Expert Advice: Promotions and Offers - a Blessing or a Curse?

Promotions can really work in your favour if you use them correctly, says salon business expert Marie-Louise Coster.

The definition of a promotion is something that increases sales or public awareness by way of an activity or offer that supports or encourages a business.  In simple terms an activity that increases revenue and awareness of your business. Many salons are, what I call, promotion happy and offer far too many promotions at rock bottom prices. 

If you do this you literally have nowhere left to go because why would a client pay £30 for the gel nails you only charged them £10 for the month before? You may have busy columns, but you are just a busy fool and you aren't making any money.  

Worse still are those who are still using these voucher websites and destroying their business in the process. Nobody ever built a successful business by being on any of these sites and you are just devaluing your experience, your knowledge and your skill.

Promotions can really work in your favour if you use them correctly.

Create a promotional schedule

Plan your promotions a year ahead. At the end of each year take a look at the 12 months that have passed, what were the most popular treatments, what were the least popular, when were the quieter times. This is a good basis to work out which treatments need promoting for the following year and what times are good to offer promotions.  

Also look at which promotions you offered, which ones were successful, which ones were not so successful and ask yourself why this was the case.

You can make your promotions seasonal and tie them in with local, national and international events such as those in your town, festivals and so on, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Wimbledon, the Olympics etc. 

You don't have to run a promotion every month, you may choose to do them bi-monthly, that is absolutely fine but do not offer more than one a month as it looks a bit desperate.

Promote your least popular treatments

The first thing I would suggest is promoting the treatments and services that are your least popular. There is little point reducing the price of a treatment that is really popular because it is already working for you so why would you reduce your revenue?  

You could promote variations of the treatment if they are not busy , for example let's take the gel manicure as it is one of the most popular treatments on the planet. You probably do a lot of these but do you do a lot with nail art? Or more treatment versions such as combining it with heated mitts? Exfoliation and mask? Introducing these at a special price could be a way of increasing the revenue of a treatment that is already busy, so simply up-selling. Plus it is more likely to encourage clients to book it again once they have had it because they will have experienced the benefits and the luxury of it. When it comes to promotions, I think the route of adding value is far more advantageous than slashing prices.

Look at your treatments and work out which ones you do the least, work out the cost of the treatment and by how much you can reduce it to promote it, or create a package of several of the same treatment at a special price. For example, if you offer body wraps but you don't do many of them offer courses of three and six at a special price to encourage people to book. This way you increase the activity of the treatment, you get repeat custom, and we all know the more often a client comes in the more likely they are to keep coming in and booking other things, and you increase your revenue by filling your empty gaps.

Create treatment packages

It isn't just the same treatment that you can package together but many treatments. You could base a treatment package around a special time of year, e.g. Mother's Day, Summer Holidays etc.  Take a popular treatment, such as the gel manicure, and add other treatments too it, perhaps a gel pedicure (if they are less popular), waxing, tinting, brow treatments, facial and so on.  For events like Mother's Day you could just jazz up a treatment like a gel manicure and add a glass of champagne or tea and cake for the same price, adding value but not devaluing your service.

Package together treatments as part of your promotions; take a popular treatment, such as the gel manicure, and add other treatments too it, perhaps a gel pedicure if they are less popular.

Boost revenue with retail promotions 

Don't forget retail promotions, these are probably the quickest and easiest way to increase your profits because you don't have to work any extra hours to achieve extra money, and salons can be a little slack when it comes to retailing. 

Each month have a product of the month, highlight the benefits of the product, how it's used, what it works well with, who it is for and of course the price. You could reduce the price for that month only, or you could offer the product at a special price in conjunction with the client having had a specific treatment - thus promoting both services and retail.

A promotion I have found to be very successful is to offer an introductory facial consisting of all of the key elements of the treatment (cleanse, tone, exfoliation, mask, moisturise) for a set price; if the client buys two or more recommended products the price of the facial is deducted, making it free.  

This is particularly good if you are introducing a new skincare range or you aren't busy with facial treatments. If you did a survey amongst your clients I have no doubt that all of them will be using some form of skincare. Some clients will be using very sophisticated skincare, others a more budget brand, but either way they will be using something.

Don't forget retail promotions, probably the quickest and easiest way to increase your profits because you don't have to work any extra hours to achieve extra money.

Try not to offer deals of the day, and by that I mean a sudden panicked offer because you have a quiet day. I appreciate the need to do it, and now and again is fine, but do it too often and it sends out the wrong message and makes clients think you aren't popular. You need to create the feeling that you are busy all the time and people need to be organised and book to ensure they get in to see you, otherwise they may miss out. Create an urgency, an exclusivity.

Create a buzz about your promotion

If you are going to run a promotion do it with great gusto! Use advertising, posters, talk to clients about it, eye catching displays, A boards in the street, leaflets in other local businesses, leaflets through letterboxes, social media posts etc.

Use these tools to make the promotion as successful as possible and increase awareness of your business not to mention your profit!  After all, if a job is worth doing it's worth doing properly!

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 20 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School is AIT-accredited.