How do you handle the matrimonial muddles that sometimes occur in the floral business?
Planning a wedding can be a complex task, so when brides request your services, they want to leave the floral details in competent hands. So this month, Senior Editor Shelley Urban asked three floral leaders: What are your biggest wedding challenges, and how do you handle them?
Our biggest challenge is that we’re affiliated with a supermarket. The perception is that we are not “real” florists, and that’s our biggest battle, especially in our newer locations. Most people don’t realize that we have experienced designers, so we attend select bridal shows (although we’re choosy about which ones because we want to participate in those that are advertised and well attended).
We’ve also created a bridal brochure that we hand out that describes the levels of service we offer, from full service to bulk flowers for complete DIY weddings. And we’ve developed a bridal guide that we have on our website and in our stores that includes photos and pricing for three types of wedding packages. It is really useful for educating customers about pricing, and it helps us to show that we are professionals and that we can give customers [flexible] options.
Sandy Buss; director of floral operations
Trig’s Floral & Home; Minocqua, Wis.
The biggest challenge for any wedding is making sure it runs smoothly. For example, our brides often ask for specific colors and types of flowers, and sometimes the specific items can be hard to obtain. But we don’t let the bride know we’re having a hard time because we don’t want her to worry about anything. So we shop around and look and look until we find it.
As a last resort—but not at the last minute—if we start to think there’s a chance we may not find exactly what she wanted, then we’ll tell her we are still looking for her requested item but, just in case, we also want to show her alternatives. Of course, if it’s a specific color she wants, then I have to have a few options in that exact color, and they have to be in keeping with the types of flowers she has requested. If she wants spectacular callas, Gerberas and Hydrangeas, then I don’t offer carnations and daisies as substitutes.
Another way we keep everything running smoothly is that we service weddings, so we set up the venue and make sure everything is placed correctly and organize the flowers for the bridal party. Keeping everything running smoothly can be a headache, but we don’t pass those headaches on to the bride because when people ask her where to get flowers, we want her to tell them to come to us.
Julie Carlson, floral manager
Loson’s Big M; Lyons, N.Y.
We are a large, independent, upscale supermarket and also a full-service florist, so our greatest challenge has been getting people to believe that they can get a unique, quality wedding from a supermarket. Because Pennington Quality Market is 50 years old and has a reputation for excellent quality merchandise and superb customer service, customers expect outstanding quality from the florist business as well, and that makes a difference [in how we’re perceived].
We’ve had the florist side of our business for 18 years, and in that time, we’ve [marketed ourselves] like any florist does, with advertising and attending wedding shows, but the biggest way we combat this challenge is through word-of-mouth. Most people come to us because they attended a wedding we did or because we were recommended by someone they trust. Getting the word-of-mouth [exposure] always comes back to providing a high level of customer service and products, just as we do in our market. That is why I, with help from our staff of 20, continue to handle every wedding myself, so brides have the personal interaction they need. And they always comment that they appreciated the full attention that was paid to them.
Barbara Rothwell Henderson, owner/floral manager
Pennington Quality Market; Pennington, N.J.
If you have overcome wedding obstacles, please share your experiences on our Facebook page.
Reach Senior Editor Shelley Urban at email@example.com or (800) 355-8086.