Sometimes, salon-suite franchisees simply reach a recruitment plateau. At first, prospects come rushing in, then things slow down. If they slow way down, it could be a sign that it’s time to try a new marketing approach. Case-in-point is Sylvia Zuniga’s situation.
In November of 2015, she opened her Salons by JC franchise in Sterling, VA, with 31 suites. A delayed opening from the intended September date caused her to lose a few prospects because no one in the beauty industry wants to move during the busy holiday season. By December, two suites were taken, and tactics like postcard mailings just weren’t working anymore.
With a Masters degree in education, training in IT and experience in franchises for other small businesses, Zuniga (who also owns an Intelligent Office franchise), knew just what she needed to do. First, she hired her step-son Zachary as a trusted, on-site manager who could free her to get more involved in marketing. Then, she reached out to local marketing pros Splash Communications, who would have time to work with her closely to test, measure and modify advertising and marketing initiatives based on results.
Top 5 Winning Tactics
Going seriously hands-on, Zuniga now approves every marketing outreach in advance and can tweak it based on her salon-suite insights. Applying her best advice, try, test and track, here are the top tactics she found to be most successful in boosting her leads, tours and potential lease signings:
Vary Regular Social Posts and Keep Them Positive
Before shifting gears, the suite’s social posts were inconsistent, three days in a row, then five days with no posts. The posts tended to promote the suite business model in general or show beauty-related stories from other sources. More than one post referenced “fear” of going rental and often, articles from other sources weren’t shared in the usual way. For instance, a celebrity photo from a magazine article was reused as a meme with a Salons by JC logo and a new title.
The new posts, which she approves in advance, are on a regular weekly posting schedule. Topics currently fall into the following main areas: trends of interest to beauty pros, recruitment messages, and client testimonials.
“The content is better and now, and we can test reactions to various offers,” says Zuniga.
Connect All Your Social Pages, Then Tweak the Posts
In addition to being able to send the same message on all her social pages simultaneously, Zuniga can now slightly tweak pages when needed. This is because she sees all her potential postings in a monthly editorial calendar and can change the Twitter lead in advance, all in one file.
“Before, I was just given a list of what had been posed after the fact,” says Zuniga.
Pay for Great Photography
From the get-go, instead of taking photos with her cell phone, Zuniga hired a professional photographer to take photos of her building, suites and tenants interacting within them. Naturally, this gave tenants time to perfect their hair, makeup and smiles, and gave her ample photos for future use.
Develop, Test and Modify Offers
“We tried many things, such as multiple weeks free rent,” notes Zuniga. “We tested everywhere from two to eight weeks. We even tried $99 a week for anywhere from six to eight weeks. Then, we discovered the offer that generated the most interest was 50-percent off a certain number of weeks. And that’s 50-percent off the full rental rate.”
To sweeten the offer, Zuniga was highly flexible on how tenants used their dollar savings. If the offer was 50% off for six weeks, tenants could do it that way, take three weeks totally rent free or even take $100 off a month until the dollar amount of the discount was exhausted.
Continually Update Your Website
Zuniga regularly updates her corporate-hosted website and its views are “way up,” since she added a “Dollhouse” video that allows a 360-degree tour of the suites. In fact, her site is ranked 10 out of 85 Salons by JC websites, and has the highest click-through rate.
“It’s much cheaper than a video, and is created with a special camera,” she says. You just can’t have people in the space when it’s shot. Also, I change and test promotions often.”
As a result of all her efforts, says Zuniga, leads are picking up fast, going from two or three in March to seven in the first week of April alone. Of those, about half took a tour.
Next, she’s joining networking events, planning to try out list brokers instead of State Boards for postcard mailing lists and exploring Patch, a network of hyper-local websites that lets the local community contribute content and businesses post announcements, events and job listings.
“Either you have to keep seeing traction or your have to try something new,” she says.