Expert Advice: How to fill your column during quiet times

Our salon business experts offer advice on how to fill your appointment slots during quieter periods and use your spare time wisely. 

Adele Clarke OSMO AmbassadorAdele Clarke 
Owner of Spectrum Hair Company and OSMO IKON Brand Ambassador
“As a salon owner I feel we are living in exciting times. Never before has there been so much free education out there. All in the palm of your hand. So much so there isn't any excuse for wasted white column space. 

“At your next staff meeting get your staff to document down what three new skills they would like to learn, now and in 2020. Invest in some training heads and do some research. 

“Throughout the year we all go through peaks and troughs in how busy we are but using this time wisely and inspiring your staff to get out their phones and iPads and practise on these times can pay off immensely. If every stylist in your salon has three hours free across the week, is there really any excuse for not learning how to have at least one new hair up in their skill set to show off? 

“Setting incentives and publicising these new skills and holding presentation times, maybe on an hour set aside before you go home one evening (on a quiet day) can be a fantastic use of these times and motivate the team into talking to their clients about their new achievements.

“This in itself provides the salon with great media content which has a knock-on effect for popularity and buzz about your brand. This long-term strategy can be a wiser move than a short term special offers which can devalue your time and just fill your space with one off bargain hunters never willing to pay full price who you will never see again. 
“Have fun with this less pressured time and gain knowledge. With Christmas on the horizon we can guarantee you'll be rushed off your feet and what better way to cope with it than with some new hair magic at your fingertips.”

  Katie GodfreyKatie Godfrey 
CEO of KG Salons and KG Professional
“Salon owners need to use free time wisely and use these couple of months for planning, training your team and focusing on [the] next year's goals.

“Don't start offering cheap offers to get clients in as it always attracts the wrong type of clientele. Put your staff on training, perhaps, for a new treatment or advancing on a specific technique. Book in team meetings and one to one time with your team members. 

“Start planning! You don't want January and February to be a low, so plan for these times to prevent them being as quiet. Prepare a marketing planner and plan your social media activity. Plan putting together packages such as ‘add-ons' in the salon for a ‘New Year, new you' or a ‘Valentine's special'

“Always turn the negatives into positives and use this free time wisely! Quiet times don't occur too often, so when they do always use them wisely!”

Adam GoreAdam Gore
Founder and Director of Barberology
“During quiet periods or long stretches with no clients, barbershop and salon staff should utilise this time to perfect their skills and knowledge, enabling them to deliver a broad range of treatments and services to suit individual client needs to the best of their ability. This will ensure that every time they see a client, the treatment is as near to perfect as possible and the client leaves knowing it was money well spent. 

“Every single minute of business time should be fully maximised, whether the barbershop is busy with customers or not, so staff should continually practice their technique, especially when they have free time, to ensure that clients return to them and recommend them to others. It's a good idea to put a training schedule in place and manage the process to ensure you get what you want out of the exercise. 

“Go through client history records to determine who has visited recently and who has not booked in for a while. Look at the services that these clients have previously enjoyed and let them know about any offers or incentives or last-minute appointments slots that are available to entice them back to your barbershop or salon.

“Devote time to put structures in place across the whole business. It is important to consistently keep up-to-date with all of the correct systems in order to maximise efficiency. Running a successful business can require a lot of processes and procedures, but having these in place will make things run more smoothly throughout the year.”

Marie-Louise CosterMarie-Louise Coster
Business Consultant, Session Nail Tech, Beauty Therapist and Trainer, and Founder of All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School.
“After the craziness that is December, January always feels quiet, for me October is my quietest month of the year so I plan for it, in advance, when I am putting together my yearly marketing plan.  

“The best thing with January, or any lull, is not to react to it once it is here but be pro-active and plan for it in advance. 
“Ensure all staff are rebooking their client in for the following month, whether it is removal of gel polish, getting them in to a monthly facial routine, encouraging them to keep their waxing up or something completely different! Just make sure you rebook the one should ever leave without having made their next appointment.

“Always upsell - not enough of this is done in salons. I work as a business consultant to many salons and a large proportion of them do not do this, yet it is the easiest way to make more money, far easier than trying to gain new clients all the time. If a client books in for a gel polish removal encourage them to have the product re-applied, or to have a nail treatment. If your client is booking in for a facial, tell her of the benefits of the next facial up and how it compares to the one she has etc.

