Daphne Simpson-Wellman has been working with flowers for over two decades. The veteran florist designed her first wedding at the age of 18 as a favor for an aunt who was big on dreams and short on cash. After one event, Daphne was hooked. During her ten years in the Navy, Daphne designed wedding arrangements for dozens of her shipmates, and when her service ended she opened her floral arrangement business, Elite Designs by Daphne. Though her business has expanded beyond friends and colleagues, Daphne still treats every client with the same care and transparency. Here’s what the Atlanta-based Top Pro told us about building a successful business on Thumbtack.
How did you decide to start your business?
I grew up around flowers. My father always kept a garden and I got my first job when I was 14 years old working in a local flower shop.
My first event as a florist was an accident. My aunt got married when I was 18 years old—she had huge dreams and a small budget. I went to the High School of Fashion Industry in New York, so I had a foundation in design. I asked if I could help and ended up designing her whole wedding, from the buffet to the floral arrangements.
And I just kept going from there. When I was in the Navy I made floral arrangements for all of my shipmates’ weddings, and when I was finished I moved to Georgia and set up my own company.
I guess I’ve been doing floral arrangements for over 20 years now!
When did you first hear about Thumbtack and how did you get started?
Another pro told me about Thumbtack a little over a year ago. She was an event planner and told me that I had to get my flower business on Thumbtack. I set up a profile and starting started sending quotes right away. My first job came not too long after.
Do you have any favorite Thumbtack tools?
Atlanta is a competitive place to be a florist. There are 24 active Thumbtack florists in my area alone, but most of the time I find that I’m competing with the same four people.
I look at the competitor report when it comes out every week. It tells me a lot about how I’m doing in comparison to everyone else. For example, I recently adjusted my pricing after realizing how little the people around me were charging and it helped me a lot.
How has Thumbtack helped your business grow?
Before Thumbtack my business was primarily word of mouth. I advertised with some big name companies but had relatively little success in the end. Thumbtack helped me broaden my base and reach new people.
What do you suggest for people just getting started on Thumbtack?
I’m still learning myself! It’s really hard to write a good quote, and here’s why: I never want to bring the price up from what I initially give. As a florist, that’s hard to do without a lot of information.
I always offer a complimentary consultation to get an idea of my client’s budget and timeline. I try to get a feel for what they want and offer them something within their price point.
What’s the secret to writing the perfect quote?
You have to give a price upfront, even if it’s an estimate, because not including one scares people off. They think: oh no, that will be too expensive. People see wonderful pictures on Pinterest and they have no clue what those flowers actually cost. When they hear the price they’re floored.
My quotes are very specific and they change for every new customer. I don’t talk much about myself. I find that Millennials don’t care who you are, they care more about what you’re capable of. More times than not I provide a lookbook in the quote. I show them three or four pictures based on their request that we can discuss further in our consultation.
What should customers provide when completing a Thumbtack request for a florist?
I try to price based on their description and what they budget in their request form, so the more detailed the better. Pictures are great. If I see peonies in their photo, I know right off the bat that peonies are $7 a pop. I change prices and write new quotes for each new customer, so it’s always good to know exactly what you’re working with.
How did you get your first reviews on Thumbtack?
My first three reviews are from past clients outside of Thumbtack. I feel like you have to include reviews to make people understand that you’re a credible person when you’re just getting started. Otherwise, the customer is going in blind.
Any tips or secrets when it comes to asking for reviews?
On our final walkthrough before the event, I tell my clients that I will send a follow-up soon—if it’s a wedding I say that I’ll send it after their honeymoon—and that I hope they’ll write me a review as part of it. For weddings, I ask the couple when they’re getting back from honeymoon and I send the email three days after that, when they’ve been back and aren’t just deleting emails en masse.
What’s the key to being a Top Pro on Thumbtack?
I can think of three big ones: attention to detail, pride in your work and being on time. I go above and beyond for each of my clients, and a lot of the people I work for become like family members to me. When I’m working their event, they know that they’re my top priority and I’ll pay attention to everything. I’ve done weddings that turn into baby showers and first birthday parties.
Any advice for other pros on Thumbtack?
Take professional pictures for your profile and make sure you watermark them. Be sure your profile is complete. Fill out all of the questions and be descriptive. A lot of people will take the time to really work through your profile. My profile shows people the level of detail-oriented care that I would give their event. It’s proof.
Do you have a favorite Thumbtack story?
I did a wedding at the Biltmore Estate for a super sweet young lady and we’ve kept up ever since. She told her friends about me and posted about my work on social media. Her wedding was in September. In only a few months three of her friends have contacted me for their own events.
Do you have any tips on what customers should be looking for when they’re hiring a pro on Thumbtack?
Be upfront with your provider. Look for someone who will offer you a solid price and stick with it. And that means being clear about your budget and your needs upfront. Give an accurate range and don’t budge.
There are always ways to get around a tight budget. I’ve worked at a lot of weddings where the bride and groom had fresh flowers and all the others had artificial. Artificial flowers are so much more affordable and they can look great. I like to call them “permanent botanicals.” It’s a way of bending their budget. I never want to see a couple go into debt for an event that only last a few hours.
[Photo: Michelle Davina Photography via Daphne Simpson-Wellman]