Phorest FM Episode 110: Katie Lowndes On The ABC’s Of Hosting A Successful Salon Retail Event

When it comes to hosting a salon retail demo we picture incredibly well-displayed merchandise accompanied by free wine, canapés, live music and a big budget; a very, very big budget. Yes, retail events are a fantastic way of showcasing your salons inventory and for your team to demonstrate their expertise when it comes to products used in treatments. However, a no expenses spared approach isn't always the best way to go about rocking a successful retail demo. In fact, it could do more damage than you think. In this episode, Katie Lowndes, founder of Beauty Sale Mate and Katie’s Beauty Kitchen, will take you through the pros and cons of hosting a retail demo and more importantly, how it can be done on a shoestring budget.


Katie Lowndes

Katie founded Beauty Mill, her Spa consulting business, in January 2011 and then BEAUTY SALE MATE in February 2017. BEAUTY SALE MATE is an online training platform for Spas, Salons and Clinics that offers quick, effective and affordable training. The inaugural course, ‘Consultations and Recommendations’, is the most requested training she has seen over the years.

Katie has been in the industry for over 17 years, she has an HND in Beauty and Related Sciences and is a qualified Teacher, DISC Trainer and Wellness Coach. Her roles have included Training, Business Development, General Management, TV Guest Presenter, Marketing and Sales and she was also Board Director and Chair of the Australasian Spa Association 2012 – 2015. Katie was born in the UK and grew up in Newcastle, which is where her career and studies began. After a number of years working with Steiner and ELEMIS on the Cruise Ships and in London, she relocated to Australia in 2011 and took the opportunity to create Beauty Mill. Key clients have included ELEMIS, Soul Scented, Miss Fox, International Interior Images, Subtle Energies, Rachael White and finally Spa Q at QT Hotels. Katie specialises in Sales & Business Development Training and works with; Business Owners, Sales Executives, Spa/Salon Managers, Beauty Therapists and Aestheticians.


Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 110. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. This week marks the start of our #30Days2Grow month. For the occasion, we’re joined by Katie Lowndes, founder of Beauty Sale Mate and Katie’s Beauty Kitchen, to discuss what it takes to host a successful retail demo in your salon or spa.

Killian Vigna: So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning, Zoe.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian.

Killian Vigna: Well, we said good morning, but it’s actually my late evening kind of, this time.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s my evening, and then, Katie’s morning. Yeah, yeah. Three timezones today.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, so we’re actually in all three areas of the world. This is kind of like when we did Phorest FM live, actually. We had someone from Australia, someone from the US, or Canada, and then someone in Ireland, so it’s kind of the similar setup again.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Similar setup. The only difference is that we were all in Dublin at the time.

Killian Vigna: We were all in Dublin, yeah. So anyway, the focus of this episode. I can’t believe it. We’re here already. For the third consecutive year, we’re hosting #30Days2Grow. It’s gone from strength to strength. I think this year, we have 1700 members in our Facebook networking group?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: The numbers keep growing day on day. But I’m excited to see how it goes for everyone taking part this year. Every year we get a lot of engagement, a lot of feedback from it.

And before we jump into this week’s interview, I suppose, let’s set a bit of context because one of the topics that we focus on a lot in #30Days2Grow is around retail – whether it be actual sales, or visual merchandising, or education.
And I suppose a few years ago, we did write a retail e-book. We were saying that financially speaking, setting targets for your staff is a great way to motivate your team while also growing your business , and if your staff is well-educated, and they believe that the retail products that your business holds… They believe in them, I suppose, they’ll naturally show a professional concern for your clients that goes beyond the salon experience.

And from a customer’s perspective, the results coming from those said products are then automatically associated with the experience that they’ve had in the salon.

Now last year, we kicked April’s podcasting content calendar with retail. But more specifically, visual merchandising. This year, we’re keeping at it with the retail, except we’re going through the ABCs of hosting a successful retail demo. You might already make your clients feel and look like a million bucks, but by listening to and understanding their needs, you can extend their experience with products that can make an actual difference in their daily routine.

