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OK, floralpreneurs…..can I get real for a minute?

I LOVE being a floral designer. Love it. It was my first job, it’s been my only real job for 24 years!….but the reality of the environmental impacts of floristry are pretty ugly.

From the pesticides that growers and florists are exposed to, to the monocultures that produce them, to the plastic packaging, to the transportation and distribution, to the preservatives added to the water to extend longevity, to the floral foam, to the “waste”….well, this is all “less than pretty”.

So what can we do to be more eco-friendly in our business?

Let’s pledge to do more this year with a Go Greener Challenge!…You in? Even if you’re not 100% green, what can you do to get 1 or 2 or 3 steps closer to green-er?

I came up with 8 super easy steps to get us started…..

1. Eliminate or reduce the amount of floral foam you’ll use this year.

#nofloralfoam has support on Instagram….it’s not just good for the environment to be eco-friendly, it’s also very fashionable.

You can sell your “no foam” approach as a positive.

“I cannot make that design as I would in foam, but here’s what we can do instead to create something beautiful without the green stuff.”

Ariella Chezar is all for the no floral foam approach. Chickenwire, waterproof florist tape and armatures are used in its stead. I attended a workshop with Ariella recently where she was using my friend, Holly Chapple’s, new plastic “egg” or “pillow” which are both now available from Syndicate Sales. It’s an amazing alternative to foam and it’s incredibly versatile. Give it a try; you’ll dig it.

2. Buy locally grown flowers.

If you buy locally grown flowers (particularly organically grown!) you’re supporting a local source and voting for the environment with your dollars.

Check out Debra Prizing’s Slow Flowers movement!

3. Shop local.

Shopping local is a huge priority for my business. I will pay more for something from a business that’s owned and operated in my state because source matters to me. Whether it’s organic or a purchase from my wholesaler, location matters.

Maybe you can get it shipped directly for less….or maybe it’s worth supporting your local supplier!

4. Don’t waste water.

Turn off the sink instead of letting the water run when you’re washing or filling buckets, fix that leaky faucet, reuse water from buckets instead of “just dumping it” once a bucket is empty if it’s only a day old, take any small step toward conservation.

5. Compost.

I know this is required in some regions and that’s the way it should be! Compost your organic waste. I have a compost pile that’s just for my “business waste”; this pile will not be used on the garden as I’m not exactly sure what pesticides the flowers may have been treated with when they were grown. So I’ll compost them, but I won’t spread it around the yard.

6. Drop a product.

Is there a preservative you use to process your flowers that you can do without? Is there 1 chemical you can drop? Even a more earth-friendly cleaning product for your shop is a step in the right direction.

7. Don’t do “not eco-friendly stuff” just because the client wants it!

Just think about the environmental impact when people release balloons or light those paper lanterns that were popular until people started seeing the impact on wildlife…if you’re working on a gig make sure it meets an ethical environmental standard that aligns with your vision.

8. Repurpose leftovers instead of tossing them at the end of the week/event.

It’s going to take work and time….and time is money….but if you can reduce your loss and turn the flowers you pick up from an event or consider your “loss or overage” for the week into a giveaway/windfall in your local community, that’s its own form of being more mindful and repurposing what you have. (Small steps count….think The Lonely Bouquet, for example.)

It’s not easy being a green florist…

I know that it’s hard to consider yourself “environmentally friendly” if you work in the floristry trade…unless you’re an organic grower and you don’t use any chemicals or pesticides, in which case you’re making huge strides as an eco-friendly florist!…..but for those of us who are “more traditional florists” when it comes to sourcing and methods, we can still take steps to lower our impact once the flowers reach our doorstep. That is always my goal, but I realize I can do even better and try even harder to be more eco-friendly. Maybe you can find ways to take steps to be greener, too.

Leave a comment below (scroll down!) if you want to take the Go Greener Challenge with me! 

Let’s see what we can do. Today, tomorrow, all year long.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day, y’all.

With love from me to you,

Alison

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It doesn’t matter if your favorite blog is closing because you are a maker.

And you will make more. You will keep on making until you’re done. Because that’s what makers do.

