how I see it, anyone who’s price shopping and doesn’t choose you, is a GOOD loss. You don’t want that customer….OK, maybe you just need “any customers” at some point, but in the long run, the price shopper isn’t a “type of customer” you can truly try to court and make loyal to you/your brand.
Your ideal customer (not necessarily “high-end” or “luxury customers”, but YOUR customers, the ones who want the work that you enjoy doing!) have to “find you” because you show up for them in a way that’s clear and obvious to them.
As I always say, we have to speak directly to their hearts so they can find us….and what happens on the flip-side is that these price shoppers start to realize that we are not talking to them.
They “weed themselves out” because they can feel your honesty, your quality, your vibe, and they want you. Not “just anyone”.
You’re not “the cheapest”; you have something more to give…and they feel that.
Your businesses depends upon understanding what your customers need, then, you serve it up on a silver platter, and if it’s “not for them”, they know it…..just as much as we do.
But for your ideal clients, the clients who LOVE you and are excited to work with you, THEY GET IT. They get you. They want what you do. They don’t need convincing because you’ve already shown them WHO YOU ARE.
This is the work I do on-the-daily….and what I teach in The Art of Good Business….and it IS a long game…..
But it was only a few years ago when I was “doing my art of good biz work” and I was just not booking as many weddings as I needed. And I was bummed. And kinda stunned. ‘Cause I was working SO HARD. And putting SO MUCH out there…..yet a friend of mine who wasn’t “doing all the things” and wasn’t trying so hard, well, she was booking GREAT gigs, easily…..her customers loved her. And I was at the same junction you seem to be now; “WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?”
“Oh nothing”, my friend assured me. “You’re great. You’re doing everything right”…..but I insisted, “No. You’re booking. I’m not. I’m working hard to express myself (blogging, revamped website, and doing some of my best design work), but I must be doing something wrong.”
So I used this “less than busy enough” time to “do even more work” and in the end, the season was “OK, not great”…..BUT THE NEXT YEAR was my BEST season yet. The season after that, even better, Last year, best so far…..
That season I was down, well, I lost my mojo or my vibe was not jiving with the clients I wanted or I was trying too hard….because despite my best efforts, and I mean really, deep rooted best efforts, people weren’t digging me.
All this is to say, you’re smart to ask “What can I do to fix this?” Because it is up to you to fix everything around here! This is your dream, your biz, your struggle….and your ideal customer to attract and wow and attract again, and again, and again.
Keep working. Keep looking for holes, clues, signs, signals, mis-communications that you can fix.
Keeping the faith in the off-season is hard when we’re not booking. Keep moving forward.
Keep doing beautiful work.
Definition of ‘Ghosted’ (via Huffington Post).
The term “ghosting“ (sometimes known as the “slow fade”) refers to the anecdotally pervasive act where one dater ends a relationship by simply disappearing. The ghost does not give an explanation of any sort, leaving the ghosted wondering where he or she went wrong.
Find a FULL LIST of course offerings HERE.
When you own your own business, you’re “the decider”. It’s up to you, as a floralpreneur®, to set the rules and boundaries for your small business. I often quote from Pretty Woman, “We say who, we say when, we say how much.”
I didn’t have a minimum when I started out….I was new! I couldn’t turn any business away.
As time went on and I had more wedding inquiries than I had dates available, well, I had to set some minimum standards to ensure my profit margins.
You are the choreographer of customer service in your small business!
Communicating your minimum can actually feel like customer service. Clients need to know “how this works” and by explaining the steps to potential clients, we’re teaching them what it’s like to dance with us.
Here’s why florists need to set a minimum and how I approach the “minimum spend” at this point in my biz:
This is your business and you set the rules.
At a certain point you need to implement minimum standards so you can continue to grow.
And if you need some tips on how to communicate your minimum clearly (and kindly) check out my “Full Communication Package”….This 5-course Wedding Bundle includes my E-mail Templates, Proposal Template, Contract For Florists and 16 Step Workflow.
Florists can’t be afraid to talk about budget with customers.
When’s the last time you bought something, but had absolutely no idea what you were going to spend?
Your customers aren’t coming to you with zero idea about what they’re willing to spend or what feels do-able for them.
Show them the steps so they can dance with you! And present your minimum with confidence….because you’re worth it!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and watch.
Do you need help establishing your minimums?
Inside my course, Flower Math, you’ll find a list of all my starting prices (ie my minimums!) on wedding flowers over the past 16 years! Bouquets, centerpieces, ceremony arrangements, the whole sha-bang. (click here to see what else you get when you sign up.)