Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Moving Left Over Holiday Inventory

Soon the gifts will be unwrapped and the last of the decorations put away. As you start plotting out your goals for next year, you might be wondering what to do with that left over holiday inventory. Let's create a plan to move it!

Attack from all Angles
Put your retail products in more than one area. Having one shelf next the checkout area is not going to cut it.  You need to make retail a leading cast member in your business.  Create multiple areas to engage customers.  Use signage in service areas, waiting areas, or even restrooms. Prop smaller products at your stylists' stations. The goal is to make your customers see your retail and envision you as a product source.

Power of 9's
The big box stores have been using this trick for ages. Reprice items using 9's. Examples are 14.99 or 9.99. This subconsciously makes the brain see the lower price point and equates receiving a deal.

Bargain Bins
Have truckloads of travel sizes, cosmetics, or smaller products hanging around?  Create bargain bins or displays.  It doesn't have to look cheesy if done correctly. The point is to create a group of products you want to blow out. Slash the prices, do a two for one, or 5 for $15 bucks. Get creative with your promo but make it easy and attention grabbing.  Everyone loves a good deal and people will go diving in your bins to save!

Create product sets in ready to go bags.  Grouping products together increases their perceived value. Add in a gift with purchase like a reusable tote or vinyl travel bag to entice buying behavior.  Purchase cosmetic or travel bags. Pack with your inventory that hasn't moved. Give it a group price point (remember the 9's) and promote them in high traffic areas.  Unbeatable deals...never this low again...perfect gym bag accessory.... get creative with your tag lines and watch these products walk out the door!

Out with the old and in with the new. Employ these tips to move left over items.  Santa may just hang around a bit longer as you ring up additional seasonal sales!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Small Business Stress Buster Tips

Stress is a normal part of each day. As a business owner or manager you're burden with the accountability of the buck stops here.  You likely feel elevated levels of stress during the holiday busy season. Here are some tips to keep your stress in check to survive, thrive, and enjoy the season!
Small Business Stress Busters - Action Bag

Set Priorities
Shooting from the hip can create chaos because your team has no defined course of action. Having a plan is half the battle.  Set yearly- quarterly-monthly-weekly-daily goals. This allows you to break down your goals into smaller pieces and work through them on a manageable level. Start each day by reviewing your priority list. This keeps you on schedule and you know you are covering your bases.

Re-evaluate Results and Goals
Don’t set it and forget it. Check in with how you are tracking towards your goals. Did something change where your goals or tactics need to be reconsidered?  Maybe a marketing plan didn’t pan out or that new product did fly off the shelf as predicted. Be prepared to come up with plan B such as a new promotion, sale or creative campaign to revive the item.  Revisiting goals will nip concerns in the bud before they become bigger stressors.

Uncover the Root Cause
Stress can cause us to overact to challenging situations or be upset at the messenger. Remember to take a deep breath and attempt to get at the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. What caused the marketing effort to fail – bad timing, bad placement, offer didn’t relate to your target client? Was it a staffing issue? Try to put the issue in perspective with the big picture of your business. Attempting to stay calm and look objectively at events can steer you to the right solution faster.

You are not alone. Your staff is there to support you and make the business a success. Train them well and empower them to take on more responsibilities. Reach out to them when your to-do list is overwhelming. Letting go of your internal control-freak can be the best thing for your stress level and helps your staff grow.

Get a Life
You need a life beyond your business. When you leave for the day check out of business mode. Enjoy your family, friends, hobbies, and outside interests not related to your work. Decompress and let your mind enjoy other topics. This refreshes your body and soul to tackle the next business day ahead.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but with a little pre-planning and getting down to the root causes of challenges you can overcome stress and drive your business to success. A little chocolate can always help too!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Strategic Seasonal Selling – Upselling & Cross Selling Tactics

'Tis the season of giving - and buying. Make your location a retail destination by creating a buying environment. Here are some easy tips on how to strategically sell more this season.

