- Gift Vouchers or Golden Opportunities
- Good Reasons to Buy an Existing Salon
- Brand power for the beauty industry
By Paul Carbis
Always ask the person redeeming the voucher to fill out a client card before their treatment Their visit may be the start of a new client relationship.
Gift certificates are an ideal way to generate extra sales for your salon, especially at times like Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter and Mothers Day. To maximise your profits from gift voucher sales, here are some simple marketing ideas that can really help give your profits a boost.
WHO GAVE THE VOUCHER?
At the point of sale, obtain as much information as possible about the buyer of the gift voucher. If you can capture a name, contact details and why they are purchasing a gift voucher it can really help you to accurately target your market and to understand potential customers. Use the excuse that you need the information so that if the voucher is not redeemed by the expiry date you can remind the recipient to use their gift.
Now, armed with these details you can contact these purchasers again at the same time next year and remind them of this fabulous gift giving idea. Many salons produce a special pamper packages menu for people to choose wonderful treatments to go on the gift certificates.
A smart addition would be to say on the menu that gift certificates can be arranged simply by phoning the salon and providing credit card details- the gift certificate can be sent out to them without them leaving their home or office.
This is especially popular with professional offices just before events such as Mothers Day, Secretarys Day or Christmas when busy executives want an easy present on the double.
DONT WORK FOR NOTHING!
A common problem salons experience is that after events such as Christmas, everyone who received a gift voucher wants to redeem it en masse. It can be a real headache, especially for cash flow, if too many gift vouchers are redeemed in any given week.
Even though you already have the money, it is as though you are now working for nothing. Smart retailers set stringent limits on the number of vouchers each therapist redeems each day. For example, you might set a limit of two vouchers per therapist, per day.
Also try to book gift certificates in on quieter days when you normally arent busy. So if Thursday, Friday and Saturday are your busiest days for normal trade, try to book gift vouchers early in the week so they dont fill the available booking times for regular customers.
To do this, everyone making a booking must be asked how they found out about the salon. Not only is this gathering fundamental marketing information, but it will help identify those who will be redeeming a gift voucher.
WHO REDEEMS YOUR VOUCHERS?
Gift vouchers are often given to people who wouldnt typically visit a beauty clinic as a special treat, or to someone who enjoys such experiences as a thoughtful gift. In either case, you must collect as much information about these new customers as you are able.
Ask them to fill in a new client card that not only records their contact details, but information on medical and skin conditions that will help you in your product diagnosis, other services they would like to try, who referred them, concerns they might have about their skin, products they currently use and employment or lifestyle interests. These details can be used to assist with future marketing.
For example, by collecting contact details you now can thank them for visiting and invite them back with an offer thats just too good to refuse. By encouraging a second visit, you are forging a new relationship and developing the habit that their new salon of choice is yours.
THE PERFECT TIME TO UP-SELL
Since these new customers have a gift voucher in their hand, everyone knows that this is a free treatment. Staff need to be aware that this is the perfect time to suggest an upgrade to the service on the gift voucher, as the cost will be minimal to the new client. If the voucher is for a dollar amount, have staff suggest a treatment that is a little over the amount nominated. Because the extra amount to be paid is not significant and you have used language like only and just, many customers are happy to pay the little extra for an upgrade service. An example might be that the gift certificate is for a facial.
By explaining that many people enjoy a lash tint with their facial and that it really highlights your eyes, or that you are currently running a special on lash tints with any facial, you can pick up an extra $10 - $15 on each facial.
A FANTASTIC RETAIL OPPORTUNITY
Despite the fact that these customers have a gift voucher and do not have to pay for the treatment that they have just enjoyed, it is amazing how many will still reach for their wallet when they return to reception. In many cases, clients say they feel strange that they didnt have to pay.
This is an ideal chance to suggest retail product sales. Staff must be trained to reinforce the information provided during the skin diagnosis and treatment by introducing home care products to every gift voucher holder. There should be a very high retail success rate with gift certificate recipients. After all, they come into your salon and receive excellent skin care advice, enjoy a wonderful treatment and dont have to pay a cent! It stands to reason that they are more inclined to purchase product after this free attention.
