Megan Garmers of The Bridal Masterclass gives her advice on how to handle the issues facing bridal boutiques during this difficult time.
“Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” -Napoleon Hill
While this is certainly unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, it is probably not the first trial or tribulation you faced. COVID-19 has presented itself as an obstacle for our current situation and as a business owner (and human being) you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed or paralyzed with fear. All of these feelings are normal however not all reactions to your feelings are helpful.
As a business owner the first thing to do take a minute and compose yourself. It is easy to feel like you need to react, respond and figure out everything coming at you as it comes at you, but being reactive versus being proactive will only lead you down more frenetic and frustrating situations you will need to figure out later on. You also need to fill your bucket and know how you can relax and de-stress so you can establish that as part of your schedule.
First, if you don’t already, you need to establish a cancellation, refund and postponement protocol. Hopefully you already have something in place for the contract your clients sign with regards to cancellations, delays, or other unforeseen issues outside of your or their control. If you don’t have something in place, now is the time to add it to your contract and it is also the time to make sure you know this policy inside and out.
You should always want to encourage postponing over cancelling and in the case of a new date that you cannot accommodate with the original purchase, think creatively as to how you can credit or attribute options for your clients to swap designers or alter gowns.
Now is also the time (if you haven’t already) to get to know other retail stores you previously thought of as your competitors. Work together as they might have something in stock you don’t have and vice versa. Community over competition is a real thing and now is your opportunity to demonstrate what that looks like.
After you have taken a moment to compose yourself, your statement on your policies and the current situation, and your network of other retailers and professionals, write a letter to your clients. In your letter, include empathy (We understand how frustrating and difficult this time is for you...), your action plan and policies (We will be offering credit/refunds/etc. as per our cancellation policy...), and also include your commitment to them (We remain committed to making your wedding day amazing whenever it is rescheduled to be...).
For those appointments you have scheduled that will need to be cancelled or rescheduled, think outside the box. Perhaps you do a virtual shopping session and have a mannequin you can display the gown on. If you don’t already, create a questionnaire each client would complete in advance, including measurements (how to take them, etc.) to help steer your recommendations before they even set foot in your store. Knowing these bits of information help showcase your expertise and also help focus the time you have with them to avoid wasting time on things they won’t like.
Lastly, don’t give up on social media. Use IGTV, Facebook Live or Instagram Live, or your Facebook or Instagram stories and posts to help communicate to your clients (include your letter as a post and story) as well as to offer advice for ways to find the right gown for them. This might mean showing photos of proper and ill-fitting gowns, silhouettes, fabrics, etc. to demonstrate your point.
Also use social media to help spread hope and joy. Remember why you started in the wedding industry in the first place. Remember all the love and happiness weddings produce. Focus on the beauty and good of what you do and the lives you touch. Helping your clients keep their head when they feel like the world is falling apart helps them trust you as the expert you are and provides a strong testimonial for all your future clients to have full confidence in you.
You’ve got this. And know you are not alone. We are here to help and you can email or DM us anytime with your questions or concerns (@thebridalmasterclass ).