Monday, December 29, 2008

A New Year, A New You!

Another year has rolled by and most of us are left wondering where it all went. Between business, personal events, the election, the economy, the holidays…. I believe someone hit the fast forward button! Right around now everyone starts to take stock of the year and plot some changes they want to happen. We all make the infamous new year resolutions which usually get ditched by mid January. Why don’t they stick? It is poor planning and lack of the tools to get you there.

Let’s hit the pause button and get a plan together. It’s easier than you think!

Tools needed: 2009 calendar, pen and paper (or electronic note capturing device), a clear head with no distractions, a desire to grow towards your dreams

Step 1: Have a vision of success! Pretend 2009 has already happened and your sitting back reflecting on it. Envision what you “wanted” to happen – your ideal year. For business goals this could be better retail sales, and growth in your color or body service business. For personal goals it could be better work life balance, a family vacation, a weight loss or health goal. Here is a tip -- keep your goals to a manageable amount. If you have 20 goals, you will feel overwhelmed and they will never happen. Choose the ones that mean the most and focus on those.

Step 2: Write it down. Now you have the goals in mine, put those gems on paper (or your computer, your email, your blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, peach….whatever it is you use these days to keep track of your life). Defining the goal correctly is vital to the success of the goal. Examples could be grow sales, lose weight, more family time etc…

Step 3: What gets measured, gets done. I’m sure you have heard this before but if we don’t benchmark our success how do we know when we reach it? The key is to take the goals you listed in step two and make your goals measurable. Don’t just say grow retail sales or lose weight. Instead say grow retail sales by 7% by end of the year, all staff must complete 2 sales training classes, or lose 10 lbs by May.

Step 4: Who, What, When, Where, How. Here is where the rubber meets the road. If you can do this next step you are 90% to accomplishing your goal! Take each goal you have chosen and decide the who, what, when, where, and how. The more detail the better.

Example – Goal: Grow sales by 7% by the end of the year. Who: As the owner, I will provide sales training, excellent product, and the support to make my sales success. All staff owns their piece and is responsible for increasing their personal retail sales. What: Retail sales must grow 7% over 2008 retail sales number. When: Sales training in Jan. Retail sales measured weekly. Where: I will track by sales by staff member and salon on a chart in back room. How: Will provide sales training to all staff in Jan. Refresher tips and team discussion at weekly sales meeting. Chart each staff member’s number on chart in back room. Bonuses given out to top performers each month. Monthly check in meetings to gauge success and discuss tactics.

Take out your 2009 calendar. Write in the info above. Jan schedule in house sales training. Call Crystal Focus by 1/10. Write in your weekly sales meeting on Tuesday morning a half hour before the shop opens. Make attendance mandatory. Write in the first day of the month celebration meeting to review where we are to sales target.

Do this for each separate goal. You now have a calendar full of your goals and all the steps to get there!

Step 5: Celebrate the steps (not just success). Completing the goal is the ultimate success but the real reward is journey there. Take time out to rejoice in the baby steps along the way. Take everyone out to lunch when they complete the sales training. Give out gift cards or free days off to your top sales performers. Give yourself a day at the spa for exercising 4 days a week. Or a splurge day of pizza with the girls. Write these celebrations in your calendar too. Plan for success. However, be honest with yourself. There will be set backs, slow sales months, that extra piece of cake at the birthday party, the big conference you had to get to and you missed family night … This is the real world, but it will be easy to get back on track if you simply follow the calendar you have right in front of you.

See that wasn’t too painful (I hope). You now have the tools, tips, and a road map to make your 2009 vision a reality. Wishing you a safe, healthy, and Happy New Year!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Make the Most of this Holiday Season

The activity of the election is fading. The daily drone of economic doom and gloom seems to surround us. But I have some great news --there will actually be a holiday season this year! It is time to get a plan together to make the most of your holiday season!

