Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Make a "Retail" Resolution!

As the new year approaches it's the perfect time to take a look at what is working, what isn't, and how you can improve. Many people are planning to launch into weight-loss goals, more quality family time, or stress-reduction resolutions. Why not make a resolution to improve the health of your business? For many professional beauty business there is an untapped profit potential hidden in their retail product lines. Here are my "3 Easy P's" to examine your retail and make your own retail profitability resolution!

Product Lines
The first step is to take a hard look at what is sitting on your shelves. Are your products still working for your clients? Could you be hanging on to a brand or product type that isn't what your target audience truly wants or are you carrying too many lines? This isn't as daunting as one may think. Simplifying look at your sales data by brand and by sku. This will help you narrow your focus. Also look at your customer base and outline what products you are selling to what type of client. Do you service a younger audience who wants more styling products and accessories or is it a mature men's line that you really need? Ask for your staffs' feedback on what is moving, what should be nixed, and what you are missing. Drilling down to a few key lines can do your business wonders. Your distributor rep can be a great source of information. They can work with you to find the right product mix and appropriate inventory levels. It might also be time to look at a private label line. No diversion concerns here since clients can only get the products from you. There are a variety of trusted private label providers that offer quality professional products. Definitely worth exploring your options.

Once you know the products you are carrying, you need to focus on positioning the products correctly with your staff and customers. Your team needs continual product training. Many distributors will hold free product trainings and some have online options. The more your staff knows and loves the products, the more they sell. More commission for them and more profit for the biz - a true win-win! Create fun competitive contests on who can sell the most. Remember what gets measures gets focused on, so put the carrot where you want the action! For the client perspective, you can incorporate the "prescription pad" approach providing a written recommendation of the products used during their service. Position your professional products as their insurance policy for how clients are going to keep looking and feeling great to maximize the value out of what they spent with you today. (Learn more about this approach by clicking here.)

Creating excitement and client engagement will sell more. Simplifying putting products on the shelves and expecting the sales to roll in is not going to cut it. You don't have to be a discount center to get sales, but these days everyone is looking for more value. Clients want to be sure they are getting the most for every hard earn dollar - so show them you are worth it. You are in the business of selling image, health, and wellness. Look the part by creating professional retail displays which are updated every 4-6 weeks. Keep it fresh and new to excite loyal clients. Create a try-me area that invites customers to smell and engage with the products. Decrease the customer's risk level and give away free trial sizes to make them fall in love with the products before they buy. Promotional discount deals such as Buy 1 Get 1 Free or 1/2 off definitely will drive up sales but factor in the margin hit. Other promotional interest drivers that don't need to be a "sale" can be tying retail sales to a cause related effort. January is Heart Health Awareness Month. Promote that X% of all retail product sales will go to the American Heart Association in January. People are more likely to spend when they know they are helping a worthy cause. Broadcast the results with a hearty thank you at the end of the month and get more people engaged next round.

The bottom line, if you want to sell more retail you need to make it a focus. Create excitement over the products, engage your clients, and provide the "why buy from me" answer and you will be ringing the sales all new year long! 

Do you have another "Easy P" or additional idea to sell more retail? Please share below. Happy Selling!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tips to save the Holiday Procrastinators

Are you a last minute Lucy ...waiting until mid November to start planning your holiday promotions? Okay, we will save the lectures for another time and get down to the business of saving your bacon. Here are some quick fixes to save the procrastinator's seasonal sales!

Be the Gift Finder Solutions
If you are the last minute Lucy, we know there are the last minute Larry's scrambling to buy gifts for their love ones. Be their gift emergency solution. Create a Gift Finder Cheat Sheet. This can be as simple as dollar ranges and gift ideas by customer type. Offer suggested gifts at various price points from stocking stuffers to the ultimate gift experience. Ideas can range from a lip gloss or small travel set up to a full day of beauty package. You can also offer gift solutions by type of customer. The classic beauty offer the light pink nail polish, the natural makeup pallet, and the organic haircare line. For the trendy gal recommend the latest metallic shades and the edgy style products. Don't leave out men, tweens, kids or any other customer types you service. Remember to offer various price points. Create a Gift Solution Retail Display with appropriate signage. You and your team can hammer this out in one night of brainstorming, overnight printing of your cheat sheets, a morning of arranging your retail display - and be selling tomorrow.