We design because we love this work.

We take classes and seek out inspiration from other florists we admire because we love to do this work really well.

It cannot be the end of your marketing plan if your favorite blog closes its doors.

It’s OK to miss it….a lot of people who’ve been devoted fans for many years may miss it.

But you are a maker. You’re the one who makes the content that beautiful blogs want to share. You’ll make more. And more….and more.

Remember: The only thing you own online is your own website!

It’s the only thing you truly control. Instagram, Facebook, just like your favorite blog, can disappear, too, so what’s your plan for when that happens? Where will your best stuff be then?

On your own website, floralpreneurs. That’s where you want to shine.

What to do now: Instead of simply moving those ad-dollars to another online platform, re-invest back into your own business!

Put that ad budget into a website upgrade, take an online course….or attend a workshop….or take the funds and give yourself a raise.

You are your own best representative for your business. You have the power to get that SEO all on your own. The power is in your hands (and inside your computer….aka on your website!).

Keep doing beautiful work!

With love from me to you,

Alison

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This video is in response to a burning question I received: How do you handle stamina and burnout?

Short answer: The struggle is real!

Every florist who puts their heart and soul into their work MUST confront the stressful-side of this business.

Do you struggle with burnout and stress in your business?

Do you ever wonder, “how long can I keep up this pace?”

Busy is great, but too busy is NOT always great.

One floralpreneur wrote in to comment, “My business is growing, but I feel like I’m drowning….”

Sound familiar? Yeah, me, too. But if you LOVE working with flowers and creating wedding designs and making dreams come true…..well, stress comes with the territory.

Click to watch a replay of my live chat from my Facebook group:

Note: About 28 minutes into this live chat I share some details about my $15,000 weekend…..was it worth it?

On Stamina & Burnout: Alison Ellis Live on 11-10-17 - Vimeo

The pressure can be scary and you’re not imagining the extreme pressure involved in being a florist.

The stress level relates to your resources.

You may not have enough work space, or enough help, or enough work!…..

We must be willing to adapt. It takes a special kind of person to handle the responsibility and some people are not cut out for the stress.

BUT if you’re willing to “do what it takes” you can succeed. You set the goals for your biz.

I started my floral design business out of necessity. I lost my job and knew I had to find my own work from that point on.

This may be “one of your professions” or it may be your only profession, like me!….I’m a lifer.

Profitable, successful, happy, loving my business…those are my goals. If your business is making you miserable, something’s gotta change!

5 Tips to combat stress and burnout:
  1. Stop comparing. Don’t get jealous.
  2. Plan better. What are the steps you need to take.
  3. Set expectations for the client so it’s clear what the relation ship; when have you delivered what you promised?
  4. Follow through. Meet expectations. That’s your job. Stamina is related to the follow though. You’ve gotta love it enough to always follow through. Making enough money helps to justify the stress level by the way! You’re getting paid for everything leading up to the wedding day, too, not just the flowers!
  5. Have faith. “Faith is experiential.” The more experience, the easier it is to wade through the stress and burnout of uncertainty.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by stress, especially when you’re newer to the biz….

But stress and overwhelm isn’t reserved for “newbies”….even experienced florists feel the weight.

When the calendar’s not booked, it’s stressful!

If you can draw upon experience, you can maintain faith–

not blind faith–faith with a plan.

How can you make space for more stamina?

I don’t want to burnout.

I’m in this for life!

Experience (faith) helps me plan and “do better”.

We don’t have to get to a place where we’re uncomfortable.

We can say NO!

If you’re not stress, you don’t care enough.

We must be willing to make changes–

We must break bad habits.

Sometimes we create our own stress. As business owners, we must embrace it.

You may need to hone in and weed-out clients who aren’t a good fit.

Customer service can also prequalify.

It’s hard to say No…..check out my e-mail templates.

A business person doesn’t let their time get wasted.

No one promised we’d have enough time to be a mom and an entrepreneur.

It can be hard to find time for self care.

Sometimes we need to just slow down.

Pieces of our “dream life” won’t be easy, but there’s got to be a light/worth-it side, too.

Identify something that you can accept help with!

