Top 10 Special Offer Ideas That DON’T Involve Discounts

Top Ten Special Offers without Discounts

Let’s face it, competition is fierce in the hair, health and beauty industry. Walk down pretty much any high street and there will probably be 3 or more beauty or hair salons within just a few minutes walk.

For this reason many salon owners have found themselves in a world of special offers to entice customers to their business. Many of these offers involve discounts to bring the customer in. It has become the norm, but why?

Presumably at some point you decided on your prices, calculated them based on cost to deliver, compared them against local competition, decided they were fair and created your price list. So why throw all that out the window and provide your services for less than you originally calculated as be fair? Now those prices are unfair . . . to YOU!

One reason that discounts are so attractive to a salon owner as well as a customer is that they are simple. They are easy to understand, easy to manage and easy to apply. But they cost you REAL money! You are getting paid less for delivering the same thing.

What if there were a way to give your customers a special offer that didn’t directly involve a discount? Even better, what if there was a way to create a special offer that actually meant your customers spent MORE money with you!

Here are 10 Special Offer Ideas that should make your more money, but still give your customers a better deal!



1. Add value rather than reducing the price price – the power of the mini treatment!

We all like to get a little more than we expected. In fact research indicates time and time again that we are far more motivated by experiential rewards than by a simple monetary saving. So rather than simply charging your clients less, why not give them more!

A small bonus treatment or an upgrade are perceived as luxury experiences and valued far more highly in the mind of a customer than a discount. The idea of course is that you offer the add on Treatment or upgrade for nothing this time, this makes the client feel truly valued and the next time they come to you they will book the upgrade or add on themselves and pay full price for it.

A real life example . .
I went to my normal hair salon about a year ago and just as I sat down my stylist asked me if I would like a complimentary 10 minute head massage halfway though my appointment. I said yes obviously, who wouldn’t! Now whenever I go back, if there is availability, they always ask me if I would like a 10, 15 or 20 minute head massage. I know it is going to cost me a little bit more . . . but I always say yes (and usually to the 20 minute one).


2. Pre-Planned ReferralsPersonalised Referral Card

“The best form of flattery is a referral”

The above quote is absolutely true and while there is nothing nicer than receiving an completely unsolicited referral, there is nothing wrong with helping your clients out by giving them a little nudge to recommend you to one of their friends or family. Remember that these types new clients often turn in to the most loyal repeat clients you could have.

Why not create yourself some referral cards like Eve Salon & Beauty Bar have above. These are business card sized cards that you can personalise and give to your clients to give to their friends and family. You can leave a space for your client to write in their friends name so it really is a personalised referral and feels truly special – almost like a gift.

If you really want to turn this up a notch, then combine the referral card with an offer such as that in Point 1 above for an upgrade or add on at not cost for the referrer and referee and watch your referrals go through the roof!


3. Do what the supermarkets do: 3 for 2 Offers

3 for 2 offers are everywhere! Supermarkets rely on them to boost revenue and you can hardly move in health and beauty retailers Boots and Superdrug for them, so why not embrace the 3 for 2 deal.

Is it a discount? Well technically yes, but the point is that your client is having to spend more to get the discount. If you simply offer a discount on one treatment or one product then the client may have purchased that treatment or product anyway and they are simply getting it for less. This way they are having to spend twice as much or more to get the offer.

Tip: If your offer allows you to buy 3 different treatments or products, make sure it is clear that the “free” item will be the lowest priced item to protect your margins.


4. Sunday, Monday . . . Happy Days!

Ever wondered where the idea of Happy Hour came from? It is generally the quieter time for restaurants and bars, the time where people leave work to head home. However, clever bar owners put on offers to entice people in to their establishment for a few drinks on their way home in the hope that they will stay on for a few more drinks and maybe some food once the first one or two cheap drinks have kicked in!

Chances are that like most salons you have a day of the week where you are quieter than other days. So why not make this your Happy Day? Now I am not suggesting you give out free alcohol, then again this might work, but you could turn this in to your most popular day by creating a buzz using your social media accounts.


Whatever day (or half day) you chose, spread the word that if you book on that day you will get a special gift. This might be an upgrade, a take home pack of products (which might just be a pre-packed jar of samples) or indeed a free glass of bubbly (check your local licensing laws).

Whatever you decide, make sure people know that simply for booking on that particular day they are going to be getting that little something extra.

Tip: For ideas of treat jars check out Pinterest here: Treatments in a Jar


5. Package Makes Perfect!

Get your customers to spend a little more, but get a lot more for their money. I work closely with a number of Day Spas and its always impressive to see just what proportion of their revenue comes from Day Packages.

In a Day Spa these packages are essentially add value to a treatment offering by including use of facilities (pool, sauna, steam room), access to a thermal area or possibly a meal in their cafe or restaurant?

Salons can do the same thing too. Depending on your facilities you might not be able to offer access to a thermal area or a meal, but why not create a package of treatments or services, add as much value in there as possible and then promote that package in your salon, on your website, Facebook page, twitter etc.

