Merrisa Barnhardt was not a big fan of discounting at the two locations of her North Carolina salon, Bella Lago Salon and Spa. So when industry coach Harry Wood came to her salon to teach his “Six Figure Hairdresser” program, Barnhardt was less than enthusiastic about his suggestion to use discounting as a customer appreciation strategy.
The idea was to maximize the potential of the Holiday Open House Barnhardt had been holding annually. Each November, the salon would set aside, first, part of one day and, in more recent years, the whole day to replace ordinary business with an Open House that promoted retail. A deejay would be on hand, and staff would mingle with the guests. Typically, the salon would ring up about $4,000 in retail. Wood encouraged Barnhardt to start a presale with discount incentives well before the big day. He assured the skeptical owner that this type of limited, special occasion discounting had been consistently successful at Van Michael, where Wood was a long-time stylist.
“I thought discounting beforehand would take away from our overall sales,” Barnhardt explains. “But in 2019, we decided to give it a try.” Her team invited their loyal guests to come to the event and to purchase products ahead of time. The presold products were conveniently waiting for them when they arrived at the event, and they were rung up at 20% off.
The result quickly changed Barnhardt’s attitude. “I could not believe our success!” she says. The usual $4,000 practically quintupled—by the end of the Open House, they’d sold $19,000 in retail.
In 2020, the event’s sales dipped to $13,000 with 200 guests attending. “I believe guests were still scared to come out to big events because of Covid,” Barnhardt reasons. “Besides, it was a cold, rainy day.” She didn’t let the tepid sales keep her from trying again in 2021. In fact, she decided to expand the concept to include a theme and settled on “Holiday in Vegas.”
Her staff helped her to bring her vision to life with five Vegas-style games like roulette and a slot machine, complete with prizes. They served refreshments and mimosas, and some team members dressed in theme as, for example, Elvis or a bridal party. An Oribe technician was on site to provide hand massages. Prebooked January and February appointments were available at a 15% discount, and 50 beauty boxes filled with popular products valued at $119 were grabbed up at the special $30 price.
New Record Set!
Before the event even started, presales had climbed to $12,000. Promotion for the “first 50" to receive the beauty boxes drove so much anticipation that there was a line at the door by 8am. And in total, the event brought in 400 attendees and $28,000.
“To say I am proud of my team would be an understatement,” Barnhardt reflects. She and her team are already planning for holiday 2022—with discounts, of course.
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