by Jenn Ederer (Modern Day Creative/Modern Day Events & Floral)
A value I will always stand by in my business is being honest and transparent with our clients about our whole process, from beginning to end. It’s about building trust from the very start of our relationship so that they know they’re in good hands when they book with us.
Before the consultation meeting is even booked, the potential client is required to fill out a questionnaire for us to gather general information about them and some details about their vision for their wedding and/or event. The questionnaire purpose is two-fold – it serves as a way to screen potential clients while also helping me best prepare for our client meetings. Unlike some, our minimum required budget is only listed on our questionnaire and not on our website, which has worked really well for us thus far. We can automatically deter clients who aren’t comfortable with the minimum. It saves the couple time, and it saves us from meeting with clients who have budgetary needs that fall outside of the scope of work we offer.
When we sit down for the first consultation meeting, I let them know exactly what to expect – that we will sit down for about an hour just to get to know one another, to learn about what they’re looking for, share with them what our company is all about, nail down exactly how we can help them, and to simply connect with them as a couple. I also always ask them, “What are you hoping to gain from our time together?”. This tells me exactly what they are wanting to get out of our meeting, so I can be sure to touch on those topics during our time together.
Questions I Like to Ask Couples in Our Consultation Meeting:
- What are you hoping to gain from our time together during this initial consultation?
- What is your overall vision for your wedding day?
- What are the top three things that are most important to you for your wedding day?
- Do you have a favorite flower? Does it have a special meaning behind it?
- What type of floral design composition do you prefer – loose and organic, lush with minimal greens, gathered and styled, etc.
- What do you want your personal experience to be like on your wedding weekend?
- What do you want your guest’s experience to be like on your wedding weekend?
- What are your favorite things to do together as a couple?
- What restaurants do you like to visit?
- Do you like to travel? What would be your ultimate dream vacation and why?
If you notice, I hardly ask them about the event design at all, and most importantly, I do my best to avoid asking them the standard questions like – how many bridesmaid bouquets do you need? Corsages? Aisle Decor?… We discuss their overall vision, but the details of the design and items needed come later once I get to know them and once they retain our services with deposit paid and commitment letter signed.
This initial consultation meeting is all about the connection between myself and the couple. The mental shift from selling to connecting is what’s most important to me during our time together in this initial consultation. If I’m simply focused on selling first and foremost, most potential clients can see right through it. However, if I’m focusing on connecting human-to-human, this builds trust with the couple and makes for a more memorable and personable consultation experience for them.
When we get closer to the end of the meeting, I close by thanking them, letting them know how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and then follow up with the next steps to welcome them into the Modern Day family. I come to these meetings prepared with a folder of information for them to take home and consider.
- Marketing pamphlet to give them a well-rounded view of our company and services.
- Featured reviews and testimonials from past clients.
- Sample proposal with average amounts of what our clients normally spend on key floral and design areas.
- Commitment letter – to be signed and returned with deposit to officially book our services for their wedding date.
Sometimes clients will elect to sign the letter and pay the deposit right there on-the-spot, but others need more time to think about it. Regardless, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve given them all the information they need to make the best decision for them and their wedding day. If they do book our services that day, I let them know that we will go ahead and begin building a proposal for them that normally takes around 8-12 hours to complete. Then, we will schedule a follow-up meeting where we will dive into all the pretty design details.
I’m sure you’ve been in this position. You meet with a couple, and you connect with them beautifully. You talk details, colors, design, everything they envision for their big day, and then they want to know how much you charge for services. Since you have a fairly good idea of what they want, you go and work for 8 hours straight on a giant, detailed proposal for them. A few days later, they let you know they’ve decided to go with another florist who beat you out on price. And now, you’ve lost 8 hours of your precious time and energy that could have been spent on your clients who have already committed to booking you.
This is why I no longer propose before a client commits to booking us.
Believe me, I used to do this for years. I know exactly how it feels to spend countless hours on clients who aren’t going to book our services. I spoke with another designer recently who told me that when she went back and tracked her time, she had spent 45 hours in the past year designing proposals for clients who didn’t end up booking her. Imagine how well you could serve the clients who DID book you with that extra time.
At the end of the day, I created this policy out of necessity. It cut into my time spent taking care of my company, my clients, my staff, and my own well-being.
Because of our screening process, I spend most of my time meeting with clients who are already a great fit. Sometimes, however, even our dream clients have more questions for us and they can be difficult to answer.
Something that was difficult for me to address early on in my career were those clients who were really just price shopping. I knew that if a couple came and were price shopping, they probably weren’t going to book with us. We specialize in luxury events, and we aren’t the right fit for every client… especially those who are looking for a bargain or the best deal out there.
My philosophy when it comes to price shopping is this: you’re not comparing apples to apples. Instead of selling your price, start selling your services, your expertise, and what you do differently than everyone else. At the end of the day, that’s what matters and it’s how I gained confidence in the services we do provide.
Do I meet with as many brides as I used to? No. But, because of the way I approach this process, the couples I meet with now are more likely to book us. Our booking retention rate is now around 95%.
So, How Much Will This Cost?
This is another sign that these clients are looking for their florist based on price only.
What I do is give them our client averages in their packet of information, so they have a good idea of what our clients normally spend on their bridesmaids bouquets, bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages, elevated arrangements, ceremony designs, etc. I’m comfortable with our pricing, and I don’t apologize for it. I know that what we’re delivering is an impeccable, superior product. Being transparent about the average pricing combats the question of wanting to know exactly how much this will cost them before they book.
You have to be confident in exactly what you bring to the table, and what makes you different than the other designers they’re meeting with. In addition to knowing it, be sure that you can articulate this to your potential clients in a warm and honest way. There is NO shame in practicing this! I know I had to practice my approach before I was comfortable sharing it with my potential clients. If you work to clarify this and start practicing, soon it will become totally natural and effortless.
I’m sharing the way I approach these meetings as inspiration for how you can approach your client lead process. But, I encourage you to remember that you have to do what works best for your business model and for your unique personality. At the end of the day, as a business owner, you get to call the shots and decide exactly how you handle this.
I’m wishing you the best of luck with all of your consultation meetings! I’d love to know more about your process. Feel free to let me know how you approach these meetings in the comments below!
All photography courtesy of Kelly Braman Photography with exception of floral chandelier which is courtesy of Karyn May Photography
We invite you to read Part One (Top Tools for Wedding & Event Professionals) and Part Two (Growing & Leading a Team) of Jenn’s 5-part series if you missed them!