Christmas is a fun time, filled with festivities, time spent with family, gift shopping and laughter….unless you work in a salon!
Many salons can be chaotic in the lead up to Christmas, with clients forgetting, or desperate for last minute appointments and extra services, suppliers unable to fulfil orders, and staff (including salon owners) frazzled beyond belief.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Instead, you can slide through Christmas, albeit a little exhausted by the close of business on December 24, and come out the other end with the salon not only showing a healthy profit but with sanity intact for all concerned.
With a little bit of planning and preparation; that’s how!
Having a good plan prepared well in advance of the end of year rush will ensure that you reap the most financial benefits that the festive season has to offer and prevent any team meltdowns.
Your team are the people who will make or break your salon success, so it is vital to ensure you are looking after them in every possible way.
Your marketing must be goal oriented with a great action plan to ensure you gain maximum profits.
Let’s take a look at both areas.
Look after the team that will look after you…
Strategy # 1
Without a careful plan for your roster, your salon’s requirements and staff’s needs, you risk having your team members hit bottom early in the season.
This could also result in unhappy or even lost clients who receive poor quality treatments at the hands of your exhausted team members.
Instead of letting this happen in your salon, plan your roster so that every staff member gets some time to rest, recuperate and attend to her own personal needs.
If you can’t manage to give your team members some time off, talk to them individually about your salon’s upcoming needs, explain that you are going to need them to give a little extra effort, and determine a way to compensate them for their additional support.
It might be a nice bottle of wine or a gift certificate for a relaxing message, but whatever you choose, make it personal and valuable to them.
Thank them in advance and tell them how much you appreciate all the hard work they will be expected to do. These small and inexpensive gestures will return their investment to you many times over through increased enthusiasm and willingness to do that bit more by your team.
Try and keep the atmosphere fun and supportive within your salon, and your team will weather the storm more successfully.
Strategy # 2
Staff exhaustion and hunger can be one of your worst enemies during the few weeks leading up to Christmas because exhausted and hungry staff can mean cranky staff who are not able to perform at their best. Let’s face it, you can’t expect to run a Ferrari on an empty tank; just like you can’t get peak performance out of drained staff.
You can prevent this from happening by ensuring your staff have access to high energy and nutritious food throughout the day, along with scheduling a few regular breaks where they can sit and re-energise for a few minutes.
A platter of freshly made sandwiches and fresh juice for them to snack on will do wonders for their energy levels and keep your team performing in top gear. This is a small investment for a very positive return.
Strategy # 3
There is little more that deflates a team member’s enthusiasm than spending a day working like a slave, and then walking out the door when her shift is over without any acknowledgement or thank you for all her hard work.
Providing quality services and dealing with stressed people all day long is not a job for the faint-hearted, so a little bit of appreciation goes a long way to refuelling the enthusiasm engine.
Never underestimate the power of a personal “thank you” at the end of each day. A few minutes spent with each team member telling them how much you appreciated their hard work will do wonders to keep up their enthusiasm levels.
Strategy # 4
Everyone loves a great Christmas party; something to look forward to where they can let down their hair and have some time to socialise with teammates.
However, having your staff Christmas party too late in the season can be counterproductive to getting through your busiest time of year in one piece.
Plan to have your staff Christmas party before things begin to get hectic in your salon. The last thing you need is your team having a massive energy drain from too much partying during the very time they have to be able to produce their best performance.
Strategy # 5
Before things get too frantic, plan a fun team meeting with drinks and nibbles and discuss with your team what you are hoping to achieve over the upcoming busy period.
Ask your staff for their input on developing packages, promotions and Christmas retail packs; staff will always be more motivated to participate in a promotion that they have helped to develop.
Let them know the importance of maximising service income as well as gift certificate and retail sales that will carry you through the quiet times in the New Year.
Convey clear expectations around their performance so they know exactly what you expect of them and let them know how the outcome of the busy season will affect the salon and them as well.
