Up till today, many couples overlook bridal boutique closure as something that can actually happen to them. Many prominent bridal businesses have shut down over the years with little warning, affecting many couples. Therefore, it is time for couples to make more informed decisions when they are selecting a wedding service provider.
We will share some industry background and insights that can help you screen your bridal boutiques to minimise the risks of a shocking scenario.
Bridal Boutique Selection Tip #1 – Be Wary of Shops that Hard-sell or Give You Incentives For Full Payment
When unfortunate incidents like these happen, very often, the first question friends ask are: “How much have you paid?” It is hard for both sides when they have made the full payment.
While it is not an uncommon practice for full payment to be made, do be aware when the salesperson starts pushing you when you clearly requested a payment schedule and a deposit. A decent bridal boutique should be entirely neutral and transparent with payment arrangements.
Warning bells should go off when the shop starts offering you perks to make full payment. This is definitely a tell-tale sign about the financial health of the business.
Bridal Boutique Selection Tip #2 – Check That the Owners and Directors Have Deep Roots in the Local Community
When things get tough, foreign owners have a higher tendency to pack up and return to their own countries, without the intention of ever coming back.
In fact, such situations have happened over the last few years, though this is not well-publicised. There have been cases of couples who signed with overseas boutiques with no physical presence in Singapore. These businesses came over to execute guerilla sales methods, often illegally, and usually in random locations like night markets.
Some telltale signs incude:
- Not being contactable after the sale
- Shop closed down or is nonexistent in the country
- Couples are subjected to hard selling tactics with lots of hidden costs upon arrival in the country
- Unsatisfactory albums and frames production as it costs more to fly or mail over to rectify the mistakes
As such, there is virtually no chance of fund recovery or recourse, and even if there was a way, it requires a lot of time, money, and effort.
However, this is not the case for boutique owners who are well-rooted in Singapore. Their families, friends, and reputation are all based in Singapore. Running is simply not an option. After all, Singapore is a really small country and it is really hard for anyone to get away with anything. They have a lot more to lose than just dump and run, hence they usually engage in sustainable business practices, because they are in it for the long term.
Bridal Boutique Selection Tip #3 – Ask Employees About Plans About the Business, New Initiatives, and Brand Values
Healthy businesses plan for the future, growth, and possible expansion. Good businesses have clear communication about programs regarding new services, wedding gowns, partnerships, and other initiatives. Investment in improving products and services, constant updates and refreshing boutique collections, and staff capabilities are all signs of a well-run bridal boutique. Business partnerships are also healthy signs as most companies will perform background checks on partners.
Ask staff members questions about their company, specifically the points listed above. If they are able to provide satisfactory answers, chances are, you are safe. If there hasn’t been much going on or staff members seem evasive, do probe further.
Businesses that fail to change and adapt are also something you should look out for. Companies that are here to stay will prioritise investment in change to prepare for the future.
Also, ask about the company’s values. Do these include transparency and integrity? Or does the company lack employee guidelines and principles?
Bridal Boutique Selection Tip #4 – Remember the Old Expression “If Something Seems Too Good to be True…”
This is by far the biggest warning sign that every couple should note. From an industry standpoint, shops that exhibit signs of closing often offer deals that are too good to be true. The tactic usually ties in with pushing the customer to pay in full upfront.
The bulk of costs of running a bridal boutique come from rent and staff costs. Bridal happens to be an industry that requires quite a fair bit of space for wedding gown storage and fitting area. These are coupled with photography studio premises.
Most people will also know that for spaces that are almost similar, for example, shop house spaces in a similar area will probably be of comparable costs (with some variation). Manpower costs, vendors costs e.g. printing, are also similar, with market norms ‘governing’ rates for certain vendors. Hence, as a smart consumer, it should trigger an immense amount of curiosity in you when you see price variations of more than 25%
Questionable sales tactics like dropping prices (sometimes even more than $500 or even a whopping $1000) to entice couples to sign up should also ring alarm bells about the business ethics of the company.
Perks like including made-to-measure gowns and actual day photography services are also dangerous signs you should look out for. For example, supplier costing for tailoring a basic dress can easily cost more than a thousand, excluding crystals, readings, or other special materials used, like lace or silk. Depending on the complexity of the dress, costs can easily add up to a much higher amount.
Hence, how is it possible for a bridal package, with pre-wedding photography to cost 3 thousand plus, or even the low 4 thousand range, and yet have the above services thrown in? Aside from being profitless, what is left to pay for basic wages and rent?
Therefore, instead of being happy about snagging a great deal, be savvy. Know that if you go ahead, you risk the shop closing down before your wedding.
Bridal Boutique Selection Tip #5 – Assess Industry Market Perception
This last point is often overlooked. And the market perception here does not refer to customer reviews. It points to what industry insiders have to say about a company. Casually strike up conversations with staff from different boutiques about the shop you are researching, and observe their responses.
Filter out the “gossip mongers” – i.e. staff engage in petty bad-mouthing, e.g. who has poor gown quality or who is copying designs. These are indications of poor discipline.
What you should pay attention to is when a self-respecting bridal consultant declines to comment about a particular boutique or if any boutique has an industry reputation of engaging in ‘spoiling market’ practices. It may give you subtle hints about what industry insiders know that consumers don’t, which can be very important.
We hope our tips will come in handy when selecting a trustworthy bridal boutique for your big day. Good luck! Contact the La Belle team or drop us a message on social media to discover more about our specialized bridal services.