Tip: Make if fun and keep it fresh by offering a package based on a certain celebrity each month. This might include a hair appointment to match that celebs style, a makeover or a spray tan? Maybe also add in a healthy smoothie if the celeb is known for being in to a healthy lifestyle or back to that glass of bubbly if they like a drink!


6. The Loyalty Scheme Part 1 – Buy 10 and Get 1 Free

Building on the idea of getting a customer to spend a little more to get a lot more you could implement a simple card based loyalty scheme. Each time a client has a treatment they get a simple stamp or signature on their ‘Loyalty Card’. If they get 10 stamps (or 5 or 15 or 20) then they can have their next treatment for free.

This offer takes a bit longer for the client to get their bonus, but it is simple and a great way to build client loyalty, keep clients coming back and spending their money with you.


7. The Power of Suggestion

I love this idea . . . the simple power of suggestion can have huge benefits for your business and it is all about how you ask a question.

You probably already ask each client upon paying for their treatment or service whether they would like to book in for their next appointment. Chances are that around 50% of clients say yes. However, instead of just saying ‘would you like to book in for your next visit?’ or something similar, try saying ‘can I book you in for your next aromatherapy facial in 2 weeks time on the 20th at 3pm?’ That simple change in language creates an image in your clients mind of them having that treatment and immediately they start to feel all the associated positive feelings that go along with it. That image in their mind is much harder to say ‘no’ to than a vague idea of booking another appointment at some unspecified point in the future.

Let’s call this idea of planting a particular idea in to your customers mind ‘specificity’ i.e. being specific about what they are booking rather than just keeping it vague.

So don’t offer a discount to get your client to book in again . . . just apply a bit of specificity to your questions and watch your rebooking go through the roof!


8. Treatment Bingo

Similar to the simple loyalty scheme card from Point 7, but with a bit of a twist. Rather than letting your client choose whatever treatment they want and giving them a stamp for every treatment, the treatment bingo card has a predefined list of treatments on it that your client need to complete to get their reward.

Now . . you are going to be asking your clients to have treatments they may not necessarily have chosen for themselves here so the reward might have to be a bit more special. But not only will this get your clients spending more, but it will also mean that they try out treatments that they may never have had before or may normally have somewhere else. They may just find their new favourite treatment or their new favourite therapist and keep coming back for more and more.


9. The Loyalty Scheme B – The Power of Points

Perception! That is what we are dealing with in most of the ideas here, but none so more than when it comes to points based loyalty schemes.

What am I talking about?

You are probably already a member of at least one points based loyalty scheme of some type. Most supermarkets have them with Nectar probably being the best known in the UK. Boots Advantage Points are also another common scheme here in the UK. In the US big chains such as Smith’s, Kroger and Safeway use points based loyalty schemes and of course everyone has heard of AirMiles.

The basic premise here is that you earn points for money you spend on items you buy. Those points can then be redeemed in some way as a reward in the future. Now this is probably the most involved idea here and might be tricky to manage without some sort of software solution in place . . . but most specialised salon or spa systems can cope with this this days.

Going back to the idea of perception, the perceived value of points can be extremely powerful. Here is an example:-

I was in a supermarket and I spotted a “Special Offer” sign over the bananas “Today Only – Bonus 200 Points per Bunch of Bananas”. Now I like bananas as much as the next person, perhaps not as much as my toddler who thinks she’s a monkey, but I wanted those points . . . 200 points just for buying some bananas . . . awesome! I bought 3 bunches!!

Now those 200 points were actually worth approximately 40p (about 60 cents) at some point in the future, but did I see that? No! I just saw lots of points. Would I have bought 3 bunches of bananas if the sign simply said “Special Offer – 40p Off Bananas Today?” Probably not.

So, have a high points value for all your treatments and retail products and if you want to promote a particular product or service or treatment, boost the points value earned for purchasing that treatment rather than offering a discount. This brings about 2 benefits:-

(1) The perceived value of the points is far higher than a small discount might be

(2) It costs you absolutely nothing right now; the customer must buy more things to earn more points to receive their reward.

Bonus: Only around 40% of clients ever actually redeem points they accumulate in a loyalty scheme. While this shouldn’t be your goal, it is important to remember that by using a points based loyalty scheme like this, for 3 out of every 5 customers you have, it may ultimately never cost you a penny.


10. The Take Home Gift

Hopefully all your customers enjoy their time in your salon whether it be time with a stylist, massage therapist or nail technician. The problem is that it is over all too soon!

Why not allow your clients to continue their salon visit at home with a take home gift. This could be a luxurious home conditioning product, some relaxing bath products, body creme or nail colour. Give your clients a free gift and when they use that product at home they will be reminded of their salon visit and that little reminder in their head will go off . . . I must book my next appointment at my favourite salon.

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Main Image by: Martina TR