Wednesday, October 26, 2016

7 Mistakes Beauty Businesses Make Leading up to Christmas

Wow, this year has flown! Before you know it, Christmas will be here. Saying that, are your ready?

Many people who own or manage salons tend to leave it to the last minute. Then they either do a mad rush to get things organised causing a lot of stress. They end up with  promotions and materials that could certainly have been better if they allowed more time, or some completely give up and decide it's too late and not even bother to make any effort. 

We all know that Mother's day and Christmas   are the busiest trading periods for retailers and service providers such as beauty salons. This is when consumers are actively looking to spend money on themselves and their loved ones and the competition in the retail industry is fierce to win these willing customers over. The old saying is, you have to be in it to win it. If your competitors are well organised and ready, they will get the best customers, including yours. 

Here are the biggest mistakes I have seen retailers make leading up to Christmas and what you can do to avoid making these mistakes. 

Mistake no 1. Lack of Planning 

Sadly, salon owners get so caught up working in the salon they often forget about marketing and Christmas just creeps up on them. In the meantime, customers have been making their Christmas purchases elsewhere which end up costing the salon thousands in lost revenue.

It’s too early, some tell me. However, consumers start thinking about Christmas months beforehand, and big retailers know this well. Lay-bys are offered 6-12 weeks prior to Christmas. In more recent years, we have seen Halloween stock in stores, and as soon as Halloween is over, these are promptly replaced by Christmas displays. This year I have seen Halloween and Christmas stock go up in early September. 

You have got be in it, to win it. If Christmas displays and merchandise are not up by 1st November, you're losing sales to your competition. And remember, when it comes to Christmas gifts, all retail and online retailers are your competition, including pharmacies, supermarkets and department stores.

If you haven't already made a solid plan on how you will maximise sales of services and retail products you might as well put up a sign saying, "For your Christmas purchases, you're welcome to shop elsewhere."

Mistake no 2. "I haven't Got The Time"

As the weather warms, salons can become very busy with waxing and spray tans. So salon owners can get caught up with these services. In the ideal world, Christmas decorations, posters, menus and gifts would have been all organised in September or October, so all you have to do is put it all up. If you haven't got the time, get some help from family or hire a junior or a student. At this time of the year there are students looking for work experience or casual work, why not consider hiring a casual over the busy period to help you put up the Christmas decorations, organise the displays and help with the Christmas trade. 

The lead up to Christmas and Mother's Day are the BIGGEST promotions of the year for beauty businesses. This is when you can earn that bit extra to put aside for slower months and to seriously boost your income. This is the time to bring in extra dollars you can put towards a new facial or beauty treatment you have been thinking about, or to pay for that exotic holiday you have been dreaming of.

Mistake no 3. No Christmas Display

No serious retailer would contemplate trading over the Christmas period without attractive and enticing windows and retail displays. Last few years I was surprised at the lack of Christmas decorations and displays in some beauty businesses. Later, the same salons would report that Christmas was slow. Perhaps their customers were enticed away by their competition with more exciting and inviting Christmas retail presence? There is a saying, if you build it, they will come.

Mistake no 4. Boring Retail Offer

If it's not on the shelf, you can't sell it. Some customers prefer to purchase physical gifts; others prefer to purchase gift vouchers. However, if you rely on selling only gift vouchers, you lose the opportunity to sell to those consumers who prefer to buy physical gifts. Recently a consumer told me they prefer buying a physical gift because they wanted their loved ones to know that they made the effort to choose a special gift for them.

At this time of the year, most of the beauty suppliers, whether skincare, nails, or specialised gift items, offer Christmas packages and gift packs. Some salons fail to take on these special offers and their customers are forced to purchase from their competitors. If a salon is carrying standard stock, and they don't bring in special Christmas offers or unique and limited gift items, there is nothing to excite the customer.  

As your customers are looking for gift ideas, they'll be looking for something different, something that will excite them to buy for their loved ones (or for themselves). So talk to your suppliers to see what gifts will work for your business, generate excitement and stimulate sales. 

Mistake no 5. Failing to Promote Gift Vouchers

Assuming your customers already know you offer gift vouchers can lead to lost sales. Consumers are very visual when they are looking for gifts. They are prompted by visual cues backed up by your recommendations. If they can't see it, or hear about it, they won't buy it. So have a sign designed and put it up at the entrance letting walk-by traffic and people entering your business know that you are offering Gift Vouchers for Christmas. 

I would also suggest you put up signs around the salon to remind your existing customers about gift vouchers. Your existing customers are the easiest to sell to because you already have a relationship with them and they trust you. Be sure to promote your gift vouchers on social media, in your newsletters and on your website.

Mistake no 6. Poor Communication

Your customers have been and from now on, be even more inundated with Christmas offers from all the various retailers. Catalogs, emails, in-store posters, coupons, texts, direct mail and websites. If your salon does not have visual prompts and cues, if the staff are not talking to your customers about Christmas gifts, then your business will be missing on some serious sales. 

Facebook is great, however, I see too many salons rush to set up a Facebook page and use it solely for all their communications and marketing. Never rely on only one type of marketing channel. Not all of your customers are on Facebook. 

Communicating effectively the message to the broadest audience requires several channels and regular frequency. One email or one newsletter will not get noticed. Reach without frequency = wasted money and time. Marketing must be an on-going process in order for it to be successful. So make a plan to reach your customers over several channels at least 3-4 times per week leading up to Christmas. 

Mistake no 7. Lack of Excitement

If you look at the Christmas season as a chore and something that requires too much work, well, your customers will have nothing to be excited about and so they will take their business elsewhere. Lackluster presentation, not bothering to do Christmas displays or making the effort to do the research to bring in products your customers would be excited about, and a lack of team excitement, can make it a boring retail experience. If you wish to increase your sales, make the effort to create a festive, warm and exciting retail environment.

Engage with your customers and make it easy for them to buy from you by offering a variety of exciting retail and service gifts.

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Enjoy a successful and prosperous day!
Jana x

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