Know what your salon needs? Guess again.

I know it’s there somewhere. Where have you hidden it?

what-your-salon-needs-1I bet, buried in your salon, there’s a piece of equipment you purchased thinking it would revolutionise the way you do business. That would lead to complete strangers queuing in the street to try it out.

You probably bought it with the lure of it being The Next Big Thing at a very special price.

But instead, it’s sat in a corner, gathering dust. The most expensive pot plant stand you ever bought.

Don’t worry, we’ve all done it! My question is, what have you learned from it?

Do your research

Bringing in new equipment can dramatically upset the dynamics of a business. It might not even address the right demographic for you. If your market is mainly nails and lashes, for example, do you know for sure that the latest anti-ageing technology is attractive to your current customer base? And does your salon’s present image automatically appeal to a new anti-ageing market?

Maybe. Maybe not. But unless you ask, you’ll never find out. Who do you ask? Your clients, of course. There’s no one better placed to tell you exactly what they want. Make sure you ask them all and not just the ones who you know will give you the answers you want to hear.

So often it seems we salon owners are afraid of honest feedback from our customers. But there really is no other way to hear the truth. It’s absolutely essential to first understand your target market and then address their needs.

Create a client avatar

Customer avatars, sometimes called buyer personas, are a seriously helpful way to get to know your clients. Creating an avatar involves finding out various characteristics of your top clients – their background, what they love, who influences them, what challenges them, their ambitions, how they want to interact with you and so on – and collecting them together into one, “average” customer.

That might seem a lot of detail, but the more information you gather, the better you can predict what your average customer wants and how they’ll behave.

Getting the data you need isn’t as tough as it sounds. You can simply ask the right questions during natural conversation or put together some simple surveys to gather feedback. Your regular customers will usually be delighted to help you improve your service to them.

No more guessing games

Once you have your avatar and start asking your clients for their input, you can put a stop to all your guesswork. How can you know if your idea will boost your business if you don’t know who you’re targeting and what drives them?

Guessing can cost you a fortune.
Take my own salon as an example of how easy it is to waste money this way:

Bored of having looked at the same design for a while, I set out to revamp our reception area with an exciting new décor. I was all ready to go until I paused, quizzed our loyal customers and discovered they much preferred our current look and image. What an expensive, pointless upheaval that saved!

So don’t drive customers away by making uninformed judgements based on nothing but your own guesswork – get asking!

Not only will you learn the best ways to invest in your business but, by engaging your clients with such a genuine, honest approach, you’ll make them feel an important part of the decision-making process, increasing their loyalty into the bargain.

It’s a real win-win!

Here’s to your great business in 2017!

Susan x

Ho Ho No-No: How to Avoid the Post-Christmas Bust

how-to-avoid-the-post-christmas-bustWe’ve all done it. In fact, it’s pretty much the seasonal staple of our industry.

The frenzied activity of the Christmas run-in, when our books are full to bursting and takings are boosted by runaway gift voucher sales, gives way to the icy standstill of January. Costs far outstrip revenue. The only customers crossing the threshold are those with pre-paid vouchers for free treatments. New Year always starts with a fight to get into the black.

Sound familiar? Sure, as I wrote in an earlier post, gift voucher customers are worth more than you might think, but there must be a better way, mustn’t there?

Fortunately, there is.

It took me a while to figure it out, but I got there and I promise it makes a huge difference. The secret is staying ahead of the game.

Think ahead

Rather than focussing solely on filling the salon before Christmas, put some work into booking your regular client appointments three, or even six, months in advance.

This way, rather than be faced with a blank void to fill in January and February, you can slot those gift voucher clients around the steady income generated by your regulars. Because you’re giving priority to your loyal customer base, you can frame it with them as the reward it is, rather than any sort of imposition.

It really does work. And the best thing is, you can use this approach to help plan your business throughout the entire yearly cycle, flattening out peaks and troughs.

I know what you’re thinking. How do you persuade clients to book ahead? It’s all about getting your salon systemised and there are two main strategies.

Write a great script

Not a film script, a rebooking script. If you and your team can clearly explain to clients that you value their loyalty and don’t want them to miss out on their preferred time and day, the threat of scarce availability encourages booking ahead.

You can deepen the sense of scarcity by initially offering a small selection of times on the chosen date, instead of posing open questions such as, “What time would you like that day?” Of course, it’s sensible to suggest times that you expect your customer will want.

Best of all, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you’re booking key slots weeks in advance, your schedule always remains loaded and it’s genuinely tougher to get in.

Reward loyalty

The second best-practice is to incentivise early rebooking. A great way to start is by offering extra loyalty points. If you don’t yet have a loyalty scheme, this excellent article both explains why you should and showcases some clever apps that make it easy for you.

Be sure to price treatments so that you’re still making a profit by getting clients to block book, offering either a small gift or special price as the incentive.

