As we stand here not quite halfway through 2009, I think it’s safe to say that many Americans are going about their daily lives with some trepidation. With the national jobless rate reaching a quarter-century high at 8.1% in February, and economists saying it is likely to continue rising, we all have to figure out new ways to do business. Whether that means cutting back on costs or rethinking your strategy to get clients in your chair, we’d all be smart to really reevaluate how we are operating our businesses right now.

And I do mean right now, not last month and not next month. Things are changing at such a rapid rate that I think to stay successful we all need to be malleable and open to change as the situation arises. That might mean offering one-time deals or short-term promotions. Basically, I’m wondering what each of you, as business owners, are doing to keep clients coming through your doors. Here are three examples of salons creating “salon stimulus packages” of their own.

ROB|B: An OPI Concept Salon in Studio City, Calif., owner Robbie Schaeffer launched a one-month-only “pink slip” promotion catering to the recently laid off workforce. The salon offered free mini-manicures (basically a polish change) from noon-2 p.m. on Wednesdays in April. The service was extended to both new and existing clients. It’s a great way to get new people into the salon while increasing client loyalty. And clients will remember that the salon gave them something for free when they were struggling to find a new job.

Then there’s Faith Glionna, owner of Cuticles salon in Indialantic, Fla. She’s been talking to her clients to figure out a way to keep them coming in without putting too much stress on their wallets. “My clients have expressed to me that they will give up other things before their nails,” she says. “But I’ve also had clients tell me they can’t afford the $26 fills and want to take their nails off. I’m now charging them $15 instead. I call it the ‘family price.’ I’d rather keep them coming in, being happy and pretty then lose them all together.”

Industry veteran Shari Finger, who owns Fingers Nail Studio in West Dundee, Ill., is adding a new section to her service menu dedicated to “Fit Your Budget.” While it’s still in the development stage, Finger plans on adding lower cost manicures and pedicures (with fewer bells and whistles) as well as an inexpensive fiberglass wrap option. As she sees it, this will do three things. “It will offer current customers an alternative to the higher cost services, possibly saving customers that might have to stop coming in or go to a discount salon,” she says. “I also hope it will attract new customers through our website, and by starting at a lower price, we will be able to compete with lower-priced salons when customers call just for a price.”

You don’t have to drop service prices across the board — you’ve got bills to pay too. But I challenge you to ask yourself if there is some sort of “stimulus package” promotion you can do…be it for a month, a few months, or the rest of this year. In my eyes, business at a slightly discounted rate is better than no business at all.

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