It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . . at least it should be if you are a salon or beauty business owner!
Did you know that it is possible for you to generate one third of your annual turnover in the next 6 weeks! Now before you get too excited . . . that doesn’t mean you can take the first part of next year off and go sit on a beach somewhere, but wouldn’t it be amazing to know that you have all that money sat in your bank account already? More on this later . . .
It’s Christmas time . . . almost!
I’ll be honest and confess that I meant to publish this article several weeks ago to give you plenty of time to organise and get ready for the christmas period in your beauty business. However, just like in every business, things happened, time flew by and it took longer to write than I thought, so here we are.
The good news is that as you have less time to read this I am going to give you just the information you need right now to really make the most of Christmas in your business. The maybe not so good news is that I am not going to pull any punches. I’m going to give it to you straight, unpolished so you can take action right now. So let’s get stuck in to Part One.
The Money Triangle
There are three key ways you can make money in your salon or beauty business, I call this the Beauty Business Money Triangle and it looks like this:
But there is one thing that ties all these areas together, its a force multiplier that allows you to exponentially grow the possibilities for each individual revenue source and it’s the magic of Marketing!
So the Beauty Business Money Triangle actually looks like this:
While you may not have seen it laid out like this before, this is probably not new information to you. What I am going to try and do in the rest of this series of articles is give you the express framework to maximise all three revenue sources individually this Christmas.Then using the power of marketing I will help you to achieve your best Christmas ever and bank up to a third of your annual turnover in the next six weeks.
There is no better time of year to flex those retailing muscles quite like Christmas time. According to the Office of National Statistics the average consumer in the UK spends an additional £900 in the run up to Christmas both on presents for others, but also on little treats for themselves, it is party season after all. Your goal is to get them to spend as much of that £900 as possible with you.
The best thing about retail products is there is no limit to what you can sell. Unlike treatments which you can only do so many of based on the number of hours in the day, staff on your team and rooms in your salon, retail is virtually unlimited. Some salon business advisors will claim that you should aim for a 20% conversion of retail spend to treatment spend, but there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t aim for 30% or 40% or more. Don’t let yourself be constrained by that 20% threshold!
Now, just to be clear, I am not suggesting for one minute that you should sell people things they do not need . . . that is not what I am advocating here at all. What I am saying is that there is no reason a client shouldn’t want to buy from you. You have great products and you believe in them – otherwise you wouldn’t sell them – just make sure you make it as easy as possible for your clients to buy from you.
Now, before we get any further in to maximising your Christmas retail sales let me ask you one thing?
Have you ordered your Christmas Gifts from your product house or supplier yet?
I was at an event with ESPA International last week and they have already sold out of some items from their Christmas product list. It wasn’t even November at this point and they had already sold out!
If you haven’t done so yet then read only the next few paragraphs and then go and order your Christmas stock before you read the rest of this article . . .
How to know what to order?
The easiest way to know what to order is to look at what you sold last year. You want to order enough now so that you don’t run out, but not too much that you are left with product after Christmas that you struggle to sell. Do make sure you challenge yourself and your team though, don’t just order the same as last year.
If you have only recently started out and you don’t have any sales figures for last year, then you are going to need to ask advice from your product house business manager or rep. Just bear in mind that that they are going to want you to take as much product as possible – it’s their job. So make sure you are comfortable with what you are ordering. Be ambitious, but don’t go crazy!
Right . . . if you haven’t ordered your christmas retail products yet, go do that now . . . we will wait for you so come back when you are done . . .
OK . . now you have your Christmas products on the way we can talk more about maximising retail sales. Along with your wonderful and exciting Christmas stock you should make sure you have plenty of stock of your best sellers. Now is not the time to try and sell the more tricky to sell high end retail items, now is the time to get in plenty of what sells best and just sell loads of it – don’t make things harder for yourself!
While the below advice holds true whatever time of year it is, people are in a much more spend friendly mood at this time of year so the key to your success is to make it as easy as possible for them to spend money with you. If you don’t have stock in of something when they want to buy at this time of year, people are not going to wait for you to order it in . . . they are simply going to go somewhere else.
So you have your stock . . now we need to help it sell. Again you need to make it as easy as possible for your clients to buy so here are seven of my favourite tips to help.
“Eye level is buy level” – This is an old merchandising adage and it has stuck around for years because it’s true. You need to put your key selling items at your customers eye level . . . that way it is the first thing they see when they look at your retail displays, the first thing they pick up and the first thing they buy!
But remember . . . there are more than just one eye level! You have the most obvious eye level when standing, but typically in a salon you would have a seating area so place some of your products at eye level when seated and also remember that you have another eye level in your treatment rooms while your client is on the treatment bed! You may also have a relaxation area . . . put a display in there too. Maximise your opportunities to sell and make sure you have a product display in all available areas.
