It’s easy to think that discounting, whether that’s advertising your own offers or running an offer through a discount website such as Groupon, is an easy way to attract new customers, but it isn’t the only way. Try some of these cost-effective, methods to see if you can attract new and existing clients back more often and maximise your revenue without giving away your profits.
1. Diary management
The cornerstone of effective revenue management is to ensure you are maximising every available space in your diary for bookings. It’s all about scheduling appointments efficiently. It sounds obvious, but you need to make sure there are no small gaps, which are more difficult to get booked up.
If you have a team of three or four therapists with only two 10-minute gaps each in their diary, that already adds up to over an hour’s worth of wasted booking space a day.
Allow space for turnaround, but build it into the treatment time when you book it in so that you can book treatments back to back, knowing that there is spare time within each treatment slot to ensure smooth operations and good customer care.
If clients suggest a specific time, they are often happy to be reasonably flexible. Offer them a time close to their suggestion that enables you to book treatments back to back. Don’t “spread” treatments around your therapist team. Book up columns one at a time – it leaves larger gaps for longer appointments.
Don’t block out therapists’ time in advance for other tasks. Instead, leave “white space” free for as long as possible, and, if it doesn’t get booked, have a list of tasks ready to go when any of the team have free space.
2. Online booking
Online booking is an essential these days; if you don’t already have it look into getting it as soon as you can. There are some great-value systems that get you up and running very quickly and have excellent features to help you with your marketing. Have a look at providers such as Phorest, MindBody and Schedul as a starting point.
There is usually a small “per transaction” cost to enable the online booking, but its still an inexpensive way to attract more clients and you can link them to your website, as well as your Facebook and Google pages, to make it as easy as possible for your clients to make appointments with you.
3. Online visibility
Make full use of free online resources to promote your business to prospective clients. Here are some of the tools to cultivate online:
Google Maps: All businesses have a free online profile on Google Maps. All you need to do is claim yours from Google if you haven’t already done so.
If you search the name of your salon, you should see the entry on Google with a link to claim the listing.
Once you’ve claimed it, you can add photos, opening hours, a website and contact number, a link to online booking, customer reviews, and more. Have a look at Pure Spa’s listing (pictured right) as an example.
Customer reviews: Cultivating positive customer reviews is a great way of building a strong reputation online and can help prospective clients by providing customer testimonials of your salon.
While you can’t incentivise clients to leave reviews, you should ask both regular and new clients to share their thoughts online. The most effective platforms are Google reviews and Trip Advisor. I would recommend getting listed on Trip Advisor if you’re not already. Like Google, it’s free and you can add photos, a contact number, link to website, and so on.
Third-party sites: There are plenty of great spa and beauty directory websites that don’t offer discounted treatments. Most are free to add a listing to, and you can advertise your services and information about your salon or spa to drive bookings and revenue. A few of the top ones I’d recommend are Treatwell, Spa Finder and Spa Breaks.
Treatwell is a website and app where prospective clients can search and book a wide range of services. It’s one of the largest beauty websites in the UK and is a great tool to attract new clients to your salon. You can upload your availability in real time and it’s a great resource if you have quiet spaces.
Spa Finder is a major gifting website where, for a small fee, you can list your spa or salon and accept Spa Finder-branded gift cards, which are sold in over 6,000 retailers in the UK.
Spa breaks is a leading third-party provider of spa breaks and packages. You can agree packages with them to offer on their site and they can help to market your spa to new customers.
However you choose to promote your business, be sure to try the free and low-cost options out there before going down the discount route.
Becky Woodhouse is chief executive of Pure Spa & Beauty, which has seven locations across Scotland, and one in London. She has a background as a chartered accountant and previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Woodhouse will be discussing industry issues at the Salon and Spa Networking Lunch at PB North on October 21.