Ready, Set, Sell!

It’s time to brush the dust off that stack gift cards or gift certificates sitting under your counter and put them to work to grow your salon or spa! Here are four tips for improving sales of gift cards. By Elizabeth Kraus.


Be sure that you are actively and visibly promoting the fact that you sell gift cards and even tell your clients ‘who’ they should give them to (e.g., teachers, coaches, best friends, mums-in-law, brides, new mothers, etc., specifically, think about who your ‘ideal client types’ would be!)

Set measurable goals for sales of gift cards as if they were any other type of retail product, and get staff on board. Every stylist and assistant should have a goal as well as scripts that provide an opportunity to sell a gift card or gift certificate. This could be as simple as asking about upcoming holidays, whether they will be attending weddings, graduations, whether they have friends who could use a makeover for their birthday, etc.

As you think through the list of ‘who’ your clients should be buying gift cards for, you can also write questions that staff can ask clients behind the chair or at the checkout that reminds the clients your gift cards make great gifts. In addition to scripting, be sure that you provide station talkers and point of sale displays that ask the same questions, and use these questions on your social networks and in email marketing in order to plant the idea before your client ever arrives for an appointment.

Don’t be afraid to give some away. Since roughly three out of four shoppers will usually spend more than the amount on the gift card and they have to actually visit your business to redeem them, consider using gift cards as contest prizes or giving them away in ‘buy one-get one to give away’ client sales, donate them as charity auction items, etc.

The Case for WHY

Most salons offer gift cards or gift certificates for sale, but few make promoting gift card sales a top priority for stylists and staff. We think that’s a mistake! In case you’re not convinced that gift cards are where you should direct your retailing effort, here are four solid reasons to make selling gift cards a salon priority.

Gift cards are the ultimate referral tool; in fact, 41% of new customers said they only visited a business because they had a gift card to shop there. When one of your clients gives their friend, colleague or loved one a gift card to visit your salon or spa, they are giving your business the most powerful endorsement possible, since they are backing their recommendation with money out of their own pocket! When that new client does arrive in order to redeem their gift card, make some part of their experience especially memorable and special. You only get one chance to turn a first-time client into a returning client!

55% of consumers had to make more than one visit to the business to redeem the total amount on the card. Every time you have the opportunity to interact with a client you give yourself another chance to earn their repeat business and referrals.

More than 72% will spend more than the amount on the gift card. Even though clients know that gift cards were purchased with money, when they shop with a gift card, that money is not coming out of their pocket or bank account. This perceptual difference may explain why nearly 3 out of 4 who shop with gift cards spend more than the amount on the card.

One salon I know of even sells gift cards at a buy-one, get-one free ratio to their existing clients for a 3-day period each year. The salon owner explained to me that since his clients don’t feel like they’re spending money when they use the gift cards, they often deplete even a projected year’s worth of gift cards in just a few months. As a result, these clients are actually more profitable to his salon than others, despite the dramatic discount they feel they are enjoying!

Just as in any other retail environment, shelf space is often at a premium in the salon or spa. Compared to personal care products, gift cards and gift certificates take up very little space. In the case of digital gift cards, they take up no space at all! And they produce higher return on investmentment compared to other retail products anyway!

Change the way that you think about gift cards so that you view them as one of the types of retail products your business sells, set goals, and measure progress against those goals on a regular basis; after all, ‘what gets measured, gets done.’

Elizabeth Kraus is the author of the 2014 Salon and Spa Marketing Calendar as well as the newly-released 2015 Marketing Calendar for Independent Beauty Pros: Making the Cut – available on at Get more spa and salon marketing tips on her blog at


Recommended Articles