It’s only natural.

There’s an ebb and flow in business and in life.

Sometimes we need to schedule and plan for some slower time.

The rush and adrenaline and thrill of delivering a bridal bouquet and putting it in the hands of a happy client, that’s what it’s all about.

Thanks for reading and taking some time to watch!

My templates and courses are all designed to help you reduce your stress and uncertainty.

Join my FREE Facebook group here:

A post shared by Alison Ellis (@floralartvt) on Jul 25, 2017 at 6:03am PDT

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Hey, floralpreneurs!

Have you ever wired a succulent for a bouquet? There are multiple ways to do this, I’m sure, but this is how I do it.

If you’ve never tried it before, I have a quick photo tutorial for you.

First, I insert one of those green, wooden florist picks into the base of the succulent. You will most likely have to remove a few of the bottom leaves from the succulent in order to grasp the super short stem. After I insert the pick, I add a wire, just as you would to a boutonniere, to secure the succulent to the pick.

Then, tape it up, just like a boutonniere or a corsage.

Next, in order to add length to the succulent, I tape it to another stem. I usually use a discarded rose stem or in this case the stem of a mum. Tip: Always make sure the stem is facing the right way before you start to tape. You don’t want upside down rose stems in your bouquet….keep it fresh & profesh. Stems should be oriented in the right direction.

Here’s one of the best “taping tips” I ever learned: when you have something (like a succulent) that’s hard to grasp because it lacks a proper stem length, you can start the tape a little lower on the stem, and first wrap your tape up the stem, then tape back down again to secure the stem and cover the wire. This is particularly useful when taping foliage by the way such as seeded eucalyptus or anything you add a hairpin wire to for a bout or corsage. By first taping up, you can cover that little bit of wire that you may not have covered the first time around.

Here is the final result. The stem allows me to disguise the mechanics of the wire and also counterbalances the weight of the succulent. (You also won’t have to trim wires in the middle of the bouquet when it comes time to finish it! The wires are already dealt with in this step.)

Here’s what it looks like in the bouquet…

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip! Keep doing beautiful work, floralpreneurs!

With love from me to you,

Alison

Have you tried one of my free courses? Check out a full list of free offerings here!
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After 16 years of running a solo-business venture I can say with certainty that there’s no such thing as a “small wedding”. Allow me elaborate….

Yes, there are “large weddings” and “crazy huge weddings” and “regular weddings” and there are weddings that are “not huge”, but small?…..now, “small” is something that’s hard to come by as a florist.

There’s a certain amount of work that goes into the planning process, even for a “small wedding”, which is virtually identical to the investment of time, creativity, mental space and administrative tasks as required for weddings 2-3x their size.

I hear floralpreneurs say “this is ‘just an order for bouquets’….why is this order turning into so much trouble?!…why does this client want to meet with me again?”….and believe me, I get it! If it’s a small-er order, florists sometimes feel that the client should just relax already!….because we do work that’s WAY more elaborate than this…..we’ve got you covered!

But there’s one very important flaw in this thinking; it requires that the client already trusts you.

It presumes that the client values you and your time and your art.

Even a very small wedding is a really big deal to the client…and as a florist it’s your job to give the same level of time and attention that you promise to all your customers if you’re going to build a consistent brand experience.

If a smaller gig gets a different service agreement, then define it. Let the client know the steps so they can work with you with ease. “If your wedding falls below our minimum we…..” (fill in the blank)

Do you require pick-up if they don’t meet your minimum? Do you only meet once? Meet twice? Include a mock-up? No mock-up, no delivery, no meeting? What are your rules? There’s no right answer. You choose the answer that jives with your brand.

What sort of customer service do you provide? What promises do you make to your customers? What’s not included?

If I promise personalized customer service (which I do), then I can’t offer sub-par service to clients who spend “only a small amount” on an event. I can’t say, “I provide outstanding customer service, unless you fall below X-amount in which case the service level decreases….” that’s not how I roll. That’s not what my brand is about.

As it turns out, even a “small wedding order” requires the same base-level of detail and professionalism as a larger one. If the clients were good enough to book, they’re good enough to wow.

