Q&A :: Lessons Learned

The Question:
What mistakes have you made (aside from under-charging) in your professional career? Things that ‘you’ll never do again having learned your lesson?
From Patricia in Washington

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The Answers:

Early in wedding deliveries we placed vases that were on pedestals on the floor of the cargo trailer (in boxes, surrounded with fill) and by the time we arrived we had one with a broken base . That was also the last time I used containers that the client provided( they were very poor quality).
Kris of KRISanthemums, Oregon

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Inflexibility has been my big lesson learned. Generally I have found it makes a much happier customer when you are willing to go the extra mile. A last minute additional delivery goes a long way for a flustered bride forgetting about boutonnieres going to the hotel, etc. I have made the mistake of charging for every single little thing and then regretting it when I sent that extra bill or got one less star on my Wedding Wire reviews. Being flexible is the best customer service and I am determined to have all my brides happy with my service. It’s hard to be constantly easy going when you are overtired and overworked come the Saturday afternoon wedding but the flexibility makes a big difference to that bride. Referrals and word of mouth is best for business growth!
Andie of Dandie Andie Floral Designs, Ontario

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One very important lesson I’ve learned in both the floral business and event planning industry would be to absolutely invest in a comprehensive Agreement/Contract form that client signs at time of booking and at final meeting for services/selections.
The best resource I’ve discovered for this (without hiring a lawyer) is:
www.lawforcreatives.com
Jennifer Mancuso, Michigan

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Two situations pop out immediately. Both were early in my floral career and I learned hard lessons from both. The first occurred while I was working for a girlfriend who had just purchased a small bucket shop. A customer had order multiple bouquets of wrapped flowers to give out at an event. The wraps were prepared and put in buckets. The customer arrived, picked up the buckets of bouquets and left. Sometime later we discovered that there was one more bucket in the cooler that we had missed. Thus began a 2 hour ordeal of driving the additional bouquets to the venue. The trip to the venue was actually an adventure in and of itself, but suffice to say we made it to the venue in time, but the customer was not exactly pleased. If we had taken the simple step of labeling the buckets 1 of 3, 2 of 3, etc., we would have avoided quite a mess.

The second situation occurred the first year that I had my own shop. It was Administrative Assistants Day and I had a pretty healthy order from a relatively new customer that included both local orders and out of town orders. I had taken care of all of the out of town orders days ahead of time. The local orders were going to 3 different businesses. By noon, the sender was calling me to find out when their order would arrive and said that they’d already heard from the recipients out of town who had received their flowers. I think the flowers finally got to the local businesses about 2 p.m. I ended up refunding the delivery fee and of course they never ordered from me again. It taught me a HUGE lesson about business deliveries and customers’ expectations. Since then, I’ve always delivered business orders before noon.
Anne of Hydrangea Bleu, California

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What I have learned is NEVER ever, ever start out cheap and make sure you have a good logo and name to brand yourself. It’s kinda hard to change over after you started out doing weddings almost for free, everyone thinks you’re going to give it away. My original name was Affordable Elegance meaning I was “affordable” my new name is Park Place Design, you know like the board walk place the most expensive place on the board!!
Tracy of Park Place Design, Michigan

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Recently I was completely taken off guard, and consequently felt quite out of my depth in understanding how to make good a situation that seemed to snow ball quite quickly. The main thing I learnt from my experience was to be very clear and open about trusting your instinct and deep gut feeling. And to acknowledge to yourself, it might be worth saying no and pulling out in a clear and honest way to the bride, simply by saying you think you are the wrong person for her, and you think she should find another florist to do her flowers. My experience related to a last minute bride, who had 7 weeks before her wedding phone you and admit she couldn’t find the right florist and would you be available. I explained it was very early in the growing the season and I wasn’t too sure that I would have the quantity of flowers ready in my garden for what she wanted, however when she assured me she only wanted a very small floral element I agreed to take on her contract. But very soon a terribly complicated email chain developed, from it seemed an subconscious flow of wishes and desires, which felt almost structureless and pure whimsy. I tried a number of times to summarise all ideas into a structured and numbered floral design itemised list, but her communication still flowed through random emails. It all worked out in a reasonable way, but I did not feel there was an essence or a beauty in the the work I did for her that I expect from myself, and it was because the essence was lost in a terrible knot of communication. What I learnt was to trust your instinct and your deep gut feeling. As I deeply wishes I had, when in even our first phone conversation I tried to say no, but she persuaded me it would be so small it would be fine, when in fact it turned out to be one of the biggest weddings I have worked on. I realise it would have been better to pull out even after a couple of weeks, and I wish I had, but I have ever experienced this confusion before, and so I kept going despite this deep rooted feeling telling me to apologise and say I wasn’t the right person for her.
Tammy of Wild Bunch, England

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The biggest mistake I have made recently is to try to streamline my event consultation process. I created a series of steps for the bride to be screened, in the end it became to many hoops to jump through and the whole process had become depersonalized. I feel that the reason it didn’t work for me is that my client wants a personal connection to the company that will be handling the details of a most personal moment or day in their life. They want me, the florist. They want to meet face to face, to get a feel for my personality. To have a real human connection. I will still use the wedding consultation form, but will be in contact by phone or in person as soon as possible for sure.
Laurie of Fleurie, California

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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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Comments

  1. Wonderful tips and lessons learned…from simply labeling buckets to a more nuanced examination of how our customer wants to be treated and how we meet them there!

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