And one of the best ways to introduce many clients to retain all at once is by hosting a retail demo.

Introducing Katie Lowndes [02:53]

Killian Vigna: So without further ado, today on the show we’re joined by Katie Lowndes, founder of Beauty Sale Mate, Katie’s Beauty Kitchen, and regional business director for Elemis ANZ. Welcome to the show Katie, and thanks a million for taking the time!

Katie Lowndes: Thank you very much for having me! It’s been a long time in the making, and it’s good to be here.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, absolutely. We were speaking… I think it was what, probably late last year, the first time? Yeah.

Katie Lowndes: I think so, yes. A mutual contact introduced us, which is how the business works at times, which is really nice.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Definitely!

Killian Vigna: Yeah, I remember going back to those emails more recently since this episode was coming into development, and it was Susan Routledge that introduced you, and she actually gave you quite a spiel. I’m looking at this going, “Is there anything you didn’t do?”
She mentioned you were a trainer, you headed up the UK sales team in Elemis, you’re a clinic marketing manager, and now you’re a consultant who does more training stuff.

Katie Lowndes: Yes, yeah. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I originally met Susan… I actually worked for as a beauty therapist, and she was the first person who really taught me about good customer care, and retail, and getting the customer journey right, so it’s really interesting that where I am today, she was a bit part of that.

Since then, I worked on cruise ships as a therapist and ended up taking quite a lot of my career through Steiner and Elemis. Obviously, I’m still working with Elemis today. I do it a few days a week with them, which is excellent, because I love the brand, and love staying connected with them.

There have been times where I’ve dipped out of that, because I wanted to expand my knowledge, and look at the business from a different perspective. So I had an opportunity to work with a group of clinics in London, and that was fantastic because looking at sales and the retail journey from a clinic perspective was quite different from a spa perspective.

And also, slightly different from a salon perspective, so even though you might think it’s exactly the same, there are elements that were slightly different, so it was quite interesting to look at it from that point of view. But yes, it gave me an opportunity to work with marketing, as well, within the clinics, and that’s when I started to understand great events, and how to host a great event, whether that’s about a treatment, or a product, or just the business as a whole.

I suppose collecting these little nuggets along the way has brought me to where I am today, which is bringing all of that information and trying to help people with their sales, and understanding client behaviour and things like that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Is running events, like retail demos, or you were mentioning treatments as well, is that something that you personally really enjoy? Is that something that you would’ve done in the past quite a bit?

Katie Lowndes: I love them! It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, let’s be honest.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, that’s why I’m asking.

Katie Lowndes: I personally love it, because I’m quite happy talking, and speaking, and getting up there and engaging with clients. I like hosting dinner parties, for example. So for me, it was great because I could bring all these people together, they’d have some drinks and canapes, then they’d learn all about what we do.

So for me it was amazing, and I enjoyed it, but for some people that just puts the fear into them, because A, they don’t know what to do, “How do we do that? How do you run an event? How do you get people there?”

And also, they’re thinking, “I can’t stand up and talk to these people.” Even though they see the clients regularly and know them, and have probably seen parts of these clients that no one else has seen, but then they’re frightened to stand up and speak, which is an element of running an event.

Killian Vigna: I suppose it’s all about looking at it as if it’s a party, because like you were saying, you’re having all these people over, it’s very interactive. It’s less of standing up on stage doing a presentation, which we all know is incredibly daunting, and making it as interactive as possible, so on that note, for someone that might find this overwhelming or even someone that’s never actually hosted anything like this before, where do I start? What’s my starting point here?

Hosting a salon retail event: where to start [07:27]

Katie Lowndes: The starting point is to figure out what you want from the event. There are a few different reasons for events or product demos, as you were calling it. You could be having an event because you’re launching a new product; that’s the first one. You could be doing an event because maybe your sales are down, or you’re launching a new treatment, or perhaps it’s Christmas, and you’ve got some Christmas gift sets that you want to talk about.