Add Value
Many of you are experience the stretching effect. Many clients are saving money by stretching out appointments. This length between appointments is decreasing your overall sales. When customers are spending, they want more value for the dollar. Prove your worth. Present timely services in a clean and professional atmosphere. Enhance services with extras that increase the perceived value. Add in a free scalp, hand or neck massage. Offer specials on retail products with purchase of a service. Provide discounts for clients that pre-book. Offer special VIP sales. Use trail size samples as a thank you gift. Make clients know you value them and their business!

Back to Basics
The details can add up. Reeducate staff on correct amounts of shampoo, color, foils, skin products they should be using for treatments. These items might seem tiny but have a large impact on your expenses. Optimize your laundry by doing full loads of towels and robes. Monitor your inventory closely. It is easy to place the same monthly product order with your distributors, but it can cost you. You could be putting those dollars into wiser investments. Evaluate what products you are actually moving, factor in your promotion products, and keep on hand what you truly need.

Problem Solve Sales
Pushy sales tactics push customers out the door. Sales should flow effortlessly into the service. The client is coming to you with a need (more volume, dry ends, acne or fine lines). Your services and products are there to solve this problem. A great way to sell retail products is an easy soft sell approach. Say “…to guarantee these results I recommend continued use of product X. These results will last much longer by using professional products. It’s really a small investment to ensure the services you are paying for hold up.” Be true to your word and back up your products with a guarantee policy. Continue your value added efforts by offering grouped product sets in a variety of price points. If the customer feels they are getting more bang for their buck, you will ring up the sales.

Turn Downtime Upside Down
If you do experience slower than average days, use the time wisely. Rally the team for a shop spruce up. Clean, organize and even tackle that unwieldy inventory mess in that back corner of the stock room. Embark on some remodeling projects. Invest staff time on continuing education service techniques or sales tactics. Start brainstorming plans for 2009. Map out promotions, strategize market areas you want to grow, or plot new services or products you want to offer.

Business Partners
Evaluate the success (or lack there of) with some of your business partners. Are you getting the most out of your bank relationship? Revisit your credit card fees and see if you can do better. Straight talk with your product distributors. Investigate win-win strategies such as terms, installment payments or discounts for pre-payment on staggered deliveries. It won’t hurt to ask and see what deal you can make.

Meet the Girl Next Door
Network with your neighboring businesses. Develop a referral program offering discounts for clients referred from the restaurant or boutique next door. Take the owners to coffee and brainstorm ways you can both gain business traffic. Offer sidewalk sales or discount coupons at each other establishments. Host cooperative VIP events sharing expenses and ideas. Together everyone achieves more.

Take this holiday season as a challenge. Retrench, reinvest and re-energize. Remind yourself why you jumped into this business in the first place. Renew your passion and the business will follow!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do you have the #1 Holiday Gift this Season?

The #1 gift this holiday season is gift cards!

Gift Cards continue to be the hot retailing trend that doesn’t seem to lose momentum. In 2007 the retailers sold over $26 billion dollars in gift cards. Yes I said “billion”!

Why you may ask are gift cards so popular? The answer lies in the powerful benefits gift cards hold for the customer and you - the retailer.

It’s a No-Brainer
Customers don’t have to think about the ideal gift. They know the recipient will get what they want when they redeem the card.

Fast and Easy
It takes moments to buy a gift card. Make it even easier if you package the card for the gift-giver. Be a one-stop shop to streamline a busy holiday season.

Fewer Returns
The recipient makes the purchase perfect for them, so there is no need to return unwanted gifts.

Immediate Cash
As the retailer you profit instantly without providing a service or product. Basically an interest-free loan until the card is redeemed.

Extra Purchases
Gift Card recipients spent an average of $29 over the original value of the gift card with 61% of recipients spending 20% more than the cards value. That is one effective retail sale to bring 20% more sale dollars!

Power of Plastic
Paper Gift Certificates can be elegant but are time consuming and hard to keep track of. When a retailer switches from paper certificates to plastic gift cards sales increase anywhere from 50% - 100%.

