For me, it’s a bit of an occupational hazard, but one of my roles at Helios is to help salon operators adapt their marketing strategies and pricing menus to the capabilities of our application … not always an easy task. There are a great many people out there who know more about reaching their market than I can even begin to know; but by the same token, there are limits to the degree of flexibility and expandability an “off-the-shelf” salon management application can accommodate the outlying fringes of the marketing spectrum. If you were to call me and say, “I want to give my customers airline miles every time they purchase a particular line of products,” I may understand the reasoning behind your campaign (your business caters to frequent flyers) but that doesn’t mean that there’s an effective way to accommodate a marketing scheme that is so far outside of the box, nor is it practical or justifiable to program such functionality if it’s only going to suit a limited number of the software’s users.
The alternative is to go the route of custom software development. It’s expensive, time-consuming and if not thoroughly planned out, can lead to misconception on a grand scale. This method lets you dictate exactly what you want, but the cost to develop it is solely your own. Presented as the alternative, most people find that they are better off modifying their marketing strategy so that it is better accommodated by the application’s boundaries than investing large sums of initial and ongoing capital into custom software development.
I share all of this in order to lead up to what I believe is the most common mistake many small business owners make … trying to be all things to all customers. If a prospective customer arrives and expresses their interest in purchasing goods or services in a manner which is not offered, it is certainly not easy for an entrepreneur to turn away a sales opportunity; but by the same token there is likely a reason the desired option is not offered. The specific mistakes I often see are:
Sometimes, it’s simply too difficult for the owner to say “No” and so they end up with a hodgepodge of irrelevant prices, packages and promotions. Then, they turn to the application to try to make sense out of the mess! My response is always to get back to the basics, try to understand what the actual goals of the salon operator are and then create a common-sense strategy that maximizes the functionality of the application and (hopefully) simplifies their life at the same time. I often have to suggest dropping an unpopular package or pricing a package so that it is less attractive in order to encourage customers to buy the packages that are better sellers and also better money-makers. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re in business!
That’s not to say that some of the ideas I receive for application enhancements aren’t worth considering. I field many suggestions and requests for new or enhanced features to the application, and while I’m not the final decision-maker on which ones do or do not get added to the software, I benefit from a deeper understanding of what potential impact it has on the operation of salons and the insight to decide which enhancements will offer the most “bang for the buck” as improvements to the application as a whole. With so many different salons and each one doing things in their own way, even I have to remember that no software can be all things to all customers! So, I am offering the same advice to you that I must remember to heed myself.
is the Business Support Manager for Helios, LLC. He is chiefly responsible for Helios’ media and public communication as well as overseeing any training initiatives. Contact Jeremy at email@example.com.
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