I’d highly suggest you do a special gift certificate promotion at least once a year. Here is one that I used every December to sell hundreds of gift certificates. I’ve heard of a number of therapists using a similar type of strategy technique with some phenomenal results.
Around holiday time I send each client a number of gift certificates with a covering letter. The letter explains that I am going to make holiday gift shopping extremely easy. For their convenience, I’ve enclosed a number of gift certificates.
To purchase them, all they need to do is call the office for an authorization number that they must print on the certificate.
If you want a surge of new clients into your office, then offer these certificates at a significant discount on the condition that they are given to people that have not seen you before. If you decide to do this I’d suggest your print the terms and conditions right on the gift certificates: “For first time clients only. Limit of one gift certificate per client.”
In exchange for a deeply discounted price, the expiry date is shortened to the end of February. Why? I would explain to clients that as with most businesses, January and February are typically slower months and normally we would need to put money into advertising to fill our appointment books. We would prefer to spend the money we would normally use for advertising on our clients and this is a way for us to do that.
If our clients purchased the certificates on their next visit instead of calling in for an authorization code, we would also give them our deluxe certificates instead of the low quality ones that went out with the letter.
If they wanted to purchase certificates for existing clients or without conditions, we offered them a 10% discount and extended the expiry date.
I first heard of a similar type of promotion being done by a renowned clinic in Los Angeles. At the time, the clinic had a base of 5,000 clients (largely upscale) and reportedly sold 5,000 certificates in the six weeks around Christmas.
Their offer was a little simpler than mine. And that really is preferable. It seems as though you can never make things simple enough.
As a cost savings measure, when you are mailing out large numbers of gift certificates in this kind of promotion, it is best to have some cheaply printed instead of using the more expensive ones. That way you can also custom print your conditions or authorization number space right on the certificate. One year I printed up about 3,000 two-color gift certificates on glossy card stock for about ten cents per piece at my local printer.
My suggestion when doing gift certificate promotions is to sell a smaller time frame (i.e. offer a half hour massage gift instead of an hour) simply because it’s less expensive. There’s much less resistance to spending $30 compared to $60, for example. So you’ll find that you sell more. If your client wants to buy a longer massage, that’s great, but you can always upsell to a larger time frame to the user when it’s redeemed.
Put an upgrade offer right on the certificate. For example, offer to upgrade from 30 minutes to an hour for only $30 more. Print this right on the bottom of the gift certificate: “This massage can be upgraded to a full hour for only $30.”
Consistently we found that 80% of people paid for the upgrade! Why did so many upgrade? From the recipient’s perspective, they were paying only $30 for a $70 massage. What a deal!
So think about what gift certificate promotion you can do as the holidays approach. Christmas season will be your highest gift sale period, so that would be the one to focus on. However, it’s getting down to crunch time, so you may not have time to initiate this type of promotion.
At the very least, take your gift certificates out of your drawer, dust them off, display them on your reception desk and ask clients if they’d like to purchase a massage for anyone for Christmas. It’s super simple and… clients will buy them!
Eric Brown, Grand Massage Poobah
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