How To Avoid Dry Spells & Take Better Control of Business Seasonality: A Refresher for Hair & Beauty Entrepreneurs
There are many challenges that come with running a company, but the seasonality of business is one of the most overlooked.
At first glance, personal care isn’t an industry that appears to be “seasonal” in any meaningful sense. People want haircuts or manicures at any time of the year. But this doesn’t mean that salons and spas don’t experience periodic upticks and slowdowns in the demand for certain services — and this can have a major impact on your cash flow.
Knowing how to manage seasonality and small business is critical to ensure that your spa or salon avoids a business dry spell. By preparing your strategy ahead of time, your business will be in a stronger position to capitalize on seasonal fluctuations.
This post will look at the ways your personal care establishment can better prepare itself for the off-season and become more resilient to slowdowns.
Table of contents:
- What is business seasonality?
- 7 ways entrepreneurs can prepare for a business dry spell
What is business seasonality?
Business seasonality refers to the fluctuations in activity that occur during the calendar year. For the most part, seasonal changes are predictable because businesses can use data from previous years to track these recurring trends in sales or other commercial activity.
In the retail and personal services sector, business seasonality refers to ebbs and flows in either general consumer spending or specific product or service categories. This can happen according to the actual seasons (summer or winter) or due to annual events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Year.
The seasonality of business can vary hugely between and even within industries. For example, hair salons generally see clients booking appointments at less regular intervals during the summer months due to vacations and changing work schedules.
Spas, on the other hand, experience a sharp increase in bookings for waxing or tanning treatments as it gets warmer.
Seasonal trends can dictate major decisions such as inventory, staffing levels, and budgeting. For this reason, it’s really important to have a firm grasp on how seasonal trends affect your business.
7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Prepare for a Business Dry Spell
Now that you have a general overview of seasonality and small business, let’s look at the ways that you can deal with it, to avoid a business dry spell.
1. Upsell gift cards/certificates
Salons and spas usually receive payment hen services are rendered — meaning you have to rely on getting clients through the door to earn income. As such, when your foot traffic dries up, so does your revenue.
One way to combat this is to sell more gift cards/certificates.
Gift cards are both a smart add-on and a compelling standalone item for service-based businesses.
While they are extremely popular during the holiday season, they are also appropriate for events that occur throughout the year, such as birthdays and anniversaries, or even for initiatives such as prize packs.
Besides their versatility, gift cards offer businesses many other benefits. They can be sold both online and offline and provide a valuable avenue for introducing your business to new customers.
Best of all, the prefilled credit incentivizes clients to spend more. According to Giftcards.com, 72% of gift card recipients will spend 38% more than the value of the card — which is great for your salon’s bottom line!
Finally, gift cards can serve a source of revenue during off-peak seasons. People may not need your waxing services during the winter months, but you can still market your gift cards to encourage customers to come back when they need your services.
So, if you’re not offering gift cards yet, you should strongly consider them. You don’t even have to create a physical gift card (unless you want to). Many modern salon and spa management platforms have built-in features that enable you to sell gift cards through your booking portal.
Genbook, for example, allows you to add a “Gift Certificates” tab to your scheduling page, making it easy for customers to purchase them online.
Here’s an example of online gift certificates in action, care of The LOFTS Salon Suites.
2. Connect with your existing customers
Past sales data can tell you whether certain months of the year are likely to mean a slowdown in revenue, but this doesn’t have to spell disaster for your business. Remember, even though certain periods may be quieter, your customers are still just as accessible, especially if you already have their contact information.
During the off-season, your relationships with your existing client base become especially important. This is the group that you can rely on for repeat business, and they will be some of the most receptive to promotional deals. In fact, 61% of small businesses report that over 50% of their revenue comes from repeat customers.
So, come up with creative ways to market your business, especially to your current clients. Send out “we miss you” messages to your previous customers to encourage them to come back.
Newport Float, a wellness establishment that offers float therapy sessions, occasionally sends text messages to existing clients inviting them to swing by.
3. Run a referral program
Encouraging referrals should be done all year round, but this strategy becomes particularly important during the off-season, because this is the time when you need more customers.
So, beef up your referral initiatives. Maybe you could temporarily increase the rewards or perks that people get when they bring a friend. There are a variety of incentives you can use, such as offering discounts off services, free additional treatments, or loyalty points.
Salon Freesia has maximized the value of its program by incentivizing clients to do more than just a one-off referral. By offering a prize to the person that generates the most new business for the salon, this adds a competitive element to drive greater engagement.
