Nowadays it isn’t enough to sit the holiday season’s latest products on a shelf and hope your clients will notice them. With a vast majority of the public getting their holiday gifts from retailers, it’s time to get creative to ensure profitable retail sales. Successful salons are launching festive shopping experiences for their customers that are fast, easy, and unusual.

The key to a successful season is, many salon owners say, simply making the merchandise available. Salon products are natural stocking stuffers because they’re small and relatively inexpensive (think mini polish bottles or three-way buffers). Use all the real estate in the salon and create an inviting buying environment Bins at the reception desk filled with cuticle oil or red and green files, berry-scented lotions for trying out in the ladies room, stockings stuffed at nail tech stations with favorite polish colors and matching lip colors. Beyond retail items, the holidays are the time to sell gift certificates. Some salon owners make half their retail income between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Create gift certificates in every denomination and suggestive sell them for teacher gifts and secretary appreciation. Package the higher priced “Days of Beauty” certificates for best friends or husbands looking for something just right for their wives. Gift certificate sales will do more than boost December retail sales; they will bring in new customers throughout the coming year who may well become loyal patrons.

Finally, most manufacturers have holiday favors available, so check with your distributor for what’s hot this season... and enjoy the jingle bells of your cash register.

  1. Set the mood. Start off by adding some holiday cheer to your salon or spa with tinsel, lights, and decorations. Don’t limit decorations to your reception area.
  2. Offer something for everyone. Don’t limit your inventory to female-only or more expensive items. Offer a range of items at a range of prices, beginning at $5. Remember that your clients are buying for fathers, children, and coworkers. Inexpensive items are quick sells with profits that can add up fast.
  3. Kids shopping day. Choose a day where parents can drop off their children in your salon or spa to do their shopping. Kids like to feel important and in control. Giving them a day for their holiday shopping can have a dramatic showing on your bottom line.
  4. Make clients really notice your holiday offerings by tying a bow around a “hot seller” and attach a gift tag that reads “Rudolphs #1 Pick” or “I’m on Everyone’s Holiday List!” Essie makes her holiday offerings tempting with a package that glistens. The Starry Night trio includes base coat and two polishes.
  5. Theme a display around Christmas and Chanukah. Besides putting it in the front and center of your salon or spa, be sure to make it sparkly and festive. Try gold bows with glitter.
  6. Don’t run out. This is the time of year to stock up. Keep your retail area packed with products. People surrounded with lots of merchandise are more likely to buy. Leave a bin of “grab-able” products at the reception counter. These bins, stuffed with IBD’s 5-Second Top Coat or Gena’s Pedi Cure lotion are impulse buys that are hard to resist.
  7. Buy out of the box. Besides offering the usual beauty products, expand your presentation with candles, handbags, picture frames, and jewelry.
  8. Meet the artist. Support local artists and jewelers by having them come in toward the end of the day from 5 to 7 p.m. where clients can get special deals on their pieces and some extra background on their gifts.
  9. Location, location, location-Move less expensive impulse buys next to the cash register Customers making a purchase are more likely to throw an inexpensive impulse item in at the last second.
  10. “Husband’s Day.” Set up a day where wives come in for a special presentation on men’s products and services. Selling these products and gift certificates will never be easier. This cuts down on your returns, makes both spouses happy, and those wives will end up buying for themselves are in the salon choosing for their husbands. Cuccio for Men has a line of products designed for the rougher sex. It includes a complete hand care system, instant hair removal strips, nail treatments, and a manly lava rock to smooth his rough edges.
  11. Give a holiday gift party for charity. The holiday season is a good time for you to help those less fortunate. Set up a preferred customer holiday party where customers can shop for themselves and for a local charity. Contact a local charity to set it up. It’s great PR and a nice thing to do. For the charitably inclined, buy a gift that gives back. Nicole by OPI donates a portion of proceeds from lacquer sales to charitable causes. This year’s holiday favor is its “edgy” nail colors with a candy cane nail file attached.