Brand Awareness
Gift cards live in wallets and purses until redeemed. On average, a person opens their wallet six times a day. That is 6 times your customer sees your name and thinks of your business. Talk about a constant advertising vehicle!

Pure Profit
In 2007, 8 billion gift cards went unredeemed. You get the cash without providing a service or product.

Holiday Sales Live Longer
Long after the week following Christmas (when returns and holiday blow out sales occur) gift cards are being redeemed well into January. If you are racking up 20% more on the redemption of those cards, I would say Santa stayed around a bit longer this year!

Hopefully these fast facts have convinced you to carry the #1 gift this holiday season. Now is the time to order your own cards! You want to be fully stocked no later than Nov. This is when you should start promoting your cards. Use acrylic signs and displays at your check out areas to advertise your cards.

Don’t forget the pretty packaging! Pre-packaged cards make it easy for your clients and will instantly increase the perceive value of the gift. Offer a gift with purchase so that the gift giver gets a bonus too. This is a great place to use those trial samples taking over your inventory. Have a friendly competition with your staff on who can sell the most cards.

If you don’t know where to start, check out our gift card section complete with a host of card packaging options. Click here –

Start selling gift cards and Santa might just hang around until the end of January this year!
(Article Sources – First Data 2007 Gift Card Survey, Nat’l Retail Federation, Consumer Reports)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Marketing Dollars!

Times are tough right now. But as they say - time for the tough to get going! Some people feel the easiest place to cut expenses is their marketing budget. The reality is that if customers don’t know about you, you won’t have customers. Your business needs to be top of mind if you want bodies in your chairs! During these economic times, it is more important than ever to be in front of customers. Here are some quick hitting ways to take your limited marketing budget the extra mile.

Target your existing clients instead of prospects. Reaching out for new clients is pricey and it can be some time before you see the return on your investment. Current customers are your proven performers. They know you, they come to you, they trust you. Try inexpensive emails or low-cost postcards to boast about new services, new product lines, or special discounts. Offer a free gift with any service. Need creative design help? Ask a local high school or college for an marketing intern student. No charge to you. Experience for them. Win-Win!

Start a VIP Club. Everyone likes to feel special. Create a loyalty program for your clients. The more they spend the more they save. Offer VIP only promotions. Clients will feel valued andwill keep coming back for more.

Negotiate with your suppliers. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. Ask your distributor about co-op advertising options. Use their creative designs for your ads. Saves you the marketing costs to have it created. Ask about already produced product line salon signage. Negotitate this to be included in your retail product orders. Inquire about manufacturer promotions that you can pass along to your clients. If you place print or radio ads, lock in a deal for a whole year. By securing a longer term contract you will receive a lower cost per ad.

Referral Power. Offer current clients a discount or special offer if they pass a new client your way. Low cost and the testimonial of the current customer packs a powerful punch!

The most powerful promotional word – FREE. Add a free service with a purchase of another service. Offer a free gift of all those sample trial sizes taking over inventory space. Super low cost and your client will feel like a star. Plus you might get them interested in paying for a new service or product.

Piggyback Partners. Work with local businesses to offer co-op specials. If there is a fashion boutique next to your salon? Why not host a fashion brunch together. Offer to do the hair and make-up for the models. Split the costs of the show. Rope in the restaurant on the corner to kick in the food. Get creative here and you will be amazed at the buzz you create!

For a Cause. Have your business champion a charity or event. Pick something you feel passionate about -- breast cancer awareness, or Make-A-Wish-Foundation, or even a community event. Align yourself with the cause and create a promotion for your business. This could be a charity walk, auction, dinner, or a parade. Donate a portion of your profits or ask clients to participate. Not only will you be supporting a great cause, but you will enhance your business image.

Marketing smarter not harder to get the most bang for your buck! Please share your own tips and tricks to make the most of your promotional budget. Comment below or visit our myspace page at Happy Selling!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Beauty Biz Will Survive!

