Every spring and summer a tide of overwrought brides makes a mad dash to salons and spas looking for some much-needed relaxation, pampering, and primping. Some savvy salons have already made a healthy business of catering to their needs and princess fantasies. Here we show you what they are doing and how you can make your salon a destination spot for the marrying kind.
A quick search online reveals a booming industry revolving around weddings. And while information on gowns, hair and makeup, food, honeymoons, planning, and etiquette abound — there is relatively little help for the bride hoping to get her hands and feet looking their best for the big day. This lack of communication between brides and the nail industry may be costing nail salons a piece of the wedding cake, so to speak.
Some of the “nail care” information available to brides is downright laughable, with one article suggesting that brides strengthen their nails by drumming them vigorously for the three months prior to the wedding. Shockingly, bridal magazines suggest that a bride enlist the help of a bridesmaid to give her a manicure — but hire a professional hairstylist and makeup artist to cater to her other beauty needs. Perhaps these brides plan on wearing the ring delicately attached to their forehead or perched atop their head, but a quick poll of this office revealed that most brides still opt to wear their rings on their finger. And last we heard that is still where all eyes will come to rest on the wedding day. So keeping hands and nails gorgeous is your critically important job.
As a salon owner you are in the unique position to benefit from bridal business on various levels. Remember, brides are encouraged to primp and pamper themselves. They want to look great and feel great. Coincidentally, salon and spa services are designed to make your clients look and feel great. Call it a match made in marketing heaven. And as an added bonus to you, weddings generally take months to plan — creating a relatively wide window of opportunity to court a bride’s business, no pun intended.
From the moment that engagement ring slips on her finger, the bride is flung into a whirlwind of preparation and celebration — that’s where you come in. “We’ll see a bride sometimes weeks and months before her wedding,” says Tara J. Oolie, owner of Just Calm Down Spa in New York City.
From creating a manicure regimen to cultivate healthy natural nails for the wedding, to applying picture-perfect full sets, to hosting bridal parties, and offering special bridal-service packages, there are plenty of opportunities for salons to get in on the action — but only if brides are aware of your services.
Always a Bridesmaid…
Whether your salon is nails-only or full service, you can attract bridal business with creative service offerings and savvy marketing. If you don’t already offer special bridal services, a good place to look for inspiration is other salon and spa menus and websites. Whether they are elaborate two-day pampering marathons, simple services grouped together at a discounted rate, or traditional services made special with extra perks, anything with the “wedding” label is going to draw attention to itself.
Larger, full-service salons and day spas have the luxury of being able to offer bridal service packages that include hair, makeup application, skin care, waxing, body treatments, Botox treatments, massage, and hand and foot care. Sometimes these services are broken up into different visits; other packages make for eight hours of non-stop spa goodness.
“The reason we try to touch on every type of service in our bridal package is so that they try as much as possible,” says Trudy Yates, general manager of Salon 505, The Day Spa in Austin, Texas. “But these aren’t the packages that brides choose for the week or the day before their wedding,” she continues. “The larger, more-involved packages are generally enjoyed well in advance of the date, usually during a bridal party.”
The average bridal spa package looks like this:
Massage and/or body treatment
The elaborate packages include:
Leg and/or bikini waxing
Hair cut and/or color
Personalized wedding styling
But don’t be disheartened if you aren’t equipped to offer such a wide variety of services to the brides walking in your door. Not all brides feel the need or seem to have the time to spend hour upon hour in the spa. In fact, even with the innumerable options open to her at any given full-service spa or salon, the average bride will choose simple, staple services — especially as a final grooming before the wedding.
“Our most popular service package for brides consists of a manicure, pedicure, and hair design — sometimes makeup,” says Bethany Ganz, spa manager of The Mist Spa at the Radisson Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. During the wedding, “manicures, pedicures, hair, and makeup services are the most noticeable,” says Ganz. “You can’t see the effects of a massage, after all.”
So, with brides opting for mani/pedis above most other services, the playing field is all but leveled and nail salons can effectively compete with the fancy spa or salon down the street — if they use their resources wisely.
