Home – New Forums Starting your journey How long until you FREAKED OUT???

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  • #978149
    thesalon
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    Hi Everyone. New here!
    I just opened a day spa in my area, i have done all the right market research and besides having a bit of competition this was the right area for me. We are advertising on Adwords, Facebook, have received write ups in news papers and advertising, we have a large front with reasonable passing trade (not huge, but a bit) my next marketing battle will be letter box drops.

    We have been open for 3 weeks now, and we are getting SOME clients, but on quiet days, we get nothing.

    We’re about $50 a day DOWN from what we need just to pay the rent and bills, my question is..when you started your business.. how soon did you freak out?

    I’m clearly being premature having only been open for 3 weeks but we are tackling most areas of marketing and marketing well, and the clients still arent “rolling in” i guess the reason i am concerned is that once we have dropped these flyers, we have covered most mediums for advertising, and it makes me wonder what is going to magically change to get the clients in, because we are already advertising so heavily, have already spent a lot of money on logos, websites, custom fit outs, window displays, the best of everthing! it kind of makes me feel like “oh my god! what more can i do? if THIS is the response im getting from all of my advertising then why would it change drasticly in the future!” i dont know if anyone else felt this way when they first launched, but i feel like i need a bit of support or advice from people who have been there already.

    as i said, i know its in the early stages, but i was really expecting a much much bigger response than this.

    thoughts?

    p.s be gentle! im new.

    #1105026
    T J Madigan
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    thesalon, post: 116479 wrote:
    We are advertising on Adwords, Facebook, have received write ups in news papers and advertising, we have a large front with reasonable passing trade (not huge, but a bit) my next marketing battle will be letter box drops.

    Are you measuring your Adwords click through rate and ROI?
    An Adwords ad will generally only get between 1 and 5 percent of the clicks while the top organic listing can get 40, 50, or even 60 percent of all the clicks on the page.

    The rule of thumb is Adwords click through rate (divided between all Adwords ads) 20%, Organic click through rate 80%, with position 1 organic getting more than 50% of the 80% (hope that makes sense).

    You should also be measuring your website conversion rate.

    #1105027
    JacquiPryor
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    Hi there,

    Congratulations on opening your spa! To answer the subject question – how soon did I freak out? By end of day 1 I was having minor panic attacks wondering what I had gotton myself into… a few weeks in, I had similar thoughts to you – I had done the research and really thought business would be booming by then… but, after a few more weeks I started finding my feet and having a better idea of what marketing did/didn’t work etc and where my time needed to be focused… now (about 6-months in) I am no longer freaking out :)

    In terms of further marketing for your type of business…are you in an area, or near an area that’s popular for tourists/weekends away? (I know often spas are…) – If so, perhaps trying calling around local B&Bs/Cabins/Hotels etc (whatever accommodation places are near you) and see if they will take a quanitity of flyers from you for their guests? Perhaps even working out discount offers ‘exclusive’ for persons staying at particular places?

    I know everytime I have had a weekend away somewhere there is a book of things to do in the room and pretty much always this will include multiple spa businesses…

    Anyway, just a thought… All the best with it :)

    #1105028
    nominal
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    thesalon, post: 116479 wrote:
    and the clients still arent “rolling in” i guess the reason i am concerned is that once we have dropped these flyers, we have covered most mediums for advertising,

    It sounds like you’re trying many advertising medium and options all at once. Which is going to make it hard to measure which ones are working and how well.

    But I would start much before advertising, what about your business and marketing plans. How well do you know the industry? the competition? the target market? the channels?

    You must have assumptions on growth and the value you bring, you will need to validate them. What about your differentiation, why should someone decide to come to you?

    I know these must sound generic and perhaps obvious, but you really need to get much better understanding of these aspects if you want to grow.

    As for your original question, how long before you freak out? that should also be in your plan. How much money do you have to keep going. you need to have a reasonable plan for growth with milestones (reasonable – not optimistic ones) and then you can track your progress.

    I wish it was easier.

    #1105029
    ABC
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    thesalon
    Congratulations on taking the plunge.

    I am a day spa fan so the following views are more of a (potential) client perspective.

    Before I try a day spa, I generally ask around – unless of course, I know one of the therapists from another life. If its a totally new one, then I am likely to trial if
    a) I am desperate but usually only for lower order services say maybe waxing (not sure if you do this) but unlikely to be for a massage or facial.
    b) trial offer of some kind

    I would say never discount but worth considering a way of getting your prospective clients to trial you (low cost/low risk) and once they know how good you are, they will come back. So, don’t discount but perhaps look at some way of doing a shorter/cheaper service – say 15min neck massages or something similar.

