There is the saying “the client is always right” but is this actually correct? An experienced florist should listen to their clients’ needs and requests but always remember advice based on expertise of study and years of practical experience should be respected by the consumer. Who knows and understands more about the floral product and what it can or can’t do? The experienced florist does.
Possibly the area of most concern is wedding flowers. I often hear florists say “this is what the client wanted”. But is it the best choice for the client and could the florist be under stress by allowing a poor choice with possible negative consequences? I reiterate, who is better informed? The florist is. A good florist suggests and designs a bouquet to complement the gown’s features and the brides body shape. Guide your client to the best choices based on your knowledge and research. Do not accept copy bouquets but rather suggest a style that will accentuate the features of a gown. A bouquet should not be held too high with a gown featuring an ornate bodice. Hand held bouquets are not suited to many gowns because of the positioning of where they will be comfortably held against the gown. A talented florist designs and positions the bouquet to be held to feature the gown.
I read with interest the article written by John Jones (AFI March 2013 edition) about natural stemmed rose posies he described as “Roundy Moundies”. How many industries promote a product that has had a twenty year cycle? Surely the florist industry should be more inventive.
Don’t create hardship for yourself. Consider a bride who wants to carry a bouquet of all oriental lilies. These flowers need to at the right stage of their beauty, they bruise easily and they can drop or wilt quite quickly. A wise florist will not use these around the perimeter of a bouquet unless they have a solid foliage surround because they bruise easily especially when put down. In warm weather they are at risk and best used in a bouquet holder to avoid collapse. These lilies used in a hand tied bouquet are greatly at risk unless a water source is used and concealed in the mechanics.
Labour is often under estimated by florists. Take the time to compare floristry costs with other associated industries. You will be surprised. Consider the cost of hair styling to flowers. Hairdressing and floristry have similar apprenticeships and salons promote sample styles for weddings at full cost to ensure the final design is the right one. Do all brides have the same hairstyle? No and nor should they all carry “Roundy Moundies”. A piece of porterhouse steak could be bought at the butchers for around five dollars yet at a good restaurant it may cost forty to forty-five dollars. (more in some cases) Consider the labour margin and apply the same margin to your wedding work. Our industry grossly underestimates how it charges for the skill of labour.
It is wise to look at past floristry and use this to your advantage in floristry now. All flowers were wired and yet some florists today fear they will not last. Nothing has changed they did last then and they will now provided they are conditioned correctly. In the southern states of Australia frangipani was used as a popular flower in weddings of the nineteen sixties and seventies. Frangipani must be re-cut as the latex seals the stem from drinking. Always condition flowers before use. I recall more than once a bride coming to me requesting frangipani and advising they had been told by another florist that they bruise and do not last. Yes, they do bruise if they are not handled correctly and do not use them around the edge of a bouquet.
I recently used frangipani, lisianthus and roses in my daughter’s traditional wedding. The venue asked if they could take photographs of the ballroom as they had never seen the room look so magnificent. They used the power of technology – the day after the wedding flowers were all over twitter and Facebook. This is a great tool for advertising their venue and likewise a great tool for florists to use. It was surprising that this venue should have flowers with all weddings and they had not seen flowers on this scale. Use functions like this to promote your work. Use an IPad at your point of sale to show your photo story. Alternatively, set up dual monitors with a slide show of your wedding images with one screen facing your client. This is a simple and cost effective way to promote your work. The other screen can be used for your records. Record all data and costing for future use.
In conclusion, show your clients what you can do for them. The more the client can see the more they learn. Obviously, it is not cost effective to make bridal work on mass for display. Use technology to show what you can create for your client. Make sure prices are shown and describe briefly your product as often a client is not aware of what you can do. Consider tiara’s, cake top, pew flowers, car flowers as an example. Show your client as they may not think of these items. I remember a bridal gown maker saying to a client who complained about cost of a gown that is only worn once. The response was that every time you look at your photographs consider you are wearing your gown again. I have used that line many times with brides to great advantage.
The customer isn’t always well informed and it is our responsibility to ensure we can supply the best memory possible to our client.
Greg teaches floristry apprentices at Marjorie Milner College