Black Tie Affair
When creating a bridal service package, “Nail salons should pair specialized manicures and pedicures,” advises Yates. Hand and foot care being your specialty, you should be able to provide the same or better level of service that a bride might expect in a spa. Your goal is to make the bride look polished and groomed. “Upgrade your services with special touches and products. Focus on catering to the client,” says Yates.
Use fresh flowers, romantic scents, festive snacks (strawberries, sparkling cider, champagne) and the like to turn your standard mani/pedi combo into an alluring bridal treat.
Special touches can also be added to your pink-and-whites and nail art to make them wedding-friendly. Lace insets, pearls, delicate designs and shades allow a bride to tailor her wedding nail look to match her dress, flowers, or wedding colors. (See NAILS, June 2002 “The Ultimate Bridal Accessory” for nail art ideas, and turn to page 76 of this issue for fun wedding toenail art.)
With brides come the bridesmaids, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties — all perfect opportunities for you to get yet another piece of the wedding cake. “Bridal parties are very popular,” says Ganz. “We generally see groups of 10 to 15 girls.” As with brides, bridal parties tend to gravitate toward services that can be grouped together and held in unison — again, namely manicure and pedicure services. Lucky you!
If you don’t yet host bridal or other group events, seriously consider doing so. Whether you close your salon for a morning or afternoon to accommodate the group, or work your scheduling muscles to create a free time slot for each event, the potential for attracting new clients is high. Especially if you turn each event into a memorable time for the bride and her entourage.
Most salons that host parties charge a set fee per person or group and limit the number of participants to a manageable number. This fee is meant to cover the cost of services and any other costs of the event. “We will discount services a little based on the size of the party,” says Yates.
If the salon is closing, it is customary to impose a facilities charge. Some salons find it beneficial to make the bride’s services complimentary if the group is large enough to offset the cost.
Small touches go far when hosting bridal parties.
Adorn the salon with flowers.
Offer refreshments for the group and a small token for the bride.
Include a few disposable cameras in the price of the event.
For lunch time or evening parties, offer to arrange for catering.
How you price your bridal packages is really up to you. If currently you discount all of your service packages, then it makes sense to do so with bridal services. “Our policy is to discount service packages of three treatments or more,” says Oolie. “Bridal packages are no different, but we do include a small gift for the bride.”
Having established your pricing, the first step in attracting bridal business is soliciting it on your menu and website. “Word of mouth is very important, but having it on the menu and online is a good introduction,” says Oolie.
Whether you create a “bridal” section on your menu to highlight your special services and party opportunities, add a bridal package to your spa packages listing, create a separate bridal services menu, or simply mention somewhere on the menu that your salon is available for bridal showers and parties, something is better than nothing.
“We have a listing of bridal services on our menu, but also have a separate menu exclusively for bridal services that we send out that gives in-depth information on all the services and includes tips on making the most of their services,” says Lori Stewart, wedding coordinator at Salon Lorrene in Palatine, Ill.
Mingle with the In-Laws
Finally, build your wedding business through the appropriate contacts in your community. Forging relationships with other businesses in the wedding industry can be infinitely helpful. Good candidates are:
Dress shops and bridal boutiques
Wedding and event planners
“We network with different businesses — florists, for example — and give them flyers to give out, exchange services with them, and recommend them to our clients,” says Ganz. “We’ve just recently started to network with and solicit wedding planners and it is working out for us well.”
Identify groups/businesses that would make good partners for you and pursue them, suggests Paula Mollov, owner of All About Parties, an event planning business in Boston’s North Shore. Host events that will expose that group to as many of your services as possible and allow them to see the quality of your work and service. Seeing and experiencing firsthand what your salon or spa can offer gives them the confidence to recommend you to their clients.
“The best way to get a wedding planner [or any other potential partner into the salon, for that matter] is to send a press kit about your salon, follow up with a phone call, and arrange to meet,” suggests Mollov. “Be persistent.” Upon meeting offer complimentary services, give them a thorough tour of your facility and offerings, explain your sanitation processes, and allow them to observe your business.