You are Opening a Bridal Shop!

Congratulations! How exciting, you want to help your brides fulfill their dreams of a lifetime in the perfect gown on their wedding day. How do you do that and run a successful business too? Likely you see an opportunity to provide the best experience possible for your brides - a beautiful salon offering a unique selection of gowns as well as a friendly, attentive and courteous staff.

 

You are on the right track.

This can be the essence of your mission statement and the key to your BUSINESS PLAN.

What else should be in the plan? Click to view a sample business plan for a bridal shop

 

Use it to write your own business plan.  And remember to be conservative on income estimates and if anything overestimate your expenditures.  Once you complete your professional plan you can use it to attract the FUNDING you will need to be successful.  Most bridal stores experience negative cash flow for the first 12 to 18 months of their operations, so having enough capital will mean the difference between success and failure. For more information about loans available through the Small Business Administration, click here. You may also be able to benefit from a new category of financing called crowdfunding, Click here for more information on this cutting edge industry and how it might help you.

 

Now that you have your business plan and sufficient funding it is time to implement your blue print including the identification of your location, the furnishing of your space, the launching of your marketing program, the hiring of your staff and the selection of your INVENTORY.

 

First, you have to choose the vendors with whom you want to work. Most successful shops start out by carrying no more than 3 or 4 bridal gown manufacturers, 1 from each of the categories of accessory designers (shoes, veils, headpieces, undergarments, jewelry,) 1 or 2 bridesmaids resources and 1 or 2 prom dress makers (if applicable.)  Why?  You want to limit the initial number of your manufacturers because you want to stay within your means as you build inventory each successive season. The fewer companies you have in total, the easier it is to meet their respective minimums each season and the more important you will be to each manufacturer you work with. You can certainly add more companies later!

How to choose your suppliers?

 

You will want to consider the following: 

 

1. STYLING.   Do you want to cater to the traditional, the avant-guard, the destination, the princess or the haute couture bride?  Is the manufacturer's styling compatible with that of your store and the bride you hope to attract?

 

2. PRICE POINTS.  Are the manufacturer's price points compatible with the budget of your targeted bride?

 

3. DISTRIBUTION.  Go to the manufacturer's website and see which stores in your region already represent the collection. For higher priced goods, there should be a limited number of salons. For more moderate price items, there will be more competition. You don't want a line that is in every store.  On the other hand, some competition can be good.

 

4. REPUTATION.  Once you have made your first cut of suppliers, call established salons out of your market area that carry those lines and ask the owners about those companies.  How supportive are they?  Are they easy to work with?  How reliable are they?  Do they deliver on time? How consistent is their quality? How strongly do their gowns reorder compared with those of other manufacturers? How easy is their credit department to work with? Knowing the answers to these and other questions can save you a lot of heartache later.

 

Now that you have made your final selections it is time to call the manufacturer and get the contact information for the sales representative serving your market. Contact that rep and ask her about minimums, price points, delivery times for stock and specials, quality control and credit.   Ask him or her what happens if you cannot make minimums every season or every year?  And make sure you find out the current best reordering styles for your market so you can include them in your opening order. 

 

The job of the conscientious sales representative is to get and keep the right stock placed in your salon to maximize your profits through reorders. We are here to serve you.  Profitable salons consult often with their most dependable and helpful reps to learn what styles are reordering the best--in order to make sure they keep those styles in stock--and what styles are not--so that their staffs can sell those styles off the rack if the need arises.

 

We hope you will choose some of our manufacturers so that we will have an opportunity to serve you.  If not, of course we wish you the best of luck in developing a prosperous bridal business.  

Happy Bridaling!

Rebecca Rannells

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