Let us get right down to action and learn how you can start making more money right away. Some of these ideas are free, some are cheap, some cost money; but all are tried, tested, and work on some level for businesses of all sizes, whether you are just starting out or have been in business for years.
The First Step
First, you want to decide what your image is and how it will be conveyed through your logo, business cards, menu, vibe, and overall ambiance. All marketing materials should convey your style, image and be congruent across the board. This helps clients know who you are, what you do and what they can expect from your business. I also like to add a call to action on each piece of literature, like offering a referral reward so my clients can hand my information to their friends, family, coworkers, or people they encounter. Clients are your living advertisement, so use them wisely. Always hand out your information to people. Think about your local breakfast shop, your gas station, bank teller, or clothing store. Create friendly relationships while you are doing your daily errands; eventually, you will see them walk through your door. People like to get a certain dollar amount or percentage off their next service or product purchase when they refer a new client.
Think about what sets you apart from the other salons and spas. Why would someone visit your business instead of the one next door? It could be free food, service, parking, offering complimentary coffee, and so on. What is your niche? Open Sundays, if no other salons around you are open. If they are open on Sundays, you might want to be as well. Take appointments 24 hours. This does not mean you need to be open 24 hours, but take appointments 24 hours a day. If a potential client works an overnight shift, 3 a.m. facials and massages may be just what they want. If you cannot be open 24 hours, then have at-home services. Find staff members or freelancers who will work odd hours. Network with hotels in the area and let them know you can provide beauty services to their guests.
In business, a unique selling proposition is the description of what benefits you offer to clients. This benefit is what sets you apart from every other salon and the competition. This is the reason customers will come to you instead of the salon down the street. It is a marketing message that brands your business!
It is important to carry this message across all your marketing, advertising and website information. If there is a certain type of customer you want to attract, make sure this unique selling proposition conveys this message and then follow through on serving your clients.
Know Your Market
Go get them wherever they are located. Hand out flyers, network, and give employee discounts to store workers in the vicinity of your spa. Complementary businesses are best, so hit the tanning salons, sports stores, golf courses, high school seniors for prom, pageant girls, brides, bridal stores, wedding shows, dress stores, and accessory stores. Have a speaking engagement at local clubs and talk about health or beauty topics they might find interesting.
Cross-marketing and -promoting can be the cheapest and most effective way to promote your business. Never underestimate the effects of hitting the pavement and working each and every angle you can to promote your business. Sometimes, you can purchase an expensive advertisement and not get any business from it. If you physically go into a business, you know that at least one more person knows about your business than before!
Go to the closest mall and give the salespeople free or discounted services for every client they refer. If you sell waxing services, the cosmetic salespeople will refer clients to you since it is not a competing service. Leave flyers with the salespeople and have them put their name on the flyer to keep track of their referrals.
"Create friendly relationships while you are doing your daily errands; eventually, you will see them walk through your door."
Contact local newspapers to determine if you have something newsworthy. It could be a new service, charity event or education on a new hot product that has been in the news. Work with wedding magazines, flight attendants who come into town often, hotels without a spa, and any other business that will network and help spread the word.
Donate gift certificates to events or charities. There are always events going on that need gift certificates and donations. I donated gift certificates to a charity and got a free spot on a national radio talk show and then received letters from people all over the country that now know my business.
One of my favorite things to do when I have a gap in my schedule is to go to the local bookstore and put my business cards inside beauty magazines and beauty books. I am sure to hit my target audience and it is free!
Constantly remind your staff that they are a part of owning the business and that getting their own clients is paramount. They cannot expect you to do all the work. They must take ownership of their career and hand out business cards wherever they go. They have to talk with people and spread the word about their incredible business. Everyone should know who they are, what they do and where they do it! Get them in the habit of talking with everyone with whom they come in contact on a daily basis; try being a walking billboard for their talent. Have a contest with your staff to see who can bring in the most new clients each month.
