I had a delightful bride in earlier this week. We're quite lucky I must admit with our brides; it's very unusual for us to have a Bridezilla. We did have a bride not so long ago though, that throughout the whole consultation kept checking her phone and looking around. I ended up dealing with her Mum as it was obvious she just couldn't be bothered, and I felt as though I was wasting her time, rather than the fact she was wasting mine. Her wedding wasn't until 11 months further down the line, but she was informed that we will only accept so many bookings for one day. Not a word was heard and so I assumed she had gone elsewhere (we were about the 10th shop she had visited for a consultation). Then 5 weeks before the wedding she came in to verify everything and book us. By this time we were already fully booked and you should have heard how she huffed, puffed and kicked off at me because I hadn't held the day for her. You just can't win them all.
Anyway; I digress. Our bride this week came in armed with photographs of flowers she had downloaded from all over the internet. I love brides when they do this as it really does give me an insight into the styles and colours they would like (although some can be so diverse it's obvious the bride just likes a certain colour, rather than a particular style). As we were chatting she mentioned that another florist she had visited had produced this massive professional wedding guide of varying styles for brides to look through. She asked if I had anything like this. The answer to that question is a big NO.
My reasons for not purchasing these books and guides are because the work in them is not mine; it hasn't been made by me or anyone working with me. Anyone (from a great aunt down the street; to an office worker who needs something to do at the weekend) can buy these guides. However, just because they have this gorgeous bound catalogue, a large comfy sofa in their shop/studio (or even their lounge) doesn't mean they are capable of making any of the bouquets in said book. I actually know of 2 women that did 6 courses at a local night school on flower arranging, who then decided they were florists, so bought a shop that was for sale. They turned it into a designer paradise; they bought every exclusive bridal floral guide going. They talked brides through different flowers from a calla lily to a phalaenopsis; they talked the talked brilliantly. What they couldn't do was produce the work the brides were then ordering. They had no idea where to start, or the skills to construct the bouquets they were talking their brides in to; this left some very upset brides on their wedding morning.
This is the reason I will never purchase one of these books. I have photographs of the designs I have made (one day they will be printed in a professional looking book) and I will only ever show a bride photographs of my work. This way I can guarantee to them that I am capable of making they design they want for the most important day of their life. They know they can book me with absolute confidence. I am sure I have lost out on wedding orders in the past because I didn't have the sofa and brochure, but at least I know every wedding we have booked, the brides have left the shop confident in the knowledge that I am more than capable of making the bouquet of their dreams.
It's the same with costs; I know I have lost out on orders because I don't charge the extortionate prices these other shops (the ones with the brochures and sofas) charge. I find this sad because we all use the same wholesalers so it doesn't mean I am cheaper because I am buying a lower grade flower; I just don't see the point in out-pricing myself. In fact I know of some shops who charge 3 (maybe 4) times more than I do that actually buy a lower grade flower than the ones I buy (I will only buy the top grade, best quality); when I've pulled these other shops up on it the response has been "Well they only need to last a day". They may be charging £120 where I would charge £45 and yet their attitude is "they only need to last a day". I find this shocking.
I guess it's like everything in life; it's not always about looks. Something can look totally amazing but be of the lowest grade you could ever find; something else may be a bit more relaxed but will give you exactly what you are looking for.
The old saying works perfectly for this "Never judge a book by it's cover".