DONT FORGET US!
Always send them home with free materials from your salon which boldly display your salon name, address and phone number. A price list, a special offer, a gift, some samples of recommended products for them to try, a prescription sheet detailing their skins requirements, a newsletter, fridge magnet, sticker Anything that reminds them to return.
Follow up these new clients. Either send them a letter with another invitation or contact them by phone or email to see whether they enjoyed the treatment. Its a great way to find out how their skin responded, see if liked the sample or product they took and invite them back.
Gift vouchers are a terrific income stream for our businesses. They give people an alternative to choose a treatment of their choice or try something they wouldnt normally try. Often recipients are not regular salon visitors and we have a chance to attract these customers on a more regular basis.
However, most salons I visit as a consultant do very little training in an area of maximising profits from gift vouchers.
Lets say that you sold 100 gift certificates over Christmas.
- Of those 100 people you are able to convert just 10% of them into a regular customer that spends $50 per month on products and services. Over a year that would represent $ 6000.
- Of those 100 customers you managed to sell just one retail product worth $50.00 to 20 percent of them. Thats another $ 1000.
- Of those 100 people, you up- sold a $10 lash tint to 30 percent of them. This is and extra $300 income.
- Of the 100 gift vouchers sold this year you were able to convince just 50 percent of the original purchasers to buy a $50 voucher again. Thats another $2500 in your till.
Now I have been very conservative with these estimates, but when you see figures in black and white it highlights the need to treat the handling of gift voucher clients seriously.
Paul Carbis is a business consultant to the beauty industry around the world. He is often invited to many of the international expos and conferences as a speaker as well as offering salon owners the opportunity to utilise his experience for management help and staff training.
By Greg Milner, The Marketing Guy.
So, you want to be in the beauty business? Good for you.
Of all the business choices available to you, the beauty and personal care sector is a good one.
Its a sector thats showing rapid growth. In the United States for example, between 2000 and 2001, revenue from hair salons, beauty salons, nail and tanning salons grew by a whopping 78%! (Source: US Bureau of Census)
It can also be highly profitable. Depending on how good your marketing is, and how accomplished you and your staff are at selling, owning a salon can provide a satisfying lifestyle along with a handsome income.
But heres the Big Question:
Should you start a salon business from scratch...or buy an existing one?
If youre lucky enough to have recently won Lotto....or maybe a rich aunt has died and left you a fortune...or your partner is incredibly indulgent and willing to sink tens of thousands of dollars into a start-up business...then by all means, start from scratch.
But if, like most people, you really do need sales revenue coming in from Day 1, then always, if at all possible, buy an existing salon rather than start one from scratch!
An existing salon already has customers!
Yes, its that simple. You see, one of the biggest questions many would-be business owners overlook is where am I going to get my customers from?
And its why more than 80% of businesses not just salons fail in the first couple of years.
Be in no doubt, starting a new salon from scratch is a massive undertaking. And it can be an expensive one.
Here are just a few of the things you need to have in place before you so much as accept your first customer, or make a single dollar in sales.
Where are you going to operate from? Unless you live in a big home with plenty of space for a salon, and you have council permission to operate from home, youll need to rent space. Depending on the type of service youre providing, youll need anywhere from 40 square metres to 80 square metres or more.
If youre starting a new salon, youre renting new premises. And that means youre going to have to fit it out, with treatement rooms, plumbing, electrical wiring and so on, all at considerable cost. And thats not even considering salon equipment.
In most lease arrangements, you get to use the improvements for the duration of the lease, but in many cases, the improvements revert to the property owner at the end of the lease.
The single biggest headache for any salon owner. Good beauty therapists are hard to come by. Staff turnover in the beauty industry can be high. Its as much a function of the demand for therapists as it is a function of the dreams of youth. Beauty therapists are often young, and young therapists tend to want to do what other young people do; travel and spread their wings.
What you buy will depend on the type of services youre going to offer. But for a start-up business, the list is a long, long one.
Treatment tables, basins, equipment trolleys, electronic machinery such as microdermabrasion equipment or IPL machines, perhaps a hydrotherapy tub, a tanning booth, a solarium. Then theres back-of-house equipment such as a washing machine and dryer, a stereo for soft, piped music, furniture for the reception area, a computer and printer, a cash register.