    You may also want to steer away from buying group offers – trialled a new salon that way and was very disappointed. They had clearly underpriced too much and/or had too many buyers that the service was severely compromised. Result – I wouldn’t go back but would have paid more in the first place for a better service.

    On a completely separate note, if you have written a business plan and financial projections, its worth revisiting to examine impact of your current performance versus your expectations, project some scenarios (continue to be slow, reasonable and gang busters) to give yourself some idea of how you will cope (not panic).

    Good luck

    #1105030
    IncredibleCo
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    I think you’re freaking out because you can quite clearly see your business losing $50 per day. I’d be freaking out too! Despite all of your marketing methods, I bet hardly anyone in your areas has heard of you and obviously only 3 weeks in you don’t have any kind of reputation. These things take time to build, and a single letter drop won’t fix that. Certainly whenever I get a flyer in my letter box I just throw it in the bin. I think the best way to market your business is to find the customers who would be interested in your business first, then market to them in a more personalised way.

    Good luck!

    #1105031
    Anonymous
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    Hi thesalon,

    Welcome to Flying Solo, and thanks for being so brave as to raise an issue that arises for so many people but is rarely spoken about.

    Coming from a marketing perspective, my suggestion is that you use this time wisely. You’re going to be busy before you know it, so use your down time as productively as you can.

    My instinct is that in most cases people choose a new salon based on either geographic convenience or word-of-mouth recommendations. If this feels about right to you too, then this time is when you should be out and about in your local community, introducing yourself to as many people as you can – especially women.

    If you’re not very busy, offer free taster services that will use your free time without costing you much money in terms of products and supplies. And then, every time you’ve got a new person in the salon for a shoulder rub, manicure or whatever you decide on, you’ve got a captive audience to build a relationship with over the next 10-15 minutes.

    Personally, I’d be prioritising making connections with women who spend their day talking to lots of other women. For example, if you’re a beauty salon, I’d go to all the hairdressers in the area and offer them free 15 minute foot or arm and shoulder massages during their lunch breaks. Or if you’re a hair salon, I’d offer the local baristas a free blow dry.

    Good luck with it all, and please keep us posted about your progress.
    Best wishes,
    Jayne
    PS: Next time you pop in, please don’t forget to tell us your name… we’re a friendly bunch around here!

    #1105032
    yourvirtualboard
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    Congratulations on taking the plunge, part of the planning I’m assuming included a cash reserve and a calculation to break even. Most businesses (and certainly those that have a physical premises and staff etc.) have a start-up period during which it’s expected to cost rather than deliver and yours would be no different. Just have faith in your plan.

    Apart from what you’ve mentioned what about family and friends, can they not support (even at a better rate) you and spread the word for you? As has been mentioned you need to become known and this takes longer than 3 weeks but can be pushed along a bit by some of what you’re already doing and other things like going into surrounding businesses and letting them know you’re there and what you offer. Maybe an introductory rate for the first visit so that people have a chance to experience your service and based on that might refer or tell others about you. If you haven’t yet printed the letter box drop might be worth putting an introductory offer on the flyer too and can only be redeemed for a certain period.

    Another method that gets a lot of traffic is daily deals like living social. groupon etc. Although not a big cash injection it will spread the word and possibly create repeat visits.

    I’m sure there will be a few more good suggestions that come through too.

    Just keep positive and at the end of each day be sure you did what you could to get people through the door (and once through the door then convert them to regular customers).

    #1105033
    IncredibleCo
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    I don’t agree with the Groupon, daily deals idea. I think they only attract bargain hunters, not loyal customers.

    #1105034
    Evo the marketing guy
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    Firstly, thank you for your honest comments about starting a new venture.

    I get a little bit bored reading the ‘i was successful from day one’ stories.

    The reality is bloody hard work and lots of scares and hiccups along the way!

    Few unstructured thoughts!

    • Without seeing your promotional materials, do they have a call to action or ‘offer’ to encourage visits?
    • Day Spas are a dime a dozen. Why choose yours? What do you do better than anyone else? Hard work required here!
    • Small letter box drop trial would be worth a shot – local customers = local dollars = local referrals!
    • Develop some great and compelling offers and see how you go. If you have time, try a few variations of the offer.
    o Buy a book of six treatments get one free
    o Gift pack with every xth purchase
    o Mystery treatment time extension (plus 10 minutes for random customers)
    o Unlimited detox tea for all customers pre and post treatment…
    • What have your current customers said about the service? Are they thrilled? Will they tell their friends? How about a 30-second survey at the visit’s end so you can double-check you are winning local hearts.
    • Ask to put some flyers in local business and offer to do the same for other businesses. This cross promotion can work really well for strip shops (if indeed you are!)
    • Your customer database is critical. Sending reminders via email etc happy birthday etc. Start building this ASAP. Use a basic program – even start in Excel. Just start something!

