By Grant Miller
Depending on where your salon is located, summer marks the beginning of the annual slow season. Typically, the first half of the year is the prime time to bring in new members, sell a ton of EFTs, and generate the majority of your profits for the season.
Once the second half of the year begins, the strategy for my salons changes. Instead of pushing the growth of my customer base, I focus on retaining the customers I already have. My retention efforts focus on minimizing the number of EFT cancellations and encouraging existing customers to keep tanning with us as the year ends.
Here are several tactics I use to maximize revenues until the next busy season rolls around:
- Initiate EFT engagement programs. Encourage your EFT members to remain active longer. Consider allowing your EFT members to use the next highest level of equipment for the same price as their current level. Many members will not want to cancel or freeze if they know they would be missing such a great offer. We do an upgrade special in which the member pays $20 or $30 to upgrade their EFT to the next level for 60 or 90 days. This value encourages them to remain active longer while giving us a cash boost. You could also incentivize members with free upgrades every month during the slow season. If your salon offers red light services, hydro massages, body wraps, or spray tanning, let them use some of those services for free or at a greatly discounted rate while they remain active in the EFT membership.
- Make an offer they can’t refuse. When demand slows for your services, offer the customer a deal so great they’d be crazy to pass it up. “Tan until the end of the year” memberships are a good example: For a bargain price, customers can tan in your base-level beds for, say, $99 until December 31. While that price means you are only averaging around $15 to $20 a month, you are bringing in much-needed revenue during a slow time. In my experience, it’s best to create attention-grabbing pricing for the entry-level beds, and then have higher prices for your better level beds. Sun Your Buns doing a variation of this technique: When the customer buys a premium bottle of lotion for $99, we give them the free tanning until the end of the year. Now that’s a tough offer to refuse!
- Raise the dead. Most businesses quickly forget about their inactive or lost customers. We tend to mistakenly believe that the customer will automatically think about our salon once they are ready to tan again. However, it not our customers job to remember us; it’s our job to make certain they remember us. When is the last time you mailed them a birthday or thank you card? Do you mail them a newsletter or special offer postcard? There is a ton of money sitting idle in your inactive customer database. Send your inactive customers an inexpensive postcard with irresistible offers – it could bring in a nice chunk of money when you need it most.
- Sell them something else. I’ve been preaching about this for a while, now. Get outside of your box; you are not just a tanning center. What else can you offer your clients that will increase your revenue and get you through the slow season? Think of your business as a place where people come to so they’ll look great and feel incredible about themselves. What other services or products complement that experience? In June, I attended the Spa & Beauty Show in Las Vegas to look for the next big thing or things. Keep your eyes wide open for the next big opportunity.
Most importantly, don’t get complacent. Sometimes as business slows down, we trick ourselves into thinking there isn’t anything we can do about it. Most of the ideas above can be implemented in a day. Pick at least a couple of them and do something proactive to move your business forward.