Every year brands celebrate the end-of-season with discounts and offers in a bid to move old stock in favor of the new collection. From shoes, clothes, and makeup to toys, and home decor- almost all product brands run seasonal and holiday offers and campaigns. Although, this festive "season" of sales, giveaways, and discounts does not apply to services. Since there is no "old stock" to clear or push slow moving inventory, the service sector industry is free to choose their time for offers as they wish.
Leveraging this advantage, the service sector can build their offers around seasons that affect their business the most while also ensuring their audience stays engaged. But how do you decide what's the best time to run such campaigns? What can be defined as a season in your service industry? Let's take a look!
Analyze your business
As a service business you're bound to see peaks and troughs arrive in a cycle. Collecting, managing, and analyzing your business's data would help you map this behavior across a certain timeframe. Let's take the example of a general physician's dispensary that sees a regular flow of patients throughout the year. Although, come winter, the physician is bound to see an increase in footfall as people are more likely to catch a flu in the season. This, then, classifies as the service's "peak" season, where the doctor is most likely to receive a high footfall. Similarly, certain times during the year, the business tends to be slow and this pattern repeats itself year after year unless a major external event affects the cycle. This data map ultimately helps plot your service business' seasons throughout the year, quarter, or month depending on the nature of the business.
Choose the right discount strategy
As a service business, your discount offerings need to be set with specific goals in mind. Considering services cannot be quantified, calculating the exact expected revenue and discount percentage for turning profits is a complicated affair. Although, certain elements contribute perfectly to building or choosing the most appropriate discount strategy such as competition pricing, expected demand, resource utilization per service, cost per service rendered, customer expectations, perceived cost of service, etc. If a math coaching center wishes to run an offer during holidays when they see the least turnout, the business must analyze the competition prices, potential demand, tutor availability, overhead costs and employee costs before deciding what would be the best option that covers them all while also attracting clients during the season.
Some seasonal offer examples that you can choose to implement:
Conditional discount: Discounts for first time customers, differentiated discounts for loyal customers, etc.
Tiered discount: Differential discount for VIP customers, new customers, and loyalty program customers.
Flash sale: Short term discount for all customers
Early access: Extended discount period for loyalty program customers
Freebies: Free services on purchase of services
BOGO: Buy one service, get another one at a lower price or free of cost
Early payments: Discounts for bundle service purchases or subscriptions
Price bundling: Reduced prices for selecting a range of services
Equip your business for the discount period
The "offer season" must be marketed to the right audience at the right time and at the right place. Which means the audience must be engaged with at multiple points of contact - whether it's the POS, website, application or even out of home media channels such as billboards, television, and more. Whether you're running a "Flat 50% off" campaign or a "Free head massage with all hair services", your business must gear up for the change in demand.
Invest in tools that help you calculate the offer prices and apply them at checkout for all customers. Ensure customers are aware of the rules and regulations governing the offer and can peruse the same at the service appointment booking landing page itself. Incorporate the discount offering at the appointment payment page itself. Automated appointment scheduling tools, such as Appointo, help customize the landing page and also support integrated payments for service businesses to run such offers smoothly.
All your tools must gather data to help track the success of the promotional offer as well as understand which promotion works better with their audience. Lastly, the business must also ensure resource availability during this period, managing the service providers for the discounted service would be the top priority on your agenda.
Focus on customer retention
Service businesses face the most difficulty in building a new customer base. People tend to avoid trying new service providers as the results are long-lasting, specifically in the cases of services such as salons and spas, auto mechanics, and repair shops. These services, such as hair cuts, car servicing, and gadget repairs handle expensive or personal goods and are difficult to reverse. This makes it difficult for services to engage new customers easily. Although, clients prefer to return to the service provider they're comfortable with and have a high probability of returning.
Since retaining customers have a 60-70% probability of returning to the same brand for purchase, it's easier and cheaper to improve revenue from returning customers during the seasonal offers. Incentivizing repeat customers through special early discounts and custom offers is the best way to leverage your campaign. Track customer appointment data throughout this time on your automated appointment scheduling tool such as Appointo to get a picture of how your customers behave, which further helps build successful discount strategies.
The bottom line
Building and running seasonal offers for service businesses can be extremely rewarding if done correctly. Analyze your audience, build the right discount or offer strategy, gear up for the discount period, and focus on retaining your loyal customers to make the best out of your season's offers!