Inspired Retreat

 Anna filly photography

Anna filly photography

As many of you know, I had the tremendous opportunity to attend Amber Housley’s Inspired Retreat a couple weeks ago. The impact it had on me and my business has been transformational, but not exactly in the ways I expected. Watch the video below for a taste of what this amazing experience was like.

Videos by the wonderful Kasey Walker of Point200

Over the past several months, I’ve been on a crazy, wild, and exciting ride in my business, but I’ve been feeling like there’s no way for me to get off. Isn’t it funny that the times when we feel that we can’t pull ourselves away are the times when we need to pull away the most?

Before I left for the retreat, I was finding myself in a constant state of overwhelm nearly every single day. I found myself overindulging in foods that aren’t great for me, distracting myself scrolling on Instagram, and drowning myself in work that was counterproductive. I felt like I was running from meeting to meeting and not using the time I had to the best of my ability - can you relate? Honestly, I was failing miserably at following my own words of advice.

Life is busy. There’s no way around it. Because of the nature of my work, it’s always going to be busy. And I know that most of us are right in the middle of our busy season right now. Running constantly and trying to do TOO MUCH, we get weary. And when we’re weary and beat down, we start to wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing. I know that before the retreat, I failed to take time to take stock and ask myself the questions we all NEED to be asking ourselves.

 Anna Filly Photography

Anna Filly Photography

“How am I doing?”

“What am I doing with my life?”

“Is there anything that needs to change?”

“Where is my career going, and where do I WANT it to go?”

These were the questions I was able to finally answer during my time at the retreat.

Attending Inspired Retreat has put me in the state of mind that I desperately needed. To STOP running and consistently keep working to ground myself and find my center instead.

What I’ve realized is that although Modern Day is blessed with the most amazing and wonderful clients, at the end of the day, I can only do so much, and I have to trust that everything is going to get done. I have to remember that it’s not just me. I have a team in place to back me up for this exact reason, so I am going to trust that and allow myself to step back and practice inner peace instead.

What Inspired Retreat Taught Me

Inspired Retreat helped me realize that I have to slow down, take a deep breath, and go back to basics.

 Anna Filly Photography

Anna Filly Photography

I was forced to stop, take count and really connect with the other women that were there. Amber truly creates the most loving and open experience, far beyond any retreat I’ve ever been to. I could walk up to anyone in that group and strike up a conversation and feel totally comfortable and at home. I’ve attended a lot of retreats and conferences, and they’ve all had great qualities, but the Inspired Retreat was special.

Amber has a way of creating such an open environment, and all of the people there were incredibly warm, open, and easy to be around. The retreat spot was located outside of Nashville, nestled in the woods and secluded enough to feel like a true escape. Spending time in nature for those 4 days with no outside distractions really allowed my mind to slow down and get back to basics and those questions that are truly important. It was a reminder that we have to continue to battle the busy and fight to give ourselves the time to step away and have experiences like this.

The things that I learned from Inspired Retreat was to really to slow down, take stock, assess where you’re going, and regroup, so you can be the best version of yourself.

Of course, the classes and sessions were phenomenal. It was a true immersion in a safe and open environment of growth and learning.

One of the biggest things I took away from the retreat were the friendships that were created. You all know that I’m big on connection, but having the opportunity to connect with other women, not just in the wedding business space, but in several different entrepreneurial fields. Sometimes what we really need is to get out of our own circles for a bit and surround ourselves with other people who are looking to share and soak up inspiration.

Here are three things I learned through the experience of Inspired Retreat that I’m going to start practicing to keep myself grounded and prioritize my inner peace.

  1. I’m staying off social media first thing in the morning - Facebook, Instagram, everything. Instead, I’m going to try and go out in nature and allow myself to be free of those distractions even for just 10-15 minutes before I fully start my day.

  2. I plan to stop running from meeting to meeting unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’m going to get back to practicing the fundamentals of essentialism.

  3. I’m prioritizing connections - not just in my industry, but outside my industry as well including carving out time for my family and myself.

