Everyone loves an excuse to party. As a salon owner, parties go well beyond the simple good time — they can increase patronage to your business. “My nail salon has been in business for 13 years. It’s a small business, but I have kept it going during tough economic times and one of the reasons is because of networking parties,” says Christina Flinn, owner and a nail tech at The Nail Nook in Palmetto, Fla. Her parties have given her a conversation starter with neighboring business owners, who have proved key in cross-promoting her salon and getting more clients through the doors. “When I have girls’ night out parties I do giveaways from local businesses, and the businesses promote me in return.” Here are some tips from Flinn and other party planners on how to make your next event a success.
Alana Gibbs, owner and a nail tech at Hair 2 Sole Beauty Studio in Bridgeville, Pa., shares how to throw a party for under $300.
Helium tank (good for two parties): $20
Food & beverages: $75
Postcard invitations: $60
Supplies (samples, bags, etc.): $100
Tips on how to save money:
> Buy food and drinks in bulk at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco.
> Order printed materials from Vistaprint.com or other online sites that tend to have lower costs.
> Buy supplies during the off-season, like Valentine’s Day plates on February 15. (Just make sure you remember where you put them.)
It’s important to get the word out efficiently and affordably.
Here’s what works:
> Set up a Facebook events page. This is a free option, and most of your clients probably already use Facebook.
> Send an e-mail with the party details to your client list. If you already send a regular e-newsletter, include the party details there.
> Mail postcards to your clients. You can also ask neighboring businesses to post the cards on their bulletin boards or store windows.
> If you’re partnering with other businesses for the event (such as with a jewelry boutique for raffle prizes), then ask the participating companies to help promote it. They can post the event to their own social media sites and e-mail blast it to their own lists.
> Write and e-mail a press release. Send it to local media, and invite reporters plus local dignitaries (like city councilmen) to the event.
> Talk the party up while clients are in your chair. It’s especially smart to mention any freebies (services, goodie bags, discounts on future services, etc.) that will be given out at the event.
> Keep in mind that you can’t please everyone with the party date, but mass conflicts need to be taken into account. Gibbs says, “The biggest change over the years for the annual Boobie Bash is finding a date. Pittsburghers are big football fans, so we have to compete with the Steelers’ schedule to pick our date.”
Next page: Food & Beverages, plus Suggested Activities
Food & Beverages
Choose quantity over quality for your food and beverage table. (Bulk purchases are your best friend.)
> A dispenser of pink lemonade (a hit at Hair 2 Sole Beauty Studio’s Boobie Bash)
> A tray of spiral sandwiches
> Fruit and veggie tray
> Cheese, crackers, and wine (make sure alcohol is OK to serve without a liquor license)
> Desserts only, with hot cocoa as the beverage. The Nail Nook offered this menu at a client appreciation party in November and it was a big hit.
Mixing and mingling is fun, but many clients won’t know each other and will be wary of striking up a conversation with someone new, so make them more comfortable by offering organized activities they can participate in. Luckily, at a salon party these activities are a no-brainer.
1. Mini-versions of your salon’s services. For Hair 2 Sole Beauty Studio themed services in pink have proved the perfect fit, including Pamper Me Pink Pedis (using Qtica Smart Spa Pomegranate & Lime products), pink hair extensions, Kiss Cancer Goodbye Lip Treatments, and Pretty Pink Manis (party guests must get a shade of pink or pink ribbon nail art).
2. Mini-versions of neighboring businesses’ services. Flinn at The Nail Nook recently offered chair massages to her salon’s party guests via a local massage therapist who did them for free to help promote her new business. “I approach local small businesses where I am a customer. As a business owner I am much quicker to donate my services to another business that comes to my shop frequently than to someone who walks off the street wanting me to donate something, so I keep that in mind when I want to partner with another business,” Flinn advises.
3. Prize drawings. Gibbs says, “We make a raffle basket from the salon with a gift certificate and a piece of jewelry from our in-house jewelry maker B by Bethany. We also collect raffle donations from area businesses to cross promote. All proceeds from the raffle get donated to charity.” You can bet that the party guest who wins the raffle will talk up your salon to her friends.
4. Affordable entertainment. Flinn hired a teenager to play acoustic guitar for background music — a win-win because the teen needed the experience for his resume. Or hire a DJ for about $300.
Next page: Crowd Control, plus how to Keep the Party Going (in Your Wallet)[PAGEBREAK]
If your invitations work as hoped, you’ll have a large crowd show up for the big bash. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind.
> DO keep the line for mini-salon services organized. Two options: Take appointments when the client RSVPs or have it be first-come, first-serve but then keep a waiting list and let the guest know approximately how long the wait will be, restaurant-style.
> DON’T take on more guests than your space can handle. Besides the risk of violating fire codes, this increases the risk of inadvertent property damage and lessens the ease of navigability throughout the space. Debbie Doerrlamm, webmaster of BeautyTech.com and NailTech.com hosts the always sold-out NailTech Network Orlando Social every year, and says she only accepts paid ticket-holders the day of the event. However, she keeps a list of would-be guests until the next year, and she e-mails them when event registration opens. (“These people are always the first to register the following year,” Doerrlamm says.)
> DO put someone in charge of crowd control and last-minute issues. The salon receptionist is a good candidate.
> DON’T get so caught up in the logistics that you forget to greet your guests. Flinn says, “One of the biggest reasons I have a successful nail salon is customer service. I want my clients to feel appreciated and the parties I have are not only to promote my business and get potential new customers, it’s also to ensure my current clients feel appreciated for coming in week after week, year after year.”
> DO schedule a set time for clean-up. Either hire a cleaning crew or ensure you and your staff will be in shape to handle it yourselves.
Keep the Party Going (in Your Wallet)
Of course, as a business owner, you know we weren’t going to forget this part: how to get the party guests back in your salon as paying clients. Offer a one-time discount (say 15% off any service) that can only be applied if the guest books a service before leaving the party. Another strategy used by Gibbs is to keep the momentum going by giving each guest a goodie bag of products used that day. “I contact the manufacturers, explain to them what I am doing, and they will either give me samples or let me purchase that at a reasonable price,” Gibbs says.
Any Excuse for a Party
What’s the most creative salon party excuse you can think of? Here are a few to get you started: holidays, grand opening, remodel, new service debut, charity fundraiser, T.G.I.F., charity clothing or food drive, new nail tech added, awareness days (for causes like cancer awareness), client appreciation night, new retail line, bring-a-friend night, martinis and manicures, business networking social, girls’ night out. Log on to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/nailsmag) and tell us about an awesome party you threw at your salon.
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