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Welcome to our first ever PROFIT PROFILES!  Each month we will showcase a wedding professional who is making waves in the wedding industry!  The idea behind the profiles:  So you can see other pros, just like you, who are making money (let’s face it, if you are not making money you are not in business), making strides and making an impact in the industry or local community.  I’m so excited to start so let’s dive right in!

 

RachaelTW-1 (1)Rachel and Ryan O’Neil are the proud owners of Twisted Willow Design in St. Louis for nearly three years now.  While doing some research on a program to streamline my own proposal process, I found this amazing couple and found myself engulfed in their website and valuable blog posts!

 

How many weddings do you do a year?   60-70

 

 Who is your target market?  Our brand has developed a little more and just in the last month, we’ve shifted our focus. Our clientele are creative brides with ceremony and reception on a Friday or Saturday, who want to blend their style as a couple with our professional touch looking to invest between $4,000 to $12,000.

Explain your wedding process:  Starting out, the majority of our leads came from a great local wedding show here. We tried a few shows, and discovered only one that was truly worth the time and money. For these shows we developed a simple process of what to say while being friendly and personal, but the end goal was to sign them up for consultations. Ryan will hit a little bit more on this below. We began to advertise on a few basic sites such as the Knot and Wedding Wire. The majority of our current leads come from venues we’ve previously worked at, friends of previous brides, and other wedding vendors.

 

TW reception 2

What unique things do you do to make the bride feel special during the consult & during the life of the relationship, even after the wedding?  I find that genuinely caring about the bride and her day is all that is needed to make her feel special. I don’t see dollar signs sitting in front of me – I see someone who is about to take one of the biggest steps in her life, and I’m honored if she allows me to help plan the celebration. This may sound cliche, but its a basic principle that works, and will show up in all of your communications with the bride from the initial meeting until after the wedding. You can still maintain a professional relationship, while showing you genuinely care for the client.

 

The trick is in the balancing act of caring about your bride, but still running a business and making a living off doing what you love. So you can’t sell your services short simply because you want to help a bride out. This is a soft spot that got me in trouble a few times starting out, but I’ve learned a few things along the way. Now our team qualifies our brides before meeting with them. We developed a software called StemCounter.com that allows me to give on the spot proposals, which in turn generates a lot of on the spot bookings. For a fresh flower studio that builds custom designs, and doesn’t have packages, this was a huge life changer for us. Now I just enter in what we discuss into the system, and it kicks out the price for me. It also shows me what my cost is, so the business side of me kicks my soft heart to the curb and I don’t under sell myself or my work.

 

Being published is important.  What work have you had published?  We’ve had some cool opportunities to show our work. Our work was on Green Wedding Shoes a couple months ago with this rustic, holiday inspiration shoot. http://greenweddingshoes.com/rustic-holiday-wedding-inspiration/. One of our first features was our first big wedding as a company: http://www.stylemepretty.com/2014/08/20/classic-spring-st-louis-wedding/ . We’ve also had quite a few of our real weddings published in the local Saint Louis bride magazines.

 

You have a unique way of getting a bride’s info at shows.  Please share!   This was definitely an accident if not anything else. If you’ve read our article (https://stemcounter.com/wedding-flower-website-conversions/) about what we did with our website, you’ll notice that an incredibly simple and effective call-to-action thoroughly changed our site. It was after we had realized this on our site, we were at a wedding show and were only so-so effective on getting brides info and beginning the follow up process.  Ryan began to ponder how we could utilize what we learned on the site. So, I just used the same concept.

 

My previous call-to-action was,”The main reason we’re at the wedding show is to help brides like yourself, who know your venue and colors, schedule a consultation with Rachael. Would you like to set one up?” 

This was decently effective but definitely not completely. Why? Because brides are then forced to do work. They have to find open time in their schedule and in the schedule of the rest of the decision makers. For some brides, even just filling out a form was more than they were willing to take on. Because setting up a consultation, takes effort.

 

What doesn’t take effort for them is our team doing work to see if we’re open on that date. So, I tried it. Instead of my normal close after a conversation, I said,”Would you like for our team to check if we’re open on your date?” For me, literally ever single time I asked it, they said yes. They gave the same amount of information as if we decided to schedule a consultation. I also turned my phone around as I was filling out their information on our website’s form (which we already have a process for) which allowed most of them to give their information since it seemed like it was an official form.

 

The best thing was that when they went home after seeing hundreds of vendors, we could send them an email saying they asked us to email them!

 

(Profitable Weddings Note:  So we tried this a few weeks ago at a small venue open house.  We collected info from 70% of the bride’s!  IT WORKS!!!)

 

TWWhat advice would you like to share with the Profitable Wedding’s community?  Have a very structured process for new leads. We send our leads through several internal and external steps to make sure they’re a qualified client, that we’re available, and to ensure they’re primed for the first complimentary consultation.  We’ve all been there when we meet a bride and we know right away that we are not the vendor for them. However, we feel obligated to finish out the meeting, despite the waste of time. This was a big less learned for us. We wanted to eliminate this completely.

 

We spent some time analyzing our processes: everything from questions the brides have to information we needed from them. We did a couple things to ensure they had info about us and vice versa – upfront before the first consultation. Every bride fills out our question form here: www.twistedwillow.co/form. We process it to determine if she is missing any of the pertinent questions (budget, colors, venue, etc.). We email her further information with our guidelines, request any missing information, and ensure she knows our process.

 

The biggest issue most of our brides seemed to face is not having a clue what to budget for wedding flowers or what their Pinterest wedding is really going to cost. That’s understandable; this is likely their first wedding. So we built a budget calculator on our website for all brides to use. It makes it so easy to direct them there if they’re unsure of their budget. It really is a complex form that took some time to put together, but for brides it’s as simple as a few questions. We’ve also found this is a great tool for wedding planners to help their brides budget for flowers. Here’s a blog post with more details about it: https://stemcounter.com/wedding-flower-website-conversions/

 

And if your curiosity isn’t peaked yet, and you are a florist, you should check out their program which streamlines the proposal process for your business:  https://www.stemcounter.com  I’m looking at it myself, and I’m really loving the idea that it creates the “shopping list” of flowers I need to order for me!  Plus the proposal is attractive and not just an excel spreadsheet.

 

A special THANK YOU to Rachel for taking the time to answer my questions and providing the images for this post!  🙂

 

What do you think about Rachel’s unique way of capturing a bride’s info at a bridal show and her other tips?  Please share below!