Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 60

The Question:

Can you discuss the issue of underbidding? I have some local designers that have admitted to underbidding to get clients. Hoping to help educate them about the disasters of this habit.

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The Answers:

Underbidding is a very broad topic, and I refuse to do it. I believe strongly that if one wants to last in any industry, underbidding is definitely not an option. By letting your customers pay too little for your service, they will start to think that the real value of your work is the final low price they got and they will want to have the same low price every time, while you will be losing money every time… which slowly but surely will drive your business to bankruptcy. It is true that selling flowers is tough, and that customers are often surprised by the cost. However, I do take time to explain the cost and be transparent about the material and labour involved for a wedding. I never accept to reduce the cost, just for nothing. If my customers’ budget is too low to get what they really want, I take time with them to rework their project and find solutions to make everything fit their budget. Until now it worked most of the time, as when they see I am willing to help and find solutions for them, they are positively impressed. And for those who are just trying to get the lowest price possible, I have learned to recognize them and most of the time, I don’t fight to get their projects and let them go their way…

Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)

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Underbidding is SO frustrating! I wish they’d understand that they are backing themselves into a corner that will be very hard to come out of. Once they set a precedent for themselves as being the 1) cheap option 2) the florist to go to for underbidding, it’ll be nearly impossible to come out of that corner. Sadly this is something many people will have to find out over time. These are the same people who will complain that they do not make enough money, who complain that brides & wedding planners are taking advantage of them, and the people who will throw in the towel after 2-3 years.

Alicia Schwede (Bella Fiori and Flirty Fleurs)

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Gosh, this is a tough one. I’ve definitely experienced this! Under-bidding hurts everyone in our industry. I’ve had many conversations with florists who tell me how they are doing 50+ weddings a year but barely turning any profit! It all comes down to pricing fairly to make money, not to just look busy.
In one of my business courses in college, a professor used the example of gas station pricing wars. There are two gas stations at the same intersection of a busy road. One lowers its price per gallon by a penny to lure more customers to pull in. Then the other lowers its price by two pennies so its now cheaper. Then the first lowers again and so on and so forth. By the end, neither is making any money and usually one goes out of business. And yet a penny seems so harmless at the start! This is what has been routinely happening in the floral industry. In an effort to get more volume, some shops and designers have been offering lower and lower prices. But that doesn’t make them any money and eventually they’ll hurt themselves more than they will hurt their competitors. But they do hurt our industry as a whole, setting up unrealistic expectations among the general public about the value of flowers. We all benefit from fair pricing! Education within our industry is key here! We can no longer afford to give the customer leverage to “shop around”. Stand by your pricing when a potential client asks you to negotiate to match a bid from another florist. The right clients are going to choose you because you do beautiful work that matches their vision. The cream always rises to the top!

Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)

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I’m unaware if this happening in the small city that I live in, but I guess that’s a little naive of me. But this kind of behaviour does not interest me at all to be honest. What other local florists charge is not of interest to me.

I feel unable to make much contribution to this question to be honest.

I have made some lovely flowery friends on this journey .. Of whom I can discuss prices with .. With no worry of them doing this kind of thing. It’s a real shame.

Jo Rodwell (Jo Flowers)

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I think this is all a matter of integrity. Studios that choose to undercut or sell below industry standards will have a very short lifespan. Our studio refuses to look at another floral designer’s proposal. On some occasions we have even been sent another studio’s proposal by a potential client. At that time I caution the bride/planner that sharing the intellectual property or design concepts from another design firm is completely inappropriate. We set out prices based on industry standards and this is absolutely necessary in order for a business to thrive and stand the test of time. My great friend David Beahm coaches us all to “stay in our own lanes” or my saying is “play in your own sandbox”.  I think in these situations we can only focus on our business and having good business practices. I can assure those businesses that are low balling quotes will be gone before you know it.

Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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It is for each business to decide how to run their affairs but underbidding does no-one any favours in the long run. It cheapens the final product and will only create problems in the future for the underbidding florist if they want to sustain a viable business in the long term.  It is much more acceptable to offer a discount for a particular reason e.g. winter months, new florist business opening, etc. That way the customer at the time knows they are receiving a particular deal but still understands the true cost of the flowers.

Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)

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Flowers: Floral Verde

One thought on “Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 60

  1. Dominique Houle

    It’s a matter of respect for the work we do. When it happened to me, when I still had my boutique, I asked the customer if they negotiated the professional fees of their lawyer, dentist, their doctor or bank manager. I made them understand that by buying my work, they took with them a part of me because I went deep inside me, used my emotions to create something unique specially for them. I think they understood because I still have these customers, even after selling my shop 7 years ago. By allowing yourself to underbid, you allow them to treat you like you do not exist.

    Reply

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