Recession busting strategies

Posted on February 9, 2009. Filed under: marketing | Tags: , , , , |

I have mentioned to you before that our primary advertising tool for the salon is Citysearch.  It works well for us and so we keep at it (in good times and bad.)  I wanted to share with you an email I got from my Citysearch account manager.  I was impressed with the personalized service and as I read the message, I couldn’t help think that she was following the same advice she was giving.  It can’t be easy to sell advertising to companies who are facing cash flow shortfalls, but she is working it.  If you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, I suugest you give her a call and see if she can help ypur business.  If you aren’t, check out Citysearch in your area and see what other salons are doing.

Hi Aura,

This morning, I listened to a great presentation on the Salon/Spa/Massage industry, focusing largely on how small business like you can make it through these times. I thought there was some great advice presented, so I am passing on these recession busting strategies I learned today.

From one professional to another…“The last thing you should do is put a blanket over your head… This is the time you invest in your customers and seek to gain new ones.” Lee Anne Sullivan, Salon Owner in Hyannis, MA

What you can do:

Create extra value

Give them another service free for booking a service

A how-to night on make-up application

A champagne social night

Focus on retention

Reward repeat client with discounts on additional products or services

Thank your customers with an email post visit

Be Positive

Create an oasis from stress

Survey your clients

Use data to improve your service

Market aggressively—and efficiently!

If you need any help thinking of promotions/incentives or help adding them to your Citysearch listing, let me know.

All the Best,


Marie Kochert

Senior Account Executive

P: 206-215-4120    C: 206-375-3727    F: 213-351-7013



An operating business of IAC

419 Occidental Ave S, 3rd Floor

Seattle, WA 98104

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The Customer Experience as Competitive Edge – from Wells Fargo Small Business

Posted on September 16, 2008. Filed under: customer service, small business | Tags: , , |

Wells Fargo Small Business Round up sends me links to articles once a month or so.  When I find them helpful, I share them here.  Why don’t you bookmark their page and check it now and again?

Competitive differentiation is critical. Whether your value proposition rests on price, service or offering a completely unique product or service, building the optimal customer experience can help separate you from the pack. Creating ongoing, meaningful relationships with customers may just be the best retention tool you have.

“We live in a world of abundant choice, uncertainty of innovation and change and the stress of time pressure,” notes John Todor, Ph.D., author of Addicted Customers. “From a customer’s perspective, this pushes them out of their psychological comfort zone. Bidding wars make products and services commodities, which leads to stress and the tendency to buy on price and convenience, not on value. It takes the joy and inherent loyalty out of the buying experience. But an emotionally satisfying experience gives customers a sense of belonging, helping you increase desire and demand, while decreasing the focus on price.”

Thus, the goal of building the best customer experience is to create desire, and increase demand and commitment on the part of the customer; it’s an experience customers want to return to because they derive value from it. Todor points to the experience of walking into an Apple computer store. You’re greeted by a concierge, and all the products are turned on and ready for use, which is actively encouraged. There’s even a classroom in the middle of the store to foster in-depth product learning. The value for customers is clear: They can experience the product right now, not after they’ve purchased it. They’re subjected to the potential value of owning and using the product in the future—this is the root of desire.

But you don’t have to be big to offer a great experience. “We have a local hardware store where all the employees are ex-tradespeople,” Todor says. “Most of the customers are do-it-yourselfers, so the staff works to have the right person—a plumber, electrician, etc.—talk to you about your needs. They offer solid, sound advice about projects that helps keep customers from making mistakes. They may charge about 10% more than other big box or hardware stores, but you’re getting real expertise when you visit. In this case, the shared experience is valuable and meaningful because the anxiety of concerns the customers have about doing their project without unexpected complications are defused. It turns a nagging task into a project that, when done right, leads to gratification, and the confidence to tackle more homeowner projects. The result: more business for the hardware store. A bonus: customers who spread the word to friends and neighbors.”

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What should we name this baby?

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , , , |

Picking a name for your business is as hard or harder than picking a name for a child.  A name means so much.  It gives the initial feel for a business; communicating something just by being.