Charge what you’re worth and even your smaller gigs can be worth your time & effort!

Keep doing beautiful work!

With love from me to you,

Alison

Need some pricing tips?

Check out my FREE course, 4 Pricing Mistakes Florists Make (click here to get it!).

Can a girl get some feedback?

Have you tried one of my courses? I’d love to hear your feedback and possibly quote you for a testimonial on my website. Click here to share your experience with a Real Flower Business Course. Even if you’ve only tried a FREE course, I want to know what you think of the content. I appreciate your time and input.

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Hey floralpreneurs!

I’ve seen an influx of florists asking about “ghosting” in my Facebook group. Particularly the question, “What can I do to fix this?”

If you, too, are experiencing customers who “disappear” without a word, check out today’s video where I talk about 2 reasons this may be happening plus 4 tips to help you correct this problem in my live chat on “Closing the sale”.

Click to watch if you’re getting ghosted:

Closing the sale - Vimeo

Find a list of downloadable pdfs HERE.

The slow fade.

Every florist can relate to your frustration when a customer just walks away! You’re not alone.

At this point in my business I have an excellent pre-qualification process. I think instead of just “weeding out” price shoppers, prequalification serves as a form of “customer service” by letting potential clients know some important details before we move forward:

#1. My requested minimum for THEIR event (if it’s further away, the minimum is more, for example, if there are 8 bridesmaids, it’s more than if you have 2 bridesmaids, etc.),

#2. That our first contact is via phone consultation,

#3. I will provide them some preliminary details and a quote and THEN THEY CAN BOOK OR NOT, but we’re not going further down this road (with multiple revisions, meetings, etc.) unless we’re on the same page at this point regarding price, style and trust….and a deposit.

Now, that said, I really do feel your pain; it’s not easy to “start from scratch” each season as we do in the wedding industry. No “repeat business” from last year’s couples makes what we do in the wedding biz very uniquely, stressful and we must be resilient when faced with rejection. Which is easier said than done sometimes.

But here’s how I see it, anyone who’s price shopping and doesn’t choose you, is a GOOD loss. You don’t want that customer….OK, maybe you just need “any customers” at some point, but in the long run, the price shopper isn’t a “type of customer” you can truly try to court and make loyal to you/your brand.

Your ideal customer (not necessarily “high-end” or “luxury customers”, but YOUR customers, the ones who want the work that you enjoy doing!) have to “find you” because you show up for them in a way that’s clear and obvious to them.

As I always say, we have to speak directly to their hearts so they can find us….and what happens on the flip-side is that these price shoppers start to realize that we are not talking to them.

They “weed themselves out” because they can feel your honesty, your quality, your vibe, and they want you. Not “just anyone”.

You’re not “the cheapest”; you have something more to give…and they feel that.

Your businesses depends upon understanding what your customers need, then, you serve it up on a silver platter, and if it’s “not for them”, they know it…..just as much as we do.

But for your ideal clients, the clients who LOVE you and are excited to work with you, THEY GET IT. They get you. They want what you do. They don’t need convincing because you’ve already shown them WHO YOU ARE.

This is the work I do on-the-daily….and what I teach in The Art of Good Business….and it IS a long game…..

But it was only a few years ago when I was “doing my art of good biz work” and I was just not booking as many weddings as I needed. And I was bummed. And kinda stunned. ‘Cause I was working SO HARD. And putting SO MUCH out there…..yet a friend of mine who wasn’t “doing all the things” and wasn’t trying so hard, well, she was booking GREAT gigs, easily…..her customers loved her. And I was at the same junction you seem to be now; “WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?”

“Oh nothing”, my friend assured me. “You’re great. You’re doing everything right”…..but I insisted, “No. You’re booking. I’m not. I’m working hard to express myself (blogging, revamped website, and doing some of my best design work), but I must be doing something wrong.”

So I used this “less than busy enough” time to “do even more work” and in the end, the season was “OK, not great”…..BUT THE NEXT YEAR was my BEST season yet. The season after that, even better, Last year, best so far…..

