Every year, we have discussions on Mums, Inc about negotiators. It can be bothersome to deal with people who want to negotiate the price you charge for your work. In some cultures, haggling is considered good manners. Unless you are selling mums at a flea market or you live in Marrakech, you are likely not expecting to have to haggle and defend your pricing. Some folks just figure it won’t hurt to ask if you will take less or alter your design and thus get a lower price. I don’t want to spend too much time speculating on the “whys.” Let’s talk about ways to prevent negotiators from trying to talk you down in your prices.
What is pricing?
Pricing is the method by which a business has set the selling price of an item. It usually depends on the cost of goods that have gone into the item, “and on the customer’s perceived value of the product in comparison to his or her value of the competing products.” (Business dictionary)
“Perceived value is a customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her. It may have little to do with the market price and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.” (Business Dictionary) Did you all see the news item late last year where a fake, upscale shoe store was set up? They made up a name that sounded Italian, they brought in high end-looking fixtures and decorations. The shoes being sold were standard Payless Shoes. People were paying hundreds of dollars for shoes that were normally priced at $20. I am certainly not saying our mums are Payless quality. In fact, I would go so far as to say that ours are the real Italian deal. But how do you convey that fact in such a way that the customer decides your item is actually better than the fly-by-night mum seller? Because that’s what it comes down to, your mum is $100 and so-and-so is selling on the local Facebook group for $50. They don’t SEE the difference.
The New Word of Mouth
Traditionally, our business is spread by word of mouth. You build a reputation in your community. When Sally asks her neighbor, Susie where to get a mum? Susie tells her that you sell the best mums in town. Sally trusts Susie and buys your mum. She is blown away by your mum and buys from you the next three seasons and tells the new neighbors that moved in on the other side of her that your mums are the best. Actual word of mouth still works well.
But the times they have a-chang-ed. Sally is less likely to ever have spoken to her neighbor. When her kid tells her they need a mum, she Googles, she asks on Facebook or looks on Pinterest. This is the new word of mouth.
You need a web presence and I will never stop beating this drum. Yes, it takes time. Yes, there is a cost. It costs money to make money. It is part of doing business in the 21st century. Remember, we are talking about perceived value and convincing Sally that your mums are worth the price that you are asking. You convey value with good photos and words that convince your potential customer that they are getting the best mum that money can buy.
I had a customer pull into my driveway last Fall in a fancy car, carrying a handbag that cost more then my entire wardrobe. She bought the big mum and upgraded everything. She was buying for a school that I never marketed to, so I asked “How did you find me?” She told me that she Googled, went back and forth between several sites and told me, “Your photos were professional quality and your website was easy to use.” I almost did a happy dance in front of her. In fact, I am sure I said something like, “YAY!!” Y’all, I use my iPhone to take photos. I use the cheapest website out there. But I spend a TON of time during the off season learning all about selling on the internet. It’s really important!
This relates to having a convincing web presence. By clear pricing, I mean post your prices. Have a list. If you have brochures or counter cards printed, say, “Garters starting at $XX, etc” If you are only selling on Facebook, make a graphic on Canva.com with a list. And by all means, if you have a website, post your prices. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I never have people haggle with me.
Last year, I was talking to one of my best customers about changes I was making to my business. She and her husband are also business owners. She told me, “Offer packages, you’ll sell more.” So I did and I do. Our fearless leader encourages package pricing in her teaching, as well.
I am totally speculating and assuming here. I think many mum makers are still selling mums the way that traditional florists did. They have customers come in and pick each and every trinket and ribbon, which each have a price. At the end of the session, everyone is shocked by how quickly it all added up. Package pricing will help reduce sticker shock and in turn, negotiating. Have a set price for your basic mum. Within that base price, include a set number and type of braids, number of trinkets or whatever you are willing to include. Then, offer your upgrade packages such as custom cuts, specialty ribbon, bling, etc.
Just say NO.
Sometimes we are afraid to say “no.” (Not everyone, certainly. But I know it has been a struggle for me, in the past.) We think if we tell a potential customer “no” then we’ll lose the sale and be stuck with inventory and not make the money we were hoping to make. Listen, if you devalue your work by letting customers talk you down, you are losing money, anyway. And frankly, you are hurting all the other professional mum makers. It is ok to say no, every customer is not your customer. A customer that only wants to pay $20 for a garter will find someone else to make it, let that person lose money. You go after the customer that will pay what you are asking. How do you do that? Reread this article.
Listen, I know this has been long. I appreciate you reading to the end. Y’all be blessed and have the best mum season ever. I am here to help you in whatever way I can. #Bettertogether
Christy Bryson, owner Central Texas Spirit Wear