If you’d like to land more grandiose weddings, search for chances to rub elbows with affluent people.
“Money goes where money is,” said Jennifer Harvey, CAFA, CFD, a freelance designer in Brockville, Ontario and a featured speaker at the Canadian Florist Business Forum last month. During her presentation, “Book Those Money-Maker Weddings,” Harvey outlined some of her secrets for finding and courting clients eager to spend a small fortune on floral décor.
How to find them:
- Attend black tie events. Charity work is a great way to meet prospective clients, but you have to be strategic with your time. Car washes and bake sales don’t present the same opportunities as galas, which are chock-full of wealthy individuals. “Ticket prices for these things are more than most of us would ever spend on a nice dinner, but look at it as a marketing cost,” Harvey said. “Instead of spending your budget on flyers or whatnot, invest in yourself. Get dressed up and go network.”
- Reach out to local hotspots. Think about trendy places the “it crowd” frequents, such as upscale restaurants, salons and spas, fitness studios, country clubs and boutiques. “Buddy up with the owners and try to get your flowers — with signage bearing your brand’s name — near the front entrance,” she said.
- “Eat your way around the world.” Different cultures have different customs when it comes to weddings, some of which translate to a lot of money. (Indian weddings, for instance, tend to span three days and cost upwards of $500,000.) A great way to befriend people from other communities? Food festivals. “You get representation from a lot of different groups,” said Harvey. “Go integrate and ask about their traditions and the events they celebrate. They will appreciate your interest and remember you as that friendly florist who took the time to get to know them.”
Once you’ve made the connection, don’t blow the consultation. Here are Harvey’s tips for wooing the well heeled:
- Make sure your shop looks good. You don’t need marble counters or a crystal chandelier, but your floor should be free of debris, your sign should be clean and easy-to-read, the chairs in your consultation room should be comfortable and all your lights should work. Have dated inventory hanging around? “Pitch it,” Harvey said. “If you have some angel statue that screams 1990s, your prospective client is not going to have faith in your tastes.” To make the best first impression, Harvey recommends organizing your showroom with vignettes. “It shows you’re creative and it just makes things look so much more polished.”
- Dress for the job you want. Leggings, a baggy t-shirt and an apron is perfectly appropriate for cleaning buckets and working in the design room. But when you’re vying for a high-end wedding, you have to look the part. “Take pride in your appearance,” Harvey said. “Style your hair and wear professional attire.”
- Only use quality photos. “Do not show them something backlit or blurry, because they won’t be able to see the composition and it shows you lack resources,” Harvey said. Designate an area in your shop with good lighting and a plain backdrop to shoot photos. (For detailed photo tips, click here.) Lack confidence in your ability? “Contact the photographers you’ve worked with on past weddings,” Harvey said. “They’ll likely share their images with you because it’s essentially free advertising for them.”
- Watch your language. “Ever notice that everything sounds super delicious at restaurants? That’s because they know that pretentious adjectives tantalize the senses,” Harvey said. How you talk about a hypothetical bouquet, arrangement, arbor, etc., can make the difference between ambivalence and an emotional connection. “More words equal more money,” Harvey said. Her go-to buzzwords: “texture,” “movement,” “organic,” “woodsy,” “cascading,” “enchanted” and “bespoke.”
For more advice on how to nail the consultation, check out “Wedding Cashers.”