Expert Advice: Is your salon open when your clients need you?
Marie-Louise Coster on why flexibility and later appointment times are key to attracting your high spending audience.
When you started your business did you give much thought to your opening hours or did you just wing it? Have you ever reviewed your opening hours since?
I mean, it is all very well opening a business and choosing the hours you want to work, but a few years on are these the hours people want your business? Are you busy for every hour of the day? Do you offer enough evening appointments?
When I first started in this industry, in the early 90's, salons opened like shops did then; Monday to Saturday with one day in the week closed, often a Monday sometimes a Wednesday depending on the town or village you were situated. They would often close for lunch and only do one late night, generally a Thursday until 7pm.
Some of you may still operate like this, but 30 years on we live in a very different world. Clients have more demands on their time and need more flexibility. There are hundreds more salons and therapists now than there were then, so the client has plenty of choice. If you don't open the hours they need, someone else will and that is where they will go.
When you own a business you need to constantly keep reviewing it; your hours, the treatments available, your brand, style, marketing, financials etc. It is never ending and it is pointless to just keep doing the same thing over and over again if you aren't fully booked or aren't getting the results you want.
Reviewing and analysing your business has become even more important since COVID. Life has changed, what the client wants has changed, businesses are struggling. These are difficult financial times. Energy is more expensive, interest rates have increased dramatically on mortgages, food is more expensive, fuel is more expensive. All of these things have to be paid for before the luxury of a beauty treatment so you need to maximise the effectiveness and the profit of your time, and this is where reviewing your opening hours comes in.
Opening hours will vary depending on whether you are mobile, a high street salon or home based, but the key thing to remember is that you need to be open the hours of the day you are going to fill.
If currently you offer treatments from 9am everyday but no one ever books the 9am slot because they are still on the school run, on their way to work, or for any other reason, why bother opening that early? You are paying for an hour's electricity and an hour's wages (if you employ staff) and earning nothing, deeming the hours completely pointless. Maybe you close at 5pm or 6pm, but if a client is working, or waiting for her partner to come home from work, this may not be late enough. You are missing clients at the end of the day and wasting hours earlier in the day when no one is booked in.
Would you be better off opening at 10am and closing at 7pm? You could stagger start times and shifts so that your employees aren't working long days every day. If you work alone you may decide that you only want to offer a couple of late nights.
Do some market research with your clients and see what hours they would like you to be open. Ask on your social media outlets; you will have a lot of followers that are interested in you but have never visited maybe because they can't come in during the hours you are open.
Let's break it down in to facts and figure. If, as an example, you are currently open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm, you are open 41 hours a week. Firstly, are all of these days busy? Would Monday be busier than Tuesday, for example? Did you choose to close on a Monday because that is what salons did traditionally? Have you ever considered opening on a Monday? Equally, do you close any day at all? It is costly being open with no one in so would you be wise to condense your hours? Maybe work four long days instead of six shorter days?
Going back to our example, if you opened until 8pm two nights of the week and until 5pm on a Saturday, you would increase your hours by seven hours a week. Seven manicures could increase your turnover by £210 a week, seven full body massages could increase your revenue by £490, seven facials could increase your revenue by £560+; depending on what type of facial the client is having this could be in excess of £700.
Then we have the retail opportunities these extra hours and treatments may bring. Not to mention that if you have more than one member of staff you could double, perhaps even treble that figure.
Opening from 9am until 6pm are nothing times, in my opinion, because a client who is working full time may not finish before 5pm and then have to get to your salon. If you close at 6pm, they won't fit a facial in on their way home and may just about have time for an eyebrow wax or a half leg wax. If you then only open on a Saturday morning when they take their children to their swimming lesson, they have to go elsewhere for their monthly £80 facial and to purchase all of their retail products.
I open until 10pm, usually later, on the days I work and I can earn as much money in the last four hours of the day as I do in in the nine hours leading up to it. Those four hours are four extra body massages, four extra facials and all of the retail opportunities that that brings with it. It is not at all unusual for me to take in excess of £1,000 a day, but that wouldn't happen if I didn't work long days and accommodate the working client who has the income to spend.
Retired clients, who can come in during the day, are all well and good but they are tightening their belts with the rising living costs. Whilst they may have once been a great spender they are now being far more careful with their money. You need to attract and accommodate the high spending audience, and they often want out of hours and flexibility because they have careers.
Maybe you don't want to work any different hours, that's fine, but don't complain when you are losing clients and you aren't earning as much as you would like. The world has changed. We offer a service and we have to adapt and be flexible in order to offer that service to our audience; without them we have no business.
Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 25 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Training Academy is ABT-accredited.