4. Manage your waitlist effectively
So far, we’ve talked about what to do during the off-season, but what about during periods when your salon or spa is packed?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when people are scheduling appointments left and right. And when slots are quickly being booked, customers who’d like to work with you may not get the chance to do so.
You can address by using waitlists so people can book appointments in the event of a cancellation. Waitlisting helps keep your schedule full and gives clients the opportunity to come in when a slot opens up.
Waitlisting can also come in handy during the off-peak season. When you’re getting fewer appointments, the last thing you need is to have an unexpected open slot because of a last-minute cancellation. Establishing a waitlist helps ensure that your any available slots get booked immediately, so you don’t miss out on much-needed revenue opportunities.
Pro tip: Genbook lets you manage a waitlist with ease! Simply turn on the feature in your account, set a booking window duration, and enable email and/or text notifications.
5. Stay relevant with seasonal trends
In the personal care industry, business seasonality can create major shifts in what treatments and styles are the most in-demand.
The key to any successful seasonal treatment is understanding your customer’s mindset and what priorities they are likely to have at different times of the year. Forecasting beauty and hair trends ahead of time is indeed a tricky business, but there are regular shifts in consumer need recognition that can help your efforts.
For example, people are far less likely to be thinking about pedicures and foot treatments during the cooler months. But once Spring rolls around and we want to get back into open footwear, cracked heels and cuticles become a major concern.
You could also think about holidays or events such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, then create relevant initiatives to bolster demand.
That’s what Polished Nail Boutique is doing. Check out this promotion from February, which incorporates a romantic, “treat yourself” theme. The nail spa offered a “Pedi of the Month” package featuring a Chocolate Strawberry Pedicure, which includes a glass of champagne, a jar of sugar scrub, and more.
6. Budget accordingly
When your company goes through ebbs and flows, it’s vital that you create a comprehensive budget to avoid running into a business dry spell during your off-season.
Make use of past data. Sales and financial data are always your most valuable tools when combating the effects of business seasonality. It gives you some great estimates on everything from your projected income during the off-season to how much product you are likely to need, allowing you to create a much more accurate budget.
Think about your staffing levels. Staff management is one of the most time-consuming parts of running a spa or salon. It’s also one of your biggest expenses. This means that failing to adjust staff rosters in preparation for the off-season can seriously affect your bottom line.
For example, it’s not unusual during the off-season for salons and spas to reduce their opening hours to make up for business being slower. Establishments need to manage their staffing levels accordingly. Plenty of notice should always be given to your staff of any changes, so it’s important to plan out your rosters several months in advance of the off-season.
Create a financial cushion. A common rule of thumb for small business owners is to have enough savings to manage six months of expenses. By putting extra money away during the more profitable parts of the year, you can save yourself a lot of stress during the off-season when you have less revenue coming in — especially if unexpected costs come up!
7. Take advantage of the off-season
Business seasonality can cause a lot of disruption to your revenue streams, but on the flip side, this offers you some welcome time to re-engage with other areas of your business.
When you are in the busy season and need all hands on deck, it’s easy for certain chores or initiatives to fall by the wayside. While it’s important to make hay while the sun shines, it could sometimes mean that your do-tos pile up.
Time-consuming but important tasks such as inventory counts and deep cleans are much easier to do when your salon or spa is quieter. Moreover, this is one of the best times for boosting engagement with your staff.
For example, if the business is slower, why not take advantage of this to add in some more training and development sessions? Investing in building your team’s skills means higher rates and bigger profits, which is of long-term benefit to your business.
By taking advantage of business seasonality in this way, you can improve your salon processes and make the most of this extra time that the off-season provides.
Business seasonality can have a big financial impact on your salon or spa, but it offers some great opportunities as well. By making use of past sales data, you can accurately map the seasonal trends that affect your business and predict when you will need to make changes to your operation.
You can leverage attractive seasonal promotions and initiatives to boost client numbers and manage your waitlist more effectively to minimize gaps in your stylists’ schedules. In doing so, your salon or spa is also making positive changes that will benefit your bottom line throughout the calendar year. Armed with a healthy cash flow, your business is in a much better position to grow and thrive.
Speaking of which, a huge component of maintaining healthy cash flow lies in knowing your metrics. Keep a pulse on your business by regularly running reports on KPIs like your revenue, average booking values, time to booking, and more.
It also helps to benchmark your numbers against industry data so you can have a better idea of how you’re performing.
To that end, Genbook has created Pricing Insights, a free tool that fills you in on the key metrics of barbershops, salons, and spas in your area. Backed by data from 13 million businesses in the hair, beauty, and wellness space, this free tool lets you determine where you stand compared to similar businesses in your area.