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Rethinking Your Salon or Spa Appointment Book Strategy
February 29, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments
Are you scheduling appointments or just filling orders?
Whenever a salesperson is referred to as an “order taker,” it means that salesperson lacks the initiative and experience to truly engage, discover and understand the needs of the customer.
The order taker goes after the “what do you need today” low hanging fruit and moves on.
A true salesperson, on the other hand, asks questions, listens intently, identifies problems, provides solutions, educates and builds relationships.
I’m not suggesting that order takers don’t work hard, because they do. They cover a lot of ground and talk to a lot of customers. It’s hard work collecting all that low hanging fruit.
The true salesperson covers less ground, but collects the mother load of fruit on the rest of the tree … simply by taking the time to understand and fulfill needs. And they often get all the low hanging fruit, too.
In the salon/spa business, it’s all about selling time … the relentless quest to fill up the time-slots on the appointment book.
Nothing pleases an owner more than a full appointment book.
Nothing stresses an owner more than unsold “white space.”
A different perspective: A salon/spa appointment book is actually a schedule of “orders” for services that clients will “pick up” on a specific day and time. So, that nicely packed appointment book could be described as a productive day of “order filling.” And just like the order-taker salesperson, most salon/spa service providers will do nothing more than fill those orders.
The argument is that there is little time in a packed schedule for up-selling services and products through discovering needs, understanding needs, professional guidance and professional recommendations. Because time is money, and salons and spas sell time, services are scheduled back-to-back based on pre-established time standards. So there is a high degree of truth to the “there’s not enough time” argument.
Simply put … the appointment book is, in essence, about filling orders.
Here are some No-Compromise Leadership thoughts on how to rethink your appointment book strategies to maximize your sales potential:
- Your “un-productivity rate”: Most owners obsess over their productivity rate (ratio of hours sold to hours available for sale). It’s about keeping those hands busy. What would happen if you focused on your un-productivity rate? If your salon/spa has a 75 percent productivity rate … that means you have a 25 percent un-productivity rate. That’s 25 hours out of every 100 hours wasted … gone … poof. Most commission service providers view unsold hours as “break time” or “unpaid time” because their hands aren’t working on a client.
- What would happen if those 25 out of 100 hours were focused on discovering client needs? How quickly would your un-productivity rate shrink, revenues increase and client service experiences become more memorable?
- If you’re on Team-Based Pay, you’re paying for all the hours employees are scheduled to work.
- If you’re on commission … you’re paying employees a “variable hourly rate” to work their scheduled hours. If your service providers think they’re only getting paid when working on a client … that’s a behavior that you allowed into your culture.
- Selling is an unfamiliar skill: Order takers take orders because they don’t have consultative selling skills. They don’t know how to engage in a conversation with clients that will lead to identifying needs and solutions. Just as order takers get into an order-taking rut … salon/spa service providers get stuck in their order-filling rut.
- If up-selling through professional consultation is the exception and not the norm … it’s because of a lack of skills and the time to engage in consultative professional consultations.
- Team-service consultations (two or more service providers) focused on discovering and addressing client needs will sell more appointment time, train less experienced employees … and increase client loyalty to your business and your brand.
- If you think you don’t have time, re-read the “un-productivity rate” bullet point.
- Flip retail thinking: History has proven that when the daily focus is on filling service orders, retail recommendations are far beyond an afterthought. So, at your next staff meeting, announce that your salon/spa is going to begin taking appointments for retail recommendations. (Enjoy your staff’s reaction.) Then ask, “Since clients are booking appointments for retail recommendations, how comfortable would you be consulting clients on the very best product solutions for home use?” The punch line is … “If this makes you more comfortable recommending and selling retail … do you think you could sell a service?”
- Until your salon/spa incorporates a retail recommendation system that becomes a standard conclusion to all services, the true retail opportunity will go untapped. Check out Strategies “Happiness” System.
- Charging what your experience is worth: At Strategies, we teach how to calculate your Service Cost-per-Hour. Once you know what it costs to deliver an hour of service, you can add your desired profit margin. Now you have the basis to price your service offering based on time required.
- If jamming and driving clients through your time standard grinder is getting old … why not rethink what a complete service experience should look like that allows the time to truly deliver extraordinary service. Adding 15 minutes per appointment in sync with an appropriate price increase may sound risky, but in reality, it may be just the re-set your salon/spa needs to distinguish its brand.
- If necessary, do price increases in stages. But also remember that your “un-productivity rate” increases your cost per hour. As you reduce your un-productivity rate … you reduce your cost per hour … especially if you’re on Strategies Team-Based Pay business model.
Order filling leaves the real opportunities to those willing to play the professional salon/spa business at its highest level.
Now it’s your turn: What are you going to do right now to shift your team’s selling mindset? If you don’t know where to start, we can help. Sign up here for a free coaching call with a Certified Strategies Coach.