Since starting One Sweet Day in May, Meeting clients one-on-one for that initial consultation has become imperative to my business and for me, has been the way I have booked the most clients. I've had phone calls, Skype sessions, email chains, and through time and looking back on what events I booked and events I did not, I have booked every bride, but one that I met with. Though some wedding pros prefer to have that first consolations over the phone and for very good reasons, I always request an in person meeting if applicable and today I'm going to tell you 3 reasons I love to meet in person and why and give you a peak inside my process.
1. YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE STARTS HERE.
My business is experience based and that starts before I even talk about floral visions, pricing, and design details. Meeting in person allows me the opportunity to start that relationship and my wedding experience off right every time. My venue of choice for that first consultation is Starbucks. I find the atmosphere to be so welcoming and homey and it really sets the tone for how I want a bride to feel from beginning to end. (Thanks Starbies!) I like to find out as many details about their wedding before we meet so I can know what I'm jumping into and can be prepared. I find out their drink/coffee of choice early on too and love to have it waiting for them with a little surprise when they walk in the door. Usually that surprise is a flower they told me they love or a ribbon tied around their drink in a wedding color. If the meeting is at their home, then I make sure to bring a wedding magazine with me to gift to the bride. My client experience is already off to a wonderful start and without much of an investment from me.
During that first meeting, the bride can get to know me just as much as I can get to know her. Finding out if we are a good fit is essential to both parties. I like to bring my portfolio and my iPad for our discussion and for inspiration. Because I have not booked the bride yet, this first meeting is all about the bigger picture (think guest count, wedding party information, and colors) and not so much about specific ideas and details. You do not want a bride to leave with all of your ideas and then email you back in a week saying they met someone who can do the "same" work for cheaper. (Which is whole other post and why my proposals are not typically specific and itemized as well. The detailed work and exacts are brought to life once they book) Brides should not leave with specifics. They should leave thinking that you are a great fit for their vision and want to work with YOU.
2. CREATES TRUST.
Throughout the planning process I meet with my brides several times for multiple design chats, venue walkthroughs, and rental meetings. Meeting them for the first time at our consultation means we already have an established relationship before the important decisions have to be made and the bride is more likely to trust my opinions and feel comfortable making changes and adjustments with me. I've said it since the beginning, my brides become my friends and that is really because of my experience based business and curating these relationships right from the start.
First impressions are everything, but that top shelf level of attention and attentiveness needs to continue once they have booked with you. When you have an experienced based process everything becomes so much more fluid and that trust is there. If one thing goes awry (like a certain flower not being available one week before their wedding.) but you have created a friendship with that bride throughout the planning period, then that one problem is not going to derail that client's perception of you and your business and they are likely to understand and tell you they trust you to do whatever you think is best. (Trust me this has happened on more than one occasion) Now, if you haven't curated a relationship with your bride and just booked them, written a few emails back and forth, and never put any effort into getting to know them and something goes wrong, chances are they will be upset and blame you. Then you're scrambling to make it right in fears of bad reviews or word of mouth.
3. IT'S A JOURNEY
A client experience based business that starts from that get-go is so beneficial to both you and your bride. And for me, it all starts at that first in- person consultation and doesn't end until the bride is looking like this at the end of her incredible wedding...For a bride it's a journey and that's what I believe your time with her should be looked at as. Bride's care just as much about the little things as they do the big things and showing up to their first consultation with you where you welcome them, get to know them, and have a few surprises up your sleeve goes a long way. And a happy bride is more than likely to tell her friends and family about her incredible experience with you and that just may lead to referrals and more lovely engaged ladies heading your way.