So it’s identifying, “Why am I having an event, and what do I want from the event? Do I want treatment bookings, do I want to sell products on the night, do I want to have new clients come on board?”

The first step is figuring out, “What do I want from my event?” The second thing is, “Whom do I want to be there?” There was one event I went to, and the person had just bought a salon, so they were re-launching to everybody, so they invited everybody they possibly knew down to the salon for this event, and it was packed. From wall to wall, just people.

I was there from a product house perspective to do my bit. Do you know what? I spent the whole night behind the reception desk as a bartender. Literally just popping bottles of champagne, because there were that many people, and it was so chaotic, everyone was just drinking.

That, to me, was not a successful event at all. That was just a party.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, it is just a party, yeah.

Katie Lowndes: In essence. That was fine for her because she was excited because she bought a business, so in that sense, it was a success, but did she get bookings on the night? No. Did she sell anything on the night? No. So that was kind of it, and she spent an absolute fortune, probably, on booze.

So it’s kind of like a free-for-all party. You don’t want to go that extreme; you want to think, “Hang on a second, let’s rein this back in. There’s a reason why we’re doing this, and let’s not get too carried away.”

Killian Vigna: So now I’m absolutely retracting my statement of think of it like a party because that does not sound like a good idea.

Katie Lowndes: There is an element of that, because you want people to feel relaxed, and actually, if they have a couple of drinks, it’s nice because they feel relaxed, they have a chat with their friends, they feel a bit more social, because if they turn up on their own, it’s a bit uncomfortable, so I’m always like, as soon as someone walks in, just give them a drink, because otherwise, they’re twiddling, thinking, “I don’t know what to do with myself.”

So it’s a nice element, it’s just don’t go crazy, basically.

The frequency at which you should host salon events [10:21]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I suppose if you’re thinking, “It’s time, I think, for me to run or host a retail demo.” How do you go about that specifically? Do you get involvement from sales reps? Do you do it all on your own? What are the first steps, I suppose, to going about putting that sort of event together?

Katie Lowndes: If you’re showcasing, say, a new product. Say it’s brand new, you’re launching. Or you’ve got a product range, and they’re bringing out something new, and you want to talk about it. You definitely have to get the buy-in with the product company, because they want to have more sales at the end of the day, so they should be supporting you with your event.

Definitely, definitely have them on board. Their role is to be there as the expert. It’s their role to support you with gift bags, for example. They may even give you some free professional, if you were doing little mini product demos on the night, so say for example you were talking about a new body product, then you might have a couple of your therapists doing mini hand massages, demoing what that product might be.

And the product house may donate some professional for you to do that, because it’s in their best interests for you to market and talk about their product, and the beauty of that is if you’re not very good at speaking, or don’t feel comfortable about talking, you’ve got that product representative there, who should be very comfortable in standing up and doing a quick 10 minutes, “This is what we’re doing tonight,” basically.

And when I say quick, I’m saying that because if you’ve got a room of people, you need to keep their attention, and you need to give them the hard facts. They don’t need to know every single thing about everything, they just need to know what it is, what’s it going to do for them, why is it different, what’s happening tonight? Is there are raffle? Is there a free treatment? If you book tonight you get a discount, or whatever it is, you want to get that out there into the open before you lose their attention.

Because they might be with friends, they’re chatting, so it’s really important to use your product rep as much as possible, and figure out what’s the plan of the night.

Killian Vigna: So you’re saying to definitely get the reps on board. From your expertise, how receptive and how supportive are they when you ask them? Does it take a bit of pushing and pulling to get them there, or are they genuinely supportive of these events?

Katie Lowndes: In my experience, to put it this way, when I’m looking after accounts, I’m beating their door down to host an event. I’m like, “Can we have an event? Can we have an event? Please, please, please?” Because I know if I go and run an event, I’ll get $3-6000 in sales on that night.

