Saturday, 24 May 2014

My Experience: My Thoughts On Special Offers

Today's post is another one from a series of advice posts that I have done to help new therapists and those who are trying to build their business.  I am adding them all to the advice tab at the top of this website so that they're easily found and all together.

I am trying to be incredible honest with each post, revealing a fair bit openly online about my own business and thought process to reach as many of you as possible.  I'm doing this because, as I advised in my 'building a client base' post, it's best to 'fake it until you make it' however for that reason, there's very few therapists willing to admit that their business has been a slow start.  I think that this also has a knock on effect as you look around you and everyone else appears to be mad busy but you so panic sets in.  What you don't know, of course, is that it's all a facade and you're probably doing roughly the same as everyone else.

When I started out I read a lot of salon management books (all the links are in the advice tab below the banner) that spoke about prices etc and how to value yourself and your services.  I have already posted my thoughts on judging your prices and valuing yourself (again, link is in the advice tab.) 

I had had my pricelist printed a few weeks before I left my full time job.  After an initial dilemma, I had chosen to put my proper full prices on because I didn't want to have to reprint them later on but I had a problem, I didn't think that my current level of skill was worth the price.  At that point you could go to another nail technician and receive perfect nails for less (if you've read my pricing post you'll know that I chose to go higher) or the same as what my pricelist said, so this presented me with a problem.

After a lot of thought, I decided to do a lot of special offers on nail enhancements at the start, just to get my experience up so that I could then charge my regular price.  This sort of worked for a while but believe me I actually didn't get the response I was expecting, even when I was virtually giving them away.

The biggest lesson to learn is more of something that you need to bear in mind.  Generally speaking a lot of people who take these appointments are not loyal clients.  I'm not saying that they're all the same but typically they are  people searching for the best deal, when your offer ends they will move onto the next therapist.  If I did the same offers now people would jump at the chance for the appointment as I have built myself a reputation but back then?! Not a chance - they just assume that your work may be a little dodgy and that's why you've devalued yourself.

I hope I'm not coming across as harsh, I just want to help you as much as I can.  I want to give you an example of that.  Two girls booked for my enhancements special offer of £15.  Most people happily had them done and headed for the hills without questioning it because they were getting a bargain, but these two particular girls asked me "why are you working for so little?"  I couldn't answer them.

I also noticed that I was getting a lot of 'no shows' as well but I think that this may come with the territory of them being unfamiliar with the salon so not being too bothered about messing you around and wasting your time.  Sidenote: the no shows that I had at the very beginning were ridiculous but I was reassured by the girl I worked alongside that this was normal and they would lessen over time as you build your client base.

If you are going to create a special offer then I would suggest to do it for a reasonably short amount of time and don't do it very often.  If you think about it, if you knew your local supermarket is going to have all of your favourite foods half price every other week, you'd just choose to shop then wouldn't you?  You truly are devaluing yourself and your work in the end as no one will want to pay full price.

I've heard of people doing promotions because somewhere nearby offers Shellac for a certain amount and my answer to that is 'let those people do that!'  They are the ones working for nothing, they will end up with a reputation of being cheap with therapists barely earning a wage.

A piece of advice given to me by the therapist I used to work with was to never do any offers in the summer or around Christmas because you just don't need to.   I stuck to this religiously when I started out and now I rarely put any of my services on offer.  I'd also say never to offer something for free (for example, Shellac on your fingers and get your toes free) because this is basically telling your client that you can actually afford to give this service away.  Instead perhaps opt for 'Shellac on your fingers and have your toes done too for £x'

To sum it up, my experience has taught me that special offers in this industry did not personally bring me more business.  Special offers can't buy you a good reputation which is ultimately what you need to bring new clients in.  It seems people would rather not book than take advantage of them but overall I just found I got a few appointments from it but it meant the small amount I did do, I worked for a far less wage for which equally meant I still struggled to pay the rent.  Obviously the plus side though, that I did gain a little more experience.  When you do have a client base however, they will help you to fill spaces as people already know your work which just proves what I think, it's your reputation and being recommended that brings you new clients, not special offer.   

I have some book recommendations with links in the main "advice" tab underneath the banner on here for you to check out.  They helped me a great deal with many of the basic principals and are an excellent source to refer back to if your mind goes blank.
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