When was the last time you stopped and stepped away and assessed how you’re taking care of yourself? For me, the resounding message came back to, “What are you doing with your life?” “Where are you going with your career?”

Here’s my challenge to you - can you come up with your own three things that will help you stay grounded and prioritize your inner peace over the constant overwhelm? List your three things in the comments, and let’s do our best to hold each other accountable.

Inspired Retreat - Amber Housley- Anna Filly Photography - Sneak Peeks Day 3-7.jpg

Taking the time to go to Inspired Retreat helped me see that taking time away doesn’t have to be a scary thing, in fact, it can be exactly what you need. I encourage you to do the same in any way that makes sense for you. It doesn’t need to be a business retreat; it could be carving out a daily routine of meditation or taking a brisk walk outside. The point is to remove yourself from the work long enough to quiet your mind so you can hear yourself think. Trust your intuition and do what feels right for YOU.

I think you’ll find that even a little time away can completely change your mindset, attitude, and make you the best CEO you can possibly be. Thanks to Amber Housley for putting together this wonderful and life-changing experience for me and all of the amazing women who were there. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.


My Secret to Taking on Events with Five and Six-Figure Floral Budgets

 
 how to book high end brides

This week, I want to share what happens after the client books. This is the part where we get to do what we do best – designing flowers and being creative, but there is a smarter way to approach ordering product than with a pencil, paper, and calculator. I’m sure you can already guess what I’m going to say…my lifesaver is my recipe program, Ularas. I know, I know…this is the thorn in all of our sides. But hear me out, because this is hands down how I’ve been able to find freedom in my business and scale from doing small weddings to large luxury six-figure floral budgets.

My Top Two Reasons to Use a Recipe Program

Safety Net

A recipe program is perfect for every business structure: solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, large teams, small teams – as long as you want to be profitable (of course you do!) and put yourself in a position to scale your business, a recipe program is right for you. As a solopreneur, it’s a lot easier when the flowers come in for you to make modifications on the fly – we are creatives, after all. However, using recipes creates a structure which allows you to step away if necessary.

There is so much pressure on us to deliver, especially when we’re a one-person show. We’re working with couples on one of the most memorable days of their lives, and as great florists, we don’t take that lightly. But at some point in time, we have to set ourselves up to not be the be-all and end-all in everything we do. What if we have a family emergency or crisis to tend to on the same day as an event? Now you’re faced with the task of having to choose between a family emergency and work, or you’re scrambling to try and convey to people exactly what needs to happen to create the event the way you would. Putting those parameters and safety nets in place through using a recipe program will save you SO much stress and give you a huge amount of freedom if something like this ever comes up for you.

Profitability

Let’s be honest, to err is human, especially as you start scaling your business and doing five and six figure floral budgets. The old school way of calculating your numbers using pencil, paper and a calculator is scary because those errors can easily be made. For many years, I used a comprehensive workbook in Excel. Over time, I found that the formulas and calculations can become tainted, which increases the margin for error when ordering product. Needless to say, working with an online based recipe program like Ularas ensures that I’m not making those mistakes that I made so easily with the less reliable methods I was using in the past.

I get the question all the time, “How do you design events with five and six-figure floral budgets, and where do you even start?” Honestly, you start with one design element at a time and it starts with having a recipe and organizational system in place. You can’t do an event of this scale all by yourself, so that means you either hire a team of experienced freelancers or your current staff works in conjunction with the guest designers to help execute the event. This team not only needs to be excellent at what they do, but they also need to know exactly how to create the designs you dreamed up with your client’s vision in mind. Effectively communicating this with your in-house staff and freelance designers will help keep the event production running smoothly and efficiently.

 
 how to book high end weddings

How My Team Approaches Large-Scale Events

Months Before the Event

I recipe all flowers and hard goods per the approved design document provided to the client. All containers are either pulled out of our inventory to ensure we have no crossover with another event or new hard goods are purchased. A list of flowers is sent off to our wholesaler for pricing and all tentative rental orders are placed.

