We’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.
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.
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!