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Building Your Winter Pedicure Business: 5 Case Studies

Between the winter blues and covered shoes, you may think pedicures are reserved for the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. But, we’ll show you five salons that still sizzle even when it’s freezing.

In his book, All Marketers Are Liars, author Seth Godin says that all successful marketers (that’s you!) tell a story. Not a lie — a story. (In fact, the “stories” he’s talking about won’t spread if they’re lies.) Instead of thinking flashy, expensive advertising or discounted services, think “buzz.” Create a buzz in your salon by talking to your customers about what you have to offer ... and then have them tell your story to their friends — and your potential new clients.

In the summer we tell a story that goes something like this: Come to the salon to enjoy a pedicure that will have you leaving the salon feeling light and flirty with beautiful, sandal-ready toes. It works because it’s true. Women do leave the salon feeling better — and they’re willing to tell their friends the story of how great they feel because of their experience at your salon and how much better their feet look and feel. The experience causes them to book another appointment. But it’s the story (not the pretty feet and soft skin) that brings their friends in to the salon to book an appointment too.

But how do you frame a winter pedicure story? Following are five true stories. From each, we’ll see why the story spreads and how to apply it to your salon so your pedicure business won’t be singing the winter blues.

Case Study 1
Portsmouth Harbor Inn & Spa
Location: Kittery, Maine
Average winter temp: 20s
Marketing concept: An escape
Storyline: It’s cold and harsh outside, but if you come inside we’ll take you away from all that.
How the experience supports the story: Deanna Webber, nail tech extraordinaire at Portsmouth Harbor Inn & Spa, says she wants her pedicures to go “from the soles of clients’ feet to the souls of their hearts.”
To Webber, circumstances in life can be just as harsh as the winter weather. She wants to “create a soothing, comforting, escape for the client.” At the door, clients drop their concerns as they do their bulky winter boots — and move to the waiting area in slippers to warm up by the wood stove, where they’ll be served spiced herbal tea and handed a warm neck wrap filled with lavender and spices.
Once in the pedi area, clients experience a hot stone massage “to warm the bones,” says Webber. She replaces the smell of exhaust from outside with warm, comforting scents such as cinnamon and apple spice or chocolate by adding essential oils to the foot soak and warmed lotion.
Make it your story: The story “escape the world” can be personalized for your salon by remembering it’s an experience, not simply a pedicure. People are withdrawn and reclusive in the winter. It gets dark early and they keep to themselves and head home early. Make your salon warm, scented, inviting — an escape. That means when you tell this story, stop focusing on facts (a pedicure makes your feet look better and moisturizes winter skin), and start focusing on feelings (You’re feeling as miserable inside as the weather is outside — but we’ll change that.). Touch the whole person, not just her feet.

Case Study 2
Allure Day Spa
Location: Anchorage, Ala.
Average winter temp: 15 degrees (it can dip as low as 34 below)
Marketing concept: Relief for dry skin
Storyline: Winter doubles the incidence of dry skin, but you don’t have to have rough feet and ankles.
How the experience supports the story: Owner Susan Hoedel explains: Clients walk into the salon, shed their boots and winter coats, change into a snuggly robe, and then submerge their feet into a warm foot bath. Special attention is given to the dry areas of the feet, such as the heels and cuticles. Clients experience an exfoliating scrub up to the knees, and techs use a file on areas that are especially dry. The next step is a spearmint mask, followed by a leg and foot massage with moisturizing lotions. Techs are trained to talk about the health benefits, telling the story of the rejuvenating effects of the pedicure.
Make it your story: Don’t assume clients know the benefits of pedicures. When you notice their dry, cracked cuticles during a fill appointment, start telling them the story. Winter skin is painful. Winter skin is red and ugly. Ankles, knees, and legs are white and flaky. These are facts — and won’t be a hard sell. But then change course and begin telling the story of soft skin. The story of smooth ankles and legs. Remind them that healthy, moisturized skin maintains the youthful look. It’s a true story — and one they’ll tell their friends. Make sure the story is authentic by using products known to be deep moisturizers.

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