Once you’ve got your booking in place, there’s still one more trick up your sleeve: retail. Don’t forget, as well as being outstanding festive gifts, the products you sell are used by your customers, their friends and family all year. So get a bold display in the eyeline of clients waiting for treatments and preparing to pay. These wonderful revenue boosters should be working for you every single month!

So there you have it. With a bit of simple planning, you can give yourself not just a merry Christmas but a prosperous New Year too. In fact, once fully in place, this approach goes a long way to securing a fantastic, stable base month-after-month, year-after-year.

Good luck and here’s to your great business in 2017!


Maximise Your Gift Voucher Sales this Christmas!

Wouldn’t you like your share of a £5.4 billion gift voucher market?

christmas-giftvoucher-salesThat’s what’s at stake in the UK gift voucher industry every single year. And with 50% to 60% of all gift voucher sales made in the final push towards Christmas, perfecting these crucial last few weeks can guarantee a five-star finish to your festive period.

Incredibly, according to the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association, growth in gift voucher sales has doubled over the past decade, with Health & Beauty again one of the top performing sectors last year.

So how can you make sure you get your slice of the (mince) pie? Here are my six top tips for maximising your gift voucher sale this Christmas:

1. Dazzle with eye-catching displays

You know how great vouchers are for your business, your clients know how great your service is, so why are you hiding those amazing little cards under the reception desk?! Get them out, dust them off and put them front and centre. Produce an attractive display that’s impossible to miss – if clients are asking whether you sell vouchers then you haven’t made it obvious enough! Don’t forget, voucher buyers may well be introducing new, long-term clients to your salon.

2. Shout about your vouchers!

Year-after-year, vouchers are the most requested Christmas present. They’re also extremely personal and versatile. Your salon is a great option for seasonal voucher giving because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to treat a loved one to a luxurious pampering that makes them feel special? So drop the subject in to conversation. You might just make that little lightbulb go off for someone.

Don’t restrict your efforts to only attracting women, either. While they may be slightly more likely to buy vouchers, this is offset by the increased amount men spend – 12% more per gift card, in fact.
Most guys don’t relish the thought of Christmas shopping so making the process as easy as possible will go a long way to make your business the first stop on their shopping list.

3. Goody bags are good for business

If you can pack an added bonus with your vouchers then you’re creating something even more special to tuck under the Christmas tree. Get in touch with your suppliers, see what samples they can send you and pack them up nicely to accompany every voucher sale. Both the gift giver and the recipient are sure to appreciate the extra touch of festive cheer, boosting your reputation even further.

4. Get wrapping

Another way you can make a lovely, personal gift look and feel truly exclusive is to provide a free wrapping service. For the price of a length of ribbon and a roll or two of good quality wrapping paper you can enhance the whole experience from point of purchase onwards. It only takes a moment longer and you might even be able to prep some of it ahead of time.

5. Wish lists for the win

This is a great idea, especially for your regular clients. Not everyone gets exactly what they’d hoped for at Christmas, do they? I’m sure we’ve all been there! So why not encourage clients to create their dream wish list of favourite products and services from your salon? They can share their list with whoever they want and you can keep a copy at the front desk, ready to tick items off as friends and relatives call up or pop in to buy tailored vouchers for luxurious things their loved ones adore.

An easy way to a happy Christmas!

6. Love your loyalty card holders

Do you run a loyalty card scheme? Consider promoting a limited-time offer of double loyalty card points with every gift voucher purchase. Maybe you could provide an even greater benefit if they use the points during the quieter first month of the year? That way, your voucher buyers feel like they’re getting a nice treat for themselves too.

If you’re wondering why you’d bother putting additional effort and expense into giving your gift voucher customers so much added sparkle then consider these final facts: 83% of gift card buyers expect to buy more than one card. And 57% of gift voucher recipients spend over and above the voucher amount, on average shelling out a whopping 42% more!

Convinced yet? You should be. So get out there and make the most of your gift voucher sales before Christmas passes you by!

Here’s to your great business!

Susan x

Interview with Catherine Trebble, Website & Social Media Expert

I’ve got a real treat for you this week…

Last week I invited you to post all of your social media issues in the Ask Susan Box. Wow, that turned out to be a real hot topic for so many of us!

I sifted through the most frequent questions and then I posed these questions to Catherine Trebble, Website & Social Media Expert in my Salon Success Freedom programme.

In this 11-minute video interview Catherine answered these questions, and she gave some fantastic tips on how you can maximise your online marketing.

Catherine is making a special gift for the viewers of this video to help you make your Facebook posts look Extra Special.

You don’t want to miss this content packed video. Grab a coffee plus a pen and paper and click on the Play button.



Here’s to your great business success,

Susan x

P.S. Make sure you post your details in the Ask Susan box to gain access your gift from Catherine…