We asked three salon business experts to share their tips for making this year’s busy holiday season the most profitable one your salon has ever had–and not one of them involves a coupon.
1. Create a plan. Get the team on board.
“I have been thinking about and planning for the holidays since August,” says Sara Stancu, the manager of a salon and retail shop, who has over 20 years of experience in customer service and sales. The most important part of planning for the holidays? Retail. “Retail is a vital part of any salon, not only for the profits but for client retention. At least once a week one of our retail customers becomes a client of our salon, because we offer an array of products and take the time to explain the product they are purchasing and how to apply it…the salon they used to go to does not.” Make sure your salon team knows the strategy and products well.
2. Review last year’s sales.
Marion Shaw, a long time salon business coach, consultant and author of “Waiting for the Busy Bus,” suggests reviewing what went down during the previous holiday season in the salon. “If something was highly successful and is still appropriate, then do it again. Never repeat last year’s mistakes!” she warns. Look at the volume of sales from your promotions, whether your business grew, by how much and how much you spent. “Based on this year’s growth and last year’s sales, set your budget for ordering, using your overall retail margin as a guideline.”
There are bound to be holiday events in your community, from concerts, church events and shopping nights. “Piggy-back your salon or spa services onto these events!” says Elizabeth Kraus, owner of Be InPulse branding, marketing and design, and the author of marketing books and marketing calendars for salons and spas. “Create on-the-road services and prepare theatre members, choir singers and instrumentalists for their plays and concerts. Create concert-prep promotions for makeup and hair styling before events.” Reach out into the community to tap into a new client base.
4. Take advantage of retail perks during the holiday season.
“Many holiday packs come with a free sample size of a new product – A terrific way of introducing your clientele to a new product,” suggests Stancu. “All holiday packs offer a HUGE savings, some up to 40% off, which is another great way to introduce your clientele to a new product line.” It’s especially great at a time when clients are already worried about spending too much. “Holiday packs are a great introduction to your clientele to show them the difference between professional salon products and the ones that they find at the drug store.”
5. Sell even when you’re closed.
“Most businesses will have irregular hours near Christmas and the New Year holidays,” says Kraus. “Any time you are going to be closed when you would normally be open, there is a chance that a customer could be inconvenienced by stopping by locked doors. “ You can still use communications (like the web or direct mail) to let customers know about hour changes while also promoting your business! Try posting your stores house plus your top five gift suggestions, special promotions, bundled services, new products, or information on events you’re hosting or charity initiatives you support.
6. Pre-book for holiday parties.
“You will be doing your clients a favor if you get them to pre-book their appointments from now, through the busy holiday season and into the New Year,” says Kraus. “While you are booking their regular appointments, don’t forget to ask about special events they plan to attend or participate in during the holiday season. It may well be that they would appreciate having you prepare their hair, makeup or nails before-hand and there may very well be special salon products you could recommend to keep their looks intact during events.”
7. Come up with last minute gift packages for male clients.
Holiday packs are great for last minute gift ideas. “Husbands and partners LOVE them! It takes away all the guess work about what to buy and the product is pre-packed – so they don’t have to worry about a box or bag,” explains Stancu.
8. Consider a new product mix.
Shaw recommends having a wide range of different products on your salon’s retail shelves. “Make sure there is a good mix of product based on your target market and who they will be buying for. Remember that many of the purchases will be for stocking stuffers, so think of your clients’ budgets for this. Great men’s products and packs are often a relief for buying for that difficult man who has everything.” Shaw also suggests getting some items you wouldn’t normally stock, like bath and body items, accessories, locally designed jewellery, etc., which can be great impulse buys.
9. Pass holiday savings onto clients.
“Flat irons and curling irons are always on sale in November and December. This means you can retail them at a lower price than suggested retail value,” says Stancu. Just make sure to explain the difference between professional styling tools and department store ones (i.e. telling them that they can have the same curls at home or the same sleek straight hair at home with the tools you sell – they will buy them.
10. Create special service packages.
“What will your clients appreciate in the colder weather and in the lead up to the holidays?” asks Shaw. Make sure your salon is a one stop shop for the holiday season. Offer holiday package bundles that include hair, nails and makeup application. You may also want to consider opening late on a popular holiday party night and feature updo ideas, polish changes and makeup application services, allowing clients to choose a service add-on on the spot.
11. Don’t forget to push gift cards.
Gift cards are the perfect way to relieve your client’s present-giving stress and potentially earn new clients. “Position your spa or salon gift cards…by packaging them with accessories, gift baskets and other items which can easily be given as presents during the holiday season,” suggests Kraus. Also, use signage that draws attention to a problem that a gift card would solve, such as using them for last minute gift ideas, extra offerings for unexpected guests, a picky mother-in-law present, office Kris Kringles—anything that that really spells out how versatile it can be during the season. Make sure to clearly state or illustrate (with images) the products and services for which they can be exchanged to entice customers even more.
12. Consider a private shopping event.
Clients love feeling special, so Shaw suggests putting together some private shopping events for your clients and their friends. “Make them fun with draws for products and services, mini demos and tasty nibblies and wine.” This is a creative way to break through all of the marketing noise that you’ll be competing with during the holidays.
13. Ask your rep for a gift giveaway/draw.
“Speak with your reps. Many times they are able to give you a holiday pack free of charge that in turn you can offer as a draw to all of your clientele and customers,” says Stancu. “Every December our shop offers draws every week until Christmas – it’s always a hit!”
Make sure any special events, promotions, or gift ideas, are shared on your website, social media networks and anywhere else you can post your messages (community events or partnering businesses). “On your website, email newsletter and social media profiles, post pictures, step-by-steps and service/product shopping lists that feature celebrity and holiday hair, makeup and nail looks,” suggests Kraus. This is a great way to inspire clients and entice them to come to the salon.
15. You can still use leftover holiday retail.
If you have leftover holiday packs (which you shouldn’t if everyone at the salon is promoting them with every customer), Stancu suggests separating each product and putting in on sale a few dollars less than regular retail. “Your clientele are still receiving a savings and your salon is still making a profit.”