By Scott Nichols
As you’re reading this article you can start to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” of the slow season. As we head into the next season, I challenge you to investigate and plan for it. Investigate your own business and look for little changes you can make that can have a positive and immediate impact. During your investigation, look to see what you can build long-term. I know most of you reading this are thinking I do this already. I get that, but I still want to challenge you to do it. Nothing bad can happen if you investigate your business and plan for the future!
The first thing you need to do is investigate internally. Internally, I want you to look at two areas where you can improve.
The first is cutting cost. The biggest cost variable in your business is most likely your payroll. Take a look at the hours you are open compared to the sales you are receiving. Look at the previous years and see if it makes sense to stay open on Sunday’s past 3 p.m. or stay open until 10 at night. Sometimes these decisions can be difficult because you don’t want to upset customers who like to come in right before close, but as a business owner, you need to put your business first.
Here is an example of this working. Let’s say you pay an employee $12 an hour and you have three stores that stay open until 10 p.m. This year you decide you are going to close at 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. By doing this, you are saving $60 per location (not counting payroll tax) times three locations equals $180 a week. $180 times four weeks in a month equals $720. $720.00 times six months equals $4,320. This is just one way to reduce cost and see immediate results.
The second area internally you want to pay attention to is increasing sales with what you already have. How can you increase sales without having to do much? The first thing I would be doing is looking at your staff’s personal numbers. Maybe the employee who works in the morning is great at selling but she doesn’t see enough people. What if you could get her to work two or three days a week during the afternoon or closing shift? Another way is to look at reducing hours for employees who struggle at sales and increase the number of hours for employees who are good at sales.
After investigating your business, take a hard look at what you’re missing. Maybe you’re missing EFTs or you want to bring in a new service such as sunless booths. I would strongly recommend calling salon owners and getting their advice. I’m not talking about calling the salon down the road but instead the salon owner who is a few hours away or in a different state. If you are having trouble on who to call, then I suggest you get a hold of Smart Tan and they would be willing to help you network with someone – that includes myself. Listen to what is working for them with an open mind. Remember the purpose of the call is to help you build this service. Coming in with excuses on why something won’t work in your area is nonsense. If it works in one area, it will work in your area too.
When talking to these owners, ask them questions about all the services they provide. Maybe you weren’t planning on talking about EFTs but through the conversations find out you need to add them. In your mind, you don’t offer EFT memberships because you “always” heard they are bad? Find out why others are doing them and listen to why they have them. From that advice, you can weigh the risk/rewards.
As I mentioned in the introduction there will be some long-term changes that will take a while before you see the results and that’s okay. In my experience, if it takes a while to build it, that means it’s stronger and less likely to fall apart over night. Let’s use EFTs for example again. If you sell 50 EFTs this month you might only see $1,500 from it next month. But if you were to net 50 new EFTs a month and keep the majority of members over a year, you would be gaining close to $18,000 a month in a year’s time. Like I said, it might take a while to build it but it will be well worth it.
These are just some simple examples of how to investigate and plan for the next six months or longer. Take the time to investigate your numbers internally and find areas where you can improve. Next, reach out to some salon owners and network with them on what is working and what isn’t. Keep an open mind when doing so because I think there is a lot to learn. Looking for things you can improve on today and working on your long-term changes like EFTs can make for one great year!