I highly suggest giving employees commissions on sales. Retail sales are what keep clients coming back, as well as keeping the business afloat in slow times. Rev up retail each week by giving a prize when an employee hits their weekly retail goal. This would give employees four chances each month to win. The more they get their name in, the better the chances are to win. Depending on your budget, this could be a music player, a substantial gift card, a free spa/salon service, dinner, or tickets to a seminar. Education for employees will only make them more successful, which generates more income for the business.
Once They Are In
Make sure new clients are given the full tour of your establishment. They should know about all the great services you provide as well as the great retail options you offer. Make sure they leave with a list of services and hopefully rebook.
Handwritten “thank you” cards are a great way to build customer relations. Most businesses do not send thank you notes, let alone handwritten. I also like to include a discount off their next service or product purchase. Make sure you give them a reason to come back and spend money in your business.
“Pre-book and win” is a great way to have clients book their next few appointments before they leave and their name can go into a drawing to win a prize. Depending on your budget, this could be Botox® (donated by a doctor to promote their office), a music gift card, or a basket full of products and a gift card to the salon. Small gifts worth five dollars work as well as gift cards to coffee shops and lip balm. Of course, obtain their e-mail address so you may continue to communice with them.
Take advantage of the “Gift with Purchase” idea that department stores use. People love anything free. It is like a built-in mechanism that puts someone on autopilot to go where they get a freebie. It can be anything. If you have products that are not selling, then make those the freebie. Get rid of anything you can and give it as a gift. Make deep conditioning hair treatments a gift. Anti-aging eye treatments are usually cheap to do and clients see the value in an eye treatment. Ask other businesses to donate a gift that you can use to promote your events and business.
Event nights are a great way to bring in new clients as well as regulars who want a night out. You can do these as often as once a week or once a month. It is imperative that you have food, drinks, and chances to win free products or services. Have your vendors come in, talk with clients and give samples. Vendors are professional salespeople and will most likely sell better than your staff. This also allows the staff to take clients and not lose business. Have free miniature treatments like a hand massage, chair massage, hand scrub, skin analysis, polish change, paraffin hand treatment, or blow outs if you have an open stylist. Whether it be a slow night or a busy time, events are perfect to attract new clients or boost sales from current customers. Try to network with local businesses to donate time, products and services for your event nights. Everyone should cross-promote each other.
"The idea is that when people leave the spa, they will talk to others about their positive experience. Be as creative as you want."
On a Saturday, have a doorman in a uniform or tuxedo greet and open the door all day for customers. Offer free drinks to each client and provide finger foods. Promote special sales on retail products and services. Make it your own special customer appreciation day without spending a lot of money. The idea is that when people leave the spa, they will talk to others about their positive experience. Be as creative as you want. Get vendors to donate as much as possible to make a successful event. With a little bit of money, you can hire a vocalist, DJ, clown, harpist, and so on. Do not be afraid to be a little crazy. The idea is to get people in the door!
Guys night is a great way to promote men’s spa services. Bring in televisions, laptops, gadgets galore and beer or martinis. Chair massages, luxury shaves, and gift cards to home improvement stores also attract. Bring in a sports memorabilia dealer who will also promote that they are going to be present in your spa that day. Specialty cigars, golf and sports vendors are excellent to bring in and speak with your clients. Do not forget to focus on hair loss and shaving products, sports massage, as well as any service in which you want men to participate.
Teenagers are your future clients with money to spend. Plan a prom night and give miniature makeovers and skin analysis. Make them fruity drinks and hand out a lot of sweet smelling lotions, creams or perfume. Play young music and show current movies, if you have the space to do so. Pampering parties are big money makers and the perfect way to get clients for life.
Charity events are a great way to get free press and new clients into your spa, as well as do some good. I am a big believer in charity. You will be amazed at how everyone will give and help when you are doing a charity event. It will not be easy, but you will get great donations and help from people you never expected. If there is a charity in your town, that is a great idea since they will really promote it to the clients living within a few miles of your spa. Most people want to go to a spa close to their house, but do not because they do not believe there is an establishment nearby that gives the same quality service. Let everyone know just how great you really are!