Two Weeks Before Event

To help keep us organized, I print a copy of the Ularas production report which includes a pull list for my logistics coordinator so she can pull and prep all containers and hard goods along with our bagging systems for bouquets and corsage and bout boxes.

Tuesday the Week of the Event

On Tuesday morning, I have a staff meeting where we go through any pertinent information pertaining to the overall design and client expectations along with reviewing what product will be arriving. I provide them the workbook complete with the final contract, the design inspiration, production report and a full recipe book which covers everything from the bridal bouquet to centerpieces. Everything is spelled out for them making it easy for anyone to jump right in.

Wednesday Before Weekend Event

Typically our product arrives between Tuesday and Wednesday morning unless specific flowers need longer to open. The team processes the flowers and cross references the quantities against the production report. On multiple event weeks, the buckets are labeled with the event name and placed on designated metro racks. Once the product is hydrated and accounted for, the design team dives in! Each designer is assigned a specific area to focus on based on their overall design strengths, a sample design is created for my approval and we’re off to the races. Quite often there is a mock up I’ve create for the client months prior for the designers to use as a guideline.

Side note, I also order 5-10% additional product in case we need to make adjustments on the fly during production. This gives me and my design team a little more creative freedom and flexibility which is so important.

Day of the Event

On event days, I typically have a team of anywhere from 4-10 designers working on-site including an incredible support team. The beauty of our recipe workflow is that I don’t always have to physically be onsite at every event. However, it’s also important to remember that whether you’re doing large or small events, it’s important for everything leaving your studio to match your brand and meet your client’s expectations.

I love comparing this to food….because really, is there anything better than a food analogy? If you were a chef who created fabulous and delicious meals, you probably wouldn’t let your sous chef just start throwing in whichever ingredients he wanted to. You would have a recipe for them to follow to make sure your guests received a consistent and on-brand dish. This is exactly the same in our floral design world with recipes.

Many of the freelance designers I work with tell me how much they appreciate when things are organized. They love the fact that they can jump in and design right away. The best thing you can do for your designers is to keep yourself organized so they can come in and knock it out of the park for you.

 luxury event management tips modern day creative

Getting Down to Brass Tacks

Even though I love Ularas, there are several other programs out there you can choose from. Here are some of the most popular options:

The reason I like Ularas is because it’s a highly functional program with lots of customizable options for proposals, contracts, organization, ordering the product, and lots more. But, like anything, I would encourage you to find one that best meets your needs and run with it!

One of the biggest arguments I hear against using a recipe program is the financial investment.  I get it, it IS a big investment, but I encourage you to really take a long hard look at what your time is worth. Our monthly obligation is $99.00 per month which is nominal in comparison to the time I save, not to mention the increased profitability.

At the end of the day, using a comprehensive recipe program like Ularas is by far the biggest contributing factor to how I’ve scaled my business and become more profitable. As your business grows, so will the demands on your time and talents, so be kind to yourself. If this old girl can do it, so can you!!  I’m wishing you all the success and I hope that this information is helpful, but please do not hesitate to reach out or leave a comment below.

 modern day creative jenn ederer

The Ins-and-Outs of the Client Lead Process

 

How I Approach Initial Client Consultation Meetings

 Kelly Braman Photography

Kelly Braman Photography

A value I will always stand by in my business is being honest and transparent with our clients about our whole process, from beginning to end. It’s about building trust from the very start of our relationship so that they know they’re in good hands when they book with us.

Before the consultation meeting is even booked, the potential client is required to fill out a questionnaire for us to gather general information about them and some details about their vision for their wedding and/or event. The questionnaire purpose is two-fold – it serves as a way to screen potential clients while also helping me best prepare for our client meetings. Unlike some, our minimum required budget is only listed on our questionnaire and not on our website, which has worked really well for us thus far. We can automatically deter clients who aren’t comfortable with the minimum. It saves the couple time, and it saves us from meeting with clients who have budgetary needs that fall outside of the scope of work we offer.

