Let Your Customers Do the Giving

M.T. Fencl finds clever ways to market her salon during troubling economic times.

M.T. Fencl, owner of Carabel Beauty Salon in Lakewood. Ohio, has managed to increase business and boost retail sales, even though she competes with six beauty salons within six blocks of her and economic recession has toughened the game. By elaborating on the traditional idea of gift certificates she has helped clients get in the gift-giving spirit, and it has resulted in big dividends for her.

Fencl creates her versatile gift certificates in greeting-card from. By tailoring the gift certificates to all occasions, Fencl says, she increases business. Her gift certificates have targeted birthdays, Christmas, illness, retirement, anniversaries, and showers. She individualizes the certificates where necessary for a sister, a mother, a niece, etc. She has made certificates that are simply congratulatory.

The certificates can be purchased or they can be printed by a commercial printer, says Fencl. But her advice to those who are lucky enough to have a computer is, “Design and print them yourself.” With a computer and the right software, you can custom-design gift certificates for any occasion and change the cards when clients tire of them. Fencl has produced her certificates using Broderbund’s New Print Shop software. She advises printing just a few of each at first to see which are the most popular with your clients. Then print out and keep on hand several certificates for each occasion so that when a client mentions an upcoming event, you can tell her you have a gift certificate for it.

The certificates can even be used as charity contributions. Fencl suggests printing “For a Good Cause” on the outside of such certificates. “The possibilities are endless, and the certificates usually double the sale by offering polish with a manicure, foot cream with a pedicure, and many other combinations of services and products,” she says.

Fencl believes that facing competition straight on is the answer to surviving in these times: “If you love your business, promote it, and you can overcome one of the tightest business climates I’ve ever seen. I have been in business more than 20 years. Competition must be met by showing how different you can be from others.”

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