Attire Bridal - Apr/Mar 2020 (Issue 76)

98 Global Bridal Brands’ Maria Ryan on making sure your bridal boutique ‘rules’ don’t have an impact on your sales “I know that some boutiques ask brides not to use fake tan or wear make-up for their appointment, however, this could be such an important part of your bride’s personality that it could put her off” LAYING DOWN THE LAW The bridal industry is very different to any other – the products we supply, the way we work, and the emotional aspect of the purchase is all very unique. As a retailer we fill our beautifully-decorated boutiques with gorgeous designer gowns, provide our customers with delicious refreshments and frequently spend hours upon hours on end with them, offering free styling advice, all the while helping them to find the perfect cut for their body and supporting them in fulfilling their dream wedding day. Then, after all this hard work, we hope that they actually end up buying the dress! Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they come along to play dress up and have multiple visits that take up hours of our time, and often they bring various people at different times to see them in a design. When I had my boutique, my personal and favourite scenario would go something like this: Bride: “Can I bring my neighbour along with me next time?” Me: “Of course you can! Are you two close? Is she coming to the wedding?” Bride: “No, but she’s watched me grow up.” Me (in my head): “So has the rest of the street! Should I expect them too?” When they still don’t buy anything this will drive any self-respecting boutique owner absolutely potty, and it can lead to us looking at setting boundaries within our boutique so that we feel we are not being taken advantage of. Only this week I saw on one forum a boutique owner struggling with what to do, as a bride had visited her five times so far – seemingly with no intention of buying – and now wanted to come by again! The advice other boutiques offered in the comments was really useful, some suggesting a fee for a third appointment (and any thereafter), that would then be redeemable off the dress she eventually chose – a great idea. HOW FAR IS TOO FAR? It’s very important to have boundaries that protect your boutique and your products, but can this sometimes go too far, considering how today’s bride expects to be able to shop for her wedding gown. I think it is important to remember that brides today are used to being able to order something from Amazon Prime and

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