High-Volume Booking Dos and Don’ts

October 17, 2014 Lisa Starr

High-volume booking advice for waxing salons, blow dry bars, makeup bars, tanning salons, and brow and lash bars

For businesses that essentially sell time slots such as blow dry bars, waxing salons, makeup bars, brow and lash bars, and others, nothing is more important than efficiently “turning your tables”—that is, filling your appointment book and getting clients in and out on time. Here are a few tips to ensure that your specialty salon is maximizing your opportunity.

Beyond the core services a salon or spa provides, the most basic commodity we offer to clients is time slots in chairs or treatment rooms with our stylists and technicians. In order to reach your optimal utilization rate, and therefore revenue targets, it’s essential to ensure that your internal processes are designed to maximize booking efficiency. This is true for any spa or salon, but it’s especially imperative in beauty businesses that have a more narrow service focus such as a blow dry bar, makeup bar, or waxing salon.

There are several reasons why this is the case. When you have a smaller variety of treatments or services to book, hitting revenue targets becomes more reliant on volume as opposed to average ticket. Let’s look at a blow dry bar, for example. The mainstay of the service menu is the blow dry itself, probably priced around $40. Even if you offer a few different upgrades or add-ons, or charge more for a lengthier appointment, the variation in pricing is not as great as it is in a salon where ticket prices can range from $35 to $150 and up. Therefore, you can’t hope that a $135 highlight service will make up for the 2 empty spots in the book preceding that service; you’ve got to have consistent booking utilization to hit your numbers.

Another opportunity that may be less inherent in these “fast-beauty” models is retailing. There are certainly some products that can be of interest to clients of a waxing salon, such an ingrown-hair inhibitors or numbing creams, but take-home products are not the focus here. In a blow dry bar, you might interest clients in the occasional styling brush or product, but services are likely comprising 90% or more of your revenue. Plus, the higher the number of regular clients, the less likely it is that they will purchase retail, since they’re relying on your salon as opposed to performing these treatments on themselves. The same holds true for nail bars with regular clients who never need to purchase nail polish.

In order to maximize your sales in these cases, some factors to consider include:

Pricing

As you likely have one or two “flagship” services that will be purchased by the majority of your clients, make sure you’ve priced them right. Several times per year, evaluate your competition and what they’re charging for the same services; that will give you the neighborhood for your prices, although it’s up to you to ultimately find a price that works for your clientele. If your client base isn’t the same as your competitors’, or you offer a different experience, charging somewhat more or less might be the right number for you. If you’re a new business, err on the side of caution and start with a lower price point. You can always raise the prices later; lowering them is not so easy.

Timing

Ensuring that every member of your staff is able to perform the services on the menu in the time allotted is extremely important in these situations. Let’s say your basic blow dry costs $45 and is scheduled for 45 minutes, and your premium is $60 for 60 minutes. When you have a staff member taking 60 minutes for a basic blow dry, that’s costing you $15 in lost opportunity. With any services that a technician performs repeatedly, over a period of time they will fine-tune their timing and speed. But you can’t afford for this refining process to take 4 or 5 months. Your orientation and training program must have a focus on delivering the required skillset to your technicians in a short time frame.

Scheduling

Scheduling is also related to timing, but has more to do with operations than personal skillsets. Your operating schedule, and the work schedules of your staff, should be created to maximize sales opportunity. For example, if your basic service is 45 minutes long, your operating shifts and hours should be easily divisible by that basic unit of 45 minutes. In other words, if you set your operating hours as 9-5, or 8 hours in a day, you could only book 10 45-min treatments in one chair, and you’d have a 30 minute chunk left over. Perhaps that chunk is a lunch break, that’s perfect!  But if you’re double-shifting your chairs, you’ll be able to squeeze 11 appointments in by being open until 5:15. The same concept should be applied to individual staff schedules. If you start with this basic premise in mind and let that drive your plans, you’ll end up with a staff more focused on productivity. There will still be dozens of variables, but at least you’ll have an efficient basic framework.

Don’t forget that it’s not all about your side of the equation—consider the viewpoint of your clients as well. In these types of business models, the clients are also interested in efficiencies. They want to get in, get out, and get on with their day; if they wanted a full-blown “experience,” they’d probably be going to a full-service salon or spa. If your operating premise is that you’re experts at one thing, then that should be clear from both the client and owner perspective. Your salon’s ability to deliver a quality product in the time allotted will go a long way towards filling those future appointment slots.

About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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