Savvy Salon Suite Renters Don’t Let Pre- and Post-Holiday Slumps or Even Snow Days Get in Their Way.

Victoria Wurdinger

The months before and after holidays (Sept./Oct. and Jan./Feb.) are slower for most salon pros and apps help with that. Then come singular slow days and appointment gaps. Everyone posts last-minute openings; here’s what new that works:

 Get Proactive  

Jayme Faulstick stresses that if you seriously need to build business, you should wait to go rental.

Some say slow months are the nature of the business. But Jayme Faulstick (Jayme Faulstick Hair, Gould’s Salon Suites within Gould’s Salon Spa, Germantown, TN.) proves they are more about the culture of your business. She favors prevention over cure and stresses pre-booking all the time but particularly before “traditional” slow months.

“Pre-booking is a brilliant idea but we’re rarely told practical ways to actually get clients to pre-book,” says Faulstick. “To successfully pre-book,  let  your customers know that you care about them and that you want to make sure they are able to get an appointment for the day and time they need, such as after work, on weekends or even on Mother’s Day. Tell them they don’t want to end up on a cancellation list because they waited too long.”

When it comes to downtime, what works for chair renters works equally for suite renters. At Haüs of Color in Bantam, CT, Sally Russell also pre-books as much as possible. While she shuns the idea that you need to offer a discount to get clients to book in advance, she does offer 15% off for three simultaneously pre-booked appointments.

“Don’t discount or you’ll just get one-time bargain hunters,” says Sally Russell.

“Sometimes, I offer a free conditioning masque with a pre-booked color service or a free brow wax with a cut and style,” adds Russell.

Using an app lets you pre-book on the spot and track responses to the latest tactics in pre-booking, which are common among estheticians and massage therapists, and are now being used by hairstylists:

 

  • Memberships. With 52 weeks in a year, if you want steady six-week turns, you need your clients to come back an average of 8.6 times a year. Create a membership for nine or ten visits within any 12-month period and price it slightly lower than the a la carte price would be. Promote memberships every holiday and track usage with an app that stores client data and promotions. Even if clients don’t use it to full extent, you still got paid.
  • Series: Estheticians and massage therapists often sell services in a series, such as 6 massages at a price. Pre-book the first one or two, then sent out text messages or push notification reminders on usage status every 6 weeks. This not only fills the books, it has a built-in business-building option. If clients have not used all their pre-paid series by November or December, allow them to “gift” the final one to a friend, for use in January or February only.
  • Russell teams up with an esthetician to offer promotional packages, such as a cut and a facial for $100. Suite renters can team with several other pros within one location to offer spring makeovers and “tax time de-stressors” that include a massage, a facial, nail care and hair color. Promote your packages two months before you anticipate a slowdown and time-limit them.

 

“When you pre-book, always confirm appointments,” stresses Faulstick. “Clients can easily forget an appointment they made six weeks ago, so send out 72-hour confirmations and 24-hour reminders.”

 

Slow Days and Scheduling Gaps

Faulstick rarely has downtime anymore but when she does have an opening, she uses Instagram strategically.

Faulstick’s Instagram posts fill specific schedule gaps.

“I make a cute graphic image in an app and notify anyone interested in the date/time/service that it is available and how to contact me,” explains Faulstick. “I give the appointment to the first respondent who fits the criteria, then I delete the post. This also encourages people to follow my social media accounts, which are all linked, so they can be in the know about any last-minute openings.”

Russell never posts last-minute openings because she wants to appear busy. Instead, she uses free hours to post photos of her work or take on-line certification classes. Ones that involve new services like lash extensions give you something new that fills downtime, she notes.

Sharing photos of her work brings Russell new appointments.

While the busiest pros avoid discounting, it can be used purposefully to fill cancellations or encourage clients to come in on bad-weather days—if travel permits. A better idea: Keep a separate list of harried or flexible clients, such as students, who you can contact during slow afternoon hours.

Faulstick, whose  book is typically full for 11 hours a day, says that setting yourself up for success is what ultimately avoids downtime. “For four years, I was a member of a business networking group that was affiliated with the local Chamber of Commerce,” she says. “It gave me tremendous experience in marketing to professionals from many different fields.”

Recently, she says, she hired an assistant so she can double book.

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