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How to best deal with the Jan/Feb lull in salons?

It can be disconcerting when business goes quiet.  This is particularly noticeable if you have had a busy lead up to the festive period.  Lots of clients may be on holiday, shoppers will be heading to sales and many others will put spending on hold until after Christmas consumer debt is cleared.

Accepting that is just temporary can bring a calm mind to the situation, that can more clearly see the opportunities for the year ahead.

Use this time to get excited about your business again – creativity comes when we are away from our routines.  Take a few hours away from your salon and start to map out your goals for the new year.  Goals that are written are more likely to be achieved.

Spend time thinking about how your salon runs day to day now, such as:

  • What frustrates you?
  • What frustrates your clients?
  • If money was no object, what would you change?
  • What strengths do you bring to the business?
  • What are your financial and business growth goals for the new year and what are your plans to achieve this?

Take stock of stock, consider any changes to the salon layout, business processes or website changes.

All of these things are so much easier to think about and attend to when business is in a short-term lull.

Watch your thinking, it is just a lull, and don’t start to think you are stuck in a rut, be it financial, creative or business.  Understand it is called a rut, because you have created a groove with your thoughts whose walls you begin to feel trapped in.  Meanwhile, freedom, happiness, and infinite possibility live outside these self-created walls and acting like a happy successful professional is one of the most powerful ways to blast yourself out of a rut.  Learn to question your negative self talk before getting stuck in the rut and you will probably find no substance to your worrying self doubt. 

Next, start to think of ways to bump up revenue!

The new year is a great time to set the tone for your business relationships for the rest of the year.  Touch base with clients, maybe send a ‘new year greeting’ via text or email.  Maybe include a discount voucher for a January or February service and this should get your phone ringing.

Use quarter one of the new year to focus on improving your retail, which will increase your revenue all year round. 

Regardless of space, a well-stocked salon shop will strengthen your identity.  It creates awareness of your products and begins to help plant a seed that can develop a desire to buy.  There is unlimited potential to increase turnover and improve cashflow within the salon by focusing on and increasing retail sales.  This sales process will have a positive impact on figures, increasing turnover for the salon and commission for the happy salon staff.

During the January and February lull, you have time to review the merchandising of your retail area.  Merchandising refers to how products are categorised and grouped together to enhance them and encourage clients to buy.  Effective merchandising views selling from the client’s point of view, and since a huge percentage of purchases are made on impulse, merchandising strives to make purchasing products as easy as possible for clients, which increasing profits for the salon.

Stock Levels:

  • Revise and re-examine all your stock levels.
  • Make sure you have all your bestsellers in stock.
  • If you are out of stock of an item, communicate this to all staff, so they don’t recommend a product you don’t have in stock at the time.
  • Place regular small orders until you have your stock levels correct.
  • Make sure you have enough, but don’t tie money up in stock that isn’t selling.

Merchandising must contain these three elements:

  1. Products: according to your market, are the right product types and brands present in the point of purchase display?
  2. Position: location – are the products placed in the ideal location in the client traffic flow?  Are products in the right section, in order with market leaders, and in order of package size?  Are the products rotated to keep stock fresh?
  3. Presentation: pricing – are the products clearly priced?  Do you use point of sale materials strategically?  Are all the products and units/shelving/counters clean and attractively displayed?

Take some photos of your retail displays from different perspectives to see you salon as a client sees it.  Check out your competition and see how they use all the ‘tools of the trade’, for example, samples, testers, product information to enhance their sales.  Learn new and effective silent selling skills that can be taken back to your salon and implemented, allowing you to grow your business.

Next, find ways to keep your employees busy!

It is always a challenge to keep the team productive during their downtime – most need help understanding that it’s a perfect time for tackling short-term projects, and even if they aren’t full with clients, there are always salon jobs to be attended to.

Communicate and Plan:

The first thing to do is understand exactly what your business needs, and the short-term projects your employees can accomplish.  You need to know their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their goals for working in your salon.  This requires open and honest communication.  A January lull is the ideal time for annual reviews.

The next step is to create an action plan with realistic projects and objectives for each of your team members.  Write out the details and make sure everyone is aware of these expectations.  Ways to keep your employees busy are:

  1. Get organised: cut down on clutter and messes, which can make your salon look untidy and unprofessional.
  2. Evaluate use of time: have your team reflect on their day, looking at all the small tasks they do.  This should get them thinking about how to become more productive.
  3. Project planning: have employees plan a special project with a specific goal.  This is great for areas such as digital marketing.
  4. Networking: nearly everyone has a social media page and a salon portfolio of work completed, which they can start to promote.
  5. Training time: January and February are the perfect time for upskilling and investing time in training your team in services, retail, customer service, retail sales, consultations – the list is endless.
  6. Process improvement: empower your team to give suggestions and evaluations to put in place to improve the client service journey.
  7. Follow up with clients: ask your team to reach out to their most valuable clients to personally check to see if they were satisfied with their most recent salon visit.
  8. Time for team meetings: staff meetings are vital for effective management and communication.  Properly run meetings save time, increase motivation, improve productivity and solve problems.  Meetings can create new ideas and achieve company ‘buy-in’.
  9. Research new trends and brands: ask you team to catch up on the latest industry news, through blogs, webinars, podcasts and videos.  The more your employees learn, they will become more knowledgeable with clients, which also contributes to their professional development.

Employee downtime projects will certainly make your team more productive, and in turn they may make you more productive too.  With all the small items off your plate, you will be able to focus on your big goals and salon plans, pointing your salon in the direction of success.

Keeping busy during the start of the year lull, can be a blessing in disguise, which leads to a highly productive and profitable year.

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