Dos and Don’ts – Tips for Saving Time on Consultation

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Dos and Donts

Consultations can be (and are for most florists) a huge time commitment – especially the initial consultation – not to mention site visits and follow-up meetings, phone calls, emails and proposal revisions.
As a small-business owner, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my expenses. What I’ve come to find is that one of the most important ways to save money is by setting rules about how I invest my time – and by saving myself time, I save myself money.
More specifically, by saying “no” to meetings that aren’t guaranteed to lead to sales (a blind lead), I can make time to write a proposal for the client I spoke with yesterday in a phone consultation, who seems pretty interested in working with me (a hot lead).
To help florists take control before booking a wedding, here are some dos and don’ts to reduce the amount of time spent on initial proposals.

Do

  • Start with a phone consultation. Phone consultations are a great way to prequalify clients and conduct a mutual interview.
  • Explain the rules to customers, and then turn the rules into customer service. I like to think of my “rules” or “boundaries” as a form of customer service. By explaining the steps to my customers, they know what to expect. They know when we can go slow (six to nine months before their wedding) and when we need to pick up the pace (six to nine weeks before the wedding) and make final changes.
  • Set a time limit for how long you’ll spend writing a proposal. I use a template for my proposals that allows me to put together a quote in less than an hour most of the time. There’s a certain amount of time and detail florists should expect to put into a proposal to close the sale, but it’s also possible to give away too much detail.
  • Establish hours for consultations that work for your business. Maybe you don’t meet on weekends, or maybe Sundays are the best day of the week for clients to catch you; you set the rules.
  • Just because you can’t meet on Saturday doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. You can’t meet on Saturday because you’re focusing your full attention on the wedding you have booked this week, and you’ll do the same for that client when it’s her turn. Your rule is in place to ensure that you do your job to the best of your ability.

Don’t

  • Don’t make eight proposal revisions before the client books; limit the number of revisions you offer before a client books.
  • Don’t send a proposal to a client and then go silent. Make sure to follow up on any quotes you send.
  • Don’t leave an open-ended timeline on a proposal. Setting an expiration date on proposals serves as a prompt to either close the sale or close the file.
  • Every florist should develop rules or boundaries around the amount of time (and money) you’ll invest before booking a job.
  • Some florists limit the number of people who can attend a meeting while others charge for an initial consultation – the client shows a level of commitment before any time is invested.

Remember to set rules that work for your business, and keep doing beautiful work!