The case for, presented by Janine Jarman, Hairroin Salon, Los Angeles:
“We’ve done Groupon once so far, and I was thrilled with the results. We sold close to 700 Groupons for a half-price hair cut, with 50 percent of them adding on a full-price color service, 75 percent prebooking a second appointment and at least 60 percent purchasing products. We also made money on the 200 or so purchasers who never redeemed the Groupon. Our stylists keep asking when we’re going to do it again!
“The key is to do your homework. We asked a lot of questions of Groupon, and their advice was helpful. Since so many salons have tried it, Groupon has a lot of data to help owners make it a success. We also called the manager of a nearby spa that had tried it and asked what they would have done differently. Consequently, we think we made a lot of good decisions.
“Once a year is perfect. Groupon told us the first three weeks and last two weeks before expiration typically are the busiest. We slated it to run February through June, and we found that Groupon’s guideline was accurate. It defeats the purpose to have it more often; this way it’s something special people can buy for their friends or try out themselves.
“We didn’t give away too much. I was prepared to do a keratin special until we talked to the spa manager who’d made the same mistake. Instead, half off a hair cut worked well for upselling to color.
“Unless they specified a stylist, we booked Groupon users with our newer people, helping them to quickly build their book.
“We made sure our front desk was prepared for the onslaught of calls and, rather than booking them into all of the first available spaces, we spaced it out by limiting it to about 10 Groupons a day.
“The salon absorbed the cost, so the stylist received the entire fee. In return, we asked our stylists to take full advantage of the new clients and try to prebook them, add on color and sell them products.
“Some of our regular clients bought Groupons, but overwhelmingly the purchasers were new people. We never pay for advertising. People sign up for Groupon, so it’s in line with how I feel about not bombarding people with mail and e-mail. And it’s better than a direct mail promotion, which is like throwing a handful of marbles at a target. Groupon is a classy way to advertise.”
An Industry Alternative
Following on the success of Restaurant Week and Spa Week, twice yearly Salon Week (salonweek.com) will debut September 12-18, offering a 50 percent discount on three services of each participating salon’s choice and repeating every March and September. Designed to attract new clients as well as to reward current clients, the concept was developed by salon owners, who expect about 1,000 salons to participate in this first round.