There is so much buzz about the economy and the negative effects of our current financial environment, I figured it was time to share some positive news. Historically the beauty industry has resisted the impact of a declining economy! Yes it true...even as far back as WWII (when the sales red lipstick was the highest ever in history) the beauty industry has survived the economic ups and downs!

Why is that? One reason is beauty boosts morale. Never underestimate the power of a great haircut! When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you can tackle the stresses that surround you. Another reason is that beauty is the "great escape". Getting lost in a relaxing massage or manicure can take the edge off and allow problems to melt away…if even for a moment.

So does this mean we rest on our laurels and ride out this wave of economic uncertainty? No way! This is an opportunity to prove to your customers the real value of the dollars they spend with you. Customers want to feel they are getting the most bang for their buck more than ever.

Here are some proactive steps to survive these economic times.
  • Incorporate the Stress Buster /Great Escape idea. Customers might not be able to afford luxury trips or cars right now, but they are willing to take a little vacation close to home. A service idea-- Can't afford that Jamaican vacation? Take a day away with our Great Escape Beauty Day. Feature a coconut inspired body massage, mango facial, papaya manicure, throw in some tropical influenced music and a fruity drink. A vacation without leaving their city!
  • Always Provide Spectacular Customer Service. Have a business associate visit your establishment as a mystery shopper. Get their feedback and share with your team. You might be amazed what you find out and how small changes can have huge results!
  • Manage your Customer Relationships. Write a quarterly newsletter touting your newest retail products, treatments, services, or events. Call key VIP customers about specials. Send promotional offers. Start a loyalty rewards program. Returning customers take the least amount of effort so keep customers coming back for more!
  • Keep expenses in check. Review your strategic plan at least monthly. See where you can cut back or hold in check. Don't go too crazy cutting expenses. Marketing is the driver of business so down let off the gas! Simply pick proven performers and get creative with your budget.
  • Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Take the pulse of what your customers are feeling, thinking and experiencing. Your beauty technicians can be a great tool to assess customers’ thoughts. Ask for customers feedback, use what they tell you, and then communicate back what you are doing about their concerns. When customers feel valued, you have a customer for life!

No more getting bogged down in doom and gloom. Focus on the positive and remember the beauty industry is resilient. Let's navigate these rough waters together towards success!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why should ladies have all the fun? (The Male Market)

It's pretty easy to get a guy's attention with the latest electronic gadget or the biggest SUV to hit the market...but getting them to go to the salon or spa can be a bit more difficult. Men receiving spa treatments is still a fairly new idea, but these stats might surprise you.
  • ISPA (Int'l Spa Assoc) reports that 31% of today's spa goers are male - that is up 24% from 4 years ago!
  • A recent KSL Report online survey stated that 65% of male responders would interested in spa services that took less time (25 mins was preferred). Massage was winner for treatment choice, following by manicures/pedicures and facials.
  • In 2004, the men's skin care market was only one to two percent of the total skin care market. Over the past year, mens skin care has been the fastest growing segment in personal care. Some statistics show that men’s skincare products grew by 16% last year, compared to only 5% for all other skin care product lines.

So what do these few stats tell us? Men are interested in your services and products! Now the mission is finding out how to reach the male market in your neck of the woods.

Some ideas:

  • Create a male focused service menu. Keep it simple and grow into it. Offer massages, manicures/pedicures and facials using male focus products, keeping the service time length down and the price to match.
  • Carry a male focused retail line. Stick to one our two lines you believe in and use them in your services. Many times men can be sold easier then women when you use the product on them and prove to them the benefits. Once men find something that works, they are hooked and are repeat buyers. Be sure to package them in masculine retail packaging --think blacks, gold, and silver. They don't want to carry the cute pink bag your lady clients simply adore.
  • Start with what you know. Your female customers can be key to getting your male clients coming in. Offer package deals with wives or girlfriends --- think couples spa days for a romantic gift, or Father's Day specials, or Men Only Holiday Deals. The women will buy the special men in their lives these gifts, the men will enjoy the gifts, and thencome back for more!
  • Go where the men are. Advertise at local sporting events in the sports programs, on the radio, at gyms (especially for hair removal treatments), restaurants, community events, etc...