Strategy # 6
If possible, consider bringing in someone full time for your front desk.
An additional set of hands during this busy time can:
- ensure that phone calls will be handled promptly,
- additional services are booked in at the time the appointment is made,
- allow your staff to focus on completing their services without interruption,
- handle all the additional gift certificate sales that will come from non-service clients,
- keep the salon appearance fresh and appealing,
- support the staff by taking over all the non-technical jobs usually done by your team,
- keep your appointment schedule time efficient,
- look after clients who may have to wait a few minutes for their appointments,
- ring no-show clients and re-book them to eliminate the inevitable problem of them turning up on another day or at another time, and
- make sure your technical team are getting a well-earned cuppa and break throughout the day.
These are just a few of the things an extra person can do to help you keep things running smoothly.
Yes, it does mean an extra wage, however, when you look at how much extra income this person can help you generate during this time, it is really an investment rather than an expense for your business.
Strategy # 7
Make the most of your available appointment times by ensuring your staff are not leaving lengthy gaps between clients as catch up spaces. This can lead to lots of small unusable time gaps in your appointment book which can add up to a substantial amount of lost profit.
Instead, depending on your appointment protocol, schedule in a few 10 or 15 minute breaks throughout the day so that your team members can catch up and manage a bite to eat. By doing this you are in control of allocated breaks and how many are taken.
Avoid the temptation to overbook your team members in the hope they can squeeze another service in. It is better to turn away one client than to make ten clients unhappy because they have been kept waiting and feel their service was rushed, and so not up to the normal high standard.
Strategy # 8
Know your salon’s limit and then STOP.
If you have decided your finish time the week before Christmas is going to be at 7 pm, then make sure it is.
Asking staff to work past this time to fit in just one more client or do an extra service, is simply asking too much. Once you have made your agreement with your team, be prepared to stick by it.
Maximise your sales with effective marketing that won’t break the bank
Leaving it until the last few weeks to plan your marketing strategies for Christmas is going to rob you of opportunities to make the most of the Christmas rush.
You need to have your marketing action plan in place well in advance so that you can organise what needs to be done and so sail smoothly and profitably through a very busy period.
By having nothing planned you will be left scrambling for ideas and ways to implement them at a time when you will be busy doing other things. This means you could miss many profitable opportunities that you would have otherwise implemented.
Prepare a written action plan outlining:
- what specifically you want to achieve from your campaign,
- who you want to reach with your marketing message,
- what mediums you are going to use,
- when your campaign will start and finish,
- who will be responsible for running it, and
- what your budget will be.
Strategy # 10
Clients who have been loyal to you all year long, and have proven to be happy to spend their hard earned cash in your salon, deserve something a little extra at Christmas.
Try sending personalised Christmas cards to your top 20% of income producing clients and include a special post-Christmas offer.
Not only will you build a stronger rapport with your most important clients, you are likely to have a very high success rate with this campaign (after all, these are your proven spenders). It will have the added benefit of helping you to keep producing income during the post-Christmas slump.
Strategy # 11
Gift certificate sales are not only a great way to boost income but if handled well, they are also a great way to bring new clients into your salon. Therefore, selling gift certificates should be highly encouraged to your team members.
To help make this happen, it is important to have some form of incentive program in place so that your staff have a personal stake in selling as many certificates as possible to their clients.
There are many ways to do this and one simple way is to offer them gift certificates equal to a certain percentage of their certificate sales during late November/December.
You can offer them a choice of certificates which they can use themselves or pass on as gifts including those from:
- department stores,
- petrol stations,
- speciality stores, and
- your own salon.
Strategy # 12
Lots of non-clients are looking to spoil someone they love at Christmas and what better way than with a beautiful Pamper Package at a great salon.
Your job is to make it super easy for people who have never visited your salon before to buy one (or more) from you.
