Budgeting for the Slow Season Ahead

Immediately following the holiday season, you may be welcoming a slower pace and the chance to catch your breath. While we all need to prioritize taking a beat to rest after an intense couple of months, as an independent professional, you’ll have to budget a bit more as the busy season comes to an end. 

You’re likely coming down from the time of year where you may have been fully booked, raked in larger tips, or received annual “bonus” tips from your favorite VIPs, but beware of slower times and lower incomes ahead. Inevitably, people aren't going out as much now that the holidays and all the festivities that accompany them have passed. Here’s how you can financially and mentally prepare for the slower period ahead.

Run Your Reports

If you’ve been in business for at least 12 months, now’s a good time to review your reports from this time last year. Doing so will arm you with a reference point for what you may be able to expect from the holiday comedown. Once you have an idea of what you may be bringing in this month or quarter ahead, you can prepare accordingly. Use those projections to ask yourself: Do I need to cut back certain expenses? Do I need to stash those extra tips into my business savings? Do I need to hustle for a certain amount of clients to meet my baseline business goals next month?

Encourage Prebooking

Once you’ve determined where you’re heading in the months ahead, you can strategize the tactics you want to employ to keep yourself in good shape during slower months. One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is by encouraging clients to prebook their next appointment. Sell them on the benefits of helping them stay organized and allowing them to pick times that suit them best rather than scrambling for an appointment last minute. For you, the obvious benefit is filling up that schedule, because securing future potential revenue can be reassuring when things are slower than usual.

Offer Incentives

This can be done in conjunction with prebooking (offering a percentage off for any prebooked service, for example) or can be fixed to certain times of the year. In order to get more people in the door during historically slow days or weeks in your salon, you may want to offer discounts that kick in on certain days or over specific weeks to encourage people to come in during those times. Communication is key with this approach and you’ll want to spread the word near and far – email blasts, SMS campaigns, and social media posts should all be part of your arsenal for this plan of attack.

Increase Your Average Ticket

As you’re looking back at reports from the same time last year, take note of your average ticket and start thinking about how you can increase those numbers so you can still make the same income even with fewer appointments. To hike up your average ticket numbers, start to consider profitable add-ons and extra treatments you can offer each client, or how you can encourage the sale of more premium products or maintenance kits they can take home.

Embrace Seasonality

Get creative with what you can offer during the post-holiday season and position services as much-needed “me time” for clients after an abundance of family events and holiday parties. With New Year’s resolutions fresh on most people’s minds, take the opportunity to advertise services that promote wellness, self-care, or a fresh start. Or if you’re in a cold-weather region, think about what you can offer to combat the ailments of the season (think hydro-facials for dry skin, moisturizing hair treatments to combat dry winter air, spray tans that mimic that summer glow, hot stone massage to escape the cold, etc.).

Make Room for Self-Care

If things are looking good in the finance department and you’re feeling good about where your business is heading over the next month, then this is the perfect season to plan for a much-earned break. Adjust to winter hours by working shorter weeks or shorter days to buy yourself some more downtime. Of course, be sure to manage your calendar and inform your clients of the changes using your favorite scheduling tool and custom website. Then take this time to warm up on a beach or unwind on the slopes at a ski resort to treat yourself before clients start pouring in for their spring and summer services – and remember, you deserve it!

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