Group similarly priced and complementary items together to maximise spend. The psychology behind this is subtle, but follow with me. You should put similarly priced items together because if a client is looking at a certain price point for purchase, you want to help them to see whatever it is that they are looking for at that price. It could be an exfoliator, moisturiser or masque . . . but make sure you give them all the options at the price they want to spend.
You also want to group items that go well together in your displays. If a client makes that first decision to buy, then the decision to buy another item comes even more easily. If they pick up a cleanser, make sure that a toner and moisturiser that go with it are close by so they can easily buy all of them together!
The Power of Three – Place items in groups of three when creating displays. Even numbers are difficult to make look interesting in a group and it is too easy to simply place them in a row or all neatly stacked together. This doesn’t make for a very interesting display and therefore doesn’t draw the eye to it to encourage further investigation by your clients. Place items in groups of three with space between them to maximise visual impact.
Price Everything Clearly – Your primary aim is to remove every possible barrier to a client making a purchase. The average consumer doesn’t enjoy asking how much something is. This is because we don’t want to look like we can’t afford something if it turns out to be more expensive than we thought – this is most true in the male of the species. So make sure EVERYTHING you sell is clearly labelled with a price. This will not put anyone off buying it who is happy to pay that price, but it will stop someone who would otherwise buy the product, but didn’t want to ask you how much it was.
You could go one better than simply pricing everything and make it clear what certain products are, what products work well together and what the benefits are. This is not always completely obvious from the product name itself. Again this is probably for the benefit of the men out there, particularly if they are buying for their wife, girlfriend, sister or mother. Again, make it easy for people to buy, take away any confusion and make that purchase decision as simple as possible.
Get Sensual – While sight is probably the most important sense we use when it comes to visual merchandising – the clue is in the name – don’t forget you can give it a nudge by bringing other senses in to play. Have an oil burner or diffuser loaded with fragrance of winter spice or similar on the go to put people subconsciously in to that Christmassy mood. Turn it up a notch with the occasional (tasteful) christmas song on your salon playlist and even people who came in to the salon having not yet thought about christmas will soon find themselves browsing your displays looking for presents!
Oh . . . and don’t just bring out the same tired christmas decorations, threadbare fake tree and thinning tinsel you have been using for the past few years. Invest in some new decorations to help your salon stand out!
Keep it clean – If you follow the advice in this series of articles you should be well on your way to having the busiest November and December you have ever had in your beauty salon, but that is no reason to let your standards slip. Keep your displays clean and tidy. As your clients browse they are going to pick things up and put them back again not quiet how you laid them out. So clean and reset your displays every day to make sure each client that sees your display sees it as you intended.
Change it up – While it is tempting to come up with your retail displays and then simply stick with them throughout November and December, it might be worth moving things around every couple of weeks. Your regular clients will become accustomed to your displays otherwise and that means they don’t have the same visual impact. It could be as subtle as changing the product groupings, or swap products that were on a shelf to being on a table and vice versa. Give your clients every opportunity to have their eye caught by your displays to draw them in and make that purchase.
Where to display?
You probably have some standard places where you display retail items all year round in your salon. Consider boosting this at Christmas time by adding additional displays either on a spare table in your waiting area or relaxation space. Here is a list of places you can create eye catching displays of varying sizes to entice your clients to buy:
- Main Window Displays
- Internal or Smaller Windows
- Normal Retail Stands
- Waiting Areas
- Relaxation Space
- Tester Stands
- Treatment Rooms
- Manicure Tables
There shouldn’t be anywhere in your salon that a client can’t see at least some form of retail display . . . this could even be a poster in your bathrooms!
A great tip I saw recently was to put small, lower priced items on your reception desk right where people usually pay. Ever wondered why when you are in a supermarket there are those small sweets, batteries, gift cards etc right next to the till . . . it is so people who might not have bought otherwise see them and suddenly think “Oh I need those batteries for the remote control that is running out” or “Ahh . . I forgot to get a present for Katie . . . I’ll just grab one of these iTunes Gift Cards”. Last minute purchases! Have a small display of items on your reception and put a sign next to them saying “Stocking Fillers” and you are guaranteed to sell some last minute items too.
Christmas Window Displays
In a lot of salons the main area for display is probably going to be in your window. After all this is the one space you can encourage people in to your business to make a purchase who weren’t already coming in to spend money in the first place?
Here are a couple of tried and tested tips to make your window displays stand out:
Inject some movement by using some dangling tinsel and using a small fan. Our most primal instincts are programmed to detect movement and a simple window display of products alone will not catch the eye as much as some gently swaying sparkly tinsel.