Gift Cards - Gift Cards - Gift Cards

Oh did I say gift cards? This is the BIGGEST selling retail item of the holiday. Make sure you are promoting your gift cards and certificates at your front desk, reception and check out areas. Talk them up with signage tastefully done in various areas including your service stations. Promote the gift of your services on your website, emails, and social media pages. A promotion that works like gang busters is to offer extra gift money with certain dollar amounts. For example, through in $5 extra dollars at $50 gift card level, $10 at the $100, or $20 at the $150. It is all about adding value. Include the coordinating packaging and you have a no-brainer ready to give gift that shoppers will adore.

Cause-Related Marketing
Its likely too late to sponsor a family for the holiday or join in a toy drive - but you can create your own goodwill marketing efforts. A super simple way is to donate a portion of your profits to a local charity or cause aligned to your business.  This can be as simply as printing up fliers and signage touting that a portion of your profits are going to your cause. You can promote X% on all retail lines or all gift cards sold. People love helping others and if they can spend gift money that is going to a good cause they are more likely to spend with you. Another easy idea is to get a holiday tree in your front window area. Allow customers to offer additional donations to your cause. For each additional donation they offer, allow them to put an special ornament on your tree or put a ring on the paper chain ornament. See how many chains you can wrap around the tree, the wall, the window and beyond. Easy holiday decorations but with so much more meaning.

It's time to get moving, Lucy! Put these tips in place today and squeeze every seasonal sale your way to profit (and help your cause) this holiday season!

Monday, October 22, 2012

How To Profit This Holiday Season

It's October and time to sure up your holiday promotional plan. Create a calendar of when and what promotions you are launching. Then back into the "who" behind each event or activity. Get your staff on the same page and divide up the tasks. This keeps stress levels in check and allows you to get more done. Here are some holiday ideas to make the most of seasonal sales!

Wish List
A fun, interactive way to make sure your clients receive the gifts they want is have them fill out a Wish List. This can range from hair, body, skin, or cosmetics products. Ask them to include the email of the significant other or gift buyer of choice. Create an email campaign to send to these potential shoppers saying ...Psst you know a secret that is on their loved ones wish list. Offer them a printable list with a discount offer. This way they gift giver knows they are buying just the right gift and you are ringing up the sale!

VIP Sales Events
Offer special VIP events closed to the public. Mail or email invites to your VIP clients,Wish-List email recipients, or specific segments of your client list like Men-Only or Tweens. Offer refreshments, appetizers, event-only offers, and possible gift wrapping service. All these goodies will drive attendance and increase your overall sales.

Your clients need to envision your business as a gifting location. Tastefully create selling retail displays with holiday bags, tissue, group product sets, and ready-to-go gifts in various price points. Make it inviting and use signage such as "Gift Center" or "Santa's Little Helper Station". Encourage engagement with try-me sample areas and keep it fresh by changing your displays through the season.

Gift Cards
Did you know that gift cards and certificates are the #1 retailing item? Stock up and don't miss the boat on this huge profit driver. Create a gift card display at your check out areas. Place signage at individual service stations as a friendly reminder. Don't forget coordinating packaging. Offer your gift cards elegantly boxed tied with a bow or in cute gift card bags. This increases the perceived value and makes it a easy gift for the gift giver. You can also offer downloadable gift cards on your website to drive instant gifts for those last minute shoppers.

Gift with Purchase
Take a tip from department stores. Offer a free gift with purchase such as a tote or travel bag. You can offer an additional discount for volume buyers or use successful promos such as "Buy one as a gift get a free product for yourself".  Free samples or discounts off future services also are popular ways to entice buyers.

Get Social
Shout your specials and events from your digital roof tops! Keep your social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter going with new content such as info about your offers and events. Hold contests for best holiday look or host raffles for prizes. Creating buzz and excitement about your sales will make them more successful.