When I named my salon 17 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  I wanted something that sounded exotic, so that it would stand out.  It was also the era of The Phone Book and since we couldn’t afford a big ad, we wanted the name to begin with an A to put us up front in the listings.  Not a great start.

The name we have today (Azarra Salon) is just fine.  It isn’t phenomenal, but it doesn’t suck.  My friend, who just named his one-man salon Solamente Jessee, thinks we should change the name to Irreverent.  If I hadn’t spent the last 17 years building this brand, I just might do it, but it seems a bit late in the game to change when there isn’t a big glaring reason to do so.

It would have helped if I would have read this article first.  Why don’t you give it a read before you name your new salon?

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Experiential Spa Learning Event September 21-24

Posted on June 19, 2008. Filed under: education, management, marketing, small business | Tags: , , |

2008 Conference Theme: “Is compensation devouring your profit? Finding a solution together.”

SpaFinder invites you to the second annual experiential spa learning event for spa owners and managers, September 21-24, at the breathtaking Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.

Join us for morning hikes and moonlight walks, extraordinary treatments, delicious spa cuisine, and deluxe accommodations. Explore the stunning red rock canyons between information-packed seminars, roundtable discussions and one-on-one sessions with focus on building your profit margin.

SpaFinder and Red Mountain Spa are delighted to offer you this unique experience at an incredible rate. Space is limited, reserve today.

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Who are My People?

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: resources, small business | Tags: |

I scour the web for articles and conversations that can help My People.

Who are My People?

We are owners and managers of small salons.

But Aura, aren’t there already tons of sources of information for small businesses?

Sure.  There are.  But here is the problem.  Small Business is defined as any business with fewer than 100 employees.  A salon with 75 employees would be considered a LARGE salon!

Many of the articles I stumble across have nuggets of information that are helpful to us, but many are a bit out of our ballpark.

Here’s an example:

Business Week has a small business section (that often has really helpful information) and I was reading an article about positioning that held great promise until it got to the part about the marketing team doing the research for the project.  Here’s the part where my eyes started to glaze over:

From the above analysis you’ll be able to synthesize your opportunities and understand the value chains in your target markets. The result of combining these two outcomes will yield your differentiating attributes, which form your positioning strategy and positioning statement. You can determine the net-net of your positioning statement by filling in the blanks in the exercise below.

Read the entire article here.

Most salon owners did not go to business school.  Yes, I know some of them did, but they are not my target audience!

Much like how I have determined who is my target customer for my salon, I have a target audience for this blog.

The majority of salons worldwide are each staffed by only a handful people.  We have different needs than a business with 50-100 employees.  We are different people with a different perspective.

My goal is to speak to the smallest of us:

  • The little guys.
  • The heart and soul of the American economy.

When you are a little business, you feel like you are in it alone; like you have to struggle to learn everything.  It wears on a person!  If I can help My People feel like they have a friend who seriously cares about their success, I will feel like I have succeeded.

Everything I do: the workshops, the interviews, this blog, I do for My People.

Remember, there are many more of us than there are the big guys, and I am happy to be a voice in the wilderness when you feel lost.

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Does your business have a personality disorder?

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: education, marketing, resources, small business | Tags: , |

Don’t you love it when you read something that someone else wrote that so strongly resonates with your beliefs that it’s like they read your mind?

I believe job #1 for any business, particularly small businesses, is to find a way to stand out, to be different. Doing so in a meaningful way (meaningful to a market segment that cares) is the secret to long term success, word or mouth buzz and ultimately more profit.

This is from a post on Duct Tape Marketing with an interview of the author of a business book that looks right up our alley.  One of the things I nag at you about is defining and embracing your business personality.  It’s something they write about quite a bit at Duct Tape Marketing, too.  (Why don’t you go over and subscribe to their feed?)

Listen to what the author has to say, and if you get the book before I do, let me know what you think.

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Microsoft can help you get your business online for free – yes, I said free

Posted on June 5, 2008. Filed under: marketing, resources, small business | Tags: , |

Is it time to take your business online? Margie's Travel
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Learn how Margie's Travel does it!
Sign up for Office Live Small Business for free and...
Create a professional-looking Web site
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Top 3 reasons your salon needs a blog

Posted on June 5, 2008. Filed under: marketing, small business | Tags: , , |

I just got off the phone with Stacy, a reporter for Salon Today magazine.  She is writing an article for their August Technology issue.

