This week, we are dedicating our posts to the new people in the wedding industry. I often find myself in the middle of something thinking, “Sheesh! I wish I woulda known that when I started.” This week industry professionals will share with us 10 lessons for new florists, new invite designers, new wedding planners, and new photographers. Most of these tips will be helpful for any trade within the wedding industry, so take note!
I’m so lucky to know Jean Louise Paquin Allen, owner of Juniper Flowers in Seattle. She is a true artist. And, a good friend. Take it away JL…
My 10 lessons for new florists…
by Jean Louise Paquin Allen
Juniper Flowers, Seattle WA
7 years in the biz
1) All new businesses need to be seen and heard.
Be picky with where you advertise. As a new business you will be solicited from all angles, some worthwhile some worthless. Ask your friends in the industry what works for them and don’t be fooled by those sales people pressuring you “to act now” for a special deal because most likely there isn’t one.
2) DO YOUR RESEARCH!
The last thing you want to do is sell the exact same product or design just like the designer down the street. Sure, all art is “appropriated” but take some time to really narrow down your niche and offer something uniquely “you”.
3) Start small.
Especially in this economy you may want to try doing most of the work yourself. If you tackle all the start up alone, you will see just what areas you excel in and where you need help. When you are ready to hire someone, you’ll know just how to put it out there and get more qualified candidates.
4) LIST IT…
I am a fan of the list. I still go by my “shop opening/closing” lists from 6 years ago so I don’t forget to do that silly task, whatever it is.
5) Keep good records from the start.
Find a good accountant and consult them on the best way to input your numbers. I used to bring shopping bags full of my years worth of hand written “daily cash sheets”. I could see my accountant cringe when I walked through the door. Thank goodness for QuickBooks and Excel.
6) Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Whether it’s asking for an introduction to that famous caterer or wedding planner or just for some simple advice. You’ll either get somewhere with it or be in the same place, so it can’t hurt!
7) Make allies with other florists.
It is good to have someone with similar style and business model so you can refer clients to each other.
8) Know your vendors.
Make a point to meet the people you order your flowers and supplies from. Building this relationship is good for both parties. They will find a loyal customer and you will find someone who (hopefully) stands behind the product they sell.
9) MORE RESEARCH!
This time in regards to pricing. I’m sure you’ve heard before not to price yourself too low in the beginning. Have a clear answer for someone if they ask you “why does it cost this much?” Remember pricing is regional. If you set up shop in (your city) with (other city) prices, will you survive?
10) Know your customer base.
Are you looking for volume of “one time customers” or do you want a select repeat clientele? Act, sell, and design accordingly to your answer.