These are a few ideas to get you going. Please share what is working for your business. Ring up those holiday profits starting today!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Make or Break Reception Areas

The words “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” are ringing in my ears. For many professional beauty businesses the front desk reception area creates the first impression. Whether this is a client's initial visit or they have been coming to you for years, the reception area sets the stage for their experience. Front desk are the often forget hidden potential for relationship building and additional profits. Make your reception area work for you!

Professional & Friendly
Picture your client getting ready to be pampered, but they approach the front desk to check in and are greeted by a gum smacking woman, who is texting or chatting away on a personal call.  his takes away from the overall experience and could potentially drive a client to your competition. You want a professional greeter who makes eye contact, says hello, confirms who the client will be with today, and what they believe they are getting done. If there will be a wait, they offers the client a drink or magazine. Sometimes the receptionist is on a business call, they should smile and nod at the client to acknowledge they will be right with them. Once the call is complete, they apologize for the wait and welcome the client warmly. Keep the desk area clean, no cell phones, food, school work, or treatment practicing. This staff member's focus is about servicing the customer. They are your brand ambassador from the moment the client steps in your door.

Make sure your receptionist is armed with info on your menu of services and products. While waiting or checking out, may clients might want to ask a question about a new treatment or product. Answer their need right away by a fully trained receptionist. Friendly small talk about the community or the client's family helps build report. An employee with a knack for remembering faces, names, and personal info can excel.

Retail Add-onsSelling at time of check out is important to increase your average ticket. You don’t want to overcrowd your desk area but products such as gift certificates/cards, ancillary impulse buys, or group packages are ideal items to promote. Any special promotion or event can have tasteful signage as a possible conversation starter. Your receptionist can soft sell by bringing them up in conversation to drive awareness and increase sales.

Rebooking and ReferralsRebooking clients ahead of time can shorten the window between a clients next visit thereby increasing overall sales while keeping your chairs full. Your receptionist can encourage clients by saying their stylist has been booking up quickly. To be sure she gets her desire time, why now book now.  Also front desk personnel can be a resource to obtain referrals. Have clients fill out a referral card at time of check out and as a token of appreciate offer a free pack of trial samples. Clients love them and you gain a new client lead.

The HireAll this sounds great, but you need the right person to take this on. A person with custom service background is ideal. Offer competitive compensation but make them accountable. They can be bonused on a variety of performance-based stats such as number of gift card sales, number of referrals or rebookings, and overall retail sales. Your reception staff is vital to your brand and your bottom line. Let them know they are a valued professional on your team building your brand.

Have you overlooked your front desk profit center? Incorporate some of these tips and watch your bottom line grow!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Suggestive Selling Techniques

As the holiday busy season is approaching, now is the time to start creating strategies to maximize every possible moment of seasonal sales.  Suggestive selling is a merchandising technique that can increase your retail product sales - sometimes without having to say a word!

Celebrity Endorsements
Whether we agree with it or not, celebrities offer selling power.  If you have a product that endorsed by a celebrity such as an famous actress or musician, then showcase it. Maybe you have a local community figure that loves your items too. Use signage or visual aids including their picture and a quote of how the product worked for them.  Prop these aids next to your retail product display. These images and words suggest eduate that the product worked for these well-known people and they are putting their name behind it. This builds trust and credibility in the product and encourages more sales.

Write It Up
Take a tip from doctor's prescription pads and write down the products you used on your clients. This gives them a visual reminder of the products that made they look fabulous!You can show them the bottles and how to apply or recreate their look. Not only does this provide the client confidence to re-create your work, but also gets them closer and engage with the product. A slightly more hard sell approach is pre-packaging the items for them potentially offering a discount as they go towards check out.

Cross Sales and Up Sales
Stock your displays or retail product tables with related items. A cleanser and the new spot fade cream or a shampoo and deep conditioning mask. Offer a discount for the cross-sell product with the purchase of the other item. This allows clients to try products they haven't tried before but feeling their a getting a good value. You can also up-sell by offering value size, 2-for-1 deals, or half-off the second like item.  This is a more promotional selling tactic but the goal is to increase your average ticket sale plus the client might fall in love with the new product and drive a repeate purcahse.