It seems I have spent the last few days standing on my soap box telling salon owners why they should blog.  (In case you don’t know, what you are reading right now is a blog.)  If you haven’t seen it yet, look at my salon’s blog.

So now that you know what a blog is, here’s why you want your own:

  1. You want to connect with potential new clients. A blog is a way for potential customers to get a feel for the place before deciding if your salon is the one for them.  It is an amazing way to have a conversation with someone at their leisure.  15 minutes spend on your blog is better (for both of you!) than 15 minutes on the phone.
  2. You want to extend the salon experience to existing clients between visits. Make no mistake, your clients come to you for more than just their hair.  The salon experience is about so much more.  It’s about connection and community.  Belonging.  Remember when you learned that by selling a client a bottle of shampoo, they thought about you every time they used it?  Same idea.  You want them to think about you.  You want them to talk about you.  You want them to come back to you!
  3. You don’t have lots of money to spend on marketing. Let’s not fool ourselves.  As small fries, we don’t have the same advertising budget as the big guys.  But the internet is the great equalizer.  A blog is a personal connection between the writer and the reader.  It makes big business seem smaller and more approachable and small business fell more bigger and more valuable.  And blogging is free.  How’s that for budget friendly?

Start with one of these:



If you need help, leave a comment and I will help you.

Now, go forth and blog!

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Controlling your inner control freak – Wells Fargo Small Business

Posted on May 8, 2008. Filed under: management, small business, staff | Tags: , |

Control isn’t a bad thing.  But you throw in the work “freak” and now maybe we have a problem.

It’s your business, and I know that no one will care as passionately about it as you do.  The goal, however is to achieve a Zen-like state of balance where you are controlling the way the business runs, but not making yourself and the staff crazy with your hovering and micro-management.

The more people in the business, the more important it is to have set systems (this is how we do things).  You can’t be everywhere at once.  But if you have trained everyone one the best practices, they should be able to follow without you hovering.

And the people fighting you for control?  Get rid of them.  If they are so certain that they can run the salon better than you can, perhaps they should go start their own.  You have enough to worry about running the business without having to worry about a manager acting like they own the joint.

Controlling the “Inner” Control Freak

It’s your company and you’re in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, that control can sometimes become overwhelming, actually working to slow or even stop your growth. “When you wear every hat, you’re juggling a lot of different balls,” observes Mark Gorkin, speaker and founder of Stress Doc Enterprises. “Multi-tasking is fine, but it’s hard to sustain that unwieldy number of balls, and it can lead to control issues and the setting of rigid boundaries.”

While being the person ultimately responsible for your business can cause control issues to emerge, your “Type A” personality can lead to another type of A. “It can stand for arrogance,” Gorkin says, “as in ‘I’m the only one who truly knows how to do what I’m doing, so I’m controlling the show. Period.'”

Read the rest of the article here.

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Proving You’re Unique – Wells Fargo Small Business

Posted on May 7, 2008. Filed under: marketing, small business | Tags: , , , |

If there is one thing you can do to increase your chances of being a successful salon, it is finding a way to be unique.  Today’s search of DexKnows show 566 salons in my city.  How is a potential customer going to be able to get enough of a feel for my salon to choose us?  That, my dear folks, is what they call a Unique Selling Position.  We are not just another salon.  We’re the salon where you can wear your pajamas and cuss.  What is your USP?  Remember: every business has a personality.  Some have a personality disorder.  Figure it out and market the hell out of it!

Proving You’re Unique

“Even while you creatively imitate others, remember that it’s also important to be different,” says Jay Abraham, author of Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform and Out-Earn the Competition. “You need to make your enterprise special in the eyes of your customer or prospect. So how do you do it? By creating a USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.”

In developing a USP, the point is to focus on the one niche, need or gap that is most sorely lacking among your competitors, provided you can keep the promise you make. Whenever a customer needs the type of product or service you sell, Abraham says, your USP should bring your company immediately to mind.

Read the rest of the article here.

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