Let’s start with some easy definitions.
  • Upselling – driving the client to buy a more expensive product or add features related to the original product/services
  • Cross-Sell – driving the client to spend more by adding additional products
Here are some strategic selling methods.
  • Ask Questions – Inquire about their beauty routine, overall style, ask about their holiday plans and gift giving needs
  • Show & Tell –  Use your retail products during client services to have them experience, smell, touch, feel items.     
  • Consult – You are an educational resource. Share your knowledge and suggestions about what products, ingredients, services will work for your client’s needs. 
  • Display – Create an inviting and informative retail area with organized, full product shelves and self talkers to educate on key selling features of the products.
  • Incentivize  -  Offer commission, bonuses, or rewards for top sellers. 
Now let's put it all together.
Gaining information about your client’s wants and needs uncovers the most effective approach.  Consulting and the Show & Tell tactics allows for both upselling such as adding highlights to that color service or cross selling by adding on a hand treatment. Your retail display offers significant selling opportunity with signage that educates, highlights special offers, and provides ready-to-go group product gift sets.  Offering selling incentives for your staff to put the carrot where you want the behavior will drive results.
Have a team meeting and review these concepts. Touch base each week and share what is working and tweak your efforts as needed. The time is now - Strike while the curling iron is hot! Create a strategic selling approach and ring up those holiday sells.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tips to Hire for Busy Season

The cooler temperatures are upon us. Before we know it the holidays will be here. Hiring the staff during these fall months will give you time to secure good talent and fully train new staff before business gets too busy to think!  Build a foundation to set your business up for success.   

Job Description
Take time to define your open positions by what tasks you need them to do. Visualize how this position and person will fit into your culture and brand.  Run your ideas by your existing team for their feedback. Collectively you will drive the best description.

Part-Time verses Full-Time
Evaluate part-time verses full-time staff.  Part-time staff allows you to have more available hands on deck for the price of one. If your part-time hire proves themselves you can promote to full-time. A promotion is an excellent carrot to motivate a new hire to do well.

Partner with local beauty schools to offer an internship. These extra hands can help out with clean up, folding towels, answering phones while the student is learning the industry. If you find a great fit, this could lead to a possible new team member.

Network with your product suppliers for potential candidates. Your vendors will know people with industry experience.  Tap your business neighbors or your personal community relationships for individuals looking for work.  Referrals often lead to long-term, productive staff members. 

Get the word out
Advertise what you are looking for via your website, social media efforts, and online ads. Have your staff reach out to their friends and families as well.  The more people who know about your opportunity, the more candidates you will received - and the more likely you will find the right fit.

Now is the time to sure up your staff to maximize your seasonal sales! Have additional tips? Please share in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plan a Successful Holiday Season

You might think I’m off my rocker already talking about the holidays, but now is the time to get a plan in place.  Planning now will avoid headaches when the busy season hits.  Here are some easy tips as you hash out your plan!

Make sure you have the products customers want when they want it. The last thing you want to do is run out of items that are moving at prime selling time.  Break out the crystal ball – kidding  - it really isn’t that hard! Pull the reports of what and how much you sold last holiday season.  Compare that with what is moving this year.  Estimate some growth based on your promotional offers.  Call your distributor and discuss your needs. A possible option is for them store some products and ship as you need.

Planning your holiday offers will help you predict inventory needs, estimate sales figures, and determine your marketing plan. Coordinate who is handling web and social media promotion, postcard printing and mailing, and changing out your retail displays. Create a promotion calendar to keep everyone on track.

Train your staff now.  Make sure they are knowledgeable on your products and focused on selling.  Reinforcing holiday offers and ask for their feedback. Gaining their buy in before it gets crazy busy is half your battle.  Remind them excellent customer service is never out of style. It can get very stressful for your team so be generous with the thank you’s, compliments, and encouragement. Create contests of who can sell the most or provide the best customer services to keep the team engaged.
Make sure your door is always open for questions or concerns. The front lines can share excellent feedback. Keep constant team communication with weekly team meetings, sales results, action plans, and reminders.  It is easy to get lost in the busy work but keeping everyone in the know will ease those stressful situations.

Provide ready-to-go-gifts. Make it easy for your customers to see you as their gift source. Offering gift bags and gift card packaging makes it a no-brainer for your clients. Be fully stocked on gift set vinyl bags, holiday bags, labels, bows, and gift card boxes. Personalize with your logo for additional advertising. This wow factor won’t go unnoticed and will help you ring up more sales.

Make this your most successful holiday season yet booking more appointments and selling more retail than ever. Start planning now and reap the rewards soon!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pink Ribbon Promotions

Oct is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The beauty industry is a strong supporter of this cause. The dog days of summer are the perfect time to start thinking pink! Take advantage of the slower time to plot out your promotions for the rest of the year. Here are three easy P’s to create your perfect pink ribbon promotions!