Group It
Your clients want to know they are getting a good value. Increase the perceived value by grouping products together. Creating retail product sets of hair systems, skin care, or cosmetics makes clients feel they are getting more bang for their buck.  Package the set in a ready-to-go bag. This allows easy carrying to the check out area and again makes the customer feel they are getting more value with a potentially reuseable travel bag.

Selling retail doesn't have to be overwhelming or so stressful. Suggestive selling can take a more soft-sell approach that customers appreciate and respond to by buying! Happy Selling!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Earn top grades on your Back to School Sales!

The summer days are getting shorter. Parents are starting to shop for school supplies, new clothes, and planning those back to school hair cuts. With some preparation and a solid marketing plan you can maximize your back to school sales and increase your profits year round!

Get the Word Out
Advertise your business as the place for kids to get their "cool look" for back to school. Promote your business in back-to-school newsletter or community ads. Partner with local schools at registration by providing coupons or special offers. You can even provide a donation to the school for all students who visit. Create signage at your location promoting your back-to-school specials. Send postcards, emails, and post on your social media sites about your on trend back-to-school looks and specials. Have your staff talk up your promos and new products with your regulars. Make your biz the go-to-place that will have kids feeling and looking their best on the first day of class.


Back to school means salon liter promotions. Offer 2-for-1 deals or special discounts tied with a cut service. Use liter carriers or rubber bands to group liter bottles to make it easy to ring up sales . The product grouping allows customers to see the value. Grow other retail sales with system sets offered at a discount when a client receives a service. Reach the tween and teens group with travel packs of skin care and make-up ideal for those gym bags.

Loyalty Programs
Keep your younger clients looking great all year with loyalty program discounts off services and products. Capture their contact info including address, email, and cell phone to market all year. Send them periodic special offers to encourage repeat visits. You can also start planting the seed about your special event services for dances, proms, offering pre-booking discounts.

This creates a year around marketing plan to for your student clients that can grow your sales for the entire school year. By doing a little homework and studying hard - you too can earn an A+ in back to school business!

Friday, June 29, 2012

5 Ways to Boost Summer Sales

The beaches, the vacations, the little league games  - all can lead to the summer slow down.  Your chairs, beds, and appointment books seem a bit empty.  Here are some quick tips to liven up your summer sales!

1.  Theme Promotions 
The summer season is ripe with a variety of holidays and events that you can use to promote your products and services.  Think "brides-dads-grads-veterans-the 4th"or get creative and come up with your own event. These are golden opportunities can be your inspirations for special offers. Utilize your marketing channels of postcards, emails, social media, and radio.

2.  Sun Care Products
There are many sun care beauty products that can fit almost any beauty business. From sunscreen skin care and cosmetics, color care shampoos and conditioners for those bath beauties, or even impulse buys such as lip balm with SPF or travel-size sunblock. Create a retail display for your sun-focused items. Talk it up with signage and have your staff promoting through services.

3.  "Hot" Deals
Create a hot deal program with services and retail products. To get more frequent, loyal guests offer a new special each week or tie the deal to certain number of visits during a defined time frame. You can offer free retail products or complimentary add on services. You could set up a special table featuring a flyer on the program and/or discounted "hot summer" deals for a variety of items.

4.  Limited Time Services
The warmer weather can create different beauty needs for your clients. If you offer body services, how about a cooling cucumber facial or body mask. This can help cool skin that has a bit too much sun exposure. As oppose to the dryer winter months, oil production can increase with the water temperatures on the skin and scalp. Blotters, primers, and dry shampoos are excellent solutions. UV protection services and products such as hair glazes or nail polish top coats are excellent additions.

5.  Event Marketing
Host summer-inspired events. If appropriate for your location, hold a sidewalk sale and bring some of your retail items outside or offer a quick hand massage with your latest lotion line. Partner with your local neighbors for a combo-specials such a lunch beauty special where the restaurants caters lunch while your client recieves a service. Participate in local summer community events such as summer reading programs at the library donating gift packages, or sign up for summer parades or charity walks. Pool your staff and VIP clients to help make shirts or even a float. Fun and great PR!

