Wednesday, September 1, 2010

So You Want to Work at a Bridal Store...

It seems like almost every day that people (mostly women) come to my store asking if we are hiring and wanting to work with us. Part of this is the economy, but more than that, I believe that women have always held the idea that my job is glamorous. Thus the popularity of the show "Say Yes to the Dress". And if you have been a regular reader of my blog, you are familiar with my frequent repetition of the words, "I love my job". But not everybody loves this job, you know.

Over the course of my career as a wedding gown consultant, I have seen numerous women be hired and then be gone within days or weeks. This, mind you, is after the new hire has been VERY carefully considered from amongst a pool of qualified individuals, for there are always many applicants for every job that opens up. Applicants are usually phone interviewed first, then interviewed by myself in person, I will give my short list of candidates to the Owner, who interviews them again and makes her selection. This is not your typical retail job, where you submit an application, the Manager checks your job history and references and you get the job. The demands and knowledge base required are enormous, and since we work as a team, a personality that fits with the other consultants is a must.

I remember training a new girl (Forgive me if the term is derogatory, but it's what we say. I was a new girl once too, and I was married with two children and a long career in the wedding industry already under my belt.) who seemed to be doing so well shadowing me and working with the customers, but ended up quitting at the end of her training because, as she told the Owner, she was so overwhelmed by all there was to know, that she could never possibly learn it all. Then there was the girl who left for her lunch break after 3 hours on her first day and never returned. We never heard from her again, but the rumor is that she was taken aback by the criticism of another employee who chastised her for shouting across the sales floor at a customer, announcing this prom girl's size to the room at large, "Sue, why don't you look at these dresses over here, if you need a size 16, this is where they are." And then there was the trainee who was simply so short of stature (maybe 4'10") that we discovered she simply couldn't perform important tasks like putting a wedding gown over a bride's head, or reaching the racks to get a dress down. A bridal meltdown was narrowly avoided when she couldn't read the tag up high on a bride's dress, and brought her the wrong gown from the back room. The bride had a freakout since she had ordered a ballgown and this petite consultant had brought her a mermaid. I intervened and discovered the mistake, however, and smoothed things over. The majority of the new hires that don't last long are those that are unable to sell dresses to brides, for whatever reason.

When we are looking for a new consultant to join our team, we are looking for the following traits/experience:

Must Have
Self Starter
Good Personality
Basic Math Skills
Common Sense
Maturity (not necessarily age - we have some young and talented consultants)
Physical Strength (stand on feet for 8+ hours, lift heavy dresses over your head, carry boxes)

A Plus, but not Required
Sales Experience
Fashion Experience
Wedding Experience
Sewing Skills
Knowledge of Wedding Gowns/Bridesmaid Dresses/Tuxes/Accessories
Customer Service Experience

Let's face it. I get to work with beautiful dresses and with people, and do not have to sit at a desk all day. My job is awesome. But it IS a sales job, and before you consider working with me, you'd better think long and hard about how you feel working in sales. And as I always tell my trainees, sales does not mean pushing brides to buy dresses they don't want. Heck, I have told brides that they should go back to another store and buy the dress they keep talking about in my dressing room, because they clearly love it. I'm talking about sales, which in my mind is the natural progression of connecting with a bride, helping her to find just the right dress with my inventory knowledge and experience, allowing her to ask questions to the point where she is comfortable and trusts me (and rightly so!) to provide her with a well-fitting dress. This is what develops into a sale, and this is why I'm so good at what I do.

So, what do you think? Do you want to work with me?


Mommy on the Spot said...

Common sense is not that common as the new girl who quit during training. I am betting that she was super skinny and didn't think twice how announcing that the bride wore a size 16 may have been very tactful.

I love your blog and your stories! Hope you're gathering them for a memoir!

Fiorella said...

Thank you, MOTS (I have been referring to you as this acronym because it feels funny to call you Mommy), perhaps a memoir is in my future! But for the time being I write because I love to get the feedback, and I love comments so thanks for taking the time! If you know anyone who watches Say Yes to the Dress and loves it, point them my direction!

Stacey said...

I would love to work with you!

Madison said...

The more important question in this economy....are you hiring? Seriously though, with any job I don't think many times people don't really understand what is required of them. too bad every position doesn't have such a comprehensive explanation. Now any one looking to do your job has no excuses. Send them to your blog before you hire them! It is very interesting and appears to be quite informative.

Fiorella said...

Thanks, Stacey and Madison! The store is always accepting resumes, but I have been sworn to secrecy and can't tell you which store it is! Make sure when you apply for a job you wear a pin that says, "I love Tales From a Dressing Room" and then I'll know it's you!

I have developed a questionnaire that we give to prospective applicants asking such questions as, "A bride is buying a $1100 dress, with a $190 veil and $250 crown. If she needs to put down a 50% deposit what is that figure ROUGHLY?" and "Why do you want to work here?" and "Have you ever held a position in which you were given feedback on your performance on a weekly basis and your salary was directly related to your performance?" The applicants that don't understand the questions, misspell the answers or give answers of fewer than 5 words don't get an interview. I'm tough perhaps!