This is the final installment to the question that was so thoughtfully asked by a bride, Lisa.
She originally wrote…
…Not to be snarky, but can you please explain why my florist charged $250 for a bouquet of peonies when I found an eight stem bunch at Whole Foods that very same week for $12.99?
In the past week, we’ve touched upon many issues, finished work vs. products, “flushing”, pre order, perceived value, pricing strategy and many more. Today, I’ve decided that instead of writing another post, I’d post some of the responses from floral designers and add a few more thoughts.
Flower Design Jane writes that, “I use peonies for wedding bouquets, the biggest issue is in fact the quantity you need to purchase in order to get say 15 open to the correct degree for use, you may need as many as 200 to get the required perfect 15. I hope this helps.”
Most experienced and prepared designers, who have seen more than a couple of seasons of weddings, know what type of flowers will work in various situations, what flowers need more TLC(tender loving care), what flowers don’t open easily, what flowers “wilt”…and on and on.
We know that with certain flowers, we have to “buy” more. Peonies are definitely one of them. When you get a bunch, the blooms are sometimes at different stages of “opening”. Some open. Some don’t. Some are too overblown and others are just too darn “tight”. It’s nature and an imperfect product.
If you think peonies are hard to open at times, how about preventing garden roses from shattering!
A few weeks ago, I blew $250.00 in yellow garden roses for just 4 bridesmaid bouquets. Of the many stems - only 15% were truly usable. And Gaby my poor assistant had to wire the good ones because the heads were “droopy”. We threw out the ones that were not salvageable.
Did I get credit for them? No. The vendor and I have a good relationship. I have to pick my battles. If every time something like this happened and I complained, no one would ever sell to me. This is not like Nordstrom’s. My wholesalers don’t always take everything back because they don’t often get credit from their resources. My wholesale vendor has to eat it sometimes. No one wins - if they go out of business, I could be screwed.
Please don’t start blaming the wholesalers because they truth is… my sales rep, Sean at Torchio, often warns me about buying certain thing s(even when I know that garden roses can drop in a flash or that peonies are often too tight to open). But how am I supposed to tell that to a bride who has to have them? I don’t. I fix the situation. We learn. We get past these issues and that’s why we need to price correctly so that we don’t have to worry about ordering a little more to cover the stems not used.
Just in case you are wondering, I saved quite a bit for petals from that disastrous garden rose buy. We did our best to salvage what we could have of a really bad situation.
(BTW every week, we have a challenge that we have to fix!)
Mary Lois writes, “Moreover…nature is well….nature. We don’t know when the prices of flowers will skyrocket because of weather, cutting cycles, fuel costs of shipping. We have to cover the possibility of high prices for ourselves as well as our clients. If you don’t charge enough, costs run high, then the client ends up with something less than what they hoped for.
Finally… I don’t know about other designers, but if I price something high and am able to get a good price on it, then the surplus always gets applied somewhere else in the overall wedding budget.
One thing that many people never talk about is the BTS (behind the scenes) and the reality is that smart and seasoned floral designers during the proposal writing phase know how to “cushion” for mishaps. And most deliver what they plan or even over deliver. (Yes, I said, over deliver!)
I recall this past year, I had a wonderful wedding at the Ferry Building. This wedding was all about small details and one of the flowers that this bride loved were sweet peas. Is there really any replacement for this delicate bloom? Probably, but for this purpose, not really.
The bride and groom didn’t know that I purchased 60 bunches of sweet peas for their September wedding from a local grower and more from So Cal. 60 bunches of sweet peas, which should have yielded 1500 stems, did in fact yield only 400 usable stems. The rest we tossed. Luckily I had double ordered this product and added other flowers to cover any problems. The other sweet peas which were needed for her beautiful bouquet and napkin details, we ended using the better quality blooms from the So Cal resource.
My wonderful sales rep drives up wonderful blooms from SoCal and made sure to include 10 bunches of white sweet peas just for this bride. We got 150 stems of the most perfect white sweet peas. The local grower’s bunches were not as good as the SoCal ones, but in the end, the good quality ones at 3 times the price were well worth it. I didn’t mind at the time that they were more because when you have a wedding in less than 72 hours, you will move mountains to get what you need.
Did I charge the client for having to replace her bad sweet peas?
Absolutely not! We actually lost money on the napkin details but overall, we made it up in other areas.
Why didn’t I charge when I could have? On this particular wedding, I worked with an amazing wedding planner - JLE. She is one of the few planners who knows that I will “spend” what I need to make the wedding perfect. In return, she educates the bride during the proposal writing phase. She rarely sends a client to me that doesn’t understand the importance of why I charge what I charge.
This planner knows that I will do my very best on each wedding project. I rarely get questions on the detailed pricing of each item. Usually, it’s… “Nance, do what it takes!”. No questions asked. Because the wedding planner understands that when I get a bad bunch of stuff, I replace it, she feels confident in working with me. She knows that my original quote has some allowance for “waste”. It’s a happy relationship in which the bride gets the best. And the weddings come out - picture perfect.
It’s been a long and wonderful week. I’ve made new connections, new friends. For those reading these posts, if you are a wedding vendor, please - it should never be us versus them. After all, we as business owners cannot exist without other people, especially our clients.
Bottom line: What I take from this is that we have to ask ourselves what makes our designs art? What makes our products/services such that people have to have us? What will make our designs so enticing that we are like the Apple of the computer industry? What can we do so that we don’t have someone ask, if peonies are $12.99, why is my bouquet $250.00?
Thank you for reading and writing.
Photo above from bridgewatergardens.com