These are hardly the 1970s, and there aren’t many disco balls or white leisure-suited dancers around these days. Sadly, “staying alive” has a far different meaning to the small-business person today. It is so important to be an expert of every element of operations, marketing, sales and finance. Yikes! That doesn’t sound like the typical profile of a skin care professional or day spa owner. So where can you turn for help, and what can you do to not only get through—but also thrive—during the next very tough years. Following is a list of the top eight efforts you should be making today for better success in the future.
1. Know what it costs to keep your doors open ... and be realistic. If you don’t know, work with someone who can help you figure it out. Barter by offering free skin care services for financial help. There are plenty of accountants out there who love a barter deal. By doing this, you are better able to set goals, which will help you feel more in control and keep you focused on the real issues of your business.
2. Act local. Where do your current clients live? Probably within a 10-mile range. Don’t spend your money on promotions and advertisements that reach too far beyond your service area. Some outlets that can be inexpensive include local television and newspapers. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. They are usually big on supporting local businesses, so see if they have any coupon-type specials available, and then negotiate for more. Also, look at local bloggers, because they may have an influence on the local audience, and you need all the positives you can get.
3. Make friends with all the dermatologists’ receptionists in your area. Offer them free or discounted services in order to secure recommendations. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, if your clients are going to the dermatologist for laser treatments or fillers, they care about their appearance.
4. Sponsor a charity event with free services, and get local coverage. Some opportunities might include providing a beauty day at a senior center, active adult community associations and red hat club events. Remember: If you don’t tell the press, it won’t know about it, so make an effort to get the word out to local media.
5. Become part of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fundraising campaigns for local schools. Give a part of your proceeds during a month to the local PTA or school. Get them to promote the event. Be generous, make appointments necessary and make sure you obtain information in your database about the new clients.
6. Work with your suppliers to put on a product day. Ask the supplier representative to host a station, provide education, and give samples and discounts. Work the deal so they bring in product, and only charge you for what you sell, so you can return the rest.
7. Provide a discount for a basic service people will want. There are some basic ways to maximize the value of a discount: Be prepared with an up-sell offer; enroll people in your loyalty program; and make the discount a social event, such as girl’s day out, or his and hers to generate buzz.
8. Get to know your existing clients. Keep in constant contact with them via mail, phone and e-mail, and offer them a repeat customer discount. You want to get them to come in often to enjoy your service, and build their loyalty.
Joseph Contorno started in the industry in 1992 when he and his wife, Elaine Linker, founded DDF. In 2007 DDF was sold, and he then worked as an industry consultant. Contorno is now CEO of Christina USA, the importer/distributor of the brand to North America.