Coronavirus Cancellations – Don’t Panic Just Do This Instead
There has been much panic throughout the salon industry over the recent weeks surrounding COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus.
Panic over how some small businesses will cope with clients cancelling their appointments at the last minute, talks of possible “lockdowns” or quarantining and even speculation over what happens if staff are all sent home.
Well, I want to pull a couple of positives from the whole situation.
I am doing this because;
- There’s already more than enough negative spin from the various media outlets to last us a lifetime
- There’s always a positive in every negative situation if you just look closely enough
- Frankly I’m sick to death of seeing post after post about how the world is going to end next Thursday
So specifically I want to look at the opportunities which open up to every business owner when a client cancels.
I mean, cancellations happen all the time, right?
Now I hope you already have a suitably robust cancellation policy and take a fee at the time of booking – however even in spite of this, you may well get more people cancel with you than normal.
Maybe they are staying at home as they are fearful of their lives.
Maybe they’re counting their toilet rolls.
Regardless of the reason, you now have an hour of previously allocated time which is now free.
The question is; how are you going to use this time?
As I see it you have a couple of routes you could take…
- Seize the opportunity to put Sky News on to ensure you’re up to date with every coronavirus case suspected globally (apart from the ones which actually subsequently test negative; we’re not concerned by those as they mess up the statistics)
- Tell everyone you see how terrible the situation is, how you’re worried about what might happen and actively go out of your way to conjure up scenarios in your head which will never happen
- Take to social media to check what “everyone else thinks”
OR Route B
- Accept it for what it is; you’ve now some spare time in your diary to move your business forward
- Appreciate that in every market downturn there are huge opportunities for those who have their eyes open
- Understand that your competition are almost certainly being drawn into the coronavirus hysteria giving you an opportunity to capitalise
So, by way of some ‘cut-out-and-keep’ ideas, let’s discuss some specifics, shall we?
Let’s look at some ways you could better use the hour of time which has just miraculously appeared in your diary, like a gift from above.
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1. Send out thank you cards to your best clients
Because who doesn’t love a card through the post, telling them how appreciated they are?
We all do!
So here’s a really simple thing you can do, which will have a massively positive impact on the lives of some of your best customers (hopefully you know who they are, and if you don’t then any decent software will run a report to tell you).
Now, some people like to pop a little gift in with the card too.
Perhaps a gift voucher, encouraging them to return.
Personally, I don’t like to do this. I feel that it somehow undermines the thoughtfulness and makes it look like it’s a marketing campaign.
Which, of course, it isn’t. It’s just you being nice and showing your clients you care about them.
You don’t need to do anything to invite them back in… they’ll gladly come of their own accord.
2. Map out your marketing calendar for the next two months (or more)
Are you guilty of knee jerk reaction marketing?
Quickly hurrying out promotions when you see that a competitor is doing a Black Friday deal and you forgot it was looming?
Do you anxiously fire out social media posts as and when you have two minutes in between clients? (Whilst simultaneously trying to cram a pre-packed sandwich in your mouth with the other hand, of course).
Time to put a stop to all of that.
Use the time to properly plan out your marketing campaign for at least the next month.
Map out when you’re going to post to social media (actually schedule them in advance using the native Facebook scheduler or a tool such as Hootsuite).
Write and schedule your emails for the next month (we use a software called ConvertKit for this. Click here for details of their free trial).
Make sure that all of your messaging is integrated with each other.
Do you have a common theme for the month?
The most interesting and engaging you make it for your clients, the more likely they are to come and visit you.
Use a tool such as the National Calendar Days to inject some fun. Did you know that March is host to National Old Stuff Day, National Flapjack Day and even National Common Courtesy Day? I’m not even making this stuff up.
Remember the cardinal sin of all marketing is being boring.
Nobody is interested in your 5% or 10% discount offers.
They are dull.
Stop doing them.
Sorry I had to be the one to break that to you.
3. Work on increasing your average client spend
Weekly takings down?
Well, there’s every chance of that if you’re attracting less people through the doors.
But, good news!
The number of clients you serve is not the only factor to consider when calculating your takings for the week.
Because if you served half the number of clients – but they spent twice as much money with you – then your turnover would be the same.
So, what can be done then?
Do you currently have VIP versions of all of your services? If not, now would be a great time to brainstorm some ideas.