I hope these tips help grow your male clientel. Men can enjoy the pampering women have enjoyed for years. Grow your market reach and grow your business!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sell More Retail Products!

They say the devil is in the details... retail details! We all want to sell more retail product but many of us stumble on how to get there. Here are some quick hitting tips to help you sell more retail products.

  1. Have a retail sales team! All your stylists, estheticians, massage therapists, receptionists are all sales personnel. Everyone is selling your services and products from the moment the customer walks in the door. Define your staff as a sales team and show them the way.

  2. Put yourself in their shoes. Educate your staff on the benefits of all your retail products so they can fit the product to the customer. No matter what the question, your staff will know the correct product to recommend.

  3. Supply support material. Brochures on the product are usually free from the product manufacturer or custom print your own. (Use our free art services!) These are helpful tools to quickly communicate the benefits of certain products. Offer skin care or treatment prescriptions to your customers -- write down the products you used during their service, when to use, how to use, how much to use etc... This makes it easy for your sales team to close the sale and for the customer to keep the results at home.

  4. On-site, on-going training. One of your monthly team meetings should be revisiting the products and/or introducing new products. Keep educating them on the benefits of each product and what situation it will work best with. You can make it a game and offer prizes for the staff member that matches the product with the correct customer situation. Energy + Excitement = Sales!

  5. Ask for feedback. Poll the sales team for their thoughts on products and promotions. They are on the front lines and hold a wealth of information. You will gain buy-in with your team if you let them participate in product selection and sales efforts.

  6. Put the carrot where you want the behavior! Offer bonuses or commission based programs on selling retail products. You can add incentives such as gift cards, prizes, trips, continuing education classes etc.. Get creative and ask the sales team what would motivate them. Have a monthly chart and have a friendly competition. Anyway you can create excitement and make retail sales top of mind you will keep the momentum going.

If you don't put the focus on sales, they won't just happen. Build your team, build their product knowledge, build their motivation and watch prepared for those retail products to start moving!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brides, Dads and Grads

Late spring and early summer presents a host of promotion opportunities! From graduates going off to college or joining the work force, celebrating fathers, and the wedding festivities .... there are so many reasons to create excitement (and sales) for your business.

Here are some ideas to get your promotional juices flowing.
  • Partnership - Work with local schools or clothing stores to offer Professional Make-Over packages to get that grad interview ready. Network with florist, bridal boutiques etc... to offer special pricing/packages. Ask to leave promotional materials such as business cards in their reception areas. Include a promotion code to track response. For Dads, partner with local golf courses, steak restaurants, or grill retailers. Offer a luxury shave or King-for-the-Day spa packages. You can group a round of golf or a great dinner with your services. Definitely a hole-in-one!

  • Advertise - This doesn't have to break the bank. There are tons of free ways to get PR in local papers. Find out who your local "happenings" editor is and send them a press release on your partnership opportunities. Focus on how you are helping grads acheive success, or growing local business with your partner efforts. Other ideas - Contact schools, restaurants, shops for permission to leave your cards or menus. Many have free reception areas where you can leave a few materials. Make them snazzy (Action Bag offers free art services if you need assistance) and code them for tracking.

  • Parties - Host events! This could be a Bridal Shower, Power Day for Dad, Professional Grad Days. Package your services, offer snacks, little goodie bags...make it an event to remember. Run a small ad in your local paper, post flyers, send postcards to current customers, or even run a quick 30 second radio ad. Talk it up!

  • Be the expert! - Create a Bridal-Look-Book and have it in your reception area. This can feature the latest styles of hair, nails, make-up etc... Showcase the brides you assisted previously. Graduates want to look the part so create a how-to flyer complete with interview tips, how to dress and look professional (of course tie in your hair and nail services). You will help them look and feed good to secure their new job. Dads can be leery of the salon/spa world. Make them comfortable by creating a men focused area with masculine images and products. Showcase you're an expert in men skincare lines. Men are more likely to be open to the spa experience if you show them that other guys are taking part.

