Monday 1 July 2013

Discount vouchers for your business - good idea?

Groupon,  Wowcher and the like are fast becoming household names.  
Do you love the idea of getting these guys involved in your business?  After much research and discussion with the helpful man at Groupon,  I'm going to share some important pointers here with you including facts and figures.
Offering a cut and finish in your salon sounds like an excellent idea!!!
Initial thoughts?  A great way to introduce new clients into the salon!
That is EXACTLY what it will do,  it's more of an introductory service to you.  Groupon openly inform salons that this is not a promise of a get rich quick scheme and this is quite right of them to point this out.
What they can do for you is to use their successful marketing avenues to promote your discounted service to all the readers. 
You and your salon need to take a big part of the responsibility.
Here's what groupon aren't doing:  They aren't telling anyone they will get a great service when they come,  they aren't telling anyone they can enjoy a nicely served coffee when they get there,  they aren't telling potential clients they would do well to rebook time and again.  All of that is up to you.  If you think you can sit back,  let the clients roll through the door and then just enjoy your charm so much that they will come back next time paying full price, then you are likely to be disappointed.  Very likely.
So,  let's talk about what Groupon will offer you,  then talk about what you need to do to make this a success.  Success is definitely possible and so long as you take the correct steps,  you will find some repeat custom.  Which is,  I'm sure, what you want.
If you have a cut and blow dry price of £35: Groupon will price this at (different for different salons but a rough idea) £16
Your salon is likely to get £6 of this (remembering VAT too)
Taking into account cost that isn't already an operational cost (i.e. Salon is already standing there rented, Staff are already standing there with empty columns) you are pretty much paying for some extra electric and products,  perhaps a lovely coffee too.   Thinking on it, if you are top end salon with top end backwash and styling products,  you might well find your profit levels from Groupon clients is ZERO.
Yes that's right a big fat zero.  Of course there needs to be extra time making these bookings and laundry of towels so it surely is a big consideration.  
What type of clients will book through Groupon?
Have you ever used discount vouchers?  Who do you know who has?  Think about the profile of the person looking for a discount.  Let me give you a massive help here:
The number one reason hairdressing clients are looking on Groupon is to SAVE money.  Obvious as that sounds,  it needs pointing out.
Your job needs to be carefully considered when making the commitment to do a deal on Groupon.  Assuming you go ahead,  here are my pointers to make this the most successful campaign it can be in your marketing of your salon and getting those 'bums on seats'.
Always keep in mind that you will have certain clients using Groupon who are constant bargain hunters.  However this doesn't mean they don't have any money.
What they can afford is none of your business.  Don't assume they have no money. You possibly could assume in many cases that they are looking for value for money.  This means providing excellent service.
Here's what to do:
*Only go ahead and commit to Groupon when you are 100% ready in your business.  This means staff are briefed and trained at your highest levels of customer service,  right down to every detail of how to answer the phone
*Ensure you have thought and thought and thought about how many clients you are prepared to commit to.  Groupon will have a minimum number you need to commit to obviously to cover their profit margins for designing the artwork etc. Don't over commit.  You will also find clients look you up and phone you not going via Groupon but call you directly.  This will happen.  It's life.  Be ready for these extra clients and make a decision if you are prepared to match the £16 offer directly to them.  Makes sense of course on a marketing level but it's new clients you will need to commit to. Be ready.  They may also look you up after the offer has ended.  Brief the staff ready for these phone calls.
*Offer the client your best service.  This doesn't necessarily mean give this service discounted to your best stylist.  Ideally,  you should keep the best stylists as a premium service.  Please be confident in your graduate stylists ability.  Especially customer service as well as skills.
*Wow these clients, give them more than they expect.  Don't give them a £16 service - give them top dollar service.  Make them feel so special,  take their coat,  do a thorough consultation,  sit eye to eye with them,  not the back of the head or talking through the mirror.
*Ensure you have a drinks menu with a list of gorgeous drinks on in a laminated menu. You don't need a fancy machine.  You can buy drinks with a one use sachet these days, (more expensive but until you get profits up it will be fine) then at a later stage you can buy your dolce gusto machine you dreamed of for your salon.
*Clients using Groupon will be tempted by money off.  WE know that already don't we.  That's why they are now sitting in your salon.  They have been 'wowed' already and they have an excellent hair cut they love at a discount price.  They got more than they imagined by far.  Already you are head and shoulders above many other salons who are quiet because of bad client care and service in general.  Therefore,  the likelihood may well be that this client would like to come back.  £35 though.....they would need to invest an extra £20 every 6 weeks than in already in their budget.  That's too much.  Turns them off and they leave never to return.  What you need to do is to help them to return by offering them an excellent discount on their next offer. At the counter as they leave, you say, "We would love to have you come back and see us again and we recommend your next cut and finish in 6 weeks.  If you book with us today, you will be given this voucher (hand them a voucher) which will give you £15 off your next booking."  Once they have been to your salon twice with the excellent service they received,  they are likely to stay with you at the full price.
*Making more profit is essential to you at this busy but non profit making time.  This of course comes in the form of retail sales.  You must do your utmost to upsell.  If you or your staff need training on this let me know.  Offering recommendations to your clients will make them feel cared about and provide an excellent service. Make sure your retail area is well stocked and looks appealing.
*Please please make sure that you ask clients to complete a new client record card as they arrive.  This will enable you to keep in touch with them in the coming weeks.  I suggest a text message 24 hours after the appointment and ask them how they are finding their hair,  thanking them for their business.  Most clients are lost due to thinking they are not invited to come back again. Don't forget to put a permission to contact tick box at the bottom of the page.
Serve, serve, serve.  Give them your best service,  the nicest atmosphere and of course and excellent hair cut.  At the stage of taking the phone call,  you could also offer the client an upsell of a colour while they are taking this appointment.  This will generate a little more income for you and also offer a better service.
Thinking you need more clients is a realisation.  Enlisting the help of a company like Groupon can be a brilliant decision.  They send out excellent work.  It is YOUR responsibility to resell the work.  The marketing begins with Groupon then carries over to you.
Yes, I know some people have bad experiences of clients who are simply tight with the wallet.  That's the luck of the draw.  These folks won't bother you again after the offer is finished.  You want to sift through and find the clients who you want back time and again.  They are there,  waiting to be impressed.
Impress them,  don't disappoint and chances are you will boost sales long term with all your efforts paying off!
Wishing you lots of luck and please let me know if you need help with any of this including training or even down to the printing of your drinks menus and money off vouchers for the 2nd appointment.  Might be a good idea to get a mystery shopper in too prior to the deal to see where you can make improvements!


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