How long is that piece of string?
Unless you already have connections in the industry, youll have to establish relationships and accounts with some of the major product suppliers. Few will be prepared to offer extended credit facilities for a start-up business.
And thats just a brief and by no means comprehensive list.
But by far the most urgent need for any new salon business is...customers! Without customers, all your efforts in setting up a nice salon, with a cost atmosphere and aesthetic design, are for nothing.
7 Great Reasons to Buy an Existing Salon.
If the salon youre buying has been operating for any length of time, it already has a list of regular and not-so-regular clients. It has a database, or mailing list, of names and addresses you can market to.This is the true value of any business.
Most would-be business owners dont pay nearly enough attention to the immense value of a good, up-to-date mailing list. It is the pot of gold, the farm from which youll draw your on-going revenue, yet so many new business owners are focussed on the peripherals like equipment, leases, finding staff.
None of these things matter if there are no customers to serve!
Yes, if youre buying a salon, you do need to pay attention to the quality of the client list how many repeat clients there are, the average spend per visit, how many times theyve been mailed to but at least there is a list, which is a lot more than can be said for a start-up salon!
Yes, you need to carefully protect that list, and rigorously negotiate with the out-going owner the details of who now owns the clients. And yes, you do need to pay attention to the possibility of existing staff leaving you and taking their best clients with them.
When you buy an existing salon, its likely to be already equipped. Maybe not to the level that youd like, maybe not with the quality of equipment that youd like. But it gives you a base to work with, and the price youre paying for the salon business is more than likely to include the equipment at a heavily discounted price.
Its a fact that hardware depreciates rapidly. Why buy equipment new, at relaltively high prices, when you can buy an existing salon that a) already has customers, and b) already has equipment in it?
If youre starting a salon from scratch, you not only need to find customers, you need to find staff to look after them.
But if youre buying an existing salon, staff are more often than not already in place...and they know the customers.
Fight to keep existing staff, even if only for the short term. Theyre the best insurance you have against losing customers on take-over.
Recently, a salon owner I know bought an existing salon, and only after settlement did she realise that the previous owner had not bothered to take out one of the most important pieces of marketing collateral a Yellow Pages ad.
But in most cases, when youre buying an existing salon, it will already have certain fixed marketing systems in place. Check that theres a Yellow Pages ad in the book already.
It might not be the best ad in the world (unless the previous owner had already bought the Essential Salon Owners Marketing Toolkit!) but itll be better than nothing. And if the salon already has a website, make sure you get to keep it.
As I said, starting a business from scratch any business, not just a salon is an enormous task. And it could be months before you bring in enough in sales to be able to breathe.
But if youre buying an existing salon, at least you have revenue from the get-go. Might not be enough, for sure, but you can bet your bottom dollar itll be a lot more than if youd just hung out your shingle, and hoped.
Greg Milner is author and publisher of the Essential Salon Owners Marketing Toolkit, a complete off-the-shelf manual of ads, sales letters and newsletters that have been proven to work in the salon business.
He is a former Executive Producer of News for both Channel 7 and Channel 9, and now consults on direct response marketing to a wide variety of businesses.
Congratulations! Your doors are finally open and youre ready for clients to come in youve secured reputable skincare brands to use on your clients, youve got the latest most cutting edge IPL machine and youve selected a great name for your business. You even have a doctor or nurse who delivers injectables every 2 weeks.
So, how do you know that a client is going to select your business over another one with the same offerings? What will draw them to walk through your doors rather than theirs? What happens in 5 years time when you want to move on, to capitalize on your long hours of work can you sell your business? Have you built a brand?
You may think that the word brand only belongs to the big boys to Virgin (the love brand of the century), to Nike, or to Dove, but youre wrong. Any business or professional that delivers a service is able to develop a brand of their own.