So for me it’s great, for them it’s great, because they get their clients on a product regime, and the clients will come back. They should be very receptive and very happy to help.

Killian Vigna: So you’re saying you could make up to $6000 a night? What’s to stop me being greedy and going, “I want to host one of these every few days.”

Is there a fine line on how often I should be hosting these demos, because you tell me I’m going to make that much money, I’m going to do one as much as I can.

Katie Lowndes: Yeah. Well, I definitely wouldn’t be doing them every few days. I think it takes a lot of work, and it takes momentum, and it takes the excitement. You don’t want to see… I don’t know, how do I phrase this? So say I had a dinner party with my friends, and we have an amazing time.

Doesn’t mean I want to go and have a dinner party with them every week, because they’ll stop coming, and it won’t be new, and it won’t be exciting, and they’ll be sick of my cooking.

It’s the same with an event. You want it so that it’s something different, it’s something new, it’s something to break up people’s time. In reality if you’re doing an event every, say, three to four months, that way you’re focusing on, say, it could be a Mother’s Day event, could be a Christmas – you always want to do a Christmas event. Whatever you do, you have to have a Christmas event. That’s the one event a year that you should be doing, and that should be in November, as soon as you can, because for them, they can tick off a list of stocking fillers or gifts, whatever it might be. It’s just a perfect time to run an event. I would do it in maybe Mother’s Day, or times of the year when maybe you feel like you need a bit of an injection, or you have something new to talk about.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: All right, and in terms of… you mentioned the time of the year. Is there a better time in the week-

Katie Lowndes: Yes.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: To run, or in the month, even, to run these kinds of events? Because I suppose if you’re coming, say if you’re towards the end of the month, and you’re trying to get that last spike of sales in, or even in the week for clients to come in, have you seen in your experience, a specific window of opportunity?

Katie Lowndes: Yeah, because you have to think about yourself, and when you want to do certain things. For example, on a Friday night, do I want to go to my local spa or salon for an event, or do I want to go out and have drinks with my work colleagues, and have fun? Probably the latter.

So you have to think about what people do in their day-to-day life. At the end of a week, you kind of want to go home and relax, and at the weekend, that’s your family time. Doing your hobbies, for example. So to me, you should always do it on a weeknight, and I think something like a Wednesday or Thursday is nice, because it’s getting towards the end of the week, it’s a time when people think, “It would be nice to go and do something a little bit different.”

And I would do it so that it’s straight from work, so that they can almost come along on their way home, have a drink, find out something new, and then go home at a time when it’s still reasonable, so they have an hour or two at home before they go to bed. To me, that’s perfect because you’re capturing them at a time when, yes, it’s on their way home, but it’s not interfering with their day, and it’s also not interfering with their weekend.

Killian Vigna: So would salons be expected to stay open later than usual then, to host these events, if you’re saying after work, before bedtime, whatever time that is. So then are there going to be additional expenses or costs, because now you’re asking your team to stay a bit later, what’s the buy-in like there?

Katie Lowndes: To be honest, on a Wednesday or Thursday, most salons actually open late, until 8:00 anyway, so in reality, it’s probably the same hours in most cases. There may be the odd one, but it’s really on a case-by-case basis.
You might say, “Okay, you can come in from 5:00 or from 5:30,” and you just may run the event until 8:00 pm, and that be it, and that’s fine. That’s a great event, in my opinion. So I think for the staff, in my experience they’re completely fine with that, because they’re already working until 8:00 anyway, and if they’re not, it’s a one-off, they’ll probably get their time back in lieu on another day, or on the night they’ll probably get commission on sales anyway, I would hope, with their retail, so for them it’s a fun night for them.

Killian Vigna: So you just kind of shift them to focus on taking a few bookings that night to retail demos? Like you said, you’re probably going to be open that time anyway; you’re not having to stay much later if you’re shifting the salon focus for those few hours.

Katie Lowndes: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Even though it’s a couple of hours of treatments, the amount of bookings, and voucher sales, and retail sales that you get from the night will completely outweigh the fact that you’ve not done treatments for two hours.

