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Guiding wedding clients through flower selection

Guiding wedding clients through flower selection

Tips for selling bridal flowers that will maximize customers’ satisfaction and your flexibility and profits.

Recently, a florist asked me for advice: How could she guide her clients in choosing a color palette for wedding flowers instead of specific blooms? She knew that if she could shed the expectation of specific blooms, she then could provide more stems per bouquet within the client’s target price point.

She’s right. Working off a color-only expectation does offer a designer the flexibility required to deliver more blooms, but in many cases, it’s not quite enough to build client trust. Most clients need a little more information, and there’s a way you can provide more information while maintaining the flexibility required to offer a best-value arrangement any time of year.

The “High Level”

“High level” means looking at something from a broad perspective and not getting into detail. So, when selling wedding flowers, here are three high-level sales tips.
1. Do discuss and do guarantee shape, size, color and bloom density ranges for the arrangement.
2. Do discuss (but do not guarantee) flower types. Instead, establish target flowers with the client’s input.
3. Do not discuss and do not promise stem quantities. Instead, focus on the finished arrangement size and bloom density. If asked directly, give ranges or the option of market pricing.

By discussing shape, size and boom density ranges in addition to color, you are able to paint a more complete picture for the client of what the arrangement will be like and to build trust and excitement. By discussing – but not promising – flower types, you are able to narrow the focus and set realistic expectations. Focusing on finished arrangement size and bloom density rather than exact quantities of stems allows you to provide a locked-in quote for the client months in advance. A locked-in quote is often of great value to the client, offering peace of mind and stability as you work together to juggle numbers throughout the planning process.

An exception to this process is single-variety bouquets. Because only one type of flower is used, the price could vary significantly between the time of quotation and implementation. And because you don’t have the flexibility of adjusting the ratio of flower types used to balance the financials, you may choose to discuss the high-level points on the previous page but move to a market pricing model. That means you can provide an estimate, and adjust that estimate within a reasonable range after you have sourced the product. Establishing reasonable substitutes with clients at the time of booking is especially important in cases like these.

Talking Points

Use talking points like these as the foundation of the floral selection process.
1. Flowers discussed are tentative and may be substituted at the discretion of the designer. Because flowers are a crop affected by the environment, availability can be unpredictable and is never guaranteed.
2. Particular tints, tones and shades within a flower or hue are also tentative. Color variations in flowers are common. For example, ‘Café au Lait’ Dahlia can range from cream to light pink to dark pink depending on a plant’s genetics and growing conditions. While we do our best to communicate specific hues to our suppliers, occasionally the colors vary by order. If a client is seeking to incorporate a specific hue into her event, it is best to do this with a hard good that can be purchased ahead of time, inspected and fully relied on.
3. When flowers with specific and unusual color nuances are involved, like a purple Ranunculus with brown undertones, it is possible that we may not be able to include that color due to limited market availability or other circumstances outside our control. If we are unable to make an adequate substitute within the time constraints of the event, we will choose the next best option.
4. If it is important that a particular flower does not make an appearance at your event due to preferences or allergies of you or your guests, please make us aware of these flowers in writing.

Build on this foundation by establishing 12 to 15 target flowers with clients, and break these flowers into two categories: primary and secondary.

Primary target flowers are reliable, easy to source, familiar to most consumers and important to the client. Select three. Peonies, garden roses and Hydrangea are common examples. You will make an effort to source all three for the design, but you will make an extra effort to source the most important of the three. You’ll make calls, climb hills and run errands if that’s what it takes. Remember, however, that you’ve not promised any specific flower, and you are going to go the extra mile for only one of these three. If a flower is important to the client but is not reliable or easy to source, put it in the secondary category (at the top) and explain why.

Secondary target flowers are needed to complete the shape, size, color and bloom density requirements of the arrangement. Variety in shape, size and expense is important to consider when selecting these blooms. Select at least nine. On lists where some items are fragile or difficult to source, select at least 12. Like the primary flowers, you’ll do your best to source the majority of these, but to deliver on your promise of shape, size, color and bloom density, you won’t rate these items with the client; just omit and replace items, if necessary. It’s important that you have the ability to select the pieces you need in the moment. Also keep in mind that you have let the client know that everything is tentative and that you have given her the opportunity to notify you of any flowers she does not want to use. If needed, you could work (with respect to the client’s design preferences) outside this list.

By not promising stem quantities or flower types, you are able to offer a best-value arrangement with a locked-in quote months in advance because you can mix the ratio of flower types discussed to maintain reliable profit margins while meeting – and, in many cases, exceeding – the size, shape, color and bloom density promise. If garden rose prices are spiking and Hydrangea prices are stable, one rose could be substituted for two Hydrangea.

Want to skip the high-touch (personal attention/high level of interaction) floral selection process? There is a sector of consumers who would be willing to forgo the service of a floral selection process and agree to just a shape, size, color and bloom density range before purchasing. You might consider trying it, especially if your market is saturated with high-touch service options. Some buyers prefer an easy grab-and-go option.

Whatever route you take, have your client sign off on the final plan. And remember, you have to deliver on only the shape, size, color and bloom density requirements in order to meet the agreed-upon expectations. Everything else is a cherry on top!

Whatever route you take, have your client sign off on the final plan. And remember, you have to deliver on only the shape, size, color and bloom density requirements in order to meet the agreed-upon expectations. Everything else is a cherry on top!

As you work with clients, remember that your work with flowers matters, and we are cheering you on at Team Flower, the international community for professional floral education, sharing and support. Thank you for “Loving the World Through Flowers.”
We’ll catch you at teamflower.org/free (check out our free videos and other education resources), on the Team Flower Podcast (education.teamflower.org/learn?category=Podcast) or at our next conference in Albany, N.Y. in early March 2021. Happy flowering!

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