When we sit down for the first consultation meeting, I let them know exactly what to expect – that we will sit down for about an hour just to get to know one another, to learn about what they’re looking for, share with them what our company is all about, nail down exactly how we can help them, and to simply connect with them as a couple. I also always ask them, “What are you hoping to gain from our time together?”. This tells me exactly what they are wanting to get out of our meeting, so I can be sure to touch on those topics during our time together.

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Questions I Like to Ask Couples in Our Consultation Meeting:

  • What are you hoping to gain from our time together during this initial consultation?

  • What is your overall vision for your wedding day?

  • What are the top three things that are most important to you for your wedding day?

  • Do you have a favorite flower? Does it have a special meaning behind it?

  • What type of floral design composition do you prefer – loose and organic, lush with minimal greens, gathered and styled, etc.

  • What do you want your personal experience to be like on your wedding weekend?

  • What do you want your guest’s experience to be like on your wedding weekend?

  • What are your favorite things to do together as a couple?

  • What restaurants do you like to visit?

  • Do you like to travel? What would be your ultimate dream vacation and why?

 

If you notice, I hardly ask them about the event design at all, and most importantly, I do my best to avoid asking them the standard questions like – how many bridesmaid bouquets do you need? Corsages? Aisle Decor?… We discuss their overall vision, but the details of the design and items needed come later once I get to know them and once they retain our services with deposit paid and commitment letter signed.

This initial consultation meeting is all about the connection between myself and the couple. The mental shift from selling to connecting is what’s most important to me during our time together in this initial consultation. If I’m simply focused on selling first and foremost, most potential clients can see right through it. However, if I’m focusing on connecting human-to-human, this builds trust with the couple and makes for a more memorable and personable consultation experience for them.

When we get closer to the end of the meeting, I close by thanking them, letting them know how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know them, and then follow up with the next steps to welcome them into the Modern Day family. I come to these meetings prepared with a folder of information for them to take home and consider.

 
 luxury wedding client lead process

Consultation Folder:

  • Marketing pamphlet to give them a well-rounded view of our company and services.

  • Featured reviews and testimonials from past clients.

  • Sample proposal with average amounts of what our clients normally spend on key floral and design areas.

  • Commitment letter – to be signed and returned with deposit to officially book our services for their wedding date.

 

Sometimes clients will elect to sign the letter and pay the deposit right there on-the-spot, but others need more time to think about it. Regardless, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve given them all the information they need to make the best decision for them and their wedding day. If they do book our services that day, I let them know that we will go ahead and begin building a proposal for them that normally takes around 8-12 hours to complete. Then, we will schedule a follow-up meeting where we will dive into all the pretty design details.

 

Why I Don’t Propose Until the Client Books

I’m sure you’ve been in this position. You meet with a couple, and you connect with them beautifully. You talk details, colors, design, everything they envision for their big day, and then they want to know how much you charge for services. Since you have a fairly good idea of what they want, you go and work for 8 hours straight on a giant, detailed proposal for them. A few days later, they let you know they’ve decided to go with another florist who beat you out on price. And now, you’ve lost 8 hours of your precious time and energy that could have been spent on your clients who have already committed to booking you.

This is why I no longer propose before a client commits to booking us.

Believe me, I used to do this for years. I know exactly how it feels to spend countless hours on clients who aren’t going to book our services. I spoke with another designer recently who told me that when she went back and tracked her time, she had spent 45 hours in the past year designing proposals for clients who didn’t end up booking her. Imagine how well you could serve the clients who DID book you with that extra time.

At the end of the day, I created this policy out of necessity. It cut into my time spent taking care of my company, my clients, my staff, and my own well-being.

 

How I Handle Common Objections

Because of our screening process, I spend most of my time meeting with clients who are already a great fit. Sometimes, however, even our dream clients have more questions for us and they can be difficult to answer.

Price Shopping

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Something that was difficult for me to address early on in my career were those clients who were really just price shopping. I knew that if a couple came and were price shopping, they probably weren’t going to book with us. We specialize in luxury events, and we aren’t the right fit for every client… especially those who are looking for a bargain or the best deal out there.