The costs of running a salon event [18:39]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Speaking of that, in terms of costs, what is involved in running a retail demo? If you’re getting the product line on board, I suppose that they will cover a certain part of the costs. What’s the breakdown for that?

Katie Lowndes: I would say the product house would do the goodie bags, so that’s that cost over to them. I’d normally ask for a raffle prize from them as well, so like a gift set or three or four full-sized products in a bag so that they would donate that. Then you’ve got… the only cost really, is how you market it.
You may put up an event flier, have something in the salon or spa for a while to hand out, to say come along to our event. You could do some Facebook posts, and social… basically telling everyone about it, and then the main cost is really the food and drinks.

With that, I would always say to think, “Okay, let’s have two drinks per person,” so if you start getting into three or four that’s when they’re drunk, and not even thinking about what you’re talking about, so two drinks per person, and then obviously when you’re bulk buying some sparkling drink for example or having a soft drink or two, it’s actually not that expensive.

And then canapes, you’d probably just have a few canapes, but you don’t want to go overboard. I think you can go too extreme. It can be very simple, cheese and crackers, and little easy things to snack on, and that would be your main cost. So I think you could budget per person. You might do about £6 maybe, per person, in reality, once you’ve broken it all down per guest, that would cover it, I’d say, or maybe less.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I was expecting way more than that.

Katie Lowndes: I’ve just calculated that in my head. It depends on how many people you have, as well. That’s a good question actually, how many people do you want at an event? That’s the other thing.

Killian Vigna: Or how big is your salon?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, how big is your salon? How much can you actually have?

Katie Lowndes: I prefer events where there are ten people who are focused and can listen and engage rather than having 50 people.

Killian Vigna: Yeah.

Katie Lowndes: It’s a funny one because if you go too many, that’s when you get that atmosphere I was telling you about, where it’s just chaos, and everyone’s drinking and chatting, and running around, and trying to gather everyone’s attention, and things like that, can be a little bit more tricky.

It’s fine in, say, I ran an event at a very large facility; like a huge resort type place, and they had a stage, and they actually had seats, so that was very different. People were sat down, I was on stage presenting, and yes you can get their attention, but then if there are all these people in one room, and they’re all squashed in, everyone’s chatting, it’s really loud, it’s actually quite hard to get the engagement that you want from the event.

It’s trying to figure out your business, and what’s going to work for you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: The balance in there, yeah.

Killian Vigna: For your first few events, might it be a good idea maybe to just focus on your most loyal clients? Inviting them first, or would you go and just blast it out, like a free-for-all, whoever’s available come along?

Katie Lowndes: I’d try and ask everyone because I find that sometimes it’s hard to get people along to events. It depends on the business and who your clients are, but sometimes you’re just so happy that you’ve got people coming. I know that might sound silly, because these clients might be getting free treatments, and some samples, and a drink and whatever, you’d think that people would be like, “Yeah, I’m coming, I’m coming.”

But actually, not everyone feels comfortable going to something like that, especially if they don’t have a friend that they know goes there. So actually, you really just want to get bums on seats and make sure you’ve got people coming, and that’s the key.

Even when they say, “Yeah, I’m coming,” and they put their name down, doesn’t mean they’re going to actually show up. There’s a real sort of plan that you have to put in place, where you’re saying, “Yes, this person’s coming,” then you sort of have to do another follow-up, and then you even have to do another two follow-ups, just to actually make sure, the last one being a few days before, “Can’t wait to see you.”

Even getting their buy-in, where they pay, say, £10 or $20 or whatever it might be, but that’s redeemable on the night, because if they’re paying, then you might actually get them there because they’ve paid a fee.

The worst thing is if you have this event and then no one turns up.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, then you’ve invested money into nothing. It’s funny that you mention that. People might sign up but not turn up. It’s so true. I remember, and I don’t run events normally, but I was organising this event with a friend of mine who works in clothing, and we were looking at the Facebook event registrations, going and interested, and say there were 100 people.

