Q&A :: Advice for a new business

The Question:

I am a very new florist doing western style arrangements in Beijing, China. I am just now starting a small business after a few years on and off as a retail assistant in flower shops in Australia, some freelance work, and a Floral diploma course in Hong Kong. The reason I am starting my own business is that I find myself in Beijing for my husband’s work and unable to work in my own right (visa problems – I can’t get a job but ironically I can start a business!). But there isn’t really a florist industry to be mentored under here in China.

Anyway, to cut it short I am basically on my own out here and feel very inexperienced. Good news though is that there is a lot of interest in my services. I was recently contacted by a UK bride getting married in Beijing later this year. My questions to experts out there is:

– what are the key things to consider when preparing a wedding quote? I.e. questions to ask the bride and groom? etc
– what do you know now but wish you were told/knew then about those first few events you did?

Thanks in advance

Lyndal, Beijing, China


The Answers:

In preparing a wedding quote: Details are always a good thing in estimates for both the bride and for your reference . Making sure both of you are on the same page is so important…vital. It is also a protection for yourself. What her vision is, look at her fabric swatches to make sure the color she describes and what you think are the same. Finding out exactly what she does not like is important as well.
I wish I would have…relaxed more , took time to breathe and enjoy. With age and experience I have been able to do this more.
Kris from KRISanthemums, Oregon


(1) WEDDING QUOTES: I have a form that I work through during the consult that takes us through the various personal flower needs, ceremony décor, and reception items. But before I even get into a meeting with the client, I ask for the following: Event Date and Time, Location, Budget Range for floral and decor, Size of Wedding Party, Number of Guests, and any pictures or Pinterest boards that will give me an idea of their style and theme for the wedding. I put this data with a few pics into a “design board” word document, that I print out for us to all look at during the session. It is a little pre-work…takes me maybe 30 minutes to prepare. But I find it highly effective in helping to keep the inspiration for the design front and center and it shows that bride that I am extra organized. The other things I bring to the meeting are access to online flower catalogs. I like: http://www.cutflower.com/pages/cutflower_wholesale_flower_gallery_search.asp. I also have been known to run a quick google search to show a bride the close-up of a flower. I also have my rentals catalogue showing my inventory of vases, lanterns, candelabras, candlesticks, candles, etc. After the meeting I do prepare a detail proposal that includes price ranges and options. It is most important to promptly respond to request, show your organizational and creative skills, and be personable! This leads to a high close rate and very satisfied brides!

(2) WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE MY FIRST FEW EVENTS: What can go wrong, will go wrong! I used to joke that there always seemed to be something…I forgot the bouts in the frig, the wind was too strong to use the vase I planned, the venue didn’t have a ladder I could use, I was sick, the wrong rose came in, a piece of my order was missing or got stuck in customs…I could go on and on. The thing is you have to stay calm in the face adversity. There is always a solution, especially if you plan your timelines well. Order the flowers to come into your studio a day or two earlier than you really need them. Plan to show up to the event an hour or two before you need too. Have a packing/delivery checklist. Don’t stress out if in the end you have to spray a flower to modify the color (not my personal first choice…but sometimes you just have to do it!). Call the venue a few days before so you know who is there coordinating and ask for things you may need them to provide.
Andrea Layne Floral Design, Florida


This is a much more difficult question to answer, but there are some basics: get an idea of your fixed expenses and get a good price list of product. Consider your labor, advertising, help, hard product, etc. and figure out how much you need to make to cover your expenses and make a profit. Use a mark-up number (300% or 400%, for example) to get your pricing. Don’t forget to include a fee for your delivery and set-up time. Consider investing in rentals as a profit center. There is a great new product called Lobiloo that can help you figure out estimates with per stem pricing and it generates your order list for you. This is a brand new on-line software product (www.lobiloo.com) that might be just what you need and it can be customized.

A lot of this is hit and miss in the beginning, but don’t sell yourself short and make sure you charge enough to compensate you for your time throughout the process.
Melody from Fleurish Floral Designs, California


Do you have a question you’d like to ask for a Q&A session? Email it to me at: info@flirtyfleurs.com

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  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this! I literally just emailed Joanna of Lil’ Pink Daisy Florals in Calgary with exactly the same questions which she graciously answered. Had I waited 2 days I could have saved her the trouble!

  2. Thank you!I love the internet for allowing me to be mentored by a world of friendly professionals. Thanks again!