Decide if you want to align your promotions to a charity such as the Susan Komen Foundation.  A popular idea is to promote a donation drive. Offer awareness band bracelets for every donation received. You can print off pink ribbons and for each client that donates, have them sign your name to the ribbon. Hang these ribbons around the salon and watch the chain grow! Another idea is to present a potion of sales to the designated charity. You could also host a VIP after hours party complete with goodie bags with free services or discounts for all who donate.  Calendar when you will start the promotion and when it will end.  Create a goal for donations and an advertising plan to get the word out and keep the support coming.

Coordinate additional support with your partners. Get staff involved in the planning process and implementation. Work with your suppliers, network partners, and neighboring businesses to ask for their participation in co-sponsored promotions or events.  Order any supplies you need such as the awareness bands, signage, or postcards.  Have a marked up calendar of who is doing what when and send it to everyone involved. This sets clear expectations and keeps everyone on the same page.

Get the word out about your promotion early and often.  Broadcast you event via social media, emails, signage, a postcard mailer, your website, staff and clients.  Keep up the momentum by announcing weekly updates of your goal target and the biggest contributors. Keeping a high level of excitement and awareness will drive engagement.  Finally communicate the success and thank everyone who has supported your effort. Handwritten thank you notes, shout outs on your digital media, and in-salon signage are excellent ways to show appreciation for those who supported your cause. Don't forget to send some local PR following the event to local news outlets. Share the good deeds. 

Have other successful promotion ideas, please share below. Think pink and support a great cause while growing your business!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Personalize your Packaging

Retail packaging can pack a powerful marketing punch.  Adding your logo to your bags, gift card holders, labels and beyond separates you from the crowd and provides many benefits.  Here are the top 5 reasons for personalizing your packaging!
Top 5 Reasons to Personalize your Retail Packaging
1.) Brand Awareness – Everything that touches your customer from service menus, appointment cards, print ads to your retail bags should present a consistent brand image of our business. This repetitive method reinforces your brand in your clients’ memory to spur your name when thinking of your products and services.  Also having your logo leave with your client equates to a walking billboard for your business.

2.) Look the Part – Many of our customers are in the professional beauty business. You need to walk the talk and make your business look just as good as the image services you are selling.  Show you have arrived and look your professional best by showcasing your brand.

3.) Increase Perceived Value – As much as we say don’t judge a book by its cover, first impressions stick with us.  Drive a positive impression by creating a consistent brand with personalized coordinating packaging in your retail displays and at point of purchase.

4.) Low Investment  - What did you pay for that radio ad last week or the mailer in the monthly coupon pack?  Diversify your marketing budget is sound business but keep in mind that for pennies a bag you are building your brand with the people that are actually coming through your doors. 

5.) Extras – Delight customers with attention to detail.  Above and beyond customer service including packaging that provides ready-to go gifts, looks amazing, and shows you care about clients patronage and adds the extras wow-factor to your clients’ experiences. These experiences build loyalty and word of mouth advertising.

Learn how easy it is to personalize your own bags. Visit our Personalization Info Page for more details.

Packaging can be your marketing ally.  Get started today!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stay in the Know

Staying on top of news and trends that can impact your business is vital.  It can be hard to keep a pulse on the latest happenings when your nose is to the grind stone getting things done.  Here are some tips on how to stay in the know and still accomplish your daily to-dos.

Info Sources
Endlessly searching for information can waste a lot of time and go no where fast. Securing trusted sources of industry information is the key to success. All industries have targeted publications, associations, various blogs and informational sites. Get connected. Sign up for emails, magazines, or RSS feeds.  Set up Google Alerts are key topics, competitors, or industry terms. These alerts send emails directly when these key words are indexed by Google. Tap your LinkedIn profile and join industry groups. Set up automated email alerts for new postings and actively participate in these communities.  Most participants are willing to share when you get involved.

Now that you have all these great sources of data how do you handle it all? The trick is keeping organized.  For emails and RSS feeds set up rules in your email to automatically move things to pre-assigned folders.  This saves you time spending all day sorting your email alerts and keeps the info in one place.  Sort your direct mail and segment your industry publications separate from day to day correspondence in their own tray or folder.