  12. Give them space. Don’t put everything in one corner. Organize your salon to avoid straight paths. Make it easy for customers to wander through your salon and discover new and interesting things. Bring in tiered shelving that you can space throughout your salon.
  13. Direct mail. Send postcards to your clients letting them know that your holiday stock has arrived. Look at zip codes of people who have been in the store before and then buy a list for that zip code. You know they’re willing to come in from that area, so concentrate your advertising dollars on drawing them in.
  14. Concentrate your resources. If you have a limited advertising budget, the worst thing you can do is try to spread it out over several media or over two to three weeks. Instead of putting a small ad in every newspaper in town, find out what your customers read and put a large ad there. You can advertise your stock arrival and holiday specials Concentrate your ads in a two-day period for greater effect, first.
  15. Stretch your budget with co-op advertising. Pair up with other downtown merchants to promote your holiday offerings. Not only will this help you stretch your advertising dollar, customers will be more likely to head downtown if they know they can find several stores that fit their needs.
  16. Use white or colored lights in your storefront windows and keep them on at night so visitors can window shop. Poshe’s Light Up The Holidays! Display contains 24 bottles of its award-winning top coat in a handy tabletop display.
  17. Enlist the help of a friend or salesperson with a flair for displays and regularly rotate window merchandise.
  18. Spruce up your gift certificates. Silver and gold swirls give a festive feel to the gift certificates at Cuticles Salon in Indialantic, Fla., and the list of the salon services whets the client’s appetite for what’s to come. “The clients love the gold tubes, and they always know it’s from us when they get one,” says owner Faith Glionna. The tube also allows them to enclose a nail file as an extra treat.
  19. Place necessary items in the back so customers will pass through the entire salon first.
  20. Check out other stores and magazines for ideas and keep them on file for times when you run out of display ideas. Specialty retailers like Bath & BodyWorks have mastered the art of holiday decorating.
  21. Team up with another retailer to enhance your window displays. Florists can offer an added charm to in-store displays. Place the florist’s card by the arrangements so clients will know where they get similar flowers.
  22. Surprise your customers with the unexpected. Use everyday articles in unusual ways to catch a shopper’s attention. For instance, throw your holiday tablecloth across table displays.
  23. Set up a pre-wrapped item display near the cash register. Pre- wrapped items like these from Body Drench, China Glaze, and Creative Nail Design make great gift ideas for busy holiday shoppers.
  24. Offer discounts. Create coupons (for example, $5 off any product purchase of $50 or more) for use at your salon or spa. Give one to each customer who comes in or attach them to pricier items.
  25. Play holiday music and stimulate the senses by placing bowls of potpourri throughout the salon.
  26. Wrap it up. It wouldn’t hurt to offer free gift wrapping or holiday-themed bags for purchases over a certain dollar amount. Action Bag & Display has a bag for every occasion. You can prepackage kits or simply put customer’s purchases in a holiday-themed shopping bag.
  27. Keep it clean. No amount of holiday cheer can make up for a bad first impression. Check your retail area several times throughout the day. Look for open boxes, holiday candy wrappers, broken ornaments, burned-out lights, or anything that might rum the holiday mood you worked so hard to create.
  28. Attract attention. Again, tinsel and lights can be used to catch the eye of a would-be buyer. Don’t go crazy with lots of motion and noise. Add just enough movement to draw atten­tion to a specific area. Signs that read “Holiday Sale,” “Stocking Staffers,” and “The Perfect Gift” are another great way to attract attention.
  29. Lure customers into your business with hot cider, cocoa, coffee, holiday cookies, and fresh bread. Give them to clients to sip and eat during their services. Customers will love the warm, seasonal smells and they may stay in your salon longer.
  30. Give them a hint. A “Dear Santa” wish list is the perfect Christmas gift. Christine Turner, owner of Body & Sol Tanning, Nails and Day Spa in New Westminster, Canada, makes handy, professionally printed forms available to customers beginning in mid-November. “They just check off the services they would like to receive and leave the card on the fridge, or wherever, for their husbands and kids to see. We did this for the first time last year and it tripled the number of gift certificates we sold,” she says.
