What do Pepsico Inc. and Mae Hare, owner of A Place for You salon in Encino, Calif., have in common? They’re both companies as successful for their savvy marketing as for their products.
After 30-plus years in the nail business, Hare opened her own salon in July 1992. Her promotional materials refer to her staff as “manicure and pedicure specialists.” The success of her salon is due, in large part, to Hare s ongoing marketing, advertising, and promotional activities. Salon brochures, fliers, and ads in the Los Angeles Times and the yellow pages are surefire ways to bring in new clients every week, says Hare. Continuous advertising is important, she stresses, “because, as we get new technicians, we want to help solicit clients for them.”
To give you an idea of the power behind Hares direct-mail efforts, soon after her first salon brochure mailing was sent to 5,400 homeowners, the salon was inundated with phone calls. A second salon brochure mailing, this one with the nail technicians’ names listed on the cover, brought clients in for 10 months.
Even January’s devastating North- ridge earthquake, which was centered about five miles from Hare’s salon, didn’t hurt business. Hare says she “thanks her lucky stars” that the only damage her salon sustained was three broken bottles of polish. “We actually got a lot of new business after the quake,” says Hare. “People wanted to go someplace to unwind and relax.”
The salon celebrates the anniversary of its opening every July 14 with a French-themed party (July 14 is Bastille Day, considered Frances Independence Day). “We didn’t intentionally open the salon on Bastille Day,” says Hare, who nonetheless took advantage of the coincidence and the promotional opportunity. The week-long festivities start with a French banquet of tarts, baguettes, and lemon cookies catered by a French bakery, and imported crackers, French cheeses, and fresh fruits supplied by Hare herself. Hare mounts a French flag on one side of the salon’s front door beside the salon’s own flag, a 2-foot by 3-foot white flag bearing the now-familiar hand and salon name emblazoned in pink. Inside the salon, beautiful travel posters donated by the French Government Travel Bureau decorate the walls and set the mood.
Hare believes promotions like this, which involve the salon staff as well as the clients, help foster closer relationships. “Clients like the commotion and break from routine, and the staff enjoys participating and doing something positive for their clients,” she says. The anniversary promotion is not advertised to the public, but is open to salon regulars only. “Clients understand that A Place for You is truly a place for them.”
Hare has enjoyed great success with Preteen and Teen Manicure/Pedicure parties to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions. The party accommodates 10-14 girls and includes a catered lunch. A portion of the salon is rented by the group and decorated with balloons and table decorations. During the nail services, the birthday girl’s mom brings in the cake.
“We thought it would be a good promotion to make young people aware of taking care of their hands and feet to help prevent problems as they get older. At that age, girls are just starting to think about their nails,” explains Hare. “What they can do at home to care for their nails helps their self-esteem,” she says.
For the older set, the salon offers a Bridal Manicure/ Pedicure party with a catered lunch. Gift certificates are also available for all nail services.
A Place for You doesn’t use promotions only to bring in business. The salon’s Christmas toy collection for Bienvenidos Children’s home, a charity program, collected 100 toys its first year. “I wanted to become community-oriented and do what we could to help,” says Hare.
Because of its pleasant salon atmosphere and comfortable furnishings for both nail technicians and clients, Hare named her salon A Place for You. “I wanted to open a salon that both nail technicians and clients could enjoy,” says Hare, “and to provide them both with everything they need.”
The currently popular Southwest decor of A Place for You emphasizes client and staff comfort. Rugs hang from the wallsthroughout the salon, instead of pictures, to absorb noise “I’m a stickler about neatness cleanliness, and sanitation,” says Hare, “because I know clients are concerned, too.”
The media relationships Hare has built have resulted in a good deal of press coverage for the salon. A loose-leaf notebook full of press clippings and articles about hands, feet, and nails attests to Hare’s media savvy. Another loose-leaf notebook contains press clippings and articles about the salon; she shows both notebooks to clients. It’s even gotten to the point that clients now bring in articles they find to add to the collection.
One of the features that Hare feels sets A Place for You apart is its Pedicure Palace — eight built-in stainless steel footbaths, each with its own hot and cold water faucets and drain. In this shrine to foot care, clients sit comfortably on padded cushions in a specialized pedicure area. “I knew the Pedicure Palace would be the highlight of the salon,” says Hare. “It’s very comfortable and convenient for both nail technicians and clients.” There are extra chairs in the pedicure area, as well as in the manicure area, so clients can sit and chat with each other during the service.
Another client convenience is that at every manicure station and in the pedicure area is a phone, and each technician has her own extension. This way, clients know that when they call the salon to make an appointment, they have a direct line to their technician. Clients are also allowed to use the phone to make local calls. This makes it a lot easier for the client, says Hare, since she doesn’t have to get up and find a phone or drop a quarter in a dish to pay for her call.
When her service is completed, the client is escorted to her car, her seat belt buckled, her car door locked and closed, and then she’s on her way. “After all,” says Hare, “seat belts can be hazardous to freshly polished nails.”
The salon also caters to the client’s palate with its coffee bar, which includes freshly brewed coffee, hot and iced tea, an assortment of cookies, and on many occasions, bagels and cream cheese. “I think it adds a personal touch,” says Hare. “Clients like the fact that we’re thinking of them in ways that sometimes go by the wayside. We want them to be comfortable.”
Thanks to Hares diligent advertising campaigns to get the word out about her business, many clients and technicians at A Place for You have had the opportunity to enjoy all the creature comforts and conveniences that her salon has to offer.
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