Stand out with colours. Christmas is the perfect time to use big bold colours to really make your displays stand out. You could go with the classic red, green and gold or a more subtle white and red combo. Or bring it right up to date with a blue, white and silver display (Frozen anyone). Pick a theme of colours and run that through the whole salon for a consistent experience.
Use height to inject interest and variety in to a window display. A boring line of products just won’t cut it if you want to stand out. Place products of varying sizes at multiple heights in your window display. This is easy to do at Christmas simply by wrapping up empty boxes of various sizes as Christmas presents and then placing products on them to give a variety of heights.
Remember there are different types of passer by. Someone who walks right past your window, if you are lucky enough to be in a high foot fall area, will easily see smaller items in your window. But someone driving by (if you are on a road) or walking by on the far side of the street will need a much larger item to catch their eye. So have smaller interesting items to catch the interest of people who walk by and larger items or signs to catch the attention of the drivers.
Use creative lighting to highlight particular products or just make your window display stand out. At this time of year it is easier then ever as you can use Christmas tree lights as a cheap and effective way to bring colour and light in to your displays. Check out this pinterest link for some creative Christmas light ideas.
The Art of Selling
OK . . . let’s get this straight right from the start. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with selling as long as you genuinely feel that the product is right for the customer and will bring a benefit to them. The terms “sales” or “selling” gets a bad reputation because we think of ‘pushy’ sales where someone has cornered you and starts trying to make you buy something you just don’t want.
But if a client has come to you or you have used a product in a treatment and they have expressed an interest, then sell the product to them. Don’t force it on them, simply tell them the benefits, make it clear that you feel it is the right thing for them and they will buy. If they don’t then don’t worry about it.
If they buy one product and you also feel that there is another product that will go well with that product or simply related to it that you think your client might enjoy, do the same. Explain the benefits, tell them why you think it is right for them . . . and if they agree it is that simple.
Now I am not saying it is easy . . . ‘sales’ does have this bad reputation and most therapists feel uncomfortable performing the act of ‘selling’ or ‘retailing’. I could write a series of articles on this subject alone (and I probably will at some point) but for now make this simple concept clear to yourself and all your staff – remind them and yourself every morning if you need to.
Things that will help in this process and give you a better chance of successfully making more sales are:
Listen More– Read ANY book on sales written in the last 15 years and it will focus far more on listening to your clients than it will about ‘a sales pitch’. As beauty professionals and therapists you are already expert listeners, just turn this skill to understanding what a client wants or needs or is looking for and match the product to whatever they say.
Product Knowledge – There is no substitute for understanding a product and being able to speak about it with confidence. Know the product, what it does, what the benefits are and understand as much as who it is right for, understand who it is wrong for and always be honest.
Offer More – If a client buys one item, don’t be afraid to suggest an item that goes along with it or simply a different item that you think your client would enjoy. Just because a client has bought one item, don’t feel that is all you need to do. It is actually easier to sell someone a second, third or fourth item than it is to sell the first. Once the decision to buy has been made in the mind of your client, the decision to buy something else comes far easier.
Have the Stock – If you identify a product being right for a client during a treatment or consultation and then you don’t have that product in stock for them to buy right there and then, at this time of year people are even less likely to wait for it to come in. They will either go somewhere else, order it online or forget all about it. And suggesting one item to them and then trying to shift to a different item once you find out you haven’t got stock of the first one just doesn’t work. It breaks the trust with your client, they might buy the alternative product this time . . . but this is where sales starts to get a bad rep and they will be much more wary of making a retail purchase in the future.
Up Serve – Typically people talk about “Up Selling” in retail, but I don’t like this name as it comes dangerously close to the whole ‘sleazy sales’ practices that give sales a bad reputation in the first place. “Up Selling” implies you are trying to get someone to spend more money just because you think you can. However, “Up Serving” to me means that there might be a better product than one a client has already chosen. It might be more expensive or it might be cheaper . . . it might not be a product at all, but a treatment or course of treatments.
As long as any suggestion you make to a client regarding additional spend comes from a place where you feel there is a better option than the one they have selected, then this is an “Up Serve”. This is the right way to do things and as long as you explain why you feel it is better it will even build trust with your clients. The client gets to make the choice themselves, stick with the purchase they have already decided on, or take your advice and buy the other – everyone wins.
So those are my best fast impact tips for maximising your retail sales at Christmas time. We covered “Why” retail is so important at Christmas, “How” to make your products really stand out using visual merchandising and “Where” to place your displays. Next we talked about how to make your displays really stand out, particularly your main window display if you have one. And finally we covered some quick wins when it comes to the process of actually selling to your clients.