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Small Changes Equal Big Revenue at Guest Appreciation Event

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Brenda Lee Caraballo and Jen Perlman have owned As You Like It Salon in Mary Esther, Florida, for 20 years. And for the three years before that, they were employees of the salon.

The two know their clientele very, very well. It’s Florida, so they service many retirees, but the salon is also located near a military base, so they see a lot of families as well.

“We have many long-time guests,” Caraballo says. “Jen and I have had clients for 20 years who are loyal.”

And for 20 years, Caraballo and Perlman have been thanking these guests with an annual guest appreciation event.

Before they owned the salon, and for the first five years or so after they bought it, the event was a holiday-themed open house.

But one year, that changed due to an employee’s religious beliefs.

“We had a massage therapist who was a Jehovah’s Witness,” Caraballo explains. “She wanted to be a part of it, but couldn’t because it was a holiday open house. We changed it to a customer appreciation open house so she could participate.”

The Main Event

Each year, the event takes place from 12pm – 4pm on a Sunday in mid-November before Thanksgiving, and before people are fully in the mindset of buying gifts for others.

“The event is designed more for self-purchasing,” Caraballo says. “Guests aren’t stressed out about giving gifts yet and are looking for something for themselves.

“We are near a military base, so we try to hold the event near their paydays, which are the first and fifteenth of the month.”

There are two purchasing opportunities customers are most interested in: gift certificates and products.

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“On the day of the open house, we offer $20 off a $100 gift certificate, so they pay $80 for a $100 value,” Caraballo says. “They can buy up to $600 worth for a $120 savings. Guests can gift these to others, but only about 10% do that—most are for themselves.”

For retail, regular stock products are 20% off and trial-size products are buy two, get one free.

This year, Caraballo and Perlman decided to give their spa an extra boost by offering some spa series discounts, with a “buy one massage, get half off the second” deal, as well as a “buy two 60-minute Tulasara facials and get one free” deal. At $70 per facial, this deal was one clients jumped on.

The event is an extraordinarily busy day for the salon, so it’s mandatory for all 20 staff members to work the guest appreciation open house each year.

“It’s their way of saying thank you to their guests,” Caraballo says.

“We have mimosas, wine, punch, and several trays of food, in addition to chafing dishes filled with food our staff members bring.”

This year, a salon manager’s husband, who is a DJ, set up outside instead of inside, attracting foot traffic into the salon.

The A-List

In addition to the open house, the salon also offers a special pre-sale of discounted products for five days before the event.

“We have an A-list of clients: our top 50 retail guests, top 50 service guests and everyone who came to the event the previous year,” Caraballo says.

All of these people received a letter that allows them to pre-order via email or phone five days before the event. They also received an automatic $10 off their total retail purchase just for being on the A-list.

Of the 120 A-listers the salon invited, 48 placed pre-sale orders and more still came to the appreciation event.

Learning and Growing

Each year, Perlman and Caraballo observe their numbers and then figure out a way to grow their guest appreciation the next year.

“This year, we did a mystery scratch-off to get everyone excited,” Caraballo says. “The first 40 guests to arrive at the event received a 5-to-20% discount in addition to the 20% off,” she adds.

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They sold $13,000 in gift certificates and $16,000 in retail. Adding in the spa series packages sold, the total for the event was nearly $35,000.

“We also pre-sold candles this year for $15 off (they retail for $40),” Caraballo says. “We normally just do $10 off candles the day of the sale and only one or two people buy them. This year we sold out.”

The five-day pre-sale concept came about this year after experiencing their first-ever dip in sales last year.

“In 2015, people were in line for about one-and-a-half hours,” Caraballo says. “In 2016 we had a decrease, so this year we sent out emails telling guests to beat the line and shop the pre-sale,” she adds.

“Also, we needed to offer the opportunity to order via email for clients who prefer to shop online,” she says. “I think that’s what really helped.”

A little marketing went a long way, too. The salon sent out 600 postcards to everyone who had visited the salon that year.

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“We also sent out emails, did Facebook posts and had a ‘12 days of open house’ campaign,” Caraballo says. “This was a sneak preview of our staff with the products that would be on sale during the open house. We feel it’s more effective to have people in the photos rather than just products.”

Caraballo believes her staff’s dedication to Aveda also contributes to the success of the event.

“Having Aveda is beneficial to our salon,” she says. “Our staff is passionate about the products.”

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