Have a contest during these events with the most dramatic “before and after” makeover. This will also inspire the staff to bring in new clients and utilize all your departments – hair, skin, nails, and makeup. Use high school students, adults, or have a business nominate someone who needs a makeover. Maximize the networking capability of having a few contestants in your makeover.
Marketing Current Clients
Reward someone in your community with a day of beauty. Make sure this is a teacher, coach, public figure, or someone who has done great work with a charity. Have a ceremony at the spa and invite the whole town!
Start a membership club. Have customers prepay for services where they can get a discount, free gift or free service. This guarantees your spa money, regardless of the economy. You can also do a monthly fee for unlimited treatments, once-a-week visits, or a monthly visit. Many times clients will buy a series of treatments – prepay five facials, get one free; prepay six haircuts, get a free hair conditioning treatment. Incorporate whatever works for your business and clients.
If you have a new service you want to promote, get your best 10 or 20 clients and give them the service for free or deeply discounted. Ask them for their honest review of the treatment and how it can be improved. This feedback will actually make you money in the long run. Have them post pictures and reviews all over social media, as well as leave a positive review online for potential new clients to see. Make signs and place them all over the spa, by each stylist, front desk, retail area and restroom. This creates curiosity on the client’s part and forces them to ask about your glowing skin treatment. All employees should have knowledge about the advertised treatment and be able to answer any questions. Every month you can promote a service or product.
The Digital Era
Use social media to create a win-win situation. Reward clients for posting their makeover picture on social media sites or re-tweeting your specials. It is a great way to get new followers for free that might just end up at your spa. Be sure to interact with your followers and ask them questions about their beauty needs. It is not about just posting specials. Find out what they want and then provide it.
If you are looking for more clients and business, make sure your website is as amazing as you can afford to make it! The Internet is where at least 50 percent of your business will come. If you can have online booking, online product, or gift certificate purchases, absolutely utilize your website. Always try to make money without having to put in man hours! Make money while you sleep. It is not enough to make a website and then do nothing with it. You must work it! Post your information on message boards of other websites. Advertise on spa and salon websites to bring up your ranking. Being on your vendors’ websites can generate huge business if you have a hot product or service. Your vendor pays thousands of dollars to promote their product and you will be the beneficiary. Do as much linking as possible with other websites, message boards, and vendors. To bring your post to the front of people’s newsfeed, use the social media websites to keep getting traffic.
Get writing! Start a blog about your business. Include client success stories or before and after pictures. Write about the hottest topics in the industry or on television. Give as much free and relevant information as possible to your readers. Salon and spa customers are interested in knowing about the newest ingredients, how effective medical spa treatments are, fumes from hair straighteners and their safety, or using essential oils to maintain balance. Blast your blog through all the social media outlets to get your business boosted in the online searches.
E-mail anyone and everyone in the media. Get them into your spa for services or give them articles where they can use your knowledge to add to their stories or editorials.
"Beauty bloggers, online sites and newspaper writers can become your best media outlets to help market you successfully."
Think of five words to describe your business. These are words the customers should think of when they think of you. Your advertising, business, website, and marketing should be geared toward promoting these five words. If you want clients, your spa must look and act presentable. It must have new and clean furniture, incredible and professional employees, maybe valet parking, as well as the newest techniques and products. Above all, clients want to be pampered and catered to from the moment they make their appointment to the moment they leave the salon. Whatever your vision, marketing is the key to long-term success.
Lora Condon, The Beauty Buster, is a national award-winning aesthetician and a beauty consumer advocate. InStyle Magazine featured her as the “Best Eyebrow Shaper in New Jersey,” and she has been featured on Dr. Oz as a leading beauty insider. Condon excels at helping spas creatively market themselves for immediate results. Her book, “SPA WARS: The Ugly Truth About The Beauty Industry” received rave write-ups in the New York Times, many beauty blogs and trade magazines.