“Offers and promotions are great to entice people in during a lull, but you must ensure that you do not go crazy and offer rock bottom prices where you send a message of being desperate for business. You also must remember the value of your experience, the surroundings you offer and your skill. Package together treatments and pair popular ones with less popular ones, or maybe offer a ‘Pic n Mix' of mini treatments. Offer a list of treatments, about six, that don't cost you too much to do and tell the client they can choose two for a set price. Limit the time to one hour and do a reduced version of the treatment to accommodate the time. This often gets people through the door for a treat and encourages them to try something new. It is far better to add value to things rather than reduce things dramatically. Adding an upgrade at no extra charge is a great way of encouraging clients to try new things and see the benefit from spending just a little more.  But please work out your costings must make a profit.

“Incentivise your staff to upsell, rebook and ensure their columns are full, with targets, maybe some extra little bonuses, perhaps they could choose a product or a treatment, if they upsell. Ensure the targets you set work in several ways; an overall financial target and then smaller targets for new clients, rebookings and up sells. Think about it, what would incentivise you? If it wouldn't incentivise you, you it won't incentivise them.”

Carly PriceCarly Price
Partner Stylist at Muse of London
“To help fill your column during quiet times, it's a really great idea to offer last minute deals and offers and market these to your clients. 

“At Muse, we take time at the start of the week to see which stylists columns are not full and what spaces can be filled. We then promote these via our social media channels, using boosted posts and ads to our target demographic within areas in London that are nearby our salon. 

“We also put together special offers and last minute deals with these stylists that really attract clients. These offers represent great prices within the area we are based and against our competitors, and really draw in our current clients who were looking to book in for their next cut/colour appointment, as well as new clients. 

“At Muse we also are on Treatwell and we can advertise via this platform our availability for the week with special offers to entice clients in and fill our stylists columns during these quiet times. 

“January and February are always much quieter months in the salon after the Christmas rush and therefore in December we gift all our clients with a client Christmas card. This thanks them for their support throughout 2019 and gives them an exclusive 30% off any service from the start of January until the end of March. A nice personal gift for clients, as well as a fantastic way to fill columns during these quieter months.”

Linda HillLinda Hill
Author and Founder of Linda Hill Recruitment 
“Getting your column filled up is about becoming so popular that clients are on a waiting list to see you.

“As a therapist, you need to run your column with efficiency. To do so, you need to manage your time effectively. You cannot keep clients who've booked a certain time slot to see you waiting. To become an oversubscribed therapist, you need to run on time, every time…That said, it's important not to rush treatments or to give clients the impression that you are stressed.

“Remarkable therapists need to be consistent in their treatments. Unless you're doing a customised treatment tailored to the client's needs, you need to provide exactly the same service every time. Follow the same procedure and framework and do things in the same order. Having a set structure makes it easier for you to be consistent and ultimately, to provide your client with the best treatment. 

“As a therapist, you instil confidence if you are knowledgeable. If you aren't familiar with every treatment your salon, spa or clinic provides, your customers are not going to trust you. Learn your products so that you know the key ingredients and why they work. You must be able to discuss the treatments, as well as the products and their benefits confidently. Clients are extremely treatment and product savvy. Make sure you know what is going on in the industry and are aware of the latest treatments and trends. Have a growth mentality and make a conscious effort to develop and learn new skills. Utilise opportunities to go on training courses.

“As therapists, we need to really care about our clients. There is so much competition out there, it's easy for a client to be tempted to try another therapist or to give another clinic or spa a go. When you care and you are sincere in wanting to help, it will set you apart from the competition.

“Referrals are an extremely powerful tool. Is your salon, clinic or spa on a website where customers can rate their experience? You need clients to be talking about their experiences with you. In order for this to happen, you need to provide a remarkable service, but you also need to make sure customers know your name. Make it easy for them to tell others about you.

“Start to raise your profile. When clients refer their friends to you, these friends will want to know more about you. Give them extra information about why you're the one they should choose to have the treatment with. Don't let them call up the clinic or spa and book any therapist. Start raising your profile and you'll see that your treatment column starts to fill up.

“As a therapist, you might have a regular client who comes to you for facials. You need to introduce this person to other treatments that you think will benefit them. You might take it for granted that your clients know what treatments are on the menu or what products you work with. Do not assume. Tell them about the latest treatments, innovations and products that may benefit them. It is much easier to sell to an existing client who knows and trusts you than to a complete stranger. 

“Therapists should get into the habit of not just leaving the client with their name but also suggest booking their next appointment, so they get their preferred day and time slot. If you're not doing this already, make it a priority. 
“A wonderful saying by Maya Angelou sums it up how to treat customers to ensure you build up a strong and loyal customer base: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”