    • And best of all, steal as many ideas as you can from other similar businesses. http://au.smallbusiness.yahoo.com/growing/success-stories/a/-/8751815/case-study-missys-place-marketing-plan/

    #1105035
    Steve_Minshall
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    FS Concierge, post: 116503 wrote:
    If this feels about right to you too, then this time is when you should be out and about in your local community, introducing yourself to as many people as you can – especially women.

    Beat me to it Jayne.

    There is a series that pops up on TV from time to time that I recommend that anyone starting a business looks out for called “Risking it all“. It follows UK start ups with a little help from a successful entrepreneur. It is a realistic program and some businesses do well and some not so well. As a side, while looking for the link I notice SBS are going to run an Aussie version soon which may be worth a look.

    Anyway my point is that with all bricks and mortar businesses on this program the main marketing technique at start up is hit the streets. Go find your target customer in person and engage them. Obviously allowing for the unavoidably contrived natue of reality TV, you could still tell who was going to make it or not, purely on how well they threw themselves into the hit-the-streets engagement.

    ‘Ramsey’s kitchen nightmares’ very difficult program to watch I know but again every restaurant re-launch is accompanied by a hit-the-streets campaign.

    Unfortunately the ‘freak out’ may never go away. Every January my business does really well (school holidays) but February (short month/every one back to work) is crap. Every year by the end of Feb I have to convince myself that the customers will be back and not get down about it.

    #1105036
    mturner
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    hmm.. interesting thread !

    Well…. i think I would have freaed out within about 1 year… but hey it depends on what your outlay is right? if i was losing $50 a day i think I would have freaked out within 6 months…. if that didn’t seem to change.

    I guess you need to be brutally honest.. is your business working or not? Try asking someone whose oppinion you trust.

    #1105037
    daydreamer
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    I just want to say a big thank you for being so honest!

    Making lots of money by being an entrepreneur makes a great story, and the Australian media are all over it, and I see it becoming another huge phenomena… a bit like the cooking show fad, and the home renovations fad.

    However the reality is the being an entrepreneur for most is tough and only a small percentage of entrepreneurs make decent money. I like hearing about the other 99% as I think we can all learn and grow from it.

    Hang in there!

    #1105038
    Alex Benedict
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    As I am in a similar position, only that I am living off savings and have no income, I understand how you might feel.

    Perhaps, all you can do is set a time for when the $50 per day becomes an unsolvable problem I guess. $5000 will give you a hundred days to turn it around – but are you able to wait that long and wanting to let it get that much? Until that time working hard to attract customers – your target market – seems only logical. But when is that D-day? When will the loss be too much? Only you can work that out and get good advice I guess.

    I hope it works out well for you.

    #1105039
    pamperface
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    I run a beauty salon & have worked in spas in the past. It is very difficult getting people in the door initially especially if you’re competing with the places that offer super cheap prices for the same services. When I opened up 3 years ago I really wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Fortunately I was the only therapist here so I didn’t have to worry about wages for staff but the rest of the expenses were a real concern. So I was freaking out from day one and I have to be honest and say that I still freak out on a regular basis as I now have 5 staff to worry about!!! Having said that my advice is:

    STAY AWAY FROM GROUPON/SCOOPON/CUDOS ETC – Generally speaking the people who buy these deals are once only clients and are incredibly demanding into the bargain. Going down this path at your stage of business could be financial suicide.

    During my first winter I placed an ad in a coupon magazine called Smart Saver. The ad was inexpensive plus they gave me 30 days to pay it and I could put any offer I wanted in it. Smart Saver is distributed just in your immediate area so it’s being seen by lots of locals. My ad brought in a lot of business during those slow winter months and many of those clients became regulars who are still coming.

    My experience with letterbox drops is that they don’t work. We did one 3 years ago, spent money we didn’t really have on fancy printing on glossy paper and didn’t get one response.

    A day spa I worked in a few years ago offered an ongoing Early Week Special that was very successful. It was a half hour massage plus a half hour facial for just $50 on Mondays Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This kept the start of the week busier than it would normally have been.

    Maybe talk to your beauty product supplier about helping you to host an ‘event’ to introduce the locals to their products and your spa. Most of the product houses love helping with these things so it ends up not costing much for you to do it.

    Hang in there, this is a very competitive industry but if you continue to offer high quality products and impeccable service your chance of survival is good.

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