Hellen Ward, director and co-founder of Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa, shares her tips on ramping up retail in your hair or beauty salon this Christmas.
There is no doubt that most salons have had an extremely challenging time retailing since the pandemic. Traditionally, salons aimed to generate at least 10% of their turnover through retail, with some achieving more. In the 3 decades we’ve been in business, we’ve only dreamt of reaching those numbers, normally averaging only around 5-7%. However, the retailing of professional salon products that complemented the professional service was always considered a solid extra revenue stream as well as a critical gauge of client consultation skills by our team members.
With a reported 1/3 of all products now being purchased online, there is no doubt that the internet has severely affected this income for our sector, and with the retail giants now selling our much-loved brands for themselves it’s effect has been catastrophic. How have they managed this when the manufacturers have self-imposed, stringent criteria to supply to bricks and mortar premises supposedly only? Easy – set up a ‘salon’ so you tick the box; harsh for all of us who’ve been loyal stockists for years. This, coupled with periods of lockdown when clients had no choice but to purchase their regular salon favourites online, has had a detrimental effect on client behaviour surrounding retail purchases in-salon, too.
So – what to do? Well, all is not lost. The savvy salon owner knows what they are up against. We all have team members who do a thorough hair/scalp/skin diagnosis pre and post service and recommended professional products using their expertise in texture, density, lifestyle and client concerns, only to find the customer literally googles the product they advise and purchases it online in front of them. Trying to turn this tide in consumer behaviour is a challenge, for sure. Clients need a reason to purchase from us, and we have to give it to them. We just need to get a bit creative.
We’ve used the following incentives in our in-salon marketing:
People love to be rewarded for their custom and rewarding loyalty points that they can redeem on in-salon retail purchases only is a great way to treat clients and thank them for their loyalty, as well as creating a behaviour which re-normalises buying their skin and hair care from you when they visit. Taking a small, short term hit on the odd retail product can be more cost effective than paying them back with complimentary services, too. You can run special incentives like offering double points if they book within a certain time frame to help promote new treatments and services too.
Isn’t it better to take a bit of a hit on your margin and offer the product at the same price as the on-line big boys rather than lose the sale? I think so.
Selling the benefits
It’s easier, more environmentally friendly and far less hassle just to take it home with you there and then than order online. People just need to be reminded of that. Frustratingly many stores act like empty showcases for their stock and don’t hold enough to enable this. Salons are different. We have well stocked shelves so ensure clients remember that!
Proper advice and expertise
Our stylists, barbers, colourists, technicians, nail techs and therapists are truly expert in their work or we wouldn’t have them on the floor. Yet many salons fail to market their skills adequately or promote the fact that their team members are qualified to deliver real expertise and recommend accordingly. Good service is about the ‘discover, prescribe, advise and recommend’ element and it’s usual to offer this service as a comp. So if your salon does this, and has experts with a variety of skill sets, make sure your clients know about it and encourage them to have the conversation.
The one thing we can offer that online retailers can’t is to bundle up products and services together. I love marketing new treatments or services in this way; try a new service at a discounted trial period rate and it includes take home products, too. Clients love getting something for nothing and it encourages loyalty to the range.
There’s nothing that’s loved so much as a basket on reception selling end of line products off. Clients love a rummage through a sale bucket, so make sure you get rid of your discontinued products like this and maximise any revenue you might recoup
So let’s think positive and get those tills ringing with as much retail as we can over our busiest time …. hold a team meeting to reiterate these points and make sure it really is a season to be jolly.