Turning Prospects Into Clients

The gift card selling season is well underway, and reports from spas around the country are that most sales are up, at least slightly, over lat year.  According to forecasts by the National Retail Federation, 77% of shoppers are expected to purchase at least one gift card this holiday season, and many reasons are cited for their popularity, including convenience for the purchaser, and the option of choice for the recipient.  The average American will spend $145 on gift cards, up from $139, or a 4% increase, which is corresponds to the holiday sales forecasts of increases of 3-4% over 2009.  Traditionally, the spa gift card average has been between $100 and $125, although that range doesn’t account for some of the aggressive discounting and giveaways that were used in 2009.

However, the fact is that gift card sales bring in prospects, not customers.  Now is the time to think about how, when those gift cards are redeemed, you will turn those prospects into return clients.  For the plan to be effective, stand back and give your business the 30,000 foot view.  The strategy for keeping gift card clients is not the same as when we cover a not-so-great Christmas present with a beautiful wrapping paper and bow.   Your fundamental business procedures need to be solid, clear, and communicated to everyone on your staff, or spending money and energy on marketing efforts becomes a lottery game; will the client experience your spa at its best, or will they visit on a not-so-good day?  We’re talking about the usual fun stuff; employee handbooks, position descriptions, operating standards, service protocols, the policies and procedures that are not much fun to create but are the backbone of a business with smooth operating flow.  Without these tools in place, your staff will be forced to make it up as they go along, which is not a consistent way to build your business, and doesn’t often lead to a spa visit that meets or exceeds client expectations.  If you are missing some, or all, of these pieces, don’t despair; with a little help, you can pull it together by Q2 of 2011 and be ready to move on to a marketing plan.

Once those essential building blocks are in place, then you can focus on creating some offers specific to your gift card recipients, such as value adds, service vouchers or upgrades, or loyalty plan points, that can be used on their subsequent visits.  Let’s plan to bring back those prospects for a second and third visit and turn them into clients, expanding your reach for future seasonal sales opportunities.  Valentines Day is only 8 weeks away!

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