It happens once a year, and it’s just around the corner…you guessed it. Christmas is just about here and with it, all the mad rushing, hair-pulling and stress elevating events that make up the silly season in most salons.
So let’s examine a few of the things that tend to have you reaching for a headache tablet in the lead up to Christmas, and what you can do to prevent or at least minimise them.
Sort out your staff requirements as early as possible. Check back over last year’s figures to pinpoint your busiest days. When did it start to get frantically busy in your salon? One week out, two weeks out? Once you understand the flow of the business, you can adjust your roster so that all therapists are available to work when you need them to.
Give your staff as much notice as possible for their rostered hours, and make sure you put it in writing and give a copy to each staff member individually. Also, put a copy on your notice board so that no-one can say they didn’t know when they were expected to work.
It’s also important to take into consideration that your staff members need some time off to prepare for their own family celebrations. It might be wise to check with them when creating your roster as to what time off they require. The last thing you need is an appointment column full of clients and a staff member who requests last minute time off, or worse still calls in sick on the day.
Because Christmas requires everyone to work pretty much non-stop over a long period of time, consider ways to say “thank you” to your staff members in advance of the mad rush. Small tokens of appreciation will help to keep them happy and motivated along the way. Perhaps you could:
Offer them discounts on Salon Vouchers that they can gift to friends and family (saving them money).
- Offer them special pricing on your retail products (once again to use as gifts).
- Reward them for reaching targets with little extras like movie tickets or department store vouchers.
- A Scratchy card at the end of each day with a personal thank you.
- Provide a fresh healthy lunch each day with nuts, fruit, sandwiches and juices to keep up their energy and save them some valuable time so they can put their feet up and relax for a few minutes.
- Bring in a mobile massage therapist to offer short back, shoulder and neck massages at the end of a busy day.
There are many things you can do to make your staff members realise how much you appreciate their efforts, because they will work much harder for a boss who they know appreciates them, than for someone who is simply seen as a bit of a slave driver chasing every last penny for themselves.
Look after your regular clients first. Everything seems to turn upside down at Christmas. Regular clients who have never missed an appointment simply don’t arrive, and others turn up on completely the wrong day. Your clients are busy people; they’re stressed, and often the last thing on their mind is their appointment at your salon or spa.
To avoid wasting valuable appointment times, and if you’re not currently doing so, make sure every client receives a reminder call or text 24-48 hours before their appointment time. Ask the client to respond with a Y or N to ensure they have received and read their reminder. This is very important, as it helps to embed the reminder in the client’s mind, and they are then less likely to forget it. The last thing you want to have happen is a regular client disappointed because she missed her appointment and had to go without, or worse still, go elsewhere.
If you still have some appointment times available and you know some of your regulars have not yet booked, be proactive and give them a call to book them in for their services. If they can’t get their services with you when they finally remember to ring, they’ll look elsewhere, which means you may not see them again in the New Year. Don’t let those valuable spaces get booked up with clients you have never seen before and may never see again, at the expense of losing a long term and loyal client.
It’s still inevitable that you’ll still have some no-shows at this time of year, so have a list of waiting clients who can pop in quickly and fill the empty spot. For large appointments or new clients, consider taking a deposit to secure the spot during this busy time.
Another thing that you must consider is the quality of the services you provide to your clients. Now is not the time to disappoint your regulars by cutting corners to fit more people in. These loyal clients want to look their best at this time of year and a second rate service won’t cut it for them.
Many salons lose valuable long term clients each year using this negative strategy of overbooking. A penny earned may end up being a pound wasted.
Have ample retail stock to see you through. A lost sale can never be reclaimed. You can’t sell a product that you don’t have in stock, so make sure you’re carrying ample retail stock to see you through until your suppliers come back from their holiday break.
Ensure you’re well stocked up on products that are easy to sell through impulse purchasing by your clients. Who isn’t looking for small gifts to use as stocking stuffers before Christmas? Even though clients tend not to make retail purchases for themselves at Christmas, they are all looking for small gifts to give family, friends, co-workers and the kids’ teachers.
Organise your small gift items into price categories so that clients can easily see the cost and make a quick purchasing decision. Use signage like the department stores; Gifts under $15, Gifts under $20, etc. To help move this stock even more rapidly, consider wrapping a couple of items from each group in cellophane with ribbon and attach a gift tag. By doing this, you’ve created a ready-made gift-giving solution for your clients, which is just what they’re looking for when their time is limited.
Market for profit. Even though Christmas can be one of the busiest times of year for a salon, you can generate even more income with a little bit of clever marketing. Instead of being reactive and just waiting to get whatever comes your way, become proactive, and maximise your revenue to reach even higher levels.
Begin with your Christmas Gift Voucher sales. Instead of letting clients come in and choose a voucher for $50 or $100, create enticing packages that will help you sell vouchers for a higher price point. Using a variety of price points, gather together a small group of complementary services that will form a few luxurious sounding packages.
Add variety by making some packages all body treatments (great for guys), some all face focussed and some mixed. Present your packages as a journey of pampering. People will spend more when you create a positive emotion through your descriptions, so don’t just make a dot point list of services.
Give yourself the opportunity to up-sell Upgrade Packages to the end user, by incorporating smaller treatments that can be upgraded. For example, a package may contain a complete facial but only a back massage; a complete pedicure but only a file and polish for the hands. These combinations allow you to create Up-sell Packages that can earn your salon additional income during the quiet months that follow.
Bookings can be another area where you can miss opportunities. With each booking taken, make sure to offer the clients additional services that complement what she has booked in for. If the client is a regular and you have her history on hand, quickly check it out to see what she’s had in the past that she may want to have again. Just adding a small extra service such as a last tint or brow shape could add over an extra $1000 to your takings in just one week.
Put you first. Now’s not the time for a meltdown. People are relying on you. Your staff members need you to be strong, clear-headed and show great leadership, and your clients need you to make sure they’ll look and feel their best for their end of year celebrations.
But how can you do all this? Well, it takes a little will-power, but before all hell lets loose, you must decide what hours your salon is going to open and be prepared to stick with your decision. No staying back late at night to just do one more facial, no squeezing in an extra client during the day that is going to stress you out for the entire day.
To stay feeling sane and in control, you must be just that; in control. Your time is finite and it must be totally protected. Yes, you want to maximise your income, but not at the expense of your well-being and the well-being of those around you.
Make sure you’re getting loads of great nourishment, leave the drinking and partying until after the Christmas rush, get lots of quality sleep and stay determined to not let outside influences and other people’s stress seep into your life. If you’re beginning to feel stressed simply stop, find a quiet place, take a dozen deep breaths and centre yourself. Let that stress seep away before you make decisions or take any actions.
Planning ahead is your greatest friend at this time of year. Don’t just let Christmas happen to you. Make it happen with a plan in mind that allows you to stay in control and maintain your sanity. And most of all, once the rush is over and the doors are closed, relax and enjoy a wonderful and relaxing Christmas with family and friends. Remember you’ll never look back later in life and say “I wish I’d spent more time away from my family each year to make more money at Christmas”.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, from me and mine.
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