That season I was down, well, I lost my mojo or my vibe was not jiving with the clients I wanted or I was trying too hard….because despite my best efforts, and I mean really, deep rooted best efforts, people weren’t digging me.

All this is to say, you’re smart to ask “What can I do to fix this?” Because it is up to you to fix everything around here! This is your dream, your biz, your struggle….and your ideal customer to attract and wow and attract again, and again, and again.

Keep working. Keep looking for holes, clues, signs, signals, mis-communications that you can fix.

Keeping the faith in the off-season is hard when we’re not booking. Keep moving forward.

Keep doing beautiful work.

xo. -Alison

Definition of ‘Ghosted’ (via Huffington Post).

The term “ghosting“ (sometimes known as the “slow fade”) refers to the anecdotally pervasive act where one dater ends a relationship by simply disappearing. The ghost does not give an explanation of any sort, leaving the ghosted wondering where he or she went wrong.

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Have you blogged lately?
If you’ve been participating in my January Blog Challenge I want to say thank you for joining me! If you’ve taken some action I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an e-mail at floralartvt@gmail.com and let me know what you’re up to...
This is the final week of the live challenge!

If you haven’t had a chance to join yet Click HERE to get in my FREE Pop-Up Group on Facebook to participate!

I’ll be LIVE at 12pm EST on Tuesday, Jan. 30th for Week 4 of the Blog Challenge!
You don’t need to have a blog yet to sign up!
Remember:
Building an awesome website is an ongoing journey.
Our website is our online storefront.
It’s our first impression.
It tells our story.
(It’s a little piece of our heart.)
And it’s never “done”.
But sharing that piece of our heart can be intimidating.
In fact, it can be so intimidating that some people can’t push through the fear.
And the fear holds them back.
So they can’t shine;
they can’t truly “be their best brand”….because no one can actually see how good they are.
So these brands remain hidden. Their uniqueness is kept a secret.
But we cannot keep our awesome qualities hidden if we want to work with more awesome clients.
We have to show our ideal customers who we are so they can find us.
On Fear & Creativity…
Whether you push through fear on the daily, or sometimes you find that fear holds you backClick HERE to watch “On Fear & Creativity”; a behind-the-scenes livestream from my private Facebook group for my course, The Art of Good Business.

These are the final days to sign up for The Art of Good Business.

Enrollment is open until midnight (EST) Jan.31 and re-opens Mar. 1-31.

If you like my website tips and enjoy this blog challenge, I’d be honored to have you to Join me!

Click here for details on the course (and even check out a free sample preview of the course).

A note from Jessica Ormond to the paid members of our private Facebook group:

“Hey everyone! I just have to say this course, Alison’s content works! If you are dragging your feet in applying the materials, just do it! Do whatever little piece you can fit in during wedding season…here’s my story …

I still have website tweaks to make but my ideal client is more clearly defined, I’ve mostly reworked my web copy, have been better about blogging, and more intentional about how I talk to my followers on social media posts.

…just booked as my biggest gig yet, by $3k….”

Read more of Jessica’s results from the course HERE.

 
More from Alison…
I help florists create engaging websites, find ideal clients and build long-lasting brands.
If you’re not sure if one of my courses is right for you please feel free to e-mail me anytime.
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.
With love from me to you,
Alison
Get in touch: floralartvt@gmail.com

Try a free course! CLICK HERE.

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How do you prequalify clients?

It took me several years of building my floral design business before I felt like I finally started to hone in on my pre-qualification process.

Not every customer can be my customer.

OK, I’d heard that before, but I really, really wanted more customers! How was I supposed to ignore perfectly decent customers in pursuit of only the right ones? (This felt risky.)

Well, it wasn’t “easy” and it did take some practice, but I spent the new few years zeroing-in on the clients that I really wanted to work with and soon, I had a calendar that was 90% filled with “my ideal customers”.

(OK, I totally made up that number….maybe it was 88%?….maybe 95%….I didn’t do the math, but my customers rocked. I was psyched with almost every single client.)

It took me years, but now I understand that attracting the right customers to my business is not about mass appeal; it’s about niche appeal.

So what’s unique about you?

That’s what’s marketable about you/your brand.

