Should You Charge People To Come To Your Salon Event Or Open Night?
Salon events and open nights are a great way to forge relationships with clients and are an exciting way to create some buzz around your business.
I was recently asked by one of our Inner Circle members whether I thought they should charge their clients to attend, or whether it should be free for everyone to attend.
Let’s explore that, shall we?
Like so many business decisions, I like to start with the end in mind and work backwards.
So the first question to ask would be, “what is the purpose of the event?”
Are you looking to attract new local residents to your business?
Are you looking to run a VIP appreciation night?
Launch a new treatment?
The outcome you want is going to be critical to not just whether you charge people to attend, but indeed to many of the decisions you’ll need to make in the planning and execution of the event.
Here, we’re going to look at the money side of things.
Historically open nights were a big deal for lots of businesses, not just salons.
Especially when they were newly opened.
They gave you an opportunity to meet local residents and other business owners, forge some relationships and were a great excuse for a balloon arch and some vol-au-vents.
Outside of launch events in a new area – and much like the aforementioned balloon artistry and puff pastry based delights – free open nights should probably remain in the past for the most part.
Product launch nights, birthday events, new treatment parties… make ’em chargeable.
There are plenty of reasons why, too.
Firstly, if you run free events then you can expect to get more than your fair share of hawkers, tyre-kickers and freeloaders.
They are there for the sample treatments, the glass-o-fizz* and anything else they can get their sticky little mitts on.
They are like professional freebie seekers.
They’ll fob you off with some sort of faux promise that they’ll be coming back next month to book in.
You don’t need or want folks like that in your business.
I know you think that you do, but you don’t.
Even if you’ve an empty diary.
Trying to attract everyone is a sure-fire way to actually attract no-one.
A ticket price, even a small one, keeps them at bay… as well as making those with a ticket far more likely to actually show up.
Likewise, basing your event on a specific product, treatment or, best of all, pain point that you know your client is experiencing, is more likely to attract buyers to your event rather than freeloaders greedily gobbling up whatever they can lay their little trotters on.
But that’s not the only reason.
Another is that by charging something then this gives you some additional funds in your coffers.
Funds that you can use for promoting the event.
And – almost more importantly – for ensuring that your clients who attend have a memorable time.
Money to make ’em go ‘wow’.
Because that’s always the reaction you want to go for.
People remember wow and we are in the experience business for the most part.
Those folks are far more likely to return.
They’ll bring their friends.
It’s those that you want, not nosy Mrs Brown from up the road who is minesweeping the glasses of bucks fizz* when your back is turned.
But Ryan, I want to “do something nice”?
That’s admirable, but don’t make your event free.
Volunteer at the local church, food bank or homeless shelter.
Give out sanitary products to women who live on the street.
Sell all of your designer handbags and send the money to Ukraine.
There are plenty of ways you can do something nice which won’t hurt your business in the long run.
So my advice?
Charge for the damned ticket.
I’d rather have five people show up who had paid to be there than fifty freeloaders.
What you’re looking to do is create customers.
So charge ’em something – anything – even if it’s just a few pounds.
The difference between someone who is happy to invest and someone who isn’t is staggering.
You want people who will invest in their skincare regime, invest in the products you recommend and invest in themselves and in their future.
This is exactly why events which are aimed at people who already know who you are is a much smarter strategy.
The events that I’d be looking to run would be discovery events for your high ticket treatments.
People who’ve expressed a glimpse of interest already.
People who might be on the fence and in need of having their questions answered in a friendly, group environment.
People who already know you, like you and trust you.
When they invest in a ticket to come along to your exclusive VIP event?
Well, you’re practically guaranteed a sale.
No vol-au-vents required.
* side note, make sure you check your local laws before dishing the booze out to folks… whether they’ve paid for it or not.
Ryan Power is a self confessed marketing geek and is passionate about equipping salon owners with the tools needed to have a profitable business. Author of the number one best selling book “The Customer Is Always Right: and 7.5 Other Myths Which Are Destroying Your Salon”, you can grab a copy and just cover the P&P here.