The news is reporting layoffs, bailouts, and an unstable world market. Clients are murmuring about tight budgets and personal cutbacks. With the air heavy with dread, nail techs should focus on their psyche and their systems.
“It begins with information flow,” says Ducoff. Salon owners need to keep their teams informed, motivated, and unified. That may mean mid-day huddles or morning pep talks with a briefing. Whenever you choose to do it, make it daily, concise, and brief. The point is to remind the team of the salon goals and hold them accountable to a measurable benchmark. Business systems, such as how you greet customers, upsell, prebook, and follow-up are intended to be used to direct the salon’s growth and to gauge success. Goals empower people. Systems help you create goals and show you where you need to improve. When you educate your team on your salon’s business systems, you give them common, structured, and consistent goals they can work together to achieve.
“Prebooking is the biggest animal you can tame in terms of systems,” says Ducoff. In smaller salons with no receptionist, nail techs can book before they polish; in larger salons the receptionist can prebook before she receives payment. Ducoff describes one salon’s system where nail techs write down on a card when a client should return. The client takes the card to the front desk where she is asked, “Would you like your next appointment in the morning or afternoon?” The client is never actually asked, “Do you want to book your next appointment?” By implementing that one small business system, that salon improved from a 25%-30% prebook rate to a 60% prebook rate. Seeing a relatively full book when you look two, three, and four weeks out absolutely improves the morale of the team, and it builds confidence that business is secure.
What are your business systems? Some systems require owners to make a certain number of cold calls or to pass out a certain number of cards each week in an effort to build a larger clientele. Others suggest owners create a referral program through their current clients. Systems dictate how you greet clients when they walk in the door, how you close the deal when someone calls the salon to inquire about pricing, and how to upsell services or recommend retail products. Systems give you a plan for following up with current clients, communicating special or seasonal services and products, and rewarding regular customers with discounts to pass on to friends. When you get serious about working the system, you see results, and morale increases right along with the bottom line.
If you’ve been in the business long enough, you may have found there are times when your attitude is focused and your systems are running efficiently, but you still have a difficult time making a profit. In times like this, advises Haynam, “renegotiate every contract you have and evaluate your expenses with a fine-tooth comb.” Haynam says she recently changed the structure of her business to the booth rental model in response to Ohio’s tax rates. She also renegotiated her lease, explaining to her landlord the need for a reduction of the terms.
This year, Haynam has chosen to alter one of her business systems: raising prices. She has decided to forego a price increase, and she is letting her clients know she is going without a raise. Haynam has found creative ways to retain current clients by discounting services for retirees who can come in during the day while ensuring her business stays afloat by charging a “premium fee” for evening and weekend appointments.
News of a bad economy (especially delivered at the high-pitch frenzy from newscasters) has a way of touching personal insecurity deep inside us. Refocus. Choose to stay positive. Review and reinforce your systems and make them work for you. This will relieve your stress while the economy is in a slump, and it’ll get you prepared for when the economy is back on the upswing.