Salon employees dressing up for the holidays

Advice from one of the most profitable and top salon groups in the country, Ihloff Salons and Spas.

Ah, holiday. Here it comes again!

We know it’s going to be a bit crazy no matter what, but going into the season prepared is the best way to minimize the chaos and help you enjoy your busiest time of year.

We spoke to Terri Vajda of the award-winning Ihloff Salons in Oklahoma, and got some tips what you can do now to make your December a success.

Order Gift Cards Early

So much of gift buying comes down to the wrapping, and although you make your retail look nice year-round, your guests expect a little more over the holidays.

If it’s your first time ordering, make sure they send you a sample so you can make sure you like the way it looks in person.

Special packaging and gift cards can take up to 8 weeks from ordering to delivery, so check with your suppliers and get your orders in early.

“I’ve just placed my order for our gift card boxes. Since they’re hot stamped it takes month and a half. We also had to reorder the shopping bags; we use them year-round, but we tailor them with holiday gift tissue, and that’s a special order.”

To make sure your gift card order quantity is on par with your use, Terri says they use the gift card sales report for the prior year and then add 10%.

If there is packaging that needs a little more work, use that as busy work before the fall business kicks in.

“While it’s still slower, our call center will cut a huge amount of ribbon, pull stuffing out of the boxes, put in the filling, and put them back in the cases pre-ribboned. Then, in December, the front desk can pull something out that’s ready instead of doing it behind the desk with a line.”

Use the iPad App as another Front Desk

One of the biggest stressors around the holidays is the omni-present checkout line that wraps around the front of the salon.

At Ihloff, they set up a table specifically for gift card sales and use the SalonBiz iPad App to quickly check people out.

“This way guests just looking to purchase gift cards don’t even have to stop at the front desk.”

This is a great time to lean more heavily on the iPad App. Offer to check clients out or book their next appointment while their color is processing. You can save a lot of time by having someone ready to walk around with an iPad and check guests in without them having to wait in line. Every little step makes the whole thing move a lot more smoothly.

Set Goals, Staff Up

Pictured: Marilyn Ihloff and Senior Stylist Roger a.k.a. Roger the Elf

Pictured: Marilyn Ihloff and Senior Stylist Roger a.k.a. Roger the Elf

Going into the season, run the Accounting and Sales Summary Report – Daily for a week to figure out what the peak days were last year when you needed extra hands, and where they needed to be.

“We find that on days the locations are busy, we’re not busy for calls, and when it’s smooth in the salon, the call center is smashed.”

Make sure you have service providers aplenty to cover walk-ins, as well as extra front desk support so everything runs smoothly.

You can set special holiday retail goals in Central and encourage your team to make them with a contest. They can check their numbers anytime the Stylist App to see how they’re doing.

And while they’re putting in all the extra hours and effort, make sure you take some time for fun, be it a “festive sweater” day, special snacks or a potluck day in the salon, or a costume contest.

“We have our own elf-on-a-shelf. His name is Roger.”

Get Everything Set for Online Sales

So much retail and gift-giving has moved online, and your salon is not an exception. People will be online looking to book services for their holiday parties, as well as to purchase gift cards or special salon and spa packages for their loved ones.

If you haven’t set your website up with online booking and gift card sales, there is still time—and it’s easy.

Holiday is the perfect time to run specials, whether they’re specially bundled spa packages or an offer with a reward.

“We run a voucher special the whole holiday season and advertise through social media. If you buy a certain amount in gift cards, you get rewarded with a voucher good toward qualifying services.”

Learn how to set up online promos here.

Check Your Inventory

You know you’re going to sell gift packages, and gift cards, but were there any products that flew off the shelves last year and surprised you? Even more importantly, were there products that were just sitting on the shelf taking up valuable real estate during your busy season?

Run a hot/cold report for November and December of last year, and then run one for the last 6 months. Adjust your ordering for the coming season to match last year’s holiday sales as well as currently trending products.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Holiday can be a blast, even when business is booming. The important thing is to make it feel like a fun, exciting time, not an exhausting burden.

During the busy time, be sure to keep the music fresh and not kill everyone with the same 12 holiday songs on repeat. Most satellite or streaming radio services have numerous holiday stations and playlists so you don’t get sick of the music.

Get people into the festive mood with an after hours decorating party sometime around Thanksgiving. Have some food and drinks while your team helps decorate the salon for the season, and kick things off with some fun before it gets too crazy.

As far as a holiday party, chances are you won’t have time to have a full staff party in November or December, so think about moving it back until after the New Year.

“Last year we switched our holiday party to January, so everyone was able to participate and we’d be past the pageants, family gatherings, church events, and such that happen in December,” says Terri.

“We sent invitations out to everyone so they could plan for it.” Everyone was encouraged to dress up; it was something to look forward to throughout the season. “It was like ‘We know it’s crazy right now, but when it’s done we’re going to celebrate!’ ”

Start Now

A little bit of preparation using some of the tips above can set the stage for a successful, busy, yet lower-stress season your whole team has reason to be cheery about. So go ahead and refill that PSL—it’s time to get ready for Holiday.