We had to think about, “Right, if it’s 100, let’s assume that only 50 are coming, because realistically not everyone’s going to be there,” and that’s pretty much what happened.

Tips for a better attendance rate [24:18]

Katie Lowndes: Yeah, it is. It’s quite scary when you think about it, but the no-show rate can be really high. If you get three people to turn up, you feel a bit like, oh god. You can still work with that, and it’s fine, you’ll still get a lot from it, but yeah it can be quite soul-destroying, so you have to be really on it, and consistent, and you can’t just expect these things to just pop up out of nowhere.

Killian Vigna: That shouldn’t deter you from doing these events, though. Thinking that, “All right, we’ve planned for 100, 50 might come, and three turn up on the day.” It is trial and error, and especially if this is your first event. Don’t let that be the one that stops you from doing this.

Katie Lowndes: It’s like anything.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, you just have to keep at it, and eventually you’ll build up enough, I suppose, enough interest, because people see these events are ongoing, but they don’t know that you did an event and it failed, they just hear that these events keep going, and they’re going, “Well I want to-“ it’s like that FOMO, nearly.

Even though they don’t know who’s going, they’re still seeing these events happening. You just have to keep pushing that out there.

Katie Lowndes: You have to get photos, you have to get all of that, get the PR bit going, and show action, show there’s excitement in the business, and a consistent message. And as I said, even if you get three that’s okay, because those three people could be really engaged, and they might each spend $200, for example, or £100 each, and they may book a treatment. They may tell a friend. That three people could then be six people next time.

It’s a learning curve, and I suppose it’s like anything. The more you do it, the better you get. I’ve been doing events for a very long time, but if I look back at my first event, I’m sure there were lots of things wrong with that, but it’s only by doing them do you learn that you shouldn’t give people too many drinks, that you have to make sure you speak to everyone at the beginning and tell them what the event’s about.

It’s not just a party, it’s, “Tonight we’re here because of XYZ, and this is the raffle.” There’s a purpose. There’s a time that it starts, there’s a time that it ends, and that’s what it’s about.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: How do you feel about ticketing the event? Often when you even just spend $5 on a ticket to go somewhere, if you’re promised a goody bag or something, you’ll be more tempted to show up, because you’ve invested even just that small bit of money.

Killian Vigna: It’s your investment, yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: How do you feel about that for retail demos?

Katie Lowndes: I think it’s fine, because you don’t really call it a retail demo, it’s more of a launch, or you might say, “It’s winter. Let’s look at how to protect your skin through winter.” That’s the kind of event they’re going to. It’s not necessarily a, “This is a new moisturiser launch.”

So it’s kind of working out how you position it, and I think that ticket element is the same thing as the deposit. So you’re paying an amount of money to make sure that the clients bought into it, and actually turns up, and I think having the redeemable element is probably a good thing, because they might not redeem it, but that kind of covers their costs that we talked about before, of the food and the drinks. That covers that, if they didn’t purchase, so I think that’s a good idea.

Killian Vigna: What these things sometimes remind me of is, remember… This is where you could really utilise your own staff as well, is remember the Tupperware craze that took off in America years ago? It’s bringing your friends; it’s bringing your family, to talk about the products that you all love and use anyway, now it’s just hosting it in one venue that everyone can purchase the stuff they’re using.

Katie Lowndes: Exactly, and say you were going with your mum or with a friend, and people like to be able to do something a little bit different, and most people who are going to a spa or salon, they love to go and have a mini hand treatment, or a mini massage, a mini facial, or a makeup application, or learn something.

You might do a 15-minute talk on anti-ageing. What is that? Why do we need it? Why are we ageing? So they might learn something new. People in general love to go and have that, because you get a bit of food, bit of drink, might get a treatment, learn something new, have some social time with a friend, and it kind of ticks a lot of boxes.