Time Management
Of course the question on every one's mind is when do you have time to go through this info. The answer is you make time.  It is easier to do than you think.  Have a quick 10 minutes before your next meeting? Open up your industry email folder and scan through ones you feel are of interest or open up that industry magazine and mark articles worth diving into.  Set aside some time early in the morning or before you head out the door in the evening and go through your news sources.  The more you do this the better you will become at scanning headlines to weed out the fluff and get at the valuable data efficiently.

Now that you marked what you feel is important and before you close the email or toss the publication make a decision on what you are going to do with it, who is involved, and when you will do it by. This is an essential step or you wind up with piles that you never tackle. Ask yourself is this share worthy and if so who is the appropriate audience? Is this info actionable and what are my recommended steps? Then take the 2 minutes to share the the info via an email or memo or keep a running list of info to share in a monthly or bi-weekly meeting. 

Make this a daily habit and the system will flow. It will become second nature. You will be on top of your game and in the know!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Special Event Promotions

The warmer seasons are brimming with special events your business can promote to drive sales. From moms, brides, dads, grads, there is a world of possibilities. With so many options it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to create a plan and reap the benefits of special event promotions!

Define your Strategy
Narrow down who and what you want to offer. Do you want to market to all special events or niche market into specific groups.  Draw up your menu of services and promotions. Examples include bridal party events complete with hair and makeup, Dad’s day of pampering, or the Job Interview Prep Package for recent grads with hair, makeup, and attire tips. Let your creativity flow. Then evaluate and narrow down your offering. You can always add more options later so start small and grow.

Partnership Networking
Special events tend to include many other services and products such as limos, clothing, and food.  Partner with local business to collaborate on discounts or packaging sets such as hair, makeup, limo, dinner and tux discount for a prom deal. Envisioning being a one stop shop driving sales for a variety of local businesses. The cooperation effort allows all parties to share ads expenses driving more bang for your buck.

Marketing Mix
Create a special events menu. Use this marketing piece by placing in your reception areas or pass around town, load a digital version to your website, link on your social media and more.  During key promotional times support your offering with radio, print, or direct mail ads. Don’t forget to advertise at your location. Design retail displays using romantic soft white hues, shimmering tulle ribbon and lace intertwined with retail products utilized in your bridal packaging offering. For prom add punches of the latest promo dress colors, nail polish trends, and makeup. Including signage and your new special event menus. Talk it up and create buzz.

Did you also know there is a secret advantage to special event efforts – new customers! Events usually involve groups of friends and family that are potential new clients. Wow them and don’t forget to capture their contact info. Follow up after the event thanking them for the participation and provide a welcome offer to usher them back as a repeat client.

Forethought and planning make any marketing effort a success. Engage your team and launch your event promotions today. The sooner you get the word out the sooner you start booking!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Create Buying Behavior

All of us in the retail business wish we could sell more.  Finding the perfect product mix, creating the right retail area, and convincing your staff that selling is part of their job can lead to many sleepless nights.  Let’s explore the why and how to grow your retail sales!

Method to the Madness
There are vital aspects to creating the right environment that drives buying behavior.  These might seem like no-brainers however they are often forgotten and are crucial to selling. 

  • Attention capturing display.
  • Easily locate products.
  • Ability to engage with products.

If you want to sell more you need to give clients an area that screams this is our retail product line; we would like you to see and experience our products. Don’t hide your retail behind the reception counter. How engaging is that? Its not! Have an organized and beautiful retail section with shelves labeled to make products easy to find. Organize by product type or the solution the products offers. Create a try-me sampling area. Think of this as the department store floor. This allows customers to touch, feel, smell, and experience the product to determine their purchase. Change up your retail area with new displays and samples about every 4- 6 weeks. This allows clients that regularly visit to see something new each time they enter your location and hence provide a new buying opportunity.

Tricks of the Trade
  • Eye level is buy level. Time after time the most purchased product is the one customers can easily view. This is your prime retail real estate. Use it wisely.
  • Information access.  Provide information such as product brochure display holders next to items. This avoids the pushy salesman vibe and allows clients to self-service when making their buying decision.
  • Keep right. If possible put your retail areas on the right side. Most people turn right when they enter a store so this will pull them toward your products.
  • Education is essential.  Keep your staff up to date on all the benefits of your products. Their one-on-one recommendation is priceless to encourage clients to buy. They need to know the products, your inventory levels, and your overall selling goals to be successful. Weekly team meetings on these details are recommended.
  • Add the social element.  Customer recommendations are powerful purchase driving tools. Create a “rate your product” area on your website or social media areas. This allows customers to share their experiences with your products and that encourages others to give them a try. An added benefit of rate and review is the additional insight to right size your inventory.You can uncover your star products as well as uncover the dogs that need to go.
  • Promote it baby! You can’t just throw products up and hope they move. Talk up your products in all areas of our business.  Create offers, specials, deals, gift with purchase, fun incentives, or cause-related marketing efforts to keep your retail top of mind and drive those sales.
Follow these tips and you are well on your way to improving your retail business.  Have more retail advice?  Please share below. Happy Selling!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Branding Your Business