Your clients are already there, with you.
How can you serve them at a higher level?
There will always be people who are happy and willing to spend more with you… if only you give them a chance to.
Longer treatments? Added extras? Posh coffees and biscuits? Free coronavirus mask? Complimentary loo roll to take home?
Think outside the box and concentrate on how you can make the experience even better.
Remember that many of us are selling experiences.
One of the very best ways to increase client spend is to offer additional treatments to your clients right there and then.
Have a space available right after they are in with you?
Often referred to as bounce back offers, why not incentivise your clients to have another treatment – right there and then.
They are at their mostly likely to purchase again from you… when they’ve just bought something else.
You might also want to use the time to brush up on your retail skills.
Perhaps if you’re not so busy then you can concentrate on digging deeper on what your client’s goals really are and how you can help them with those.
Maybe you could use the time with your team to do some additional sales training and role playing.
Just think what a difference that could have on your business… even after everything returns to normal again.
4. Go live on Facebook (or Instagram, or YouTube or wherever your clients hang out)
Whilst just reading that last heading will bring some readers out in cold sweats, the simple truth of the matter is that there are few marketing strategies which pack quite the punch as going live on your channels with regularity.
It’s free, the channels will love you for it and – most importantly – your clients will love you for it.
It’s a win-win-win. (If that’s even a thing).
I know, I know.
You’re scared. You don’t know what to say. What happens if you mess up?
Let’s address those three huge objections right up front.
- You’re scared. Of course you are, you’ve never done it before. Most things are scary the first time. Driving a car. First day at school. Kissing someone you like…. But you soon realise that once you’ve done it then there was really nothing to be scared of at all. So the way to crush this; is simply by doing it.
- You don’t know what to say. This always makes me chuckle as many in our industry have basically forged themselves a career as a result of talking non-stop all day to clients. This is no different. Talk about anything that you feel clients would find interesting. Talk about what’s going on (yes, even coronavirus if you like), talk about your personal life, talk about the results you’ve been getting for clients with that new treatment, talk about how you’re going to celebrate the upcoming salon birthday, talk about your expertise, explain the best way to do something related to your craft…. seriously, there are so many things you could say. It only needs to be a couple of minutes long until you get used to it.
- What happens if you mess up? Well, who cares if you do? The people watching will mostly be your clients and your fans. They want you to succeed, not fail. People won’t be cheering and laughing if you stumble on your words – they’ll be proud of you for putting yourself out there. And, by way of a side note, a spectacular fail would actually be great for your interaction so if it happens, embrace it and laugh about it. We’ve all been there.
5. Brush up on your marketing skills
When the odds are stacked against them often business owners cut sales and marketing budgets first.
Which, of course, is bonkers.
Without them then where are your clients going to come from? This is a time to invest more effort and resources, not less. Not least as your competition are likely to be pulling back at the same time – creating a wonderful opportunity for you.
Maybe you’re not sure where to start.
Maybe you’ve been winging it all along.
Maybe this current situation is making you realise that you need some fresh ideas to get you through.
As luck would have it I’ve just made a one hour training session covering how to increase your profits and enjoy more freedom (even during times of national meltdown!) – and it’s now available to watch on demand. You can watch it now if you like. Just click here to register.
One final word.
I don’t want you to think I’m belittling the situation. Likewise I understand completely that many families have legitimately been affected and lost loved ones. Of course that’s sad. Some businesses might not survive either. That too, is awful.
But by the same token it doesn’t do you, your business or the clients you serve any favours whatsoever to add fuel to the fire of propaganda.
Do your own research, follow the precautions suggested by verifiable sources and don’t believe everything you read from media outlets.
Here is a link to Government website with the official guidelines as and when they are updated.
Here is the NHS advice on protecting you and those around you.
At the time of writing this isn’t the end of the world.
And it needn’t be the end of your business either.
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You can read Hollie’s take on getting ready for lockdown here…
Ryan Power is a salon coach, speaker and author of the Amazon number one best seller, ‘The Customer Is Always Right and 7.5 Other Outdated Myths Which Are Destroying Your Beauty Business.’
For a limited amount of time you can get a copy of his book for free, when you pay the postage and packaging fees. See here for the details.
Ryan and his wife Hollie own coaching and mentorship community Salonology. Join their free Facebook community for salon owners here.
You can follow Ryan on Instagram here.