May 2010

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Using Special Occassion Events to Grow Your Business

Events can be daunting from the planning, expense, execution and the already rough schedule of the stylist/salon owner.

Sometimes we will limit our view of special occasions to be only two: weddings and prom, and those fill only a few weekends during the spring and summer. The staff seems to either love them or hate them and if the results are not what they expected, they blame you.

If this is a description of your events and special occasions, (that they may be more work than they are worth), maybe you are involved in the wrong type. To know if this is the case, sit down and ask yourself the following questions:

Will events and special occasions cost too much for the R.O.I. (return on investment), in time or money?

Will the planning of it be an enormous responsibility and cut into profitability with regular customers?

Will it be worth it in the eyes of the staff, or will it be seen as a poor leadership move?

If the answer to any one of these is, yes, stay away from what is called, “heavy planning events,” and expand your idea of special occasions. Don’t be discouraged. . . there are other types to be involved in, with a lower level of investment that still has a high rate of return for your business.

An expert in this area is Maura Fitzgerald, owner of two businesses that work seamlessly together. One is Simply Eventful, LLC, an event planning business and the other is The Hair Loft, both are located in Connecticut and both businesses are flourishing.

Fitzgerald started event planning in 2007 and purchased her salon in 2008 where she found the perfect opportunity to get exposure for the salon. Events and special occasions call for hosts, honored guests and sponsors to look their best, and this has resulted in several local “high profile” clients for the salon.

The Hair Loft has also been selected as the official salon for the local television station that is producing a “Dream Wedding” contest, which has led to radio airtime and interviews. Her staff is excited, the clients feel connected and the salon is rapidly growing a fantastic reputation.

Fitzgerald’s advice to salon owners is to offer your services for all different types of occasions and events; you never know where it will lead.

Go to the Source – Go to special occasion venues, restaurants, banquet facilities, party houses, hotels, etc. They will most likely have an event planner on staff or commission who (at some of the larger venues) will be booking 6 or 7 weddings, events or occasions in a day. This calls for a stable of salons to be on their roster in order to take the pain out of planning for their guests. One local salon cannot usually handle all the business a good event planner books. Be there to be of service to them and they will send you steady business; they need you.

Connected Merchants – Boutiques, jewelers and bridal stores network heavily with salons to take care of their top customers to make sure their clients look as good as they will feel on their special days. Those who are planning the special occasion usually ask these merchants if they have other needs and you can do the same for them creating a small business network in your community, which will encourage them to send business your way.

Get it on Film – Photographers, newspapers, magazines and local television stations are looking for ways to gain exposure – daily. The events they cover may have been off your “radar” while you were behind the chair, managing your business. The looks your salon creates for these events need to be documented and who better to do that than the media? When you are credited for doing the hair in an editorial piece, you become part of the story. You can ask for copies of the photos or video for your website and send them to event planners for even more results.

Connections in Unexpected Places – One of the best ways Fitzgerald gained connections was through local organizations who were presenting awards. When she offered her salons’ services for the VIP of the event there were always referrals from not only the recipients but also the other attendees. Some good examples of these were local beauty contests, charity banquets and organization celebrations. By contacting the directors of local organizations her salon became the salon of choice by several local “movers and shakers.”

Being involved in events and occasions doesn’t have to be daunting; it can be fun. Following Fitzgerald’s steps can propel your business forward to keep your book full, staff happy, and get you all the publicity your salon can handle.

Charlene Abretske is a business advisor with YBNLive and supports salons and spas with growing their businesses through on-demand back office tools designed for beauty professionals. For more information call (866)364-4926 or email