Feeling a bit down or a bit doubtful? Consider joining an industry association, says Wedding Trader’s Laura Daly who knows from experience the difference sharing views – and problems – can make
With another 12 months of bridal retailing nearly done, the appointments and fittings have slowed down, so there’s time to breathe a little more easily, take stock of the year that’s finishing, and decide on a strategy for the season ahead.
It sounds simple enough and, in theory, it should be, but even if the year went reasonably well, you’ll still wince as you vividly remember the occasional problem-bride, or problem-dress, or problem-alteration. Or maybe even a problem member of staff with problems of their own… Then, of course, there’s the prospect of a quiet December on the one hand, and a never-ending stream of huge bills on the other.
Bang goes that picture-perfect image you had in your head when you first started out. You know, the one of you sitting at a neatly organised desk, flicking your shiny, bouncy hair, writing Christmas cards, happily paying all the bills, and having money over for a holiday in Barbados. Instead, you’re more likely to be wondering if you could get away with going to bed now and not getting up until mid January.
If that’s you above in the pyjamas, maybe it’s time to consider joining one or more of our industry’s trade associations. Being part of something bigger and having access to chat forums and legal advice can really make a difference.
We all know that owning a bridal shop can sometimes be a lonely affair. When things go wrong or it all gets too much, who can you turn to? Whether you work on your own, or employ staff, it can be difficult to have an in-depth conversation to find the right solutions for your business, either with employees or with friends and family who aren’t in the industry. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to get into a negative mindset, but with the proper support, a way forward can often be found.
As the old adage goes, a problem shared is a problem halved and being part of a group of like-minded retailers makes perfect sense. Someone in that group will almost certainly have gone through whatever is troubling you and may be able to put your mind at rest; it can work the other way around too: your input and advice could be a lifesaver for someone else and, before you know it, another friendly acquaintance has been made. I know that I have formed some wonderful friendships this way.
Two very good groups to consider joining are the Retail Bridalwear Association (RBA) and the more-recently formed BrideCo. Between them, there’s something for virtually everyone, whatever shop size or period of trading.
The RBA is run by an elected committee made up from member shops, and members need to have been trading for at least five years, whilst BrideCo is run by a husband-and-wife team, who will accept well-run shops almost from their first year. Both groups have the common aim to raise standards within our industry whilst celebrating our own individual uniqueness.
The RBA is backed by the Retail Ombudsman and members can access free legal advice along with the most up-to-date terms and conditions possible. This can go a long way in helping you to stand your ground when dealing with challenging situations. For BrideCo members, there’s plenty of help in the areas of marketing and social media, which can be invaluable for your brand.
Each association runs its own Facebook chat page where friendly banter, celebrations of success, and general morale boosting run along side the more serious stuff.
These two groups have different criteria for entry, and differ in their membership benefits but, by joining the one that best suits your business, you’ll definitely be making a positive step forwards. You could even join both!
I can’t promise tidy desks, bouncy hair or holidays in Barbados, but I can promise that being part of something bigger feels good. Life is better when you’re smiling, so do it today.