Owning and running a bridal shop is so much more than just selling beautiful gowns. Let’s take a look at the key responsibilities involved in successfully operating your very own bridal boutique.
The bridal shop business model
For most bridal shop owners, their days are spent focusing on their customers’ needs, managing the inventory, and overseeing daily operations. A typical day might include the following:
- Booking appointments for brides-to-be and catering to their needs by helping them find a dream dress that’s within their budget
- Managing all staff to make sure they are providing exceptional customer service
- Communicating with designers and distributors to guarantee gowns are delivered on time and on budget
- Monitoring inventory and ordering new products
- Overseeing daily alterations to make sure they are completed on time and meet the clients’ expectations
- Managing the cash flow and checking the daily finances to ensure profit margins are in order
In addition, as the owner, it is essential that you hire and train skilled and competent staff. The quality of your employees can and will set you apart from your competition, and their customer interactions can either enhance or hurt your business.
Bridal shops are part of the ever-changing fashion industry, so it’s extremely important to stay on top of all the current trends and needs of your target customers.
In a 2018 wedding survey, couples stated that when choosing various suppliers for their wedding needs, the following factors affected their decision:
- Overall price
- Supplier’s responsiveness and personality
- Reviews from previous customers
- Shop’s location, website, and social media presence
In order to compete with the rising popularity of online retailers, be sure to provide superior customer service from start to finish. A brick-and-mortar store has the advantage of being able to offer face-to-face customer service, so be sure to excel in this area.
Also, to compete with lower prices offered by online retailers, consider providing a large selection of second-hand or preowned wedding gowns for sale, or carry a more budget-friendly designer line to meet the needs of your more frugal patrons.
A strategic marketing plan is essential for attracting your customers. In addition to advertising in newspapers, bridal magazines, and on the internet, consider some of these additional ideas for growing your bridal shop audience:
- Partner with other businesses: Network with local businesses that provide wedding-related services. Consider partnering with wedding venues, photographers, bakeries, florists, and caterers to offer brides-to-be discounted wedding packages.
- Establish an online presence: Online advertising can be your most effective form of marketing, so build an appealing and optimised website. Also, be sure to establish a strong social media presence on multiple platforms.
- Offer educational content: Concentrate on delivering helpful, relevant content to brides-to-be through strategic email sends, social posts, and website content.
There are numerous avenues for you to navigate when it comes to marketing. Decide on a few to put your time and budget towards, and see which ones reward you with the most returns.
According to an industry analyst, the growing number of online wedding businesses in Australia will contribute to the decline and closure of traditional bridal shops.
To combat this, savvy owners should capitalise on their ability to provide exceptional one-on-one customer service.
In a 2018 wedding survey, the top complaints about bridal shops pertained to poor customer service:
- Inattentive staff made brides feel neglected.
- Wrong dress sizes were ordered, and then brides were asked to pay for expensive alterations.
- Once gowns were purchased, brides no longer felt like a top priority, and standards for customer service drastically declined.
Clearly, offering superior customer service is essential to your success. Be sure to invest in employee training to ensure they are constantly going above and beyond when assisting all patrons.
The road to success
According to a recent survey, a successful bridal shop should do the following:
- Ensure the future bride feels comfortable while trying on gowns.
- Offer a diverse assortment of dresses in various price ranges.
- Provide expert advice for styling tips and accessory options.
- Assist in finding dresses that truly complement each bride.
Finally, keep in mind, most customers who are choosing bridal attire are not just looking for products; they are seeking a unique customer experience. Brides-to-be typically expect to be treated like princesses and desire a fun and memorable day of shopping.
So, get creative and think of additional ways you and your staff can pamper your customers and provide them with an exceptional bridal experience they won’t soon forget.
Also, remember, it’s never too early to prepare your bridal shop for a smooth and successful exit—even if you’re not planning to sell for years down the road. Visit here to gain insightful tips on preparing your business for sale.