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I need some valuable input.....as a Bridal Salon Owner...I am finding many brides want to take pictures of the wedding dresses they try on claiming they love them..price is right...have to show their MOM or fiance, but never return!

 

I am tempted to stop this practice completely unless they buy the dress..but I do not want to lose customers!

 

Any advice out there??????????Thank you, Cathy

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As a non-salon owner (and current bride myself), I would probably be upset if I couldn't take a picture of me in the dress to make a final decision...and being deterred from doing so would probably make the decision for me whether I would buy a dress at Salon X.  I imagine being allowed to take a photo in at least the favorite dress in the day supports the environment of excitement that you would want to nurture.

 

That said, as a business owner (photo), a few questions:

  • Are most of your brides walk-ins?  Do you require appointments to be set up (where maybe brides are more likely to have those important people with them if they need to schedule ahead)?
  • Do you find that the brides taking photos are the overwhelming majority of your business not making the final buy (or just an "easy target" for lower than expected sales)?
  • Do you follow up with the brides which try on dresses?  If so, what are the reasons they say they do or don't purchase through you?

Please allow me to ask you this question.

 

How would you feel, being a Professional Photographer, someone coming into your studio taking pictures of your display of your work?  Wouldn't that bother you at all?    You do have albums of your work..a portfolio showing what you have done....would you like Brides shopping around for Photographers(some are very expensive..but I find the quality and artistic value speaks for their work)taking pictures of your images in your portfolio?  It's the same thing...

 

In answer to your questions:

 

1.  I do take walk-ins(you can't turn away business..you never know who will buy..)most with important people with them, like Mom's, maid of Honor will schedule an appointment and usually make their decisions the same day)

 

2. The ones wanting to take pictures and we allow them to never return....! 

 

3.  Followups are always done no matter WHAT.  We always ask for feedback want to know why or why not they purchase.  We find they have a "back-up" dress already and are looking around for "something better".

 

Thanks for your input. Cathy

I do not think it is the same as someone photographing my samples...unless you are designing and creating the dresses yourself...I also see no reason to "turn down" walk-ins; it was a general question, and as you answered I expected that those with appointments aren't an issue.  (If after implementing a no-photo policy only makes a dent in the "I love it but will get back to you" crowd, it may be worth assessing the walk-in situation separately.)  I mentioned the appointments because that would solve the "I don't have so-and-so here" excuse; maybe there is another solution to that.  My limited experience so far with bridal salons unfortunately comes down to David's Bridal and the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress."  Perhaps there is some solution for the missing-important-people dilemma, like having a webcam available like on that show?  At the very least, it prevents them from having a static image to take with them to other shops, and it negates their obvious lie for why they "can't decide" on that day (as your feedback demonstrates that wasn't the real reason for lack of sale.)  That said, if the lack of sale is an issue with every single bride that photographs, there's no reason not to implement the policy.  If the ones who get upset with it are not in your target market anyway, problem solved.  You do need to protect your business, no question.

I  think "Davids Bridal caters to another Bridal Customer than what you find in exclusive Boutiques that sell Bridal and designer Social special Occasion.  You have to separate the customer who is budget minded from the one looking for "One of Kind" Bridal Gowns and social special occasion. However, both will have budgets!  I think "Yes to the Dress" is exaggerated ans somewhat staged and sets the wrong expectations for Brides looking for a dress which I think can be unrealistic.  I dont think Kleinfield allows pictures in their salon..that's why they have a program...it's great marketing for them if you can afford it.

 

 

This is a tough call. I just spoke with someone who had all her bridesmaids sized in the store only to go online and buy them from a discount site. I would assume many of the brides are doing this as well. I do remember when I got married 8 years ago, I was not able to take pictures in the dress until I purchased it. It was somewhat upsetting, but I still purchased my dress from them.

It sure is a tough call because the last thing you want is to "deter" a sale, however, most Salons I have shared this question have businesses in large cities with larger inventory and have been in business for years, and they have had a "no photo" policy implemented until the Bride/Bridesmaids/Mothers of the Occasion have actually bought the dresses years before "On-Line Competion" was present.  They now have resorted to 1 hour complimentary Appointments, and if it goes after that they charge X DOLLARS PER HOUR.  They are also taking your credit card number over the phone when an appointment is booked and charging X DOLLARS FOR "NO shows" and if the appointment isn't cancelled or rescheduled within 48 hours.  Some are just charging a fee to measure..as a PROFESSIONAL FEE.

I also have recently spoken with a reputable salon in a city close to me who takes evening appointments who spent several hours with a bride and her group trying, measuring sizing..offering discounts to only hoping to get the sale.  Later she found out they bought from another competitor

who undercut her prices by another 10%.  She had all the legwork done for her so allshe had to do was order the gowns!!

 

Most of the Brides I have sold to do not mind the "no photo" policy, but one or 2 get upset about it..but I really don't think those are the customers we want, and they are just shopping around getting ideas, maybe they are skilled seamstresses themselves and will have a relative make the dress for them....

 

Years ago you would get shown the door if you wanted to take pictures...it didn't even cross my mind when I bought mine as it was implanted in my memory!

 

I just think since we are Professionals there has to be a line drawn where our services have to be respected....

I think it also has to do with what "type" of bride you are marketing to. I think if you are targeting brides on a tighter budget this will happen more often.
I really don't think so because everyone is in a tight budget. It's been that way the last two years with the economic downturn. My brides come from all income brackets and globally.

It seems to me like something everyone might do.

Hi Sarah,

 

Thank you!!!! I agree with you 100%.  There are too many "lazy" people out there stealing ideas opening up stores.  I also am a designer and have a line of accessories I sell exclusively and often catch someone when their cell phone once they leak out they "sew" or made a "veil for their niece" trying to steal ideas.  Why don't they go online...and look?     Now-I am in your shoes-once I measure the client, spend 2 hours with them, and they place the order..then I will give them the illustrations with my dates and signature..I keep the original!!  This is the only way to beat the competition and remain exclusive to our trade and what we do best!

That seems fair.

I personally don't allow any customers to take any picture or catalog from my show as they get it stitched from their tailor. So hoard a strict board an let them know about them without need of speaking by you.

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