Being able to alter a dress to provide the perfect fit is core to the service we retailers offer, but it is essential that brides appreciate that – and pay for it. Don’t undersell yourself, is the message from Laura Daly
Silly season is back. It’s that part of the year where we conveniently forget around November-time, only to find that it comes around to bite us on
the backside sometime in May. And it keeps nipping at our derrières until at least the end of September.
Anyone who offers a full service – including fittings – will know what I mean. This is the time of year when our kid gloves need to be at their softest, our diplomacy skills on world peace-level and our ability to magic ten inches into the hip of a fishtail gown is at its absolute best.
For me in my salon, offering and conducting top-notch gown fittings in-house is of paramount importance; it’s what helps set us apart from the competition and it goes a long way to cementing life-long bonds with our valued customers.
However, it’s also what can cause us bridal shop owners the most problems; heaven forbid if the dress doesn’t fit at the first attempt, and customer expectations haven’t been met from the get-go… We all know where that can lead!
Our seamstresses charge for the work they carry out, and our brides are happy to pay. They are happy because we drum it into them that alterations will have to be paid for; they understand that this lady with the magic fingers is going to work for hours – if not days – to fulfil her customers’ needs; and they understand this because we explain it to them.
The gown that will, if only for one day, make a bride feel like the most beautiful girl in the world is worth spending time and money on. It is everyone’s goal to have a happy bride.
The skills required to fit and alter a bridal gown are not something that can be learned overnight; they are acquired and fine-tuned over many
wedding seasons. Add in bespoke amendments – something that requires proper dressmaking and pattern-cutting skills as well, and we are talking about some seriously complicated work, here. All this skill comes at a cost, and someone somewhere has to pay for it – if you employ a seamstress, she will need paying. If you are able to do the alts yourself, then you need paying.
I firmly believe that the customer (unless she’s been informed and educated beforehand) won’t understand the complexity of the work involved. Maybe she’ll think she’s spent enough already and that any amendments should be covered by the price of the gown. Almost certainly she’ll have no innate appreciation of the time and skill involved in shaping her dream dress to fit like a glove.
I guess it’s easy to undervalue a service that we ourselves provide, but don’t be embarrassed to charge for your time and knowledge. I totally get the fact that for a one-man band shop owner (who also does their own alterations) the temptation to do this for free to swing the sale is huge. But seriously, is there any other profession on the planet that would require you to work for nothing? None of us have a magic wand in the back room that will do the work for us, so why undervalue ourselves and give away such an important part of our business without a second thought?
Ladies, if you are blessed with ‘sewing hands’ then make sure you profit from your skills – don’t chuck it all in with the sale of a gown. Once goods or a service are handed out for free, they no longer have a value to the customer, and it just helps perpetuate the myth that shops that do charge are ripping brides off. Make a stand, put a value on your time and don’t undersell yourself – you’re worth it!
What are your thoughts on this? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to join in the debate!