holiday season

What will this holiday season look like? While this year has taught us that the future is unpredictable, there are a few strategies we recommend to get small businesses ready for the holiday season.

Despite feeling like many massage and spa businesses are just beginning to reopen, yet another spike in coronavirus cases is looming. With an atypical holiday season ahead, it is important for massage and spa professionals to reconsider their business strategies for the next six months. According to a recent Google poll, 66% of consumers plan to shop at more small businesses this holiday season.

When thinking about the holidays ahead, a revenue boost could be in the future for massage professionals—which comes at a good time given the shutdowns have put a lot of financial strain on small businesses.

1. Reassess Business Expenses

The current economy has forced businesses to become even more frugal with spending. In preparation for another potential shutdown, massage professionals could streamline services to focus on their core, most popular offerings. With a cutback on spending, the additional holiday revenue gained can be put aside for any potential setbacks in the future.

As massage professionals prioritize their expenses, it’s important that they have a clear view into their finances. Massage professionals can consider using digital platforms, like business management software, that offer reporting to help further inform their business decisions. With the ability to monitor company finances without sorting through giant stacks of paper or a large Excel document, spa owners can gain insights quickly and precisely.

2. Invest in Business Processes

Whether a business has been open a few weeks or a few months, it is never too late to adjust business processes to be the most efficient in the current circumstances. This will be particularly important during the holidays, as even more will be demanded of owners and employees—who, in many cases, are already tasked with the job of a massage therapist, a business manager and an accountant all in one.

To avoid employee burnout amidst an increase in foot traffic this holiday season, businesses will need the tools to alleviate any unnecessary, process-driven burden. Where a business may normally have taken appointments manually via phone, time is money now more than ever. An online booking system could be a helpful substitution, meaning less time spent on the phone and more time spent with customers.

Spas and massage practices should consider investing in a digital solution that can help employees handle the influx of customer inquiries and manage altered appointment times to account for new social distancing and sanitization protocols. Software can also offer virtual appointment scheduling, which cross-references employee schedules to avoid double-booking, as well as a virtual check-in process and contactless payments to avoid excessive touching.

While it may not be realistic for massage professionals to make large investments in new technologies at the moment, it is in their best interest to evaluate solutions that can streamline burdensome tasks and free up resources so that their operations are able to endure a possible impending coronavirus surge.

3. Get Holiday Season Marketing Ready

With the recent push for communities to support local businesses in this challenging time, Small Business Saturday is expected to be a bigger day than average years. Small Business Saturday is the day after Black Friday and is dedicated to supporting small businesses and communities across the country.

To take advantage of the holidays as an opportunity for revenue, business owners can prepare for the spike by offering promotions, utilizing email or text marketing, establishing customer rewards programs, possibly hosting a virtual event and ensuring they have an updated website. Social media is another valuable tool in reaching prospective customers during this time at home, and hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday can get businesses into the right conversations and raise visibility.

Massage professionals can also consider offering gift cards to their client base through the holiday season. This is a popular option every year, but they feel particularly apt given today’s climate.

Gift cards give customers the opportunity to support the business, even if they don’t feel comfortable yet going into a spa or meeting with people outside of their bubble. Gift cards can be used as a powerful marketing tool for a business, using the opportunity to develop a personalized design that attracts attention and creates that additional revenue stream. Now is the time to invest your marketing budget on gift cards heading into the busy holiday season.

4. Continue Client Communication

As the state of business continues to change, it is important that business owners are communicating with their customers about new protocols, what services are available and how clients should expect to book their next appointment. In addition to information on the new normal of the business, email and text marketing can be used to roll out holiday promotions.

These could include special deals like a BOGO sale, refer-a-friend incentives or an online raffle for gift cards. Through targeted messages via email or text to customers and prospects, business owners can reach clientele in an inexpensive and effective way. The best part? These text and email campaigns can be automated to free up time for appointments and other business actions.

Website headers should be pushing current promotions and specific content for timely events like Small Business Saturday. American Express has Small Business Saturday marketing materials for small businesses to download and semi-customize like social posts, signs and email templates.

In addition to holiday promotions, business owners should ensure their websites are up to date with all the latest information including COVID-19 safety protocols. Sharing safety protocols with customers helps to build trust, and therefore, loyalty, which is especially helpful during this time.

Put the Right Tools in Place

The holiday season is always overwhelming in business and has the potential to be even more so this year, compounded with the pandemic. With the right tools in place to examine spending, alleviate laborious tasks, and improve operations, massage professionals can position themselves for success through the holidays and beyond.

About the author

Jeff Dickerson is CEO of DaySmart Software, the makers of Orchid Spa Software, a leading software in the industry for spas. The software is designed for spas of all sizes, massage therapists, dermatological clinics—any business that needs a HIPAA-compliant way to track appointments, client data, business metrics and marketing campaigns. Dickerson has 25-plus years of experience building software companies and developing technology that empowers and drives real business results for customers.