As with any sector that’s in a state of continued growth as ours is, the marketplace can be crowded. Making sure your salon stands apart has never been more important – and more difficult! Most salons will find a growing number of competitors on their local high street. So, how can you ensure you brand has it’s own niche and can secure its loyal share of the customer spend?
Follow my simple steps to double check that you truly have your own unique selling point, and a resulting turnover you can rely on:
Establish what you do best
If you’re not sure, work out what your best-selling services are in terms of turnover or ask your customers, because they’ll be able to tell you. Once you discover what you’re doing really well, you have something to market to new people. Being confident in what you’re offering is essential, but the most important thing is ensuring that this over-riding message is coming across in all your marketing. Often in my consultancy, I’ll ask salon owners what they think sets them apart. Then I’ll ask them what they think their team, and then their customers would say if asked the same question…
Tell your story
When we’ve got our list together, I then run through an exercise with them. We look at their online presence and I ask them to honestly decide whether those key elements and strengths are visible straight off the bat. More often than not, what they know they, their clients and their teams would say they do best, is not shouted from the rooftops. Bearing in mind people only spend seconds looking at websites, it doesn’t take much to figure out what missed opportunities happen as a result of them not being crystal clear about saying what they do. Try the exercise for yourself or get a team member or friend to do it with you. It will soon become clear that you may not be setting yourself apart like you could!
Know your customer
As a business consultant, people often look to me to give them all the answers. But in reality, nobody will know their customer like you do, least of all me! My golden rule is always to find products for your customers, not customers for your product. Listen to what your customers tell you. Are you stocking the brands they like? Giving them the services they need? Opening at the hours they want to come in? Providing the facilities they’re looking for? No consultant can tell you any of this – the answers are already there if you ask the right questions. Use your team to provide essential information, too. Opportunities for growing spend are always more solid when we look at existing clients. An existing client is 80% more likely to spend money on recommended products and services than a newbie – so ensure you are giving people what they want.
Don’t follow the herd
Just because other salons are trying different methods to get new business, it doesn’t mean you have to! Sometimes, the fact you’re more premium will actually help set you apart from the competition. Discounts and sales damage your brand. I’m all for coming up with tailored, targeted incentives, for instance to local businesses, but never anything public. Discounting your services is a slippery slope. I trained in a salon where this was policy and the problem comes when people start waiting for the discounts, and you end up needing to do them more often to hit your targets. My advice? The day I see huge cosmetic houses like Chanel, Mac or Estée Lauder doing 50% off, may be the day I change my mind…
Think out of the box
It’s tempting to be ‘me too’ – after all, it’s tried and tested, isn’t it? But embracing the new is key to ensuring your business never stops evolving and developing. Keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry – go to trade shows (both in the UK and internationally) to spot trends that might work for your business. Being first to market is a great PR story. Keep and firm eye on the competition but only worry about where there’s a crossover. Don’t be tempted to veer off your path. Remember the golden rule: It’s not what you want, it’s not what your team want – it has to only be what your customer wants.
So take time to take a long hard look at your offering. If it doesn’t set you apart – if you have no USP – then take action, because if you don’t, you’re at risk. And don’t worry, everybody has their USP; you might just not have found yours yet!