For some time now, I have been touring the Nigerian fashion industry, working with the biggest brands to see through their eyes what it really takes to run a fashion brand.
Prior to this time, I ran a fashion house and ran it long enough for me know that I could get more out of this business if only I knew how to manage it properly.
So I closed my fashion house and went in search of knowledge.
But before I reveal the things I learned so far on the journey, let me first share with you the customer journey for my fashion house then.
Client walks into the store, makes enquiries, we talk for a while, prices are negotiated, sometimes happy ending - Client goes ahead and makes dress- other times customers says "I'll get back to you"
Now I will share with you what I learned and how profoundly simple it is that the simplest things always win, but aren't paid any attention.
The simple laws of life must be applicable anywhere if there is to be success in any endeavour that is the sun rises in east and sets in the west-unfailingly - every single day.
So must we also follow the law of routine or dependable process flow for any endeavour?
The big brands have a dependable process flow. And they don't have a process flow because they are a big brand, They are a big brand, because they obeyed the law of process.
Let's go back to my own 'process flow'
First step-Client walks in
Though I had an online presence, my customers didn't still know enough about my business before they walk into my space. And most of my clients knew me through the internet
2 Makes enquiries
No stable script to work from ie, the prices of the outfits could change based on the "dressing" or ambience of the client asking
3 Happy ending (dresses are made)
No proper documentation of clients to ensure retention ie- no form of pool of clients' numbers etc to ask for feedback, etc- I was always constantly looking for new clients
4 "I'lI get back to you "ending- No process flow for documenting clients who say this, presenting them with other offers.
Now to what can be done better
For example, if the client finds me through instagram
Instead of my Instagram bio to say:
Lover of God
My Instagram bio could have information that is actually useful to my potential customers. It can follow this formula
What you do,
Who you do it for,
Then call to action
Eg- If your target clients are curvy women
Your bio can say " I make the best exquisite evening wears for curvy women! have an event coming up soon? Click here to book an appointment /chat/order" (ie to do whatever you want them to do)
Then on the place where the link is supposed to be on Instagram, you can put in a link to a Google doc, Google form etc of your price list or catalogue, basically showing the client the next step to take even when you aren't there. The link must help the client take the next step that leads them closer to you.
So let's say I want to reduce the back and forth of haggling with prices, I will take the time to collect all dresses I have ever made into a catalog, also in the same document, it will contain the price list of the categories of evening wears that I make.
Also the document can contain a link to chat with me directly on WhatsApp.
With this singular document, I would have already cut out people who aren't really looking to make dresses from me, who can't afford my dresses etc
And I can be rest assured that by the time I receive a message on WhatsApp, I have the right kind of customers who already know my prices, and what I do, and who I don't have to convince too hard to patronize my business
2. My prices will be based on the actual needs of my business ie, my bills, rent, running cost etc, not on the appearance of the client which is not sustainable for the growth of my business.
Happy ending - my happy ending should also have its own process flow - what happens when client says yes?
-Client pays eg 70% before work begins
-A proper time frame is to be communicated for fittings, ie 3-5 days
-when dress is ready, a fitting reminder is sent
-client comes in for fittings or dress is sent
-Client pays balance after dress is satisfactory.
-ask client for refferal or come up with refferal program that benefits clients in a way they will always want to refer you to their friends
-And the process flow for the "I" ll get back to you ending "
-Client contacts are saved on a spreadsheet
-note why client couldn't make payment at that time
-come up with other offers to make sure you are top of mind on the client.
Then RINSE and REPEAT
Now this is a much better process flow👇
Customer finds page on Instagram - finds catalogue and rate card or price list-reaches out via whatsapp link on document - chooses a style-fitting dates are set - invoice is sent - customer pays - dress is ready - fitting reminder is sent or dress is delivered - customer makes payment when dress is satisfactory - customer is asked for refferal
Repeat every time.
The successful brands have a strict process flow that the smaller brands have yet to master.
And you can start now especially when you are in your soloprenuer stage.
To your success
Agboola kofoworola is a Fashion Designer, coach and consultant and can be reached on email@example.com
Vanguard News Nigeria