We all know, or should know, that the only way to win over brides is to meet their expectations. Sounds easy enough, right? Actually it is. We’re in the business of making dreams come true. In fact, when we say it
aloud, it's pretty cool. Not everyone is fortunate enough to say that about his or her job. However, after working within this industry for awhile, we seem to become somewhat complacent and forget why we really do what we do and why we love it, and surprise — it's not all about us. Which brings me to what this article is about. Based on interviews conducted in 2015 by Vows, the following are 9 pet peeves shared by brides that they want us industry professionals to know:
1. Please stay within our budget
This one is a bigger and near the top of almost every bride's list. Brides shared that all too often sales consultants steer them toward a higher priced package or item in the hopes of making a bigger sale. All this achieves is to make the bride feel frustrated or embarrassed as she thinks she appears to be unwilling to spend money. The issue of money is always awkward. To smooth the way, you should adopt a softer and non-threatening approach by letting her choose from a range of prices. In my profession (I'm a bridal tailor and dressmaker), I don't have packages that consists of varying level of prices that I can offer. However, wherever possible if there's a less expensive way of completing an alteration without compromising on the quality of the outsome, I will share it with the bride and have her make the final decision. In every case that I have adopted this approach, the brides has always been extremely grateful because she felt that I had her best interests at heart.
2. Don't pressure us
No one enjoys the feeling of having one's back against the wall and pressure to buy on the spot without thinking it through. Least of all brides. If your bridal client is indecisive and requires some time to consider her potentional purchase, be respectful and grant her the time to think it over. On several occasions, I have had brides vacillate back and forth and take almost an hour to make a final decision on proceeding with alterations. Most of them did.
3. We're all different and one "size" doesn't fit all
Whether purchasing a bridal gown or deciding on the type of flowers to choose, keep persepective and remember that each bride is unique in body shape (if you're a bridal consultant selling wedding gowns or a tailor completeing alterations) and in her taste of how she envisions the look and feel of her wedding (if you're a wedding planner, florist, caterer, etc.). Listen carefully to what she wants and use your expertise to provide her with choices that are in her best interests and align with her vision
4. We want and expect your undivided attention
You've heard it straight from the [proverbial] horse's mouth. Brides was personal attention. I have experienced this first hand in my business, which is why I have always only met with customers by appointment only. It really does make a difference and brides feel special when you focus only on them during their appointment. If a "by appointment" approach is not a realistic option for your business, ensure that you have enough staff available to help each bride as well as to attend to walk-ins and to answer the phone. In this way, your staff won't be overwhelmed and your brides won't feel neglected.
5. We need your guidance and honest opinions
It's important to listen to what the brides wants and to have the expertise to provide her with alternatives whenever necessary. She relies on you to guide her toward achieving the best outcome for her wedding or the most flattering style if she's purchasing a wedding gown ffrom you. Brides expressed that too often, wedding professionals wear kid gloves when asked for their opinions. So here's the official news flash from brides (cue: trumpets, please): "We wouldn't ask your opinion if we didn't truly want it!"
6. We want you to welcome and involve our entourage
Gone are the days when a bride shopped alone or with only on family member — usually her mother. It used to be that the bride and her maid of honor or bridesmaids would take care of planning the entire wedding, and all that the groom did was show up. Fast forward a decade or two, and brides now include not only their families and fiances, but also their friends. To take it a step further, this group of family and friends has become an entourage whose opinions are important to the bride's final decision. The best way to handle these scenarios is to assign a designated seating area for the entourage and to make them feel welcome by including them in the decision-making process. However, it's your responsibility to ensure that the group does not overwhelm the bride in making her decisions.
7. We could use a friend
It’s a given that most brides, when they visit you, are feeling one or more emotions. They could be feeling overwhelmed, insecure or excited — or all of the aforementioned. By being a friend to them and showing that they are not just another sale for you, you can be a beacon of safety in a very rough ocean of choices and decision-making. Ease her anxiety. Be a good listenr and be patient.
8. We're savvy shoppers
Most brides today have conducted a significant amount of online research for their weddings before they even set foot into your establishment. What you want to avoid at all costs is to be in a position where the bride knows more about your products or services than you and your staff (if you have employees). Not only is this a frustrating scenario for the bride, but it also places you at a disadvantage as not being the expert and trusted source. Step up your game and ensure that you and your staff have kept up with trends for design or designers, fabrics, and more. A bride needs to feel that she can trust you and rely on your expertise for guidance.
9. We want the bridal experience, no matter what our budget
The sooner you realize and accept the fact that most brides that meet with you have high expectations, the better prepared you'll be. They use words like "special" "magical" and "red carpet" when describing their visions for their weddings. My generation used to refer to it as "a champagne experience on a beer budget.”
Nonetheless, these brides are noless important than the brides who have a much larger budget. It's not only about the wedding, it's also about the experience leading up to the big dat that brides want. Be welcoming and positive, no matter what a bride's budget may be.
At times, we make running our businesses a lot more complicated than it needs to be. All that is required is to take a moment and rethink who our customer is, why she's coming to us and how we can best serve her to help her dreams come true. Let's provide our brides with the best service and attention to detail when planning for her wedding. She deserves the best experience that we can offer.
What have been your experiences when dealing with brides and their entourages? Have you worked with brides who have valued your opinions and expertise? Have they solicited your help and guidance in any particular way? Share your feedback and comments. We would be thrilled to hear about your experiences.
Reference: Vows: Magazine Spring 2016 Bridal Market Issue