By Emily Rupe
After much blood, sweat, and tears, you’ve built quite the grooming business. While not a corporation or conglomerate, you are what the American dream imparts. Never one to rest on your laurels, you’re looking to expand your business. While reviewing all the routes toward expansion, it’s been determined that the extra overhead and headaches of an additional location and/or employees aren’t what’s best for your business. Instead, the decision to add a small retail area seemed like the logical next step.
With every new journey, there is always some anxiousness. Like the rest of the country, your area has a variety of corporate retailers who seemingly have an advantage with their larger locations and ability to undercut prices with mass purchasing. However, the trick is to employ some of their methods that catapulted them into national giants while still maintaining your distinct identity.
Corporations spend fortunes on having professional architects and marketing experts design their locations and visual displays. Obviously, you want the space to be clean and tie into the rest of the grooming salon’s décor. However, there are some less blatant tactics that will draw in more customers as well. Height is a key concept. Ideally, the retail space should have a variety of display vignettes in various heights. This draws the eyes in and forces them to focus on the different levels of products, whereas if everything were at the exact same height, the public generally tends to hastily glance over the wares.
Wall space can be invaluable, especially when floor space is at a premium. The goal, however, is not to place your displays above the height of the targeted client. That’s why at the grocery store, sugary cereals with mythical creatures are at child height. Items that get the best mark up or aren’t necessities should be placed at waist to eye level. Subconsciously, consumers tend to gravitate to the less strenuous product to reach, and if it’s a necessity rather than a want, such as food or puppy pads, they bite the bullet and are willing to bend down or reach above.
Much akin to ladies putting on makeup, sometimes it’s a good idea to put a little paint on the barn to make your displays even more appealing. While not attempting to lure in a man, you still want to bag yourself some consumers. “Facing” is a big box concept that keeps the shelves from looking bare or disjointed. Essentially, all the products are arranged at the same depth on the shelving, and the back stock behind is pulled up as items are sold. Any gaps in displays from out of stock product are filled with additional products. This should be addressed daily to keep the retail area looking its best at all times. Display areas should be well lit and items easily price tagged as well. There’s nothing more annoying than having to ask constantly how much something costs.
Once again, just like changing your hair color for a little attention, stock should have some variety as well. Rotate some products monthly to create a buzz for what hot new item might be available next month. If creating large window or dramatic displays, use items that themed together, along with some props. Even though your prop will pertain to the display, it still creates a visual interest. For example, it’s February and you’re making a Valentine’s themed display. Having a huge pink cupcake surrounded by sweet smelling colognes, shampoos, as well as all the holiday outfits and neck adornments draws interest in, because the cupcake is unexpected. Oh, and don’t forget that the interest and decoration should be addressed from all angles. You don’t want fabulous window drama that is nothing more than the backside of all products when viewed from inside.
The biggest thing that will set you apart from your conglomerate counterparts is YOU! Since you have a relationship with your clients over years of grooming, you know what your demographic is. The business already has an identity; find unique products that relate to that. If you’re an upscale salon, carry higher end food, treats, and bling collars. If you cater to more rural areas, carry dog hunting supplies, budget-friendly foods, and licensed products that are stereotypical with the blue collar group.
Know and trust the products you sell. Your clients already view you as an expert, since they trust you with their precious pet. Most likely you’re aware of the lifestyle and any issues the pet has been dealing with; use that to your advantage. If you provide tooth brushing in your shop, sell the same dental product and tools for at home use, so that if they purchase the service, you’ll be able to show them how to continue care at home. This concept pertains to shampoos and colognes as well. Sell the line that you believe in strongly enough to use daily. It is a misconception that if the consumer is able to purchase the products used during grooming that they will forgo your service and do it at home in the future. Generally those wanting to bathe in between visits are doing it regardless (and you might as well encourage them to use a superior product you provide), and those coming in frequently are enjoying the time and effort saved by letting the professional handle it.
Adding retail in a well thought out manner can reap huge rewards. Take the wisdom that the big guys paid handsomely for and let it benefit you. Just remember the goal is not to put yourself in direct competition with the chains but rather to capitalize on the firm relationship you already have with your client base and carve a distinct niche.