THE BUDGET GAP: HOW TO PRESENT AN OVER-BUDGET PROPOSAL

Honest communication and alternate options key to a win-win for everyone.

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As a wedding florist, the budget discussion can be one of the trickiest to navigate. Should you ask for a budget up front? Should you wait to see what the customer wants and then present a price? Should you list your minimum on your inquiry form?

At some point, the budget discussion is inevitable. And while we may be pleasantly surprised to find that many of our clients’ price expectations are reasonable for what they’re requesting, there are also occasions where a client’s vision doesn’t align with their spending goals, and it’s up to us to address the “budget gap.”

For years, I’d worry and fret over how to scale things back just a bit more in order to meet a client’s budget. I’d rework the proposal over and over again in an attempt to “hit that number” by skimming $5 off each centerpiece or $10 off each bridesmaids’ bouquets. I’d consider whether I could reduce my delivery fee or use a cheaper container or use more white Hydrangeas, but over the past 16 years, I’ve learned that reworking a proposal to fit the client’s proposed budget is actually doing a disservice to both my business and my client.

It’s not my job to make it for less; it’s my job to quote the client properly for what she has requested. Because when I reduce the price of a bridesmaid’s bouquet by $10, I’m reducing my ability to fill the order to the client’s wishes. In order to reduce the cost, the client has to give up something or cut back. I’m no longer reducing the cost of line items if I’ve already offered my best price.

It’s as simple as this: The customer cannot set prices; I set prices. And if I cannot do this job for less, then it’s my responsibility to communicate that to the client.

It’s not always easy to set a minimum before booking a client, but it’s always better to present honest pricing than to simply say yes to an event and then struggle to meet the client’s expectations because she didn’t spend enough.

One part of our job is to set expectations. The other part is to meet (or exceed) those expectations.

Here’s how I’ll present a quote that’s over the client’s stated budget:

“Based on the images you’ve pinned and the overall style/fullness you’re hoping for, I estimate a floral budget around $4,000; however, I realize that this is quite a bit above your ideal range of $3,000.” Then, there are two options.

Option #1

If it’s possible to scale things back a bit, I’ll make suggestions about what may be removed such as the aisle flowers, tossing petals, the escort card table, flowers at each place setting, etc. Anything they “want” but can do without.

Option #2

If it’s not possible to remove items or scale back on individual pieces, I will present a “minimum spend” to the client so it’s clear that while this quote is over their stated budget, it’s not going to get any lower. Then the client can choose whether she wants to work with me at this higher price point or seek another quote. Either way is OK because if I can’t lower my prices, then we’re simply not a good fit.

In fact, by presenting honest pricing, I often find clients will spend more than their stated budgets in order to keep at least some of the items on their original wish lists. Not every customer will spend more, but if she really “wants what she wants,” a good client will happily find her way to the other side of that budget gap to get it.