“You just have to get them in the door,” says Faith Glionna, owner of Cuticles Salon in Indialantic, Fla. “Then they’ll keep coming back.” Many salon owners have found the best way to reach out to moms is through gift certificates, and the first step to increasing gift certificate sales, according to Glionna, is to get the word out. “Talk to everybody, especially local businesses, and tell them what you’re doing,” says Glionna, who highly recommends cross-marketing with neighborhood businesses to advertise your Mother’s Day promotions.

Cross-marketing with local businesses is effective and it costs you just pennies, says Glionna. “Other businesses are willing because they benefit too.” When you work with businesses that are not in direct competition with you, but reach the same audience, your only cost is in printing some sort of handout or sign to be displayed at the other business.

When a new yoga studio opened up near Glionna’s salon, she worked out a promotion for their customers to get a special on a manicure/pedicure and helped promote the new studio to her clients in return. She has also swapped advertisements with a nearby Chinese food restaurant that places her ad in each take-out bag. In turn, she placed their ad in her retail bags.

There are many ways to cross-market with local businesses to increase gift certificate sales. Flower shops are also a great way to go, says Glionna. Flowers are one of the first things husbands and children think of for mom. And while they are thinking about flowers, make sure a manicure comes to mind as well by promoting yourself through the local flower shop.

Great Expectations

Mother’s Day is an especially good time to reach out to new moms and take advantage of the mother-to-be market. Husbands want to treat their well-deserving wives, but they may not know what to do for them; let them know that you’ve got the perfect gift.

Glionna suggests working with your local gynecologist to reach expectant mothers. Make sure the doctors in your area know what services you offer for pregnant woman. You may even want to offer the doctor a complimentary service to become familiar with your offerings and offer special promotions for his or her patients. You can contact the local hospitals as well. “Most of the hospitals give out a little package at child-birthing classes.” See if you can get your information in there, and don’t forget the local day-care centers as well.

Of course, make sure your existing clients know that you offer gift certificates and that you have what moms want. Talk up your Mother’s Day service offering during clients’ regular appointment.

E-Mail Campaigning

Rosemary Weiner, owner of the Brass Rose in Blairstown, N.J., has found e-mail to be one of the best ways to market for Mother’s Day. “I create the e-mails,” she says, “and it doesn’t cost me anything to send them — just the time.”

Weiner gives clients opportunity to add their e-mail addresses to her contact list on the salon’s website. Clients are eager to sign-up because she offers exclusive discounts and monthly specials that are only offered through special e-mail promotions. Then she uses that list to remind her clients to get their gift certificates in time for each holiday.

She starts her e-mail campaign at least six weeks in advance and reminds all of her customers that Mother’s Day is coming up. She also lets them know what her salon offers to meet mom’s needs. She sends out e-mail messages that say, “How about an early Mother’s Day gift? Surprise her with a day at the spa.” Or, “How about a Mother’s Day surprise? Take her to get her nails done before you take her out to dinner.”

Weiner makes sure that their gift certificates are mentioned on all of the salon’s print media as well as on the website and in e-mails. “We keep a sign at the desk that reads, ‘Start thinking about Mother’s Day,’ and our check-out staff asks everyone ‘Do you need a gift certificate for anyone today?’ Usually we have one done up in a pretty bag sitting on the counter,” she says.

“Mother’s Day is one of our biggest gift-certificate sale seasons,” says Weiner. “You have to plan early and be prepared.”

Have Help on Hand

“They always come in at the last minute,” says Glionna, who suggests having extra help available to write out gift certificates the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

Reneé Borowy, owner of VIP Salon and Spa in Riverview, Mich., also makes sure her front desk has extra staff around Mother’s Day. “Men do not like to wait,” she says. “You have to be efficient. Make sure your preparation is all there so you can move people along.” At VIP Salon and Spa they keep a hand-out ready explaining their Mother’s Day specials, and they have a greeter available to answer questions about their services while customers wait in line to buy their gift certificates.

“The staff has to be prepared to answer a lot of questions,” says Weiner. “Mostly it’s men coming in, and they’re clueless. Your staff has to be knowledgeable about the services and comfortable making suggestions.” The men are also often nervous and unsure, she says. “You have to make sure you can put them at ease, and make sure it’s convenient for them.”

To make it convenient, Weiner often has signs at the desk with Mother’s Day gift suggestions. “Something that’s catchy,” she says. “If our regular manicure is $25, then we suggest the ‘Lavender Luxury Manicure’ for $35. It makes him feel like he got her something really special.”

Another way The Brass Rose helps out the husbands is by giving their existing clients a wish list to fill out. They can simply check off their favorite services. The card also contains a message that clearly hints, “This is what I really want for Mother’s Day.” The staff encourages clients to leave these little notes all over the house. “We’ve actually had guys come in with the paper in their hands,” said Weiner.

Presentation counts when it comes to gift certificates. The Brass Rose uses white and gold gift certificates in a fancy foil envelope. “They don’t even have to wrap it,” she says, “It makes a really pretty presentation.”

They also make sure to include a complete brochure with each gift certificate so that moms will know about other services the spa offers. “A lot of times they will come in for a smaller service and then bump up their service or include other services as well.” Then, says Weiner, “You have to make sure that the experience is very special; that’s where the repeat business comes in. Gift certificates are the intro to the spa, and keeping that business is very important to us.”

Jessica Mahler is a nail technician and the owner of Painted Red Nail Salon in Cape Cod, Mass.