My article in the Bridal Design Issue of
Canadian Florist Magazine
Helping your customers make decisions they feel good about, is a simple and cost effective way to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. That quickly translates into satisfied customers and a growing business.
Feeling good about a decision becomes progressively more difficult, the more decisions you have to make. We have all experienced that exhilarating moment you receive a new brief or schedule for a fun and exciting design.
So much you can do, and so many options! Soon you are feverishly scribbling down ideas, and ideas that expand on ideas, and a few ideas that might just be fun even though it is not quite what was envisioned to begin with. Before long you have so many options that it is impossible to decide what will work best. Even small decisions become really hard to make. Left unchecked you can end up losing that initial enthusiasm and energy, doing the minimum because it is "just another arrangement."
Decision fatigue causes you to become so flabbergasted by the possibilities that it becomes difficult to make a simple choice. Consider a bridal couple standing in front of an extremely creative designer, such as yourself, listening to all those options. Soon they are not sure of anything anymore. They wanted peonies but now the idea of parrot tulips sounds great as well. The happy and animated couple that walked into your design room, are now overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion.
The best way to avoid decision fatigue is to limit the number of decisions to only a handful of important ones.
The following hints will help you do exactly that, while allowing you to still explore all the available creative options, and offer the best possible solution.
Listen carefully when you first meet the couple
Language is vital to set the tone of what exactly is required. Listen carefully for words like "vintage" or "contemporary", "country style" or "high style," and clarify what exactly is meant. Refer to pictures of design style examples from the couple's scrapbook, your own portfolio, pin-board or magazines such as The Canadian Florist. My idea of "contemporary" or "frost pink" might be vastly different than yours. Once you are sure of the general expectations, focus your imagination to design something amazing that was described by them and would suit their vision, without asking them to make a single decision.
Ask context appropriate questions, without complicating the issue.
Sometimes it is important to leave some room for unavoidable substitutions of certain design elements that might not be available at the time of the function, but avoid showing more options once a decision is made. As designers we are enthusiastic about the range of twigs we can incorporate into a design, but to non-designers a lengthy explanation of the difference between contorted hazel and curly willow is just unnecessary and confusing.
Do not ignore obvious restrictions
Introducing unsuitable options wastes precious decision making energy. It is a waste to discuss how lovely a candle design will look, if the venue will not allow any burning candles. If your bridal couple really dislikes something, let it go. No matter how much you adore designing with it, or how trendy it is, or how far it would stretch their budged. The same holds true if you are really not in line with their vision, in which case it is preferable to refer them to a designer that will be a better match.
Cultivate relationships with a few other designers in the area with different styles. You can refer clients to them and they can do the same in return.
Be mindful of the time of day
People have a greater tolerance for decision making early in the day. Limit decision making even further if your appointment is in the afternoon, because by then the couple most likely have had to make hundreds of decisions. It is always a good idea to ask the couple if they have energy to make the decision now. Acknowledging the energy required for a decision can often rejuvenate someone, and help them to feel better about their decisions.
Evaluate your notes and dissect your plan
Get creative once you have a clear idea of what is expected of you. Develop your ideas to make them inspired and uniquely "you" but still within the project boundaries.
A single great idea in a design is often enough. Develop your technique to perfection and focus on the execution to avoid over working the design, especially if it is a particularly fun project making it irresistible to work on it for "just a bit longer."
There is a fine line between offering a bride and groom a variety of creative options and overwhelming them completely to the point of exhaustion. Be kind to your customers, and limit the number of decisions they have to make.
Thank you Canadian Florist Magazine for inviting me to be part of your Bridal issue. It is an inspirational resource for all Florists. Have a look at the on-line magazine