As we move towards another year end its time to start gearing up for what will hopefully be a profitable time for everyone.
Generally when we talk about gearing up for the festive season it’s all about ensuring maximum revenue by seeing as many clients as humanly possible.
However, this is only half of the story because if you only focus on maximising revenues and living off business that simply comes your way then you may end up losing as well.
When business is going well and we are busy we can take our eye off the ball and become reckless. We feel that we can afford to spend more as money is flowing in and the belt loosens in more ways than one.
The busyness of the festive period leads us to believe that we cannot possibly think about anything else but making money and as long as this happens everything will be ok.
In this month’s article I would like to consider our staff attitudes towards clients when the salon is busy.
What is it about being business coming in that leads to a lack of staff motivation? It’s almost as if when you don’t have to work hard for it then you do not appreciate it and take it for granted.
I think that airports are an excellent example. We all know that restaurants in airports are generally notorious for not only being insanely expensive but also for having the most ridiculously poor service on the planet.
They are guaranteed clients all the time and in most cases will never see those clients again and even if they do the clients do not really have much choice to go somewhere else anyway. There is therefore almost zero motivation for the staff working in these shining examples of shining 5 star service and gourmet dining resulting in their bad attitudes and lack of service.
I think that a similar phenomenon is emerging with the new daily discount web sites that have burst onto the scene in recent times. Stylists are beginning to grumble about servicing the hordes of people who descend upon their businesses but do not bring much immediate financial benefit causing stylists to have to work harder for less and thus not capitalising on the marketing opportunity it is intended to bring.
There is a danger that this diminished level of motivation manifests itself as salons get busier over the festive season. It’s is compounded by the fact that salons get clients who may be from out of town and will most likely not return in future.
Attitude and sales
One of the most obvious areas is in the sale of Retail Items. It never amazes me to look at a graph of salon performance and to notice how at year end the service value always spikes and the retail value either drops or grows at a much lower rate than the services. Conversely, in the quieter months you see that Retail sales make up a much greater percentage of earnings.
This will be due to a combination of staff feeling they are either too busy to motivate for retail sales or that they simply do not need to earn retail revenue as they are doing so well from services. The net effect is reduced motivation to go beyond what simply comes their way.
Service quality is another area that suffers as stylists are either under pressure to see many clients or they simply do not care about the quality of service they offer. Either way this can end up costing you a client.
Attitude and bookings
It never ceases to amaze me when I visit or call salons and I encounter a receptionist telling a client that they are fully booked and cannot help them. I actually can’t remember ever getting a sense of “Wow this salon really wants my business”.
This problem becomes even more pronounced when the salon gets busy.
I think what happens is that the receptionist generally does not care in the same way that the owner of a salon would care and they are not really prepared to go out of their way to make a plan for the client.
This can prove to be very costly to the salon if they turn away a regular client who spends a lot of money with the salon.
When you are busy the receptionist can get away with it because you are so fully booked already but you will count the cost in the long run and in quieter months when you need feet through the door.
Therefore, what do you do in cases like this in order to avoid losing a valuable client?
I believe it starts with the attitude of the receptionist and other staff taking bookings. If they give off the attitude that the salon does not need a client’s business then in 9 out of 10 cases the client will oblige and go somewhere else. The receptionist needs either a carrot or a stick (whichever is most effective) in order to motivate them to change their attitude.
Thereafter you need to know your clients. If a client walks in who is a regular client with a high spend over time you want to make doubly sure that they are taken care of. This will be a combination of interaction with clients when they visit the salon as well as hard facts about the client stored in your client database.
If your computer system has the ability to flag clients either by spend or number of visits or other criteria then make sure that booking staff are making use of this.
Putting clients onto a waiting list is another possible option as it lets the client know that you care enough to at least pretend you care. It also means that they have given you their details so that you can follow up with them when an appointment becomes available, which is a partial commitment on their behalf to possibly return.
If clients choose not to leave their details with you ensure that booking staff are tracking how many clients “got away” so that you know the extent of the problem for the next busy period you face.
Act intelligently and determine how busy you were the same time the previous year, ie how many clients visited, what days they visited on. In this way you can focus on ensuring that you have the right numbers of stylists working on the right days and times.
When making your bookings be calculated in how you spread them between stylists. Use your booking system to determine not only how many hours stylists are booked in a period but also the value of their bookings so that you can spread the financial reward evenly as well.
Your attitude to planning
The key factor when going into a busy period is planning beforehand. If you are not motivated to plan then the problem starts with you and will filter down your staff as an “I couldn’t be bothered either” attitude.
Planning beforehand lets your staff know that you are in charge and that you wish not only to capitalise on the festive season but that you also do not want this to come at an unnecessary cost due to losing clients or reduced sales efforts.