Now that this term is coming to an end at the end of May, I can feel my spirits rising. I feel as though I can call myself a Hairdresser again. Not that I want to go back to full time work, or even part time for that matter, it's just that there is nothing stopping me if I wanted to.
It was a huge challenge operating a small business here in Jersey. There are many more salons per capita than in an equivalent size of town. Competition was tough. I made it my business to look for niche market services and do them to a high quality. Service is the keyword for my industry. I don't think that a client realy wants a cheap hairdo, they want an exceptional hairdo. They may not visit quite so often in recession hit times, but what they do want is the best their hard earned money can provide.
It was always my firm belief that it was better to add a service to for instance the standard price of a service than to make an outright 'half price' offer. For instance a free blow dry with a colour service at £39.50. This way the client can also spend more on having a trim, buying products, and perhaps even booking the next appointment if the offer is limited to quieter days of the week.
The principle stays the same for offering a small number of fun foils with a cut and blow dry on quiet days.
I know it's called adding value, and that is still in my opinion the best way to do offers in service industry. Anything else is cutting your own profit margin down to perhaps even less than viable income. Big companies may be able to offer loss leaders but small businesses can't do this.
So many of our restaurants have 2 for 1 deals they must be realy struggling. We went for a lunch a while back in January when we had visitors. We were the only ones in the restaurant, yes with a two for one offer on lunch and it was nowhere near good enough. The food wasn't as good as previous occasions, the staff were not attentive and seemed more interested in themselves. We had to apologise for taking our guests there.
Good business is about the feel good factor. The motivation to offer the best, to be creative and inspired with every person that comes into contact with you. It takes a determination to be like that no matter how busy you are, or not. Certainly offering half the service for half the price won't cut it. I doubt we will go back to that restaurant.
People expect offers now, it's become part of the culture of this recession. It's just important not to give offers that don't inspire yourself or staff to believe they are valuable to the client, and everyone feels motivated to promote them. Needless to say offers are volume based, if you can't guarantee to fulfil volume it's a pointless excercise. We hated sitting in an empty restaurant.
To prove the point our visitors took us out to one of the most expensive restaurants in the Island. It is a Micheline star restaurant, and most tables were full. No discounts there I can assure you. The food was amazing, so was the bottle of wine and the whole experience. Perhaps the food was a bit on the creative side for my palette, although very memorable. An unforgettable evening. A big thankyou to our visitors. We would not afford to do that unless it was for a wedding anniversary. Many of the diners looked regulars.
I suppose what it's all about is knowing the customer type that you tailor your business for. The most basic of marketing rules. There will always be a few people who can afford luxury most of the time. Considerably more who can afford a special treat sometimes, and those who can't afford any kind of luxuries.
Then there are the bargain hunters who just want everything on the cheap and don't realy value the service or purchase they make because of it. Certainly not the person who is going out of their way to offer great service.
I do wonder how we are going to pull ourselves out of recession. Small businesses here are realy hurting, just hanging on in there hoping it will get better. Somehow I think everyone has to 'make it better'. Thats from a political awareness, and from a 'buy local' aspect. Use the small business where you can, because this is where the roots of recovery are going to start putting up some blooming good ideas to grow out of this doom and gloom of dispair everyone is suffering from.