1. Start preparing early.
“I attend shows in January and February to place my order for the coming year,” says Renee Borowy, owner of VIP Salon & Spa in Riverview, Mich. Borowy says she also purchases wholesale items throughout the year, but by the end of July’s, she’s done. She decorates her store in November, giving clients a WOW experience when they walk in for their thanksgiving appointment. “We’re competing with places like Wal-Mart and other large retailers; it didn’t used to be like that,” she says. “But now, if you’re not ahead of it, good luck to you,” says Borowy.
2. Have Limited Quantities of Unique Items.
“Don’t buy cute things from the Dollar Sore, package them nicely, and charge clients a higher price,” says Borowy. “Clients will know it and feel cheated. Do the research to find to find wholesalers who offer original items customers aren’t able to but somewhere else.” Borowy recommends attending shows other than beauty shows to see of the items that wholesales offer. Another way to find wholesalers is to shop online. “Type in what you want and the word wholesalers,” Borowy recommends. “You want to make sure you are buying from a wholesalers so you don’t pay sales tax.” Clients will naturally talk about the retail in your salon with their coworkers, generating an interest to shop at your salon to find the perfect gift.
3. Advertise to Men
Is there a well-advertised spa in town that men naturally go to for holiday gift certificates? Become that salon. Most men don’t know the difference between a great and a manicure pedicure. So when it’s time to buy a gift certificate. Begin to think of them as your target audience and make it easy for them to buy that gift at your salon. “We teamed up with a local restaurant for a Men’s Night,” says Borowy. “Men are offered wine and cigars, and we bring spa certificates to the restaurant for them to purchase.” Advertise to men on billboards, TV spots, or in the newspaper. Make it easy for them by offering to mail a certificate to them when they charge the gift over the phone or online. While many men enjoy spa services, there is still a big segment of the population that doesn’t. These men have no idea the price of services or the “right” amount for a gift certificate. Have pre-made certificates ready in different dollar amounts, and then let customers know what that buys. “This $25 certificate will buy her a deluxe manicure, plus allow her to take home the polish of her choice,” you could say. “This$200 certificate will give her a mini-spa day, which includes a, manicure and a pedicure with an extended massage.”
4. Send Out a Wish-List Postcard
“Well call it ‘Dear Santa,” says Borowy. Existing clients shop the retail displays and write their wish-list on a postcard provided by Borowy. Clients then address the postcard to their spouse, children, or whomever, and Borowy mails the postcard for clients. The person who receives it brings the postcard into the VIP Salon and is able to purchase exactly what the client wants. It‘s been a big hit with the clients who can specify exactly what they want – and who wouldn’t love to receive a postcard and avoid the hunt for the right gift?
VIP’s Renee Borowy has clients fill out wish list to send their loved ones.
5. Offer Non-Salon Items, Such as Bags, Wreaths, etc.
“I add Christmas jewelry and glitter evening bags,” says Borowy “Client are looking for these items for parties and events. They are going to buy them somewhere, so I find items I think they’ll like and keep them at a reasonable price.” Borowy also wells wreaths and decorative trees, and she gives them names that describe the theme. “We’ve had Holly Berry Night and Winter Wonderland,” says Borowy. One year, she featured 38 trees and 42 wreaths. Clients loved it. “Last year we took wine bottles, drilled holes in them to hold lights, and decorated the bottles,: she says. “We sold tons of them.” The first year you expand your retail line, you’ll draw the attention of clients who are excited to see new boutique style items on your shelves. As you do this each year, you’ll raise the anticipation in clients, and they’ll begin to talk about Christmas items even before you put them on the shelf.
6. Offer Many Different Price Points
Whether they’re looking for a one –stop location to buy stocking stuffers or to find gifts for the whole family, let clients know that your salon is the place to be. “I have retail items that start at 99 cents and go up to about $50,” says Borowy. She decorates the whole salon and offers a stocking stuffers’ section with items that are “curtesy, but not cheap.” Mini bottles of cuticle oil or Christmas-colored nail polish are excellent retail items, along with gifts for little girls. “I carry wands, eye shadows, and a bunch of things that little girls want when they come to the salon with their moms,” says Borowy.
Borowy warns against purchasing in large amounts. “Find a wholesaler who will let you purchase a $100 minimum,” she says. “Don’t buy in multiples of 12 stick to about three of any one item.” She also suggests salon owners purchase items that are “unribboned” and displayed as year-round retail.
7. Advertise through Clients
When Smith started planning her Holiday Bazaar, she advertised by word of mouth. “Star talking it up with clients. Let them know what you’re thinking and what you’re planning,” she says. Let them know you’re excited about your products or you’re planning.” She says Let them know you’re excited about your products or your event. They’ll catch your excitement. If you have clients who are stylist or small business owners, give them a flyer and ask them to display it at their location. Remember, you set the tone for the season. Throw yourself into offering clients a unique shopping experience with lighting and decorations that give the magical feel of the holidays – without the crowded aisles of the larger retails stores.
8. Plan a One-day Shopping event
“Last year we organized a Holiday Bazaar,” says SaVerne Smith, owner of Nails by SaVerne in Los Angeles. “My brother is an event planner and be helped me arrange the whole thing.” She didn’t start planning the event until the beginning of October, but it was still a huge success. The Holiday Bazaar was a one-day event that ran from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. in the morning, Smith offered guests muffins and breakfast items; later in the day she brought out salads and a dessert station. “We had food and music, and we asked vendors to come to the event to feature their products.” Says Smith’s clients who had their own lines of merchandise. For only $25, vendors could sell their products at Smith’s event. “We had wearable art, denim bags, business card holders, and plaques with positive sayings,” says Smith. “Plus we sold feather purses and evening bags, and my brother made unusual Christmas decorations using non-traditional colors such as turquoise.”
9. Make Purchasing Special
Good marketing in retail is about presentation. Shoppers will pay more money for something if the packaging is unique and clever. Capitalize on this reality by “packaging” your salon. “We hire a company to decorate the outside of your salon,” says Borowy. “This year we’ll have a Gingerbread House theme with special lighting and candy canes.” Once inside clients will continue to enjoy a memorable and remarkable shopping experience with the way Borowy will set up the gift bags. “Clients can fill a basket with available spa items, such as soap, scrubs, mud masks, files, pillow, etc., and then we’ll put the personalize items in a gift basket and wrap it up,” she says. Some clients add a gift certificate to the bags, or they use them as a stand-alone, one-of-a-kind gift. Another way salon owners can make the shopping experience special is to change the tone of the salon for the whole season. Change the music in the salon to spa music – clients are hearing Christmas music ad nauseam in stores and on the radio. Stand out by making your salon a relaxing oasis amid the urgency and chaos of the season.
10. Do an E-mail Blast
Salons of any size can have quality, affordable, professional marketing. Alysa Walsh, manager at The Spa at Traditions in Johnson City, N.Y., knows this first hand. Walsh’s graphic designer recommended she buy a membership from Constant Contact, a company that uses e-mail to effectively market to clients. “I have clients fill out an intake card on their first appointment,” says Walsh. One of the questions ask for the clients’ e-mail address to Constant Contact through an Excel document, and the company does the rest. An e-email blast during the holidays could advertise a one-day shopping event, a new product line, the availability of gift certificates, or could simply feature your existing spa menu.