Lets take Dr Leonard Hoffenberg, successful Cosmetic Dentist hes created a brand called TLC Dental. It positions him as being someone that cares, that looks after and nurtures his patients. It gives the potential patient a glimpse of what they may expect when they visit his practice. When you arrive at the practice you will see that the promise of TLC (tender loving care) carries right through every experience the logo is clear and gentle in its nature, the colours of the practice are comforting; the lighting is gentle, the team are full of smiles and warmth; there is a gentle scent of aromatherapy oils and a pale pink light to calm those nerves.
In addition, the corporate materials reflect the same feel approachable, stylish, inviting and friendly down to a testimonial from his client the master of the virtually painless injection.
Here we see how a brand has been created with a simple strategy and the success speaks for itself. Already, there is interest from investors in his brand. Take a look: http://www.tlcdental.com.au/
So what is a brand?
According to advertising guru David Ogilvy: a brand is the intangible sum of a products attributes: its name, packaging, decor, price, its history, its reputation and the way it is advertised. It is the name or symbol that is used to sell products or services.
It is the emotional connection which its customers have when they think about you. It is the total experience which they have with you what they see (the salon outfit, the printed materials); the relationship they have with your team; its about the level and standard of experience from start to finish and even after they have walked out the door - it runs through the entire company.
A brand has the ability to influence your business externally as well as internally and has long lasting effects:
Defines how you grow and retain market share;
Defines how you attract and retain employees;
Defines how you stave off your competitors;
Defines how you are able to enter into new areas successfully;
Enables you to command premium prices and
Enables you to capitalize on goodwill and sell your business further down the line, or attract investors.
Similarly, brand equity is a term that is used to describe the added value effects and contributions that establishing a brand can have on a business. One can measure this effect by looking at four main criteria:
Loyalty referring to the emotional bond between the business and the customer which increases repeat purchase (isnt that what we are all after?). Do you assess what clients feel about their experience at your clinic? Do you have surveys? Do you encourage feedback? Do you collect testimonials? And, if you have negative feedback, what do you do about it? How good is your customer resolution policy?
Awareness defining level of familiarity with the brand. How well known is your brand? Do you advertise? Do you have a publicity campaign? Do you send out a quarterly newsletter or regular flyers? Do you use networks to spread the word? Do you participate in sponsorships to build your name and credibility?
Perceived Quality expectations of quality of service. What are your service level standards? Do you have set guidelines for your team and does the business consistently deliver on its promise?
Associations what feelings people associate with your business. Is the client experience interesting? Better than your competitors? Is it a feel good experience?
How then do you go about creating a brand?
First and most importantly do your research:
1. Identify your target market
Identifying your target market is the most important element to consider before steam rolling ahead into the design phase.
Knowing your target market and understanding how to apply the psychology of effective brand strategy, will allow you to construct a tone of voice to aid in the success of your business.
Remember, this is a good looking market which requires a good looking solution!
2. Evaluate the market
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your market, the area and your business. Look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that face it externally and internally.
Following on that detailed research you will have a good idea of how to position your brand. If you are an existing business and want to re-brand, have a clear idea of what has worked to date and what hasnt. From the experience right down to your image (i.e. what your materials, clinic outfit) both inside and out.
3. Evaluate the experience in your clinic
Assess your level of service, have a look at issues such as before and after treatments the experience the client has and level of service offered;
Your corporate materials (printed, electronic, signage e.g. if you scattered them across a beach interspersed with other clinic material, would you be able to identify all those that are yours?)
The telephone service and of course, the treatments themselves the products used in your clinic and their respective philosophies; your team how they dress, how they speak, their general approach.
Once you have evaluated these and you have a clear understanding of where your business is at this time, start to think about how you may create a brand. Remember, it takes time, but if you proceed carefully down the path, evaluating at each step, and building the blocks slowly, whilst listening to your customers along the way, you are sure to create a brand that reaps success.
Gill Fish and Kerry Baranov are brand builders at the below-the-line Marketing, PR & Design company, BRAND NEW SOLUTIONS, which specializes in the wellness, anti-ageing and good looks market. The BNS team of experts developed the concept of Newzine delivering customized newsletters in magazine style for clinics, salons and surgeons internationally. The team has decades of experience with design, media and publishing and extensive experience on some
of the worlds leading anti-ageing brands. Visit www.brandnewsolutions.com.au or call + 61 2 8356 9595