  • Package Deals - People buy more when you group things together. You create a perceived value they are getting more for their buck. You can group complete systems in coordinating retail bags. Add in some free trial size products. Offer a Queen-for-the-Day Kit for brides with your most luxurious items. Dads can get the Power Tool Kit with shaving and skin products. For grads create the Look your Professional Best Kit. Offer various price point kits and viola - sales!

  • Frequent Buyer Programs - Don't let your sales stop at these promotions. Create a reason for the customers to come back. Offer a reason for grads going away to college to come home to visit by giving discounts off services and special offers on retail products. If you are in a college town, create freshmen orientation kits with monthly coupons that keep them coming back. For Dads and Brides, include in your gift bags repeat buyer coupons or punch cards - for each use they get a different discount or free products etc.

The possibilities are endless. Take these ideas and make them your own. If you have run a great promotion, share your idea! You can add a post below or go to our MySpace page and enter our Promotion Contest. Click here to enter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prom Season is here... are you prepared to profit?

Prom season is a huge event for the beauty business. From young ladies picking the perfect dress and precisely paired jewelry, planning their hair, going tanning, finding the exact right shade of lipstick... the excitement is contagious!

Have you preplanned to be involved in this memorable event?

Promotion Ideas to assist you:

  • pass fliers about your specials (target high schools or teen hangouts)
  • send a postcard campaign to current clients with teen daughters
  • suggest hair and make-up package deals (one stop shop)
  • partner with local tux and dress stores, flower shops, restaurants (cross promotions)
  • provide extra discounts for booking group parties
  • take a % off retail products and ancillary items (hair accessories and jewelry etc...)
  • offer prom inspired tanning packages for that extra glow
  • give gifts of trial products for each girl (make them feel like a princess)
  • take before and after photos for your website or myspace page (PR for you!)

If you are behind the beat, don't let this happen again. Sign up for our FREE Promotion Reminder Service. You tell us when, what, and how you want to be reminded. Set it and Forget it. Click here and sign up today!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Go Green!

Going green is every where these days --and it should be. Our choices have a ripple effect across the world. If everyone takes just one small step to be more earth friendly, the effects will be far reaching.

Take a tip from Milajne Soligo, VP of Megahair Family group of salons. She launched an EccoBuck incentive program. This program rewards customers who recycle empty hair care containers. For every bottle a customer brings in, they receive a dollar-off coupon redeemable towards a purchase at their salon. What a fabulous idea! Not only are they spreading the word about recycling, they are building stronger relationships with their customers, helping their community and selling more retail product. Genius!

Worried your professional persona will be stifled with earth friendly choices? You can Go Green and still be stylish. There are many options to help make your retail packaging earth friendly. See our complete Go Green Product Line by clicking here!

Not sure what being earth friendly is all about? Click here for our Go Green Tips. It simplifies the earth friendly jargon and provides easy ways to help you start your own go green efforts. Reduce - Recycle - Reuse!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Best Promotion Contest!

Share your best promotion idea and win a $100 Action Bag Gift Certificate! Post your most successful promotion you ran Examples -- special holiday event, a charity focus promo, a super sale, customer appreciate day. Share the details of how you presented the promotion and why it was successful. Feel free to post pictures. Our Action Bag team will pick the best promotion from the bunch.

The winner will receive $100 gift certificate for goods and services at Action Bag. Wait there is more.....We will also highlight the winner on our website and this blog...FREE PR for your business. Post your Promotion Entry below today!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to the Action Bag Blog!

Hi There! I'm Jaimey Alumbaugh, the Marketing Manager at Action Bag Company --your retail packaging and promotion experts. This is the new place to share ideas, promotions, building your brand and so much more.

Feel free to share your ideas, comments, suggestions, problems or concerns. This is a forum for everyone. I want to facilitate the discussions and hopefully help you grow your businesses.

See our complete product line at You can Profit from Packaging and Promotion!

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