Are You Wasting Your Salon’s Advertising Dollars? – PART 1

Part 1: Are you wasting your advertising $$$s?
Douglas Preston
salon advertising
Every business needs to market itself, to get the word out about the availability, uniqueness, and quality of its goods and services. In the increasingly competitive day spa industry it’s important to make potential customers aware of a company’s distinctive qualities. As a result of all this competition, it’s also become more expensive to attract and expand on sales.

Many spa owners have become disillusioned with the investment return of conventional advertising and promotion; particularly print ads in newspapers, circulars, and magazines. The few businesses that can afford television and radio spots have seen returns even more disappointing. Product and service discounting, while producing some new sales, often fails to expand either the customer base or profits, particularly profits since the cost of sales can rise in direct proportion to the depth of those discounts. Employees await new appointments like baby birds in a nest–mouths open and calling for the next parental feeding, often lacking confidence in the hunt for more business. What’s the anxious spa owner to do–litter windshields with day-glo flyers? It’s time for a little marketing lesson.

Begin by understanding that marketing is a complicated science, one almost requiring a master’s degree for those interested in mastering its methods. Most of us are novices at best, tossing precious advertising budget into a game we don’t understand, like first-time gamblers sitting at a table of card sharks. Unfortunately there are plenty of willing hands to help you lose money in this game. In this article I’ll offer you some insights and strategies for making the most from your marketing efforts, with a goal of gaining better results from fewer dollars spent or wasted. Before you commit to another advertising contract, print a new brochure, or stamp another mass mailing take the time to approach marketing from a different angle.

Marketing: What’s the Point?
In consulting with spa operators I’m yet to meet one that didn’t have questions about marketing at the top of their list. When I ask why marketing is so important they look at me as if they had made a horrible mistake by hiring me. Those operators exclaim that marketing is so important because we need to find more customers, to get the word out that we’re here! And here is precisely the problem with many business’s marketing efforts–it’s all about attracting MORE customers, not about making the most of the customers they do attract. Their trading bucket has a big unseen hole in it, and great time and money is spent in searching out enough inflow to keep the thing full. This is a losing game if ever there was one. The point I want to make is that it’s wasteful to buy “front-end” marketing when you don’t make the most of new or existing customers currently.

Maybe more marketing isn’t what you need, yet. Maybe what you do need is a more efficient means of maximizing every client opportunity. How would you know this? Let’s find out.

“I Need More Customers…Don’t I?”
Once I saw my aunt brilliantly solve a problem with an unhappy child. She had given him a small chocolate bar as a treat but, rather than being pleased he immediately flew into a crying fit because he didn’t want one-but two pieces of candy. She took the bar from his hand, broke it in two, and then returned it to him saying, “There, now you have two pieces.” I couldn’t believe that it worked, but it did, and I learned something valuable from that example myself–that there are ways to make more of something without actually having more in quantity.

These are some valuable questions to ask yourself about the way you do business with your customers:

Do they buy all of the retail products from me that they could or would?
Do my employees faithfully try to upgrade customers’ services?
Is everyone in the spa doing their best to reschedule and retain clients?
Do I have a reliable system of contacting clients we haven’t seen in a long time?
Do employees always ask their clients for referrals or is that left to chance?
Are my receptionists properly trained in, and rewarded for, telephone service sales and upgrades?
Are receptionists properly trained to conduct post-treatment and walk-in product sales?

Do I know how to motivate employees in sales and self-promotion as well as I could?
Are employees taught to sell our most profitable services and products to clients instead of what they’re most comfortable with or prefer themselves?
Do I spend as much time improving company performance in these areas as I do in other management activities?
Is our advertising investment really working for us?
What’s cheaper–to bring in new, but undersold, customers or to increase the value of those that we already have?
See where I’m heading? A close look at your present marketing efforts may reveal a sleeping giant that’s barely been touched. You don’t want to spend more money on additional weakly performing promotions, not with all of this pre-paid potential lying dormant in your business. The last thing that you need is to increase your cost of sales through elevated advertising expenses, particularly when history shows that you may be wasting the fruit of those ads as it is.

Now you can really do something positive with your past marketing investment. Let me show you how.

Taking Responsibility: The Main Event
As hard as it may be, you’ll need to accept the fact that all things happen in your business because you, the manager, allow them to happen. You’re probably thinking, “hey, how can I help it if an employee fails to sell a product, is poor at rebooking clients, or runs late all of the time in his or her appointments?” It’s simple: if you train for the behavior that your business demands, closely monitor employee performance, and then take appropriate action (including termination) upon the failure to meet your standards, you’ll eventually achieve an improved overall company performance. It’s your show–never expect employees to voluntarily perform like the caring professionals you trust they are. Some will deliver and others will fall behind, but your role as manager demands that you keep the front line tight. In other words, their failure is your failure. Are we together on this?

Good! Read on to part 2.

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