Don't let the warmer weather wilt your business. With a dose of creativity you can boost those summer sales right until the holiday season!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Service Evolution

Evolution of your businesses services is the key to survival. Diversifying your business portfolio is similar to your investment portfolio. You don't want all your eggs in one basket. Grow your offering with the addition of new services and products. Evolving your services expands your potential client base and grows your revenue per customer. Let's explore potential new service offerings for your business!

Professional makeup application is exploding. Offering special occasion makeup such as wedding or prom which ties in nicely with up-dos or other formal hair styling services. This can also coordinate with your retail makeup or private label cosmetic line. Many hair stylists are crossed-trained in makeup application or hire your own appointment only makeup artist.

Hair and nails are becoming expected in most salons. The revolution of gel polishes and nail art are light years beyond the standard acrylics. You can tie this to a retail polish line for additional sales. Hire a nail tech or two to start and cross-sell with existing clients. An excellent way to spend coloring time by doing nails and increasing your per ticket sale.

Hair Removal

Waxing, threading, laser hair removal - all are growing. Women and men are willing to spend to be hair free especially in the dare-to-bare summer seasons.  Research the options and certifications needed for your area. This is a great add on service to existing clients or to draw in new business, including that potentially illusive male demographic.

Spray Tanning

Many love the golden glow but are worried about UV tanning. Offer professional spray or air brush tanning. Significant advances in spray tanning avoid previous concerns of looking orange, streaking or blotchy application, or color rubbing off. Spray tanning is very popular during the spring and summer months and for special occasions of prom and weddings.

Body Services

Facials, massages, and body wraps draw a higher price point clientele. You will need to hire properly certified estheticians and massage therapists and devote the proper space for treatment rooms, but the revenue per ticket can be worth it. Body lotions and skin care can be excellent retail products to compliment this offering. 

Start small with one new offering. Do your research on what potential license and certification your state requires. When you are ready to launch, create buzz with your staff talking it up, post signage around your location, send emails, and mail postcards. Offer a discount promotion to jump start participation. Evaluate your investment, time, and response rates. Not everything will be a home run out of the gate. Continue to brainstorm with team members until you get it right.

Service diversification can help guide your business evolution and make you more profitable. Please share your success stories or challenges below. Start growing today!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bloom your Biz with Mother's Day Promotions!

Spring is here and it’s time to make your sales bloom. One of your biggest opportunities is maximizing your Mother’s Day Promotions. Here are some proven profit drivers to make the most of this precious celebration.

Gift Cards & Certificates
Provide the most popular gift - the gift of your services. Offer a wide range of gift certificates in various dollar amounts or even better create package sets for a complete day of beauty – including gratuity. This provides a gift with no worry of extra expenses. Dress up your gift with retail packaging such as pillow boxes or card holders tied with a bow. Make it an easy gift for your clients and you will be ringing up the sales.

The Extras
Increase the incentive to make your business the go-to-mom-gift by throwing in the extras (psst …department stores do this all the time). Offer a gift with purchase. With your day of beauty package include a plush robe elegantly displayed in a robe box. Or create goodie bags full of trial samples and promotional offers. An excellent added gift for mom or as a treat for the gift giver! In addition to gift cards, also offer packaged gift baskets or vinyl bag retail product sets for those read-to-go-gifts, especially for those last minute shoppers.

Celebrate All Year
Mom’s are special every day and should be a valued client all year round. Capture the Mother's contact info when a gift is purchase. You can add this new client to your customer database. This can be used to reminder her if her gift is about to expire and also to offer her special promotions, invite her to events, and make her one of your VIPs. This helps build your repeat business and increase your customer loyalty.

What is your most successful Mother’s Day promotion? Please share your comment below. Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quantity vs Quality?

The old adage - "It is not how many people you know, but who you know" can ring true in these days of how many friends, followers, fans do you have?! Growing your social media connections can be an excellent goal for your business, but don't forget to develop a few close professional community relationships too. In these relationships - quality wins out over quantity.

Relationships To Build
High profile positions that touch many people in your community are ideal relationships to pursue. Real estate agents, bankers, healthcare workers, hospital administrators, community directors - basically people that work with a large portion of your neighbors who can be potential clients.