Prepare a selection of three special Christmas Pamper Packages to offer as Gift Certificate sales (more than three can be confusing to the non-salon savvy consumers and less than three won’t offer sufficient choice).
Print these up on a suitable festive A4 card or laminated sheet and have them ready when a new face walks into your salon looking to make a gift certificate purchase.
Give each package:
- an enticing name (remember customers are looking for a pampering experience),
- a description of the pampering properties of each service(don’t forget to sell the benefits here),
- the amount of time the package will last, and
- a price.
Have a variety of price points ranging from just under the $100 up to $300. You could go even higher if your salon offers high price point treatments.
Remember, people who are purchasing these types of packages are looking for value but more importantly, they are looking to give a special gift to a loved one.
There is no need to discount these packages from their full price, but if you want to give a little extra, consider value-adding to them instead.
Ensure your Gift Certificate presentation is special and if any handwriting is required, make sure your staff knows that they must use their best penmanship. Have a special pen for the purpose – don’t use whatever is closest to hand to fill them in. I have seen some tragic results when this is done and it takes away from the gift.
Tissue wrap and box them for extra impact.
A beautiful presentation will not only ensure that the recipient will be delighted with their gift, but it will increase your future sales of certificates also.
Strategy # 13
It’s pointless having the most beautifully presented Christmas Gift Packs or delicious Pamper Packages available in your salon if you don’t let everyone know you have them.
Let your clients know that they can purchase their Christmas pressies from their favourite salon.
Economical marketing tools you can use to get your message out there are:
- email blasts,
- Facebook and twitter updates,
- signage in your treatment rooms, at the front desk and on your front window,
- an A-frame outside your salon, and
- good old-fashioned word of mouth from your staff.
Strategy # 14
Impulse purchase, stocking-stuffers that are fun and reasonably priced, are also a great way to boost those retail sales.
Every woman needs to buy those last-minute gifts for their kid’s teacher, co-workers, friends at the tennis club or their mother-in-law ;-), so make sure you have a display of attractive, gift wrapped, inexpensive products so she can buy them from you instead of the store down the road.
Keep them at your point of sale and make sure they are visibly priced (how else do your clients know what a great bargain they are?)
Strategy # 15
Buying in extra retail stock for Christmas in the form of Christmas packs, can put a burden on your budget and eat into your extra profits.
Instead, create a merry atmosphere in your salon by combining a selection of the products you already have into Christmas Gift Packs using cellophane and Christmas ribbon.
Make up packs for different budgets, attach a small gift card to each and voila, you not only have some lovely gifts to retail, but you will have added to the festive appearance of your salon without having to spend a great deal of extra money on any additional stock.
Make sure you have well-presented testers available for all the products you package up, so your clients can try before they buy.
Strategy # 16
Your local trading area is simply full of business owners at a loss as to what to buy their staff for Christmas!
You need to let them know you have the perfect solution to their problem.
Visit all your local business owners to let them know you have a great variety of packages available for purchase by Gift Certificate that will help them solve their gift buying dilemma for staff, friends and family.
Take some information along to leave with each business that has your business name and contact details on it.
Better still, take an order on the spot and deliver the certificates back to them. Arrange to phone them to organise payment prior to delivery.
This is a real win-win for both parties.
Strategy # 17
Everyone gets time poor and stressed around Christmas and this includes your clients. Making their appointment at the salon is often forgotten amongst the myriad of other things that need to be done.
However, you can help to solve this problem for your clients.
Ensure that your best clients don’t get left without their appointments by pre-booking them right up until Christmas.
If you are not going to see some of your most valuable clients between now and then, find the time to make contact to remind them that appointments are filling fast and that you don’t want them to miss out.
This simple action will remove the chance of a regular client missing out on their appointment and having to go elsewhere.
When you have a plan, your staff will be busy but will thrive because they have been treated well and shown appreciation. Your customers will be happy because they have received the same high standard of service that they expect, and you will have the best possible financial outcome to help you get through the quieter months ahead.
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