It’s well known that business have great profit potential during the holidays. Nails salons report increase of anywhere from 10% to almost 50% during this three-month period. People spend money on new sets of acrylic nails so their hands look fantastic for their Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas celebrations, and New Year Balls. Women willingly try a gold snowflake nail charm or a Christmas wreath hand painted on nail. And boutique sales soar as they purchase gifts and cards for friends and relatives. In short, people are in the holiday spirit.

Set holiday goals

To get the most out of holiday business, you need to set goals and start planning now. Dow you want to beef up an existing retail program or start a new one? Is your aim to draw in new clients? Thank regular clients? Or is your goal less ambitious – just to create a holiday atmosphere by decorating the salon or arranging holiday oriented retail display?

“Salon employees should have a projection of the sales they’d like to bring in through the busy holiday season,” says Karen Lessler, president of the National Nail Technicians Group in Smithtown, N.Y. “These projections should carry through to January and February. Salon owners need to have staff meetings to determine these goals and they should institute salon-wide incentives [from meeting them]. For example, if the salon meets its retail and service sales goal, the technicians can spend a weekend at a trade show in February.”

A staff meeting to plan for the holidays will bring to light not only the salon owner’s goals, but her employees’ goals as well. For example, Carmen may want enough time off to do her Christmas shopping and participate in activities with her family, but Monique, who’s saving for a down payment on a house, will want all the business she can get. Bu planning ahead, you can prepare your staff to meet their own goals during the holidays.

Once goals have been established, start putting into action. Nail Technicians should begin any additional training by September to allow time to perfect skills and increase speed. When things get busy in November and December, slow speed will only cause stress. Holiday nail art is in big demand starting in October, so interested nail technicians should take classes in the fall to prepare themselves.

“My clients like nail art only during the holiday season,” says Brenda Cwiakala, a nail technician at Naomi’s Hair Stylist in Goldsboro, N.C. “During the holidays, we offer snowmen, Christmas trees, candy canes, Christmas ornaments, and jewels on the nails.”

If technicians need to develop sales skills, the salon owner might schedule in-salon workshops in September to try some playing and to educate technicians about the products being sold.

Lessler advises, “Starting putting out promotional items. For example, offer a manicure and pedicure with a free bottle of polish, or tell clients that if they book early they get a free gift. Let them know they can buy stocking stuffers in the salon. Do this in October because a lot of people shop early.”

Don’t forget aim for after-holiday appointments, says Lessler. “In November, salons should start putting together after-holiday specials because people are more free with their dollars in November and December,” she explains. “Offer a ‘Day of Beauty After-Holiday Relaxer’ that you sell in November and December to be schedule for January and February. Have $25, $50, and $100 days and let the client pay half or all in advance. Then, after the holidays when no one has any money and business is slow, your appointment book will be full.”

Don’t Neglect Your Regulars

As you work to attract new clients, let regular clients know that they’re still extra special. Give them a chance to book their appointments early, starting in late October. No matter how busy your salon gets during the holidays, clients know they will have a regular half-hour or hour reserved just for them. At the beginning of the holiday season, mail a holiday card thanking them for their patronage. Extras like cards remind them of your salon name and show them how much you care. During the holiday season, extend that thank you a little further by offering regular clients a free paraffin dip or free art on one nail. Not only do these freebies make clients feel appreciated, they also promote a wider range of your services.

New clients may be enticed by a special offer. In October, promote a service by offering it on one nail free. If the client requests a full set, you can reduce the price. Be sure to book her future appointments in advance.

Since nail art is so popular during the holidays, offer one free nail. Kandy Bragg, a nail technician at The Hair Fair of La Canada in La Canada, Calif., charges for nail art by the nail. During the holidays, she offers a two-for-one special on nail art.

Or, if you work in a full-service salon, try offering a “Party Prep Package,” in which the client receives a manicure and pedicure, manicure with paraffin treatment, manicure and haircut, or any other combination of services. Again, book new clients’ future appointments in advance.

Don’t forget to promote services targeted at children’s parties. Offer a Kid’s Special, which you teach children basic nail care as you shape and paint their nail. Put nail art on one or two nails when they’re party-bound. As a related special, offer a children’s gift set that includes a file, clear polish hand lotion, and perhaps a small toy ornament. You’ll instill an awareness of nail care in them that will bring you new clients for years to come.

Holidays Mean Extra Planning

Getting the retail area and products up to holiday speed will take preparation, but it can be a fun way to slide into the holiday spirit.

Some salons purchase travel-size products and make their own stocking stuffers or gift basket. You can shrink-wrap a travel-size bottle of polish with a tube of lotion, or you can fill a basket or small stocking with polish, remover, a file, and a cuticle oil. One way to sell gift baskets is to make different kits – a basket for clients new to nail care could include a nail brush, hand lotion, a file, base coat color, and top coat. For people who like to try the hottest new nail products, a gift set may include neon-colored files and blocks, glitter or gold polish, and a polish-secured nail charm. Men may enjoy a basket filled with sandalwood soap, a nail brush, a file, cuticle treatment, and a buffer.