My philosophy when it comes to price shopping is this: you’re not comparing apples to apples. Instead of selling your price, start selling your services, your expertise, and what you do differently than everyone else. At the end of the day, that’s what matters and it’s how I gained confidence in the services we do provide.

Do I meet with as many brides as I used to? No. But, because of the way I approach this process, the couples I meet with now are more likely to book us. Our booking retention rate is now around 95%.

So, How Much Will This Cost?

This is another sign that these clients are looking for their florist based on price only.

What I do is give them our client averages in their packet of information, so they have a good idea of what our clients normally spend on their bridesmaids bouquets, bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages, elevated arrangements, ceremony designs, etc. I’m comfortable with our pricing, and I don’t apologize for it. I know that what we’re delivering is an impeccable, superior product. Being transparent about the average pricing combats the question of wanting to know exactly how much this will cost them before they book.

You have to be confident in exactly what you bring to the table, and what makes you different than the other designers they’re meeting with. In addition to knowing it, be sure that you can articulate this to your potential clients in a warm and honest way. There is NO shame in practicing this! I know I had to practice my approach before I was comfortable sharing it with my potential clients. If you work to clarify this and start practicing, soon it will become totally natural and effortless.

I’m sharing the way I approach these meetings as inspiration for how you can approach your client lead process. But, I encourage you to remember that you have to do what works best for your business model and for your unique personality. At the end of the day, as a business owner, you get to call the shots and decide exactly how you handle this.

I’m wishing you the best of luck with all of your consultation meetings! I’d love to know more about your process. Feel free to let me know how you approach these meetings in the comments below!

jenn ederer modern day creative

Growing and Leading a Team

This blog post was originally written for Botanical Brouhaha on August 22, 2018.

Do you ever look at extremely successful peers in our industry and wonder how they do it all?

We hear people say all the time that we have the same 24 hours in a day as someone with a HUGE empire, like Oprah. Technically, yes… it’s true, but they’re missing the fact that Oprah has a massive team supporting her and executing her business every step of the way – a luxury that we, as small business owners, don’t have. However, there is a way to make it a little more manageable.

Having someone on your team to support you is the best way to go from simply surviving to fully thriving.

When I opened Modern Day all I knew was that I wanted to own a creative floral and event business, but I didn’t know the first thing about running a business or managing a staff. It has taken me many years to finally figure out what the perfect equation is for my business model.

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Look Inward Before You Look Outward

The first instinct when hiring for your team is to start looking outward for someone to fill in the holes within your company. However, before this happens, I strongly encourage you to begin by looking inward at your current staff. Specifically, I encourage you to look at two major areas – your personal weaknesses and where you are wasting the most time.

Identifying your weaknesses: This is necessary to hiring the best fit for your team. If you hire someone with exactly the same strengths as you, you’re no better off than you were before hiring. The key is to find someone who has strengths where you have weaknesses. A great way to learn more about your personal strengths and weaknesses is by taking a personality test. I absolutely love the DISC and Enneagram assessments. Whichever you end up choosing, remember to keep an eye on your personality’s typical struggles, and identify the opposite type of personality to consider hiring.

Time-Tracking: Where do you waste the most time throughout your work day? If you don’t already, make the extra effort to jot down what you are doing and how long it takes you for one week. This task should lead you to big insights into your personal time management! Once you have a better idea of where you need help on a daily basis, the better you will be able to assess what to look for in a right-hand employee. This is key to a successful employer-employee relationship.

How to Know When the Time is Right to Hire an Assistant

Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. And please do not feel like you need to go out and hire an assistant tomorrow. For this process to work well, it will take some time. However, I encourage you to start exploring to see if this might be a solid next step for you and the growth of your business.

Please let someone step into your world to help. The time and financial investment will pay over ten-fold. The process might be trial and error for you – I know it was for me. But once you find the right people for your team, you’ll know. And it will be so worth it.