If we want to attract “better gigs”, we must show our ideal customers who we are.

Click to watch: Prequalifying Clients, Live from Facebook.

Prequalifying Customers Live! Jan 2 - Vimeo

Prequalifying is a form of customer service.

Save yourself time and save clients time, too, by identifying early-on that you’re just not the right fit.

Make prequalifying part of your workflow.

Successful business owners don’t waste time in unnecessary meetings.

CEO’s say No to things that don’t fit the vision.

Prequalify.

We must be in love with our brand if we want customers to love it, too.

I know so much about my potential clients, even the ones who don’t book me, because their inquiry forms tell me a lot of important details about who they are….beyond just “we’re planning a wedding”.

My pre-qualification process feels like customer service.

It’s worth taking the time to get to know my ideal clients so I can more easily attract them AND more easily identify the clients who won’t be “ideal” for my company.

Remember: Ideal customers don’t need convincing. They already dig you.

Thanks to reading & watching!

With love from me to you,

Alison

Click for more: What I’m obsessed with in my business right now.
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When you own your own business, you’re “the decider”. It’s up to us, as floralpreneurs, to set the rules and boundaries for our small businesses; we say who, we say when, we say how much.

I didn’t have a minimum when I started out….I was new! I couldn’t turn any business away.

As time went on and I had more wedding inquiries than I had dates available, well, I had to set some minimum standards to ensure my profit margins.

We are the choreographers of customer service in our small business!

 Communicating your minimum can feel like customer service. Clients need to know “how this works” and by explaining the steps to our potential clients, we’re teaching them what it’s like to dance with us.

Here’s why florists need to set a minimum and how I approach the “minimum spend” at this point in my biz:

Why you need to set a Minimum - YouTube

What if a client’s budget isn’t realistic? Click HERE to read more.

The Takeaway

This is your business and you set the rules.

At a certain point we need to implement standards so we can continue to grow.

Florists can’t be afraid to talk about budget with our customers.

When’s the last time you bought something and had absolutely no idea what you were going to spend?

Your customers aren’t coming to you with zero idea about what they’re willing to spend or what feels do-able for them.

Show them the steps so they can dance with you!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and watch.

xo. -A

Do you update your own website? (me, too!) Click HERE to get my FREE Website Tips for Florists.
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When I asked florists what they most wanted to learn in the upcoming year, the #1 answer was “pricing”. One of the most frequent pricing questions I’ve received over the years is on rentals; precisely, “How do you charge for rentals?”…..

You’ll find multiple methods for charging for rentals, but here’s how I do it and why! Click to watch:

How do you charge for Rentals? - YouTube

Rentals can be a smart income stream for your business. If you find that your clients are most-interested in renting vs. buying centerpiece vessels, then offering items for rent is one way to fill a need for your clients.

If you tend to work with clients who want to “own everything” and feel free to give flowers away at the end of the evening or re-use them for brunch, etc., then perhaps you don’t rent as many centerpiece containers, but you have some “other feature pieces” that you can rent over and over again.

It can be difficult to speculate on “what people will want” (for years and years to come….), which is why you want to start with practical rental items. (see below!)

You must consider your storage space as well. For example, if you have to rent a storage unit, do you *really* need the expense involved in storing those rental items?

Start with a few practical rental items:

2 Large fiberglass urns for ceremony/altar,

65-100 Mercury glass votives,

10-12 Lanterns (for centerpieces or to light a pathway),

Signage, table numbers, place card holders,

3-4′ columns or pillars for ceremony arrangements,

Various centerpiece vessels,

Chuppah or arbor structure(s).

Remember: Styles come and go. Don’t go “all-in” with something that’s not particularly versatile!

Pro-tip: Sometimes rentals “walk away”. Make sure you have a clear rental agreement that covers a deposit for damage, loss, etc. Every contract requires a meeting of the minds; make sure your client knows how you will bill for lost or damaged items.

Thanks for taking the time to tune in and watch.

With love from me to you,

Alison

More FREE Resources:

Do you need a pricing guide on your website? Click HERE to find out.

Do customers think your prices are too low? Click HERE for more.

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