Where to Network
Chamber of Commerce groups are an excellent place to meet other business professionals looking to network. Groups such as Lions, Knights of Columbus, or community volunteer and charity groups are additional options. Join and get involved. Attend meetings and participate in sub committees and events. This will allow you to interact with other members to get to know new people and start building relationships.

Promotion Ideas
These professional relationships can help you co-market each other. When your real estate friend closes with a new buyer in your area, have her give them a goodie bag that includes a special discount offer from your business. Host a community event at your location. This allows your clients to meet and greet with your professional friends who can offer special discounts such as setting up a new banking account with your banker connection or or free hearing test with your friend that has a hearing clinic. You can also promote each other in your newsletters or email offers. Brainstorm fun promotions with your new friends that spur interest and hopefully new clients for all of you.

Quality business relationships can do wonders for your business. Challenge yourself to go out and cultivate professional friendships. As your friendships blossom so will the creative ideas to market both of your businesses!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Client Data is Golden

Did you know you have a gold mine inside your business? Your client information is your business's gold. Instead of always chasing new customers, marketing to the clients you already have builds customer loyalty and provides a higher return on your market dollars. Here are some quick tips to mine for your own gold!

Collect Customer Info

Encourage new clients to fill out client info cards. Data collected should include mailing address, email, and phone/cell numbers. Ask questions regarding the type of products and services they interested in. This data will be instrumental in creating effective marketing campaigns. Make sure this data is captured in your internal client database such as your software system or your own spreadsheet.

Data Marketing
Putting the data into action is the fun part! Sorting your client lists by customer types such as women or men, color clients, VIP spenders, retail products purchased - the possibilities are endless. From there you can target postcard campaigns, email blasts, or special promotions relevant to what interests those clients. Bulk campaigns to your whole list can be used for general newsletters or overall promotions.

Loyalty Programs
Using your customer data in loyalty programs can also increase sales. Offering special VIP stats for long time clients with a discount or free products creates excitement and makes your customers feel valued. By capturing your client's first service date, you can send anniversary cards with a thank you message and special discount. Feature long term clients in your newsletters or hold a VIP event with complimentary service or gift bag of trial size products. Celebrating and appreciating their business does wonders for loyalty.

Once you have loyal customers who love your brand and services, ask for referrals. Offer a special incentive for the client who refers as well as the potential new client. Have your current customer pass you the referrals contact data and send an postcard with an intro offer. Once that referral becomes an client, employ all the steps above.

Your clients are your best asset. Mine your data well and watch your profits grow!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Staying Relevant

Everyone is busy these days. Most of us our running a million miles a minute. We all all being hit with a lot of marketing message - including your clients. It is more important than ever to stay top of mind. Here are some easy tips to help your beauty business stay relevant and keep your clients spending their hard earned money with you!

Be the Expert
Everyday a new do-it-yourself at home product can impact many of your services and retail product lines. Here is where you shine. You are the professional who is trained and certified in your field. You can guide clients into the right look supported by the right professional products. Do-it-yourself items can lead to bad results. Tout your education and make it a no-brainer for clients to go the route with guarantee successful results.

Marketing Matters
You can't let off the gas just because you have a profitable business. Refreshing services, products, and your location's appearance is key to keeping clients engaged and coming back for more. Special offers, loyalty programs, personalize retail packaging, emails and more are needed to break through to the noise and capture clients' attention. Have a monthly promotional calendar and track results.

Stay Educated
Even if you are an industry pro, there are always new skills, tools, and products to learn. Being in the know reinforces your expert appeal and keeps clients coming to you for the latest looks and products.

Meet your clients where they want to be reach. Collect clients mailing and emails addresses. Use them to market specials, new services or products, share newsletters, and VIP event invites. Have a voice on social media sites and engage clients with tips, special offers, and contests.

Staying relevant is about staying involved. Take steps to strengthen your relationship with your customers to keep the sales you have and grow to the sales you desire. What is your business doing to stay top of mind? Please share your own tips below.

What is your biggest business struggle?

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