We're nearly into the high holiday gift certificate buying season again. For many of you this happily means lines of customers at the front desk ready to deck your halls with piles of money! It's a windfall that helps your business finish the year on a bright note, swelling your bank account and guaranteeing a fresh stock of new customers for the coming year. Many spas virtually depend on this last-minute infusion of cash to catch up financially and add a little financial padding when flat spots in sales occur. And as good a thing as the gift certificate rush is there may be plenty of opportunities for the savvy spa operator to make it even better. Here's how you can pull the maximum value from holiday gift certificate and package sales:
Smart spa package programs
? Keep your packages at 4 hours or less. This makes them easier to schedule and limits the impact of sudden cancellations. The more packages you sell the more trouble you'll have fulfilling them they way clients will want you to. Be prepared!
? Offer no more than 3 or 4 packages total. Gift certificate purchasers are happy to buy according to your suggestions and don't need or demand lots of options. With fewer packages it's easier for you to manage your programs, requiring less training and specialty products.
? Include slower selling services in some of your packages. Wet room treatments or your more exotic services may do better when sold as a special experience than they do as part of the regular menu.
? Put your high retailing services at the end of the package. That means facial or makeup services—the easier ones to generate a sale from. The closer these services are to client departure, the higher the retail result.
? Don't discount your packages! Most customers won't expect a discount when they're buying a special gift. A holiday, just like a wedding, is a time when the wallets are looser than usual. Create your packages from "special" services not found priced individually on the spa menu. Design unique body, facial, and nail services that are much like, but slightly different than, your standard offerings. This can be done without adding cost or time. Give these services an alluring name and then build your spa packages with them. Now, charge more for the package (at least 10-15%) than you would for standard services grouped together as a package. This way you profit from package sales (as you should). The client can't add them up as separate services since they aren't sold outside of the package. This works amazingly well!
? We all know that gift certificate customers are not the most reliable product shoppers so why not build some retail items into at least one of your packages? Select fun products that reflect the package themes but aren't specific to skin type or require regimental use. A stress relief packages can come with an aromatherapy candle, room spray, and eye pillows. Body treatments can be sold with body or massage lotion, bath gel, and heated neck roll. This is a great opportunity to thin out slower sellers, ones that you simply change as stocks run out. Build the price into the package itself. And hey, no retail commission to pay!
Package sales tips
Most spa packages are sold as gift certificates for someone else to receive and use. But did you know that the average purchaser isn't set on any particular package or price when making their selection? Instead of handing the customer a spa menu and waiting for their decision, direct them to the most popular programs you offer. Hint: make the most popular program whatever program you want it to be. Instruct employees to recommend a certain package first, or to suggest only your higher priced packages— describing them by the wonderful experience they'll produce. Remember, your customer is buying a gift—something intended to please a friend or loved one. Sell the pleasure, not the price—the price will look smaller to your customer as the desire for it increases.
And don't overlook online and fax sales. Whatever you do, the easier it is for customers to purchase gifts from your spa the better your sales will be.
Scheduling your packages
Here's the dark side of package sales: your obligation to schedule and perform them. Suddenly the tide of demand is rushing in and you quickly find your schedule and schedulers inundated with appointment requests. There's a real danger that you'll run out of the most coveted time slots, forcing you to offer appointments unacceptably far into the future, and irritating customers. They all seem to want the same thing—evening and weekend hours—but there are only so many of them to go around. Worse, your important regular clients want those same limited appointment times as well, so you're risking their loyalty with an over-packed schedule. Try this—not only with your package clients but also those who are scheduling anew or returning: offer your low-demand appointment time first, before suggesting any others. You'll discover that a remarkable percentage of customers will accept them, and probably would have all along had they been proactively suggested before. One of the costliest questions at reception can be, "When would you like to come in?" Change that to, "We have an opening on Tuesday at 3:00. How would that work for you?" You won't know if you don't ask.
If you have the courage to do it, drop your spa packages altogether and, instead, sell smart cards and gift cards for spa credit. They're easier to manage, free you from the package glut trap (the card doesn't guarantee a spa package on demand), and customers tend to use them in smaller installments. This is good because a returning customer is more likely to develop a habit for your spa than one who gulps down a big dose of services in a single visit. The retail potential is also better when the client is spending spa dollars rather than being assigned to a package. My former spa made the switch to smart card-only gift sales years ago with very positive results. We were thrilled to be out of the package business and made more money in the long haul!
About Preston, Inc.
Preston Private Label offers over 100 outstanding, results-oriented skin and body care products for both retail and professional use. We offer an excellent—-and free—-regional technical and career-building education program, affordable minimums, and fully custom labels, pre-applied. Choose from two packaging options and get the look that best suits your branding strategy. Generous margins that allow for markup from 150-700% mean you gain maximum benefit from retailing. From cleansers and toners to cosmeceutical serums, pro enzyme, glycolic and lactic peels to body contouring wraps, gift kits to aromatherapy oil blends and more, we have everything you need to create a highy effective, full range product line. Visit our website at www.prestoninc.net for more information!