As a salon owner or manager, practice my Fifty Percent Rule of business: Half your time should be spent marketing your business. Anything less is unacceptable and your competition will gobble you up. That’s blunt and to the point, but it’s reality.
As the tanning industry matures, new salons are popping up everywhere. They seem to be following the same trend that convenience stores took in the early eighties. Because of so many stores, the market became over-saturated and very competitive. Something had to give. Full-service convenience stores changed consumer habits by offering items people need and can pick up on their daily route, which put the squeeze on the Mom and Pop stores.
During that industry’s transition, I was working as a food distributor and saw firsthand what this new look and unsurpassed service did to that industry. I see something similar happening in the tanning industry. Chain stores are becoming more prevalent and the Mom and Pops are bailing out. It’s not because the chain stores are doing that much better of a job, but rather that many Mom and Pops have become complacent while the Fifty Percent gorilla marketers are thinking outside-the-box and increasing their foot traffic.
I can tell you, and I hope you’ll take it to heart: the things that have gotten you where you are today will not take you any further. Your clientele demands more. They want the bells and whistles, and they want service with a “wow” factor. In today’s market, the best mindset is to make your salon gossip-worthy. Do things for your customers that makes your competition think you’re crazy. Make people talk about you. It’s free marketing.
McDonald’s still sells a hamburger for a dollar, still making money, still growing. They do a great job of upgrading us to the next level. Let’s face the facts, in the end it’s about dollars per customer. Most of us can make a better hamburger than McDonald’s, but their consistency, willingness, and persistence to talk to you with suggestive value selling puts them at the top of the heap. McDonald’s continues to evolve with newer and diversified products. They’ve especially benefited from the Starbuck’s model in learning that people are willing to pay more to go gourmet.
As we approach the not-so-desirable off season of tanning, start thinking out-of-the-box with your marketing campaigns. Create a value menu that will allow you to do some suggestive selling to your clientele. Salons that sell retail items or diversified services have the best chance to offer the value menu. In every industry, diversification is the key to keeping clients happy and coming back. Do not wait until your clients leave for the summer, strike while the iron is hot. Sell to them now, and keep them coming through your door all year.