The buzz word “branding” is heard so often we tend to glaze over its importance. Branding is more than your logo, your business tag line, or your colors. Although all vital pieces to the puzzle, your brand is your business’s unique identity – what sets you apart from your competition. This is critical to success to drive business to your doors, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately create a sustainable business model.

Don’t know where to start?  Follow the “3 Easy C’s” to building your own brand!

This is where you tell your story about why you started the business or how you got involved with your product and service. Share your passion, your family heritage, or your entrepreneurial inspiration.  The key is to tell your story from the perspective of your customers keeping in mind what is important to them. This process highlights your unique selling proposition such as your business is technically proficient, or you invest in education to stay on trends, you are the expert in  an area, you are the caring consultants, or you’re the one stop shop. This is the magic message of your brand.

This is a fancy way of saying collect this story into systematic grouping so it is easy for others to “get it”. The first step is your logo. This should reflect your story your story and image.  If you differentiator is your on point with the latest trends then bold, bright, incorporating the latest look is for you. If you are the calming consultants who walk clients through the spa experience more demure colors and soothing flowing font would work well.  Along with your logo create a concise tag line to tie into your brand message. Following our examples something like “Rock the latest looks at Lisa’s Salon” or “Indulge your Senses with Full Body Relaxation”. Use your unique selling points and your brand story as your inspiration. If you are stuck, hire the experts or work with a local business school to help create your brand look and feel.

Now your mission is to communicate your brand in all areas that touch you client. Add you logo, tag line, colors and core brand story to all your marketing channels. This includes your business/appointment cards, letterhead, website, business decor, and packaging. Consistent and continual placement reinforces your brand and ultimately increase loyalty and sales. 

Need proof that building your brand builds your business? Look to some of the strongest brands across the world McDonald's or Tide detergent. They are successful because they offer product consumers want or need, they have a strong brand story that people related to, and they differentiate themselves in their markets. Your brand is the essence of your business. Take time to create a brand that reflects your story, make it easy to get the message, and then communicate it always and often!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turn Complaints into Customer Satisfaction

Pleasing all the people all of the time isn't reality. Learning how to handle complaints and unhappy clients is a valuable skill to keep the integrity of your brand and business. Here is a sure fire method to turn complaints into satisfied customers!

No matter what happened or how it happened apologize upfront. Even if the customer isn't always right they need to feel heard and their opinion is valued. Don't be defensive. Hear out their concern and respond back validating what you hear. The magic words to conclude the customer's concern are to thank them for their complaint. Reinforce that your business values continuous improvement and we can't improve without knowing what to fix. Many times these customers are geared up for a fight, but these magic words tend to diffuse the situation instantly.

Once you understand the concern, recover the customer's confidence. You don't want to feel taken advantage of but generally the offer of a voucher, a discount, or a free service will appease the client. Another approach is ask the customer, "What can I do to make this right?". This lets you know what the customer feels is fair retribution. For the most part people will be fair and not demand the world. Try to meet them at least half way. If you have a repeated complaint, review the true cause and brainstorm solutions with your staff. Proactively educating customers and staff on your policies via service menus, website, and posted signs can go a long way to create expectations and a collective understanding to prevent some incidents from ever occurring.

Things will go wrong. Complaints are going to happen. Reframe complaints as an opportunity to grow, improve, and wow a customer with how your business responds. Also be aware that there are serial complainers out there. These are people aren't happy unless they are unhappy about something.  If you experience a continued complainer, a suggestion is to have an honest conversation with them. Explain they are always welcome, but your services might not measure up and they might prefer another location better able to meet their needs. 

Learn to see complaints as an vehicle to drive better customer satisfaction and you will increase customer loyalty and build a positive business image. Do you have other tips for how you deal with complaints? Please share below.

What is your biggest business struggle?

Blog Archive