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Making Money in Any Economy

Bryan Durocher

Hearing about the slowing economy is nothing new. When turning on the evening news, it is inevitable for this topic to be covered in the first five minutes of the broadcast. It is important to be mindful of how you run your business no matter what type of economy is occurring. There are smart business practices that are universal no matter if times are good or otherwise. It should not take the media to remind you and shake you up in regard to what you need to do to grow and prosper within your business. What you know has brought you to where you are now. It perhaps is what you don’t know that will take your business to a new level, one that can thrive even during a slow-down.

The slowing economy is affecting the productivity and profitability of spas everywhere. With clients watching their pocketbooks closely, it is imperative for spa owners to do the same. This is the time to be aggressive in your marketing, and detailed in your education and client-service experiences. Invest in retail, networking and sales dialogue training. These are the tools that can empower and alter your bottom line; however, it is not the time to switch out entire product lines or spend additional resources on untraceable advertising.

Connect with clients

Now is a good time to take a good hard look at your business structure and systems to ensure that every opportunity is being maximized. It is time to get back to the basics by connecting and networking with new clients and business associates. Dedicate effort toward effective networking, and you will set your spa up properly to remain profitable through these economically lean time. How many members of your team belong to a productive networking group such as BNI or LeTip and actually go on a regular basis? People who belong to at least one group make a good deal more money more than their counterparts who don’t.

The services you offer your clients are a part of their wellness experience. Get them to consider services that will not only help them look and feel better, but also help them reduce stress and be able to give more to their work and the important people in their lives. On average, during a downturn in the economy, the first things to be excluded from an individual’s budget are perceived luxury services and products, such as massages, esthetic services and hair care. It should be your goal to persuede most clients to consider your services a necessity, not a luxury. However, clients are currently pushing appointments out further than normal, attempting to maximize their dollar. Instead of visiting the spa every four to five weeks, clients are returning six to eight weeks, which translates into one less visit per year per client. When you do the math, this can add up to a considerable drop in profitability at the end of the year, not only for the overall business as a whole, but also to the practitioners and technicians. You can counteract this with the right type of training. Having a discussion around this reality early in the year allows opportunities to be maximized. Now is the time to plan and brainstorm with your team.

Guerilla marketing

Everyone is affected by the economic slowdown, so it is everyone’s responsibility to come up with solutions. The truth is everyone needs to do more. Everyone needs to market more. Everyone needs to network more. It needs to be a collaborative effort working toward the common goal of procuring more business for everyone. There is no magic bus of clients that will drive into your parking lot for services.

Think about guerilla marketing, which means thinking outside the traditional ways of marketing. It is a focused investment of time and effort with minimal financial cost. One typical term associated with guerilla marketing is "sweat equity." It is about identifying what the team can collectively do to generate new business and hype about the spa without spending cash resources. Planning social outings with the staff is one way to generate enthusiasm and a buzz.

The beauty business is a social one. It is necessary to connect with people outside the treatment room. Going out with the team to canvas popular night spots with the goal of meeting potential clients away from the spa is a comfortable and fun way to guerilla market. It creates an opening to approach potential clients in a nonthreatening manner. There are many ways to do this, but the greatest success can come from complimenting the potential client’s skin or hairstyle, and offering a complimentary consultation and mini service. Once in the spa, the provider then can capture a new client for future services. A mini treatment can turn into hours of future services.

Another successful guerilla marketing technique is a get out of jail free card. The universally known character from the popular board game graced the front of the small card with the large print stating “Get Out of Jail Free.” It also said “If you missed your wife’s birthday, forgot to take out the trash, want to watch the game or play golf this weekend … call us at the spa, we can fix it.” Staff members were then able to approach men in a lighthearted way, offering spa solutions for guys who didn’t understand that the way to appeal to a woman’s good graces is through spa services. The significant others who were on the receiving end of the cards loved their spa services and, more importantly, told their friends, creating a great buzz in the neighborhood about the creative marketing technique.

Guerilla marketing means thinking outside the box. Brainstorm with the staff for your own creative marketing ideas. The point of this tale is simple. It is not only the owner’s responsibility to drive new business through the door by spending more dollars on advertising. It is a collective effort of every member of the team, especially during economically tough times. Act now to protect everyone from a smaller paycheck at the end of year. Ensure the downturn the country is facing does not affect your spa negatively. Be proactive. Get creative with marketing programs, team coaching, special events … and have some fun while doing it.