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Different Types of Assistants

  • In-House Assistant – This is the most traditional assistant to hire, and an extremely valuable asset to any business owner. Perhaps this is someone that you hire specifically for this role, or an intern that you train up to eventually become this key player. Depending on your needs, this role could end up being part-time or full-time.

  • Virtual Assistant – Bringing on a full-time team member can be scary, but hiring a virtual assistant is a nice way to dip your toe in the water before fully diving in. Oftentimes with virtual assistants, you can purchase tailored packages that fit
    what you need at the time. They can also help with a lot more than you may realize – general admin work, calendar management, appointment setting, email detox, online marketing support, customer service… usually anything you can dream up!

Where To Find Great Team Members

When writing a job description for an assistant role, be sure to include those areas you would define as your weaknesses, and also where you need help managing your time. Meaning, I’m looking for a person who is naturally skilled at the things I often struggle with. Being open about this from the very beginning of the hiring process is crucial! So, where can you find candidates for this key player to your team?

  • Local Universities – Hiring people in school, or recent graduates, may be a time investment, but can be super beneficial, too. This could end up being an amazing opportunity to work with people who are young, excited, trainable, and full of fresh ideas for your business.

  • LinkedIn – In the past, we’ve had some luck finding candidates on LinkedIn who have specific skills and experience we’ve needed for certain positions. If you’re able to find someone with the assets you’re looking for already, this can cut down on necessary training in the long run.

  • Referrals on Social Media – This can be an incredible source of potential team members. With the power of social media – family and a network of friends – we can usually find a handful of great candidates with great referral sources.

  • Word of Mouth Referrals – Look to other prominent industry vendors around you who might have connections with people they’ve worked with in the past and feel may be a good fit for your team and business model.

How I Work With My Assistant

After quickly moving up from an intern position, Amanda’s initial role was handling my email and new client inquiries, scheduling appointments, and basic daily assistant responsibilities. Eventually, I moved her into sitting in on all client meetings. Together, we worked on building her confidence while also establishing a working relationship that would greatly serve our clients and staff in the long run. My main objective was to duplicate myself as much as possible through Amanda.

Fast forward to today (6+ years later), and Amanda is now taking on full events with little to no guidance from me, and we are currently training up another assistant to work under her. Trust, time, and mutual respect is what has gotten us to this point. We have invested in one another and she knows I have her back every.step.of.the.way, and vice versa!

Amanda is the right combination of moxie meets brains, and is thick-skinned and energetic enough to keep up with me. I trust her 100%. Aside from Amanda just being an amazing person, our personality traits are perfectly compatible. Looking at our DISC test scores side-by-side, you can get a sense for why we make a perfect match. I am an extremely high DI personality, while Amanda is much more even across the board with her scores. This is what professional compatibility looks like, my friends!

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To Recipe or Not to Recipe

To Recipe or Not to Recipe

To recipe or not to recipe…that is the ultimate question.

I know, I know - building from recipes sometimes feels like the thorn in all our sides as floral designers. But, it’s the necessary evil of what we do.

Designing from recipes gets a bad rep sometimes, but honestly, I can’t think of any other way that we could run a sustainable and profitable business without doing it. Creating recipes is a big part of what allows us to do 200+ events a year. There is no way we’d be able to pull off so many without a system like this in place.

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Marie's Tips on How to Stay Present and Not Miss Out on Life

Do you ever feel like you're addicted to your work? If you work anywhere in the floral, wedding, or events industries, my guess would be YES. We know what it's like to work hard and have a ton to show for it.

But, what about when we start neglecting those other things in life that we love and care about?

In this video, Marie gives some wonderful tips on how to shift the focus sometimes to start enjoying more of the things that really matter.

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3 Steps to Decluttering and Organizing Your  Workspace

Have you ever gone into your closet and said to yourself, “Okay, let's face it - these clothes do not fit anymore. I’m so sick of looking at them. I NEED to purge.” Yeah? Me too. I probably do this once every season! I have clothes in my closet that I think I’m going to wear someday even though I haven’t taken them out of the closet in years.

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