Adding Assistance—and Assistants
Most salons add desk staff during the holidays, but consider another option: a call center to free the desk and allow you to focus on in-salon clients. To determine whether a call center matches your needs, arrange for phones to ring first in a back room or office before bouncing back to the desk. If this system saves time, you may want to add a second phone number and make it a permanent addition.
Like many salon owners, Stirsman encourages password-protected on-line booking, and to avoid last-minute cancellations, she employs an automatic reminder service that puts out a call to clients two days in advance of their appointments.
“We used to do this physically, which took three and a half hours,” says Stirsman. “The reminder service has been hugely successful in cutting down on no-shows and costs only 15 cents per call. That’s less than $300 a month for both of our locations.”
Holidays are a time for family and friends, and out-of-town visitors mean more walk-ins. To prepare for them at the John Robert’s Spas in Mayfield Heights and Chagrin Falls, Ohio, executive corporate director Denise Thompson created large signs for display outside the salons. The signs post available appointments that day, such as a 1 p.m. manicure, and are updated immediately in the event of a cancellation.
Thompson says the salons also tap schools for students who want to experience a fast-paced work environment first-hand. Salons that can't afford to hire assistants can contact nearby schools and offer the same opportunity. But don't be tempted to use students or assistants as gophers; the first priority is for them to learn.
That’s why Eric Fisher, owner of the Eric Fisher Salons in Wichita, Kansas, hires outside help to do the laundry, clean the salon and wash color bowls. Non-stylist employees can even fill out names of the day’s clients on retail prescription pads in advance as another simple time-saver. “We usually prebook everyone. But during the holidays, we focus on that less to allow for walk-ins,” adds Fisher.
Wrapping Up Retail
Holiday gift purchases will jump off the shelves if you employ smart marketing strategies. For examples, retail items tend to sell more quickly if you have one “demo” on display, surrounded by festively pre-wrapped packages with cards already attached.
Denise Thompson recommends using colorful shrink wrap and a blow-dryer to build custom baskets on-site. In-salon advisors offer to create the customized baskets which are then packed, wrapped and ready to go by the time the client leaves. Stirsman also makes up gift baskets in advance for her clients, with prices that range from $20 (for babysitters and teachers) to $100.
To move gift certificates, Jill Krahn, co-owner of Hair Success in Fargo, North Dakota, set up an outdoor tent one year that lured drive-by sales. It was highly succe