Golden rule for every inquiry

Golden rule for every inquiry

Dear flower friends, I want to talk with you about a heart thing.

Not about something we are doing wrong necessarily, but, about something we need to be paying attention to. It is something simple, yet it cuts to the very core of our businesses. 

It is how we treat people

Susannah Lynn Photography

Susannah Lynn Photography

Not just our ideal clients — we lavishly love and adore those folks! We spend countless hours of planning and preparation for our ideal clients, and we pour everything into them. But what about the less than ideal clients. The ones that never even become clients.

We all know the value of customer service. We know the “rules” that govern how business is done — phrases like “the customer is always right” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” play on auto pilot in our minds.

But what happens when someone comes to us with unrealistic expectations or a ridiculous request?

We roll our eyes. We complain. We shake our heads. We vent in frustration.

Pure In Art Photography

Pure In Art Photography

Don’t they know what looks good? Don’t they know how much flowers cost? Why don’t they appreciate what we do? How in the world could they think that is ok? They want me to make what?

Online, over the phone, to our peers, in our minds or under our breath — we all do it. Sometimes loud, sometimes more quietly, but we all do it. It's almost impossible not to be bummed out by these types of inquires. After all, we pour our heart and soul, sweat and tears, and countless hours building and improving our business! It can be defeating and frustrating to have inquires that are so far from what we are working towards!

It is important to do a heart check

It is not that these feelings are unreasonable or uncalled for. What we need to be mindful of, though, is letting these frustrations take up more space in our hearts and businesses than they should be.

Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

There is a nugget of wisdom tucked into Luke 6:45, and whether or not you read the Bible, I think you can appreciate the message of it.

What you say flows from what is in your heart.

We can try to cover up how we feel deep down, but ultimately, what is in our heart will sneak out. The more we let frustrations and bitterness take up space in our hearts, the more likely it will spill out. It is all too easy to let these emotions run crazy. Before long, they have taken a life of their own.

I think I can say with confidence that is not what we want! We love what we do and we love the couples we work with. We want to bring joy and beauty to people's lives; we wouldn't be in the industry if we didn't! That is why keeping our emotions in check is so important.

We hold the power both to bless and to hurt

When we shrug people off with a cold, blunt response, we miss an opportunity to bring calm to an often stressful situation. We miss the chance to bring encouragement to someone that may feel like they have no idea what they are doing (usually they don't — that's why they are reaching out to us).

Anna Hedges

Anna Hedges

Just think about it, these brides that come to us, full of excitement and joy, brimming with hopes, dreams, and visions of what they want the most important day of their life to look like. They obviously like something about our work, or they wouldn't have reached out in the first place. They may not have a clue about flowers — but — they know that we do. They come to us asking for help.

“Will you please be a part of my big day? Can you help me do what I cannot? Can you share your gifts and talents with our friends and family?”

We are in a unique position to bring a little extra calm to people's lives simply through a kind email.

Sure, there are clients that are careless about style and care more about price. They may contact every florist in the area just to find the lowest price. Maybe flowers aren’t that important to them, or even at the very bottom of the list. Even more difficult is when clients don't trust our judgment or appreciate our skill!

All of that, though, doesn’t change the fact that this is an exciting, joy filled, emotional time for them.

With this in mind, here are a few simple ways to give some TLC to less than ideal couples when we have to say "no."

Jessica Antonio Photography

Jessica Antonio Photography

Congratulate them!

I think that because we are in the wedding industry, as much as we love it, it can be easy to grow numb to the reality of this big day. We work with dozens of couples and wedding days, but to them, this is THE big day. Everything from the proposal, to making the announcement, to friends and family, to getting used to a diamond on their finger — it's a big whirlwind of joyous excitement. Congratulate them!

Find something positive and gush about it

“You chose a beautiful venue!” “You have good taste; that garden rose is exquisite!”  “Your color palette just makes me swoon!” It’s always best to start off with a positive comment before diving into disappointing news.

Point them in the right direction

Refer them to another florist in town that might be a better fit — community over competition! The client and a fellow business owner will be grateful that you added one more line to your email to give some kind guidance. 

If they want to go the DYI route, suggest an online resource that might be helpful. 

If they are nowhere near being able to cover the cost of the flowers they want, suggest a non-flower alternative or a way to scale back. Simply saying “Perhaps consider XYZ!” can go a long way.

Educate them

This is a big one. 

Many couples come to us with big Pinterest dreams but little concept of just what those dreams cost. It's not their fault, this may even be the first time a family has been planning a wedding at all! 

True, sometimes people are trying to get away with spending as little as possible, but many times it is just that they honestly don't have any reference point for what things cost. We are the professionals, though, and couples need to us to help ground them. 

If a couple comes to us with unrealistic expectations, it is important that we let them know, otherwise we are setting them up for one disappointment after another. No need to make a detailed proposal or spend a lot of time on this; just giving a general ballpark can be a real eye-opener for them. 

Encourage them

Yes, flowers cost a lot of money. Sometimes couples just don’t have enough money. It doesn’t mean they don’t want their wedding to be beautiful! No one wants their wedding to be ugly. Hearing “you don’t have enough money for that” is a total bummer. Reassuring them that they can still have a beautiful day, no matter the flowers or vendors or style, not only leaves things on a positive note but helps them focus on what matters — THEY ARE GETTING MARRIED!

Before I wrap this up, I do want to acknowledge that going the extra mile does take an extra minute, and sometimes we don't feel like we have an extra minute. Why spend time on someone that you know will never bring you money?

Here are my thoughts.

From a business perspective, while they may never book with you, they might recommend you to one of their friends down the road, or leave you a positive review based on their experience with you. You would be surprised how far a kind word can carry. 

From a personal perspective, it will do your heart good to take a break, pause, and look at things from someone else's point of view, even for just a moment.

From a human perspective, it is just the right thing to do. The world has enough stress and frustration, don't you think?

Let's bring a little grace where we can

Let's start a conversation in the flower community about how we can efficiently run our businesses and at the same time be gracious to as many people as possible. What practical ideas do you have? Is there a system you already have in place that works well? Let's hear about it, and all learn together!

Video: Arranging with farm flowers

Video: Arranging with farm flowers

Processing flowers for maximum vase life

Processing flowers for maximum vase life