Money Matters

Salon Coach Offers Book-Building Basics

Coach advises nail tech that to serve her primary customers, she'll have to change her hours to accommodate them. 

Editor’s note: Winner of our August 2004 Win a Business Coach Contest, nail tech Adriane Smith of Personal Touch in King Mountain, N.C., recently receive two hours of consulting services from salon coach Lisa Arnold of Gibsoni, Pa.-based Salon & Spa Solutions.

Salon coach Lisa Marie Arnold
<p>Salon coach Lisa Marie Arnold</p>

As a salon and spa coach, I see and hear lots! My clients have many business questions, challenges, and ideas. Adriane’s main concern was how to build her book as she gets started in the nail industry. Before we began, I gathered some pertinent information. I needed to know her price, hours, and the marketing materials she has used to date.

We should mention that Adriane is a booth renter. She is responsible for making her own schedule, prices, and marketing program.

We first focused on her hours. Adriane was only available during the day. I explained to her that she had to open up at least one evening per week. Between 60% and 75% of the money deposited daily by salon owners comes from the working woman 30-50 years old. If Adriane wanted to tap into this market she needed to extend her hours into the evening and be available on Saturdays as well. Adriane agreed and started to work one night during the week while eliminating some morning hours two days a week that were typically slow. She is already beginning to see benefits from this simple change.

Adriane had a lot of questions regarding marketing. It is easy to maintain the high expenses of advertising to fill your books. If we are lucky enough to receive new clients from external marketing, the average cost is $25-$30 per new client. I would rather see salons and spas use an internal referral program to build their client base. It cost less and you tend to get clients who are not coupon clipping and who match your loyal existing client base. Two-thirds of all new business comes from a referral from an existing client.

I explained to Adriane my all-time favorite referral program. To get referrals, you must present an offer that is enticing to get the new client in the door and to give the existing client an incentive. The new client has to be enticed to leave her current salon or spa and want to give you a try. Offers like $5 off or $10 off your first service work well. However, 50% off of your first salon or spa service works the best! Over the past 10 years my clients who have used this method have seen record amounts of new clients.

Adriene Smith
<p>Adriene Smith</p>

For the existing client, this referral program has rewards too. They receive $5 to $10 off their next salon visit.

We made the cards for Adriane and the program started to work immediately. Postcard-sized cards were handed out to each client explaining the program. In addition, when the new client visited the salon or spa, the existing client was mailed a thank-you card with the gift immediately.

Low-Cost Advertising

Adriane was concerned that she needed more clients in her chair. The referral program would work well, but she needed more bodies. I suggested some low cost advertising methods. First, we discussed doing a Business-of-the-Month offer. This promotion gives a local business a month-long offer of $5 off any first time nail service. We sent the business we selected a letter congratulating them on being chosen Adriane’s Business-of-the-Month and supplied gift vouchers to accompany the promotion. The vouchers were given to the owner or manager to hand out as bonuses, with their paychecks, or to use any way they saw fit. On the gift certificates-sized vouchers, we stated that this offer was for first-time clients or first-time services only.

Second, the idea was tossed out to run an inexpensive offer bundling some services together for new clients only during certain times or days of the week. There were two days that virtually no clients were being seen. For approximately $29.99, a client could receive a manicure, pedicure, and a paraffin dip for the hands. It may sound like we were giving this away, but Adriane had some down times. During these slow periods we would rather Adriane see some new faces and have some money coming in, keep morale high, and keep the hope for a strong referral success. As a coach, I never recommend discounts when a technician is in demand. Right out of the gates, however, I advise some price adjusting until you build your books.

Adriane’s retail sales were virtually non-existent. In the nail industry, a good benchmark for retail sales in 10% - 15% of the service sales (for example, for every $100 you sell in service you should sell $10-$15 in retail). The profit from retail is five times greater than service. Most salons and spas need the retail profits to remain in the black. Booth renters should treat this area of their business with seriousness.

Adriane agreed to focus on one product or product line monthly with profit-of-sale signs at her station. Keeping the promotions different and appealing makes all of the difference in the world.

Finally, we discussed re-booking. An attempt needs to be made with all clients to re-book. You set the tone with the client. Make sure they know you are the professional and you know what is best for them in terms of maintenance time frames. It is the nail tech who takes control of her booking who sees healthy, full books and a healthy income. Too often, we don’t re-book, which means we are doing back and failing to convey how imperative it is to have your nails maintained. I suggest she offer 10% off of the next service when clients re-book.

I enjoyed working with Adriane. When I asked her how she enjoyed our two sessions, she said the information was excellent and she could see her confidence building as she was getting busier.

Keywords:   business makeovers     customer service     retailing     salon coaching     service hours     service pricing  

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