  31. Have a raffle. Give each customer who purchases a holiday item a chance to win a stocking stuffed with goodies. You can hold the random drawing after the holidays so they get a post-holiday treat.
  32. Gift with purchase. Offer free nail art or a paraffin dip with purchases of $100 or more.
  33. Get crafty. Create your own retail offerings like ornaments, soaps, and sachets. Clients will love that they are homemade and one-of-a-kind.
  34. Have your technicians talk to your clients about the new holiday offerings. Orly’s Oh What Fun packaged home care system includes everything a client needs to maintain her manicure in between salon visits. Included are cuticle Therapy Crème, Top 2 Bottom, and two shimmery and festive holiday lacquer shades.
  35. Get support. Have your front desk professional help close the sale. They could say, “Did you get a chance to check out our holiday products?” Manufacturers make the selling easy. OPI’s Holiday on Broadway duos are packaged to create multiple looks for client’s holiday partying. On the back of the box are instructions on creating six different colors with the two lacquers in the kit.
  36. If you have a website, make the most of what you have and add your holiday retail promotion on to the site.
  37. Find manufacturers and distributors who will support your retail effort by helping with merchandising, display ideas, product recommendations, inventory tracking, and promotions. Many manufacturers offer displays for their holiday retail items—everything from disposable corrugated table displays to permanent wood-finished end caps. INM’s Out the Door Christmas bin invites clients to reach in and try. The holiday theme collar on the bin can also be changed after the new year for post-holiday sales. McCoy also brings out its perennial holiday boot, filled with clients’ favorite buffing pad.
  38. Try and buy. Your main focus should be to create displays that invite customers to see, touch, and smell everything in the retail area. Have testers for hand and body lotions, cuticle creams, and massage oils. At polish displays, provide pre-polished nail tips mounted on cards or orangewood sticks that customers can hold over a nail. If you sell candles, have one burning at all times.
  39. Remind your customers of their importance by following up with thank-you postcards.
  40. Have a clearance sale. To move the inventory you didn’t sell during the holidays, mark merchandise down by 50% until it’s gone.
  41. Set up stations for clients to sample mini-services centered on your retail products: Demonstrate your salt scrub on one hand, massage hand lotions into the hands, etc.
  42. Offer gift baskets and goodie bags. Customize goodie baskets with a variety of products to create “mood” baskets. Place an aromatherapy candle along with a jar of bath salts and a neck pillow to create a relaxation package.
  43. If you have an empty nail station, decorate it and place your pre- wrapped products around it like a Christmas tree to attract attention.
  44. Have a party. Hold your salon’s holiday party the Saturday before Christmas (the biggest shopping day of the season) and invite your best clients.
  45. Have a theme. It doesn’t cost a thing to have a well thought out plan. Some theme ideas? A toyland Christmas, countries around the world, Victorian, snowmen, etc.
  46. Paint your windows with decorations. If you don’t want to hire a professional, sponge stars or other seasonal shapes on your window with paint. Just add a teaspoon of liquid soap to acrylic craft paint, and after the holidays wash it off with window cleaner.
  47. E-tail. Last year more web spending jumped 24% between November and December, a report from Nielsen/Net Ratings, Goldman Sachs, and Harris Interactive said.
  48. Use the leftover postcards you sent out to clients about your new holiday stock arrival by placing them in another local business like a restaurant. You can pay them back by having their business cards in your salon.
  49. Entire customers to visit your salon or spa by changing your menu for the season. Offer winter services like a Peppermint Pedicure or “pine- infused manicure.” You can simply add a pine oil extract to the manicure bowl. Estelina’s Rain Forest & Emeralds and Cranberries & Rubies lotions add a shimmer to bare shoulders in holiday outfits and they smell great too.
  50. Host a party. Let clients know they can hold their own holiday party at your salon or spa where their guests can get services and do some holiday shopping. Partygoers can have mani­cures and pedicures, plus you can give each guest a goodie bag with home-care products. They won’t be able to resist buying full-size as presents for friends and family.

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