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Starting or enhancing a bridal business


Have you noticed that when we have any type of sport the winners always thank their coach? After the event the competitors carry on training with help and advice from their coach to become even more successful, for example, you can have a coach (consultant) for your business helping you train to enter the race or event you are planning, then you can consider a coach (consultant) to help you when you are established making sure you keep up your training and have all the knowledge and facts you need for success. A successful business is reliant on what you yourself put into it in the form of training, information, knowledge about the industry you are taking part in

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Bridal Industry Consultant Jane Watson wrote the article ‘Setting up shop’. This article has been the most read on Google, linked to the Bridal Buyer website. Jane says the consultancy service is highly successful offering invaluable help and information about the industry and what constitutes a successful business plan. Over many years she has helped numerous bridal businesses starting up, as well as supporting existing businesses trading for a short time, established bridal retailers wanting to enhance their already successful businesses and bespoke designers wanting to expand into retail

Thinking of going into business, always seek professional, expert advice within the sector you wish to trade
I offer my clients a wealth of experience gained over many years within the bridal industry. Once a client has attended a consultancy day, I offer up to three months ongoing support for any additional questions or research at no extra cost to make starting a bridal business as successful as possible

Costs of setting up the business
An essential part of setting up a business is being aware of costs. Many clients are unaware of the true costs involved and the project could risk being underfunded. Once realistic annual costs are established, we can now set sales targets to meet overheads and prepare to make profits.

Business or personal loan, whether you’re a new start up business or have an existing business wanting to inject capital to expand
At your consultation, I will prepare your realistic set-up costs, overheads, credit/debit card costings, staff, dress samples purchases and advertising for the trading year. We will discuss all aspects of your business, including commercial premises, so that you feel prepared to make an appointment with the bank. If you are to invest a percentage of your own capital and need a bank loan to meet the total investment (for example, fifty percent of funding from the bank), you will need a clear and realistic business plan. Figures can be taken from the results of our initial strategy meeting. The bank will want to know how you intend to meet the costs of the loan and run the business and how you will achieve sales targets. I will help you prepare so that your meeting goes as smoothly as possible. For businesses needing a loan to expand, you will need to present a solid case (implementing all the above). Make a presentation folder with all the research and information we have covered at your consultation. The fact you have an industry consultant offering professional help and ongoing support may also help your case, keep to facts and figures.

Commercial premises
To rent premises and keep costs to a minimum, look for a position with good footfall, passing trade, ensure there is easy parking. Look at other retailers nearby, beauticians, hairdressers, fashion, jewellery shops, nice cafes. We will discuss length of lease, break clauses, how to negotiate rent and deposits and get the best deal for you. The premises need to be a reasonable size but not too big that you can’t handle the size of the shop without having to employ too many staff.

Before appointing a solicitor, check the lease yourself for any obvious items that could be removed before handing it to them to keep costs down. You should also negotiate a fixed fee with your solicitor for checking and amending a lease.

Credit/Debit card services
If you are a new business, you will need to offer credit-debit card services, if you are established the fees may be taking a large chunk of your profits if you are paying too much, we will supply you with a comparison template to ask questions and compare charges. There are so many hidden costs you may not find them alone.

New business owners and some established businesses believe they can go it alone, working 24/7. It is not recommended you try to operate the business single-handedly, you cannot concentrate on the bride in your showroom and potential brides if you’re not answering the phone, or the door is locked! Your priority is the next customer, employing the appropriate number of employees to help your business run smoothly, with minimal outlay could increase your sales potential.

Staff training
This area should be considered seriously for new bridal businesses or established businesses. Training is available to show your staff how to prepare a bride, fitting her into a dress not always her size, putting her hair up, fitting a headpiece and veil, a pair of shoes. you need to upsell. Staff will also need to know how to effectively close a sale, remember you have sales targets to meet, all covered at your consultation.

Selecting your suppliers
I will show you how to decide on the best designer collections and price points, making sure you are not replicating your competition. You need to consider your target market, pricing, styles, sizes, I will provide you with templates to help you make informed decisions.

Purchasing dress samples and accessories
How will you know what your wedding dress retail price should be to cover your overheads and make a profit? During the consultation, I will take you through this important process. Perhaps you think you should sell three dresses a week: is that three dresses at £600 each or three dresses at £1500? You need to reach your sales targets on a regular basis therefore it is not about how many dresses you sell, but actual cash flow. I will guide you through the complex process of selecting designers, appropriate price brackets for your specific business to help meet your sales targets.

Target your customer
Brides today are generally in their late twenties to early thirties, have a good income and will be looking for quality and service if buying from a retail outlet. They expect to be offered current designs by popular, well-known designers and will be prepared to pay for the right product at the right price. Other brides may look for more inexpensive dresses from department stores, on the internet or discontinued samples. These brides are not your target market so make sure you offer specifically what the designer bride is looking for.

Brides need to buy with confidence
Our members can offer brides £1,000 free bridal attire insurance plus a 60% reduction for additional insurance when purchasing their bridal attire giving them confidence when placing orders and having to pay a substantial deposit.

Sales targets
All businesses have sales targets, not just set so companies can make millions, but to cover overhead costs and make profits. You can’t just pluck a figure from the air; you need to run your business profitably and not fall into the trap of deciding not to take a wage for many months, perhaps even years. So how can you achieve these targets successfully? At the consultation, I offer realistic advice.

There are many risks involved if you don’t get it right, do you employ the dressmaker? Use an independent dress maker that visits your premises for fittings? Send the bride directly to the dress maker? All these options need lots of thought. The bride will want the best service available so I will cover all the possible situations and real problems that could arise, you can then make an informed decision.

Sales contract agreement
My terms and conditions have evolved over the years. It is essential that a bride knows and understands she is entering a contract with you. The contract will need to protect the bride and you the retailers. If you do not have an appropriate contract in place, all sorts of issues can occur, especially if a bride wants to cancel her order or wants to change the size of her dress after it has been ordered. A signed contract helps to avoid any possible discrepancies later.

There is a lot of buzz around social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram advertising, web sites on-line advertising also advertising in national bridal magazines, for exposure and brand awareness is an essential part of most businesses operations. Always stay within the allocated advertising budget we give you.

Make diary dates of all the trade exhibitions to avoid double booking. It is crucial that you attend trade exhibitions (for at least two days if possible) to support your suppliers and keep up with current trends. I can show you simple ways of how to keep stock books listing purchases and sales of each supplier to enable you to buy wisely. If you develop a good working relationship with your suppliers, there is a greater chance that you will create a successful business.

For an informal conversation about your new or existing business, additional information about benefits of membership and to become a member of the Bridal Retailers Network or The Bridal retailers action group, contact:

Jane Watson
07909 520247

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