Running a bridal boutique requires dedication and hard work.
Polly Parkin (formerly of The Bride), an award-winning bridalwear shop, shared her top 10 tips for success. Since selling her shop and returning to Next as a buyer, you can learn more about Polly in our digital editions of bridal boutique Buyer.
Establish a Price Range
Don’t try to please everyone with your goods. With The Bride, I chose four designers within my price point that I felt confident carrying.
High-end dresses should always be displayed alongside other high-end garments; it’s all about deciding where you want your story to go and how best to get there.
Gain control of your spending by staying informed.
I used to be strict about my spending. If you feel like you missed out on a popular trend or bestseller, adding samples to your collection is simple. Once they don’t appear again, quickly exchange it for another and make money – without needing to expand inventory.
Maintain Stock Levels
Try to keep the sample dress count in your showroom between 45 and 75. By September, when new dresses begin arriving, I had reduced stock to the lowest possible level. If you can sell 2 to 4 ex-display samples each month, this can help maintain a healthy business equilibrium. Tight stock management is key for running an efficient company.
Be certain that you have enough staff.
High-end sales environments demand top notch service, so I made sure there was always enough staff on hand. At The Bride, each customer received their own dedicated sales consultant to guarantee an efficient appointment – from greeting them to saying goodbye!
Additionally, junior staff would clean, fetch and transport dresses, serve refreshments to customers and assist sales consultants with queries. Managers were always present on the shop floor to offer support with sales issues or offers advice.
Many customers have commented on how serene and relaxing our shop felt, even when we were busy on Sundays.
Manage Your Diary
Quality bookings are essential for converting sales. Bookings that demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of our offerings/price ranges are key in managing the high quality of appointments we receive.
Attention to detail is essential. Make sure your shop always looks spotless, just as if brides were arriving at 5pm!
If necessary, hire additional Saturday helpers to keep you on track. You wouldn’t expect a broken light bulb in Selfridges or an unsuitable hanger at a wedding – so give your brides peace of mind that you have control over every detail.
Customer is always first
I started this business to provide the best shopping experience for my brides-to-be. As a sales person, my focus has always been on the customer. When selecting what name should go above the door, it was only natural that it should be the name of the bride!
Listening to Your Customers
Take some time with your customer before scheduling the initial appointment. Doing this will enable you to get to know her better and determine exactly what she desires. Ask about her life so that you can gain a complete understanding of who she is and create an intimate bond.
Don’t forget to keep track of the names of your customers!
Make sure to record the names of all guests, including grandmothers, mothers, sisters, bridesmaids and other family members. You can learn their names by looking at customer notes if necessary; this is essential when providing personalized service as customers want to feel like part of the company. It’s simple. Customers want a sense of belonging.
Record Sales Data
From day one at The Bride, spreadsheets were set up to track sales and marketing data. This proved invaluable in making business decisions. Data doesn’t need to be overwhelming – simply get it into Excel and you can be certain your decisions are based on facts.