Don’t forget impulse items for stocking stuffers. Even a small bottle of a racy polish color tied with a bow may attract attention and sales. Try packaging your most popular items in bag with your salon’s name, and add tissue paper for decoration. Stock travel-sized bottles of lotion, polish, and top coat already wrapped to saved clients time. (You may want to charge more for gift-wrapped items.)

Sample gift certificates for any combination of your salon’s services should be displayed alongside the retail items. Jeff South, owner of Intrigue Salon in Marietta, Ga., says, “Clients will have a friend or relative come to town to visit, and we’ll put together a pampering package for them that includes things like a facial makeup application or paraffin hand treatment. But it has to be flexible. Clients should be able to choose the services.”

‘Tis the Season to Hang Holly

Decorating the salon can help spread holiday cheer for both technicians and clients. Jusy about evey salon can do something to spruce up for the season, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Christmas ornaments pay for themselves if you sell them to clients throughout the season.

“This year, we had an artist cut brass ornament to hang on a tree says South. “They’re in the shapes of different endangered species – alligators, manatees, sea turtles, whales, and dolphins.” We may even sell them to clients.”

Invite your clients’ children to paint holiday pictures to decorate the salon. Obviously, you can get a tree for the salon, either real or artificial, and decorate it in unlimited ways. Creativity is the key.

“One year we used a dead tree for a Christmas tree,” says South. Intrigue Salon is dedicated to preserving the natural environment and a live tree would not have fit its identity. “We found the tree at the side of the road and trimmed some of the twigs and branches. Then we spray-painted it white and hung white lights on it,” explains South.

Make a few holiday music tapes that include both current hits and holiday songs. A tape of classical music interspersed with instrumental versi9ons of holiday songs relaxes people during the salon’s busiest hours.

Try dressing up, whether that means wearing something a little more formal or a little more fun than usual. Complement your clothes with dressed-up nails. Your own nails are your best advertisement, so keep them perfectly manicured and wear charms or art if you offer these extras to your clients. Not only will you feel more festive, but clients will notice your nails and ask for a diamond charm just like one you’re wearing.

A Golden Light, a Warm Fire

By making your salon as warm and inviting as possible, you’ll attract more clients for services and retail items. Business usually increases quite a bit during the holidays, so it’s important to manage you time as best you can.

“Business is almost double during the holiday season,” says Cwiakala. “To manage my time, I work extra hours and through lunches. I don’t turn customers away. I might do two and three people at one time. That’s tricky. When doing two at one time, I file the first client’s nails, and while she washes her hands, I do the second client’s filing. While I do the second client’s filing. While the second one washes, I fill in the first one’s nails. By alternating between the two, I can do both at once.”

Bragg, whose business increases approximately 15% during the holidays, says its important not to overbook. “It’s  not worth the hassle to clients. Give them 15 minutes to be late, even if you can do a fill in 30 minutes. The holidays are hectic and people are busy, and their time is valuable. They want a rest and to be pampered and have a cup of coffee. Don’t rush them out of the chair as soon as they’re done, but give yourself the chance to take care of them.”

Adds South, “If you’re busy all day, at least get 15 minutes during the day to yourself,” it’s important for the technician to get some rest so that she can perform consistently well throughout the day.

“Because the salon is hectic during the holidays, a part-time worker can be a real help,”” says Lessler. “Bring in high school or beauty school students part-time after school to do work such as wiping the tables while the technician washes her hands, removing polish from clients’ nails, or even polishing nails. The part-time employee can also make coffee, serve cookies, and wait on retail customers.”

Learn the best way for you to handle the busy times, whether it means taking frequent short breaks, working non-stop before a day off, or taking two or three clients at once. But be sure each client receives the attention she deserves.

Give, Give, Give

The holidays are a giving season, so if you have any time left over after your clients and holiday shopping, so something to give back to the community. Donate nail services to a raffle that’s being held for charity, or participate in a community canned goods collection. Bring your technicians to a children’s hospital to do nail art on patients or to a retirement home to do free or reduced-priced manicures for the elderly.

Or, coordinate a fashion show with other business. During the show, educate the men and women in your area about the importance of nail care in creating a finished look. Offer nail services as a door prize, and call local newspapers and radio shows to help publicize the event. At least two dozen potential clients will be in the audience.

Aren’t Holidays Busy Enough?

You may be asking, “Why go to all the trouble to promote our business when we’re already busy?” the answer, explains South, is “because it’s the time of year your worker really counts.” If you do your best work for many people during the holiday season, it follows that they’ll return to your salon during the new year for regular maintenance. The profit that you’ve built during the holidays will continue into new year.

And that’s a Christmas present you owe yourself.

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