Q. Do retail contests encourage staff to sell and clients to buy?
A. Yes, but only when structured properly, says Ogle. Be careful what individual goals you are rewarding, or the same people end up winning each time and everyone else gives up. Ogle structures competitions to include an overall team goal and reward with individual goals and rewards. “We track retail dollar per ticket for everyone here, and often will reward a growth in percentage of retail dollar per ticket. But you have to realize it’s much harder for someone averaging $20 in retail per ticket to double their percentage as it is for someone whose averaging $7—so you have to mix up your rewards.”
During his last contest, Ogle organized a three-month competition. For the team reward, the salon rented out a party barge and entertainment for a Sunday afternoon event on a local lake.
“When the salon reached the goal, everyone shared in the reward, but staff members who reached individual goals got to invite a friend along.”
Ogle stresses for these competitions to work, results must be posted daily, “as much as humanly possible.” For this recent promotion, his staff created a chart with a boat as the goal, and as products were sold, the water level on the chart rose toward the boat. “Our staff were so excited, they actually would call on their days off to see how we were doing,” he laughs.
Valenzuela recommends pulsing promotions—alternating contests that reward service providers every eight weeks with contests that reward clients.
“For example, during an eight-week period, every time a stylist sells a dozen of a promotional product her name goes into a hat for a prize drawing that’s determined by your budget. Then, for the next eight weeks, every client who purchases two products gets to enter in a chance to win a spa gift card or whatever you want to give. The pulse keeps the momentum of the motivation going by switching it up.”
Valenzuela believes in the “chance to win” contests, because like Ogle, she stresses that competitions can’t simply reward those who sell or buy the most. “If they do, in the end, the only people competing are those in the top two spots—everyone else simply gives up.”
Q. How can I encourage my staff providers to share their successful retail strategies?
A. Julie Shepperly, director of education, consulting and training at Milady, suggests the involve-revolve strategy: get the team involved in product knowledge, then have meetings revolve around teams educating one another on why they love a certain product.
“Each month, ask team members to select a ‘product of the month,’” she advises. “Once they choose their product, they will then focus on using that product on as many clients as they can to see how well it works with every different hair type, skin type, etc. In the following monthly meeting, invite each team member to share how the product worked, how the customers responded, their resulting sales, successes and challenges. Remember, the more your business revolves around your team members’ successes, the more they want to play and the more they want to succeed.”
Q. How can I help my staff conquer their fear of “no”?
A. Valenzuela believes the fear of no started in all of us around the age of two, when we began to associate hearing it with doing something bad. “Service providers are scared that when they sell they’ll be viewed as pushy and will scare off their clients. They don’t want to sell, because they are afraid of hearing ‘no,’” she says. “But the word ‘no,’ can also mean, ‘Not today,’ or ‘I already have a similar product I need to use up first.’ If your service providers are supported with a response they can use when they hear a ‘no,’ they will be far more comfortable educating a client about a product.”
Valenzuela suggests that when a client responds with a ‘no,’ staff should be scripted to say, “OK, not today, it’s always right here when you come back.”
Q. How should I arrange my shelves for maximum sales?
A. When you put a product line out, your goal is not to display, but to explain, suggests Millard. “Take the time to add descriptions about what products can do for your clients. You attract attention by displaying signs that read something like, ‘Need volume?’ Even if the client doesn’t have that specific problem, it will trigger them to ask about their own needs.”
Put your very best sellers at eye level and in the window, continues Millard. And, amplify your successful products. “If I were a salon owner, I would bolster my financial stability by increasing my sales. If you specialize in color, then double the amount of color protecting products you carry—it tells the customer that this is a big deal. When you have conviction about something, put it out there.”
Millard also advises owners to use images in their displays, because clients are attracted to beautiful people.
“Whenever possible, make the effort to add a framed photograph of a person showing the effects of the product you are selling and place it right next to the product and shelf talker that tells what the product does.”
Q. How can I design my retail space to invigorate sales?
A. Don’t put your reception desk right in front or beside the entrance, advises Millard. “Too many owners think they need to have the desk up front to greet the client, but what you’re doing is stopping your clients in their tracks,” he says. “That’s the disconnect between salons and retail. Is there someone to greet you when you walk into Neiman Marcus? Women love to wander around and shop, you should create that retail experience for them to walk through to get to the front desk.”
In his book, Millard recommends making clients wait in the retail area. “Don’t make them wait at a table full of magazines. How much money did you make from magazines last month? Make them wait while facing a retail display … in fact, provide only enough seating for the elderly or infirm, the rest can shop!”
Millard helped the Yann Varin Salon design its retail area in its second location in a chic townhouse off Park Avenue in New York. “For intimacy, we designed a retail area in the front area of the salon, and when he opened, people began walking in because of the displays of Redken and Kérastase. They were then invited to enjoy an introductory service and some champagne. For this second location, Yann built his service business from his retail sales and achieved profitability much sooner.”