1. Stop discounting.
Discounting your products and services will almost always lead you down the road to financial stress.
I know you have most likely heard and read this message many times over from a variety of sources, and yet it continues to happen in most salons. It may seem like a good short-term solution to get money in the door and boost your bank balance temporarily, but gaining those few extra dollars in the short-term may have a long-term detrimental impact on your business.
Once offered at a discounted price, the integrity of your services becomes damaged permanently. Clients will wait for the services that they used to pay full price for, to be offered again at a discount rate before purchasing from you, and will begin to look elsewhere if you don’t keep those discounts coming.
Discounting reduces the true value of your services in the eyes of your clients.
Discounting makes you look desperate for business.
Is this really the message you want your customers to receive from you? If not, don’t discount – value-add instead.
Unless you are a whiz at maths, discounting will often cause you to lose money and lots of it. When is the last time you costed your services properly to determine how much profit you are actually making? If you haven’t done it lately (or have never done it), do it now. You may be shocked to learn that you are already barely breaking even given what your costs really are.
Tip: When calculating your products costs within a service, I suggest you double the costs provided by your suppliers. You would be shocked to know just how much excess product your team use in the treatment room or even worse, flush down the sink at the end of a treatment.
2. Start value-adding.
Instead of throwing money away by offering business destroying discounts, try value adding to your services when doing promotions or creating new packages.
The secret to successful value-adding lies in what you actually “add”. Unfortunately, when done badly, this can backfire on your business and damage the rapport you have built with your clients.
For instance, just recently I received a flyer from one of my local salons offering me and “Incredible” $180 dollars worth of services for just $79. WOW, that sounded like an offer not to be missed, but when I checked out what was really on offer, I found that all that I was getting was a complimentary hand massage, head massage, and “special mask” treatment.
In actual fact, all of these things were included in their regular treatment and I knew it. Bad promotion. Now I feel cheated and lied to.
Don’t treat your clients like they are fools. If you are going to value add, make it genuine and use the opportunity to introduce your clients to something new or not well known on your service menu, that they will enjoy and perhaps try again.
3. Freshen up – re-invent and re-package your services.
Freshen up your service menu and create renewed interest from your clients.
How long have you been using the same old treatment and package names on your menu? Clients like to see something fresh along with their old favourites. This gives the impression of staying up to date within the industry. So this is your opportunity to bring some zing into your salon by making your old and tired services look and sound more appealing.
Ask yourself this question when setting out to re-invent your menu.” What message would I like my clients to receive when they read my service menu”?
Where do you start?
First, consider how you want your clients to think of you. Are you remedial, relaxing, holistic or something else altogether? Once you have made your decision about what your message should be, you have established the basis of how you want your salon and your services to be perceived and named.
Remember when you are thinking of renaming your services, keep in mind that you should be selling the benefits that the client will receive, not the ingredient listing in the products you will be using.
Nothing sounds worse or less appealing to a client than a treatment called “The Hydroxy Acid Peel”. The clients are much more interested in what the service will do for them, rather than what products are in it. Much better to go with something like “Skin Renewal Treatment”. This describes the benefits much more accurately for your clients and they are not left guessing if they have chosen the right treatment.
Tip: If you are hanging on to old prices and outdated services because you still have a ton of services menus that you had printed cheaply, it’s time to throw them in the bin. They are simply costing you money and retarding business growth.
4. Get rid of the ‘minis’ on your menu.
After looking through many salon service menus, I am always amazed to see treatments labelled with Mini, Petite, or Express.
Are these the treatments that you really want your clients choosing from your menu?
Not only is it nearly impossible to get the desired outcome from a mini anything service, but you are encouraging your clients to start at the bottom end of your services, both in quality and price and probably never move up from that spot.
My recommendation is that if you really, really have to have these treatments available at all, that you do yourself a major favour and at least take them off your service menu – they do not add to the image of a professional, results driven salon.
Instead, use the additional space you have created to better explain the services you know will produce great results for your clients.
5. Re-invigorate your Pamper Packages.
Pamper packages (as opposed to the bulk purchase of the same services), are often sold as Gift Certificates. You already know that Gift Certificates can create fantastic income as well as being a great way to gain new clients for your salon.
With this in mind, it is important that the services you package together are appealing to the potential purchasers and make good sense.
Look at what your salon clients love to have most often as pampering style treatments (your hero services) and make these the basis of your newly built packages. Don’t include services that no one wants (after all, who really wants a bikini wax in their pamper package).
Once you have decided what you are going to offer in your newly re-structured package, you need to add the perfect description that will leave your customer no choice but to purchase a Gift Certificate for someone special.
Tip: Pamper packages never need to be discounted. Think about using the ‘Value Add” philosophy instead. The client who buys a Gift Certificate from you is looking to spoil someone they love, and what they really want from you is to be sure that the recipient of the certificate is going to be pampered and treated like a VIP.
6. Market your salon or spa to those who are interested.
Many salon owners find marketing to be one of their biggest challenges and often confuse advertising with marketing. They are not the same thing. Marketing encompasses all of the things that you do to promote your unique message to existing and potential clients and only a relatively small portion of that is your advertising.
There are many things you can do to market your salon without spending an arm or leg in advertising and the best place to start is with your own database.
Using the contacts that you already have, assures you that you are targeting people who have proven to you that they are interested in what you have to offer. After all, they have already done business with you at least once.
Referral and loyalty programmes for your salon are both tried and tested ways to retain existing clients as well as attract the right kind of new clients to your salon.
Too many salons spend a small fortune on trying to attract new clients into their salon, whereas it is much more cost effective to retain the clients they have already attracted and to reactivate clients who have strayed away. When you stay in touch with your existing clients on a regular basis through newsletters (email or snail mail), remember their birthdays, thank them for their referrals and offer them special incentives, your clients will be more likely to feel a rapport with your salon and less likely to look elsewhere for their beauty needs.
Marketing is also about the consistency and quality of the services you and your staff provide, so don’t neglect this essential aspect of your business.
Remember, everything you do contributes to your marketing message, so take the time to re-evaluate all aspects of your business to ensure that your salon is as appealing to your existing and potential customers as possible.
Tip: Why not consider a team meeting where your staff can put forward ideas on ways to improve your business. After all, they are the ones working with your clients each and every day and will be those hearing what your clients are asking for.
7. Start a professional development program for you and your team.
When you spend money on professional development you are making an investment in the success of your business.
The very best place to begin your team’s professional development program is in your own salon. Every team member needs to have their procedures reviewed regularly to ensure that they are delivering the same high standard of work as you trained them in when they started working in your salon (you did train them didn’t you?) Consistently delivered services are essential to client retention.
As each new team member comes on board you must ensure that they are trained in your preferred techniques and products before they even treat their first client. You must then review all of your team regularly to ensure that they have not let any bad old habits creep back into their routines.
By creating your own procedure manual for services, you will ensure that each team member has the knowledge that they need at their fingertips that will allow them to deliver a consistent service to your clients. Every new team member deserves, at the very least, to be provided with full training on the services your salon provides so that they can work to the very highest level of performance.
Once you have your service training in place, consider moving on to training your team in essential areas such as customer service, client re-booking and customer friendly product recommendation. This is where the services of a good industry trainer or experienced business coach may be useful to you. Often this type of training is better received by your team from an “outsider”.
Not just your team need professional development though. If you are great at what you do as a therapist, but not so great at running the business side of things, invest in some quality business guidance for yourself. This can make all the difference between making a success of your business or going broke.
To run a successful business is a skill that needs to be learned, so make sure that you don’t neglect this in your own personal professional development program.
Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. Anthony J. D’Angelo
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