So why wouldn’t you go? Because it’s fun.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, exactly. It sounds like a great idea, and I’d really love to see more people actually hosting these, and I’d love to especially see them put them into our Facebook page as well, the Facebook group.

Katie Lowndes: I think you can get really creative. There’s no limit. I think one of my favourite events I did was… Actually, I did it twice at quite a large facility, so it was more of a spa-type place. We were just trying to get the product… because we were just launching the product there, so we just wanted people to… “This is the product; this is where it’s at; this is how it works.”

And actually, instead of doing a whole big event at this point, I went into… so clients were coming in at night, having some drink and nibbles, and having a look round the facilities, and things like that. I actually went and positioned myself in the area where you have the sauna, the steam and the little pools.
So I was just slap-bang in the middle. So the clients would come out of the changing room, and I was saying, “Okay, before you go and have your sauna,” for example, “How about we do a cleanse on the skin? Let’s put a face peel on, and then you can go and sit in the sauna and do that. Come out and see me afterwards. I’m going to give you the scrub to put on your body.”

And I actually sat and did a ritual with them as if they were at home, or how they would use the product. So in that sense, it was really interactive, and they were actually using the products and feeling, and smelling and seeing the results on their skin, and it was fun.

They were all sitting there with a scrub going everywhere, and everyone’s walking around with these masks on, but they loved it because they were getting that for free, and getting more from their experience of using the facilities.

There are lots of different ways you can interact and work with your clients.

First-time recommendations [31:07]

Killian Vigna: So Katie, to summarise this episode, I’ve decided right, you know what? This is my first time. I’m going to take the jump to do a product launch. What advice do you recommend for first-timers after listening to this episode? Like if we were to break it down into quick steps, what are the most important things to think of here?

Katie Lowndes: First thing is the purpose, and make sure you, on the night, get that purpose out. You panic so much about hosting that you forget what you’re there for, so you have to make sure on the night that you say, “Hi everyone. Thank you for coming. Tonight you’ll get a mini hand massage, and we’re talking about this product, this is why. There’s a raffle; please buy a raffle ticket.”

Get it laid out at the beginning. This is why you’re here, and this is what we’re doing. I’d say invite everybody, talk to all your clients consistently. I would be doing reminders. Even if it’s a phone call just saying, “Just checking you’re still coming on Wednesday night?”

Because they might say, “Yeah, I’m coming.” But they need a reminder, and having that relationship of that contact will keep them bought into coming along. I would say, don’t go crazy. Just keep your first one simple. As I said, having ten people who are really engaged is better than having 50.

I always have a friend or two come along. That’s my tip, right? Because if you have a friend or two coming, it’s good because there’s a bit of an atmosphere already because there’s a couple of people, so I always have a few little cling-ons. It’s a support for you; it’s knowing that there’s going to be someone there.

Even if one client comes, they don’t know that they’re your friends, they just look like other clients. Just a few, I’m not saying to invite everybody, because it’s not a friend party, but yeah. That’s a definite bit of advice.

Killian Vigna: It’s like planting the seed, where if you’re doing a stand-up show, you bring a friend along, and they laugh louder than everyone, so your friends are going to buy all of your products, and rave about how good the products you’re demonstrating are. This is what we’re doing here.

Katie Lowndes: “I’ll take six, and I’ll book in five treatments. [inaudible], please.” Yeah, plant them in there. And don’t get them drunk; that’s the other one [inaudible 00:33:38].

Killian Vigna: You can always rely on your friends to get drunk [inaudible 00:33:43].

Katie Lowndes: That’s the key thing. Be consistent; make sure you follow up. It has to be in advance, as well. You can’t just go, “I’m going to have an event next week, boom.” These things take planning and use your product rep. They should be supporting you.  They should be giving you free stuff.

They should be asking you to run an event, and they should be telling you how to run it, in my opinion. That’s how I’ve always worked. Ask them. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s very true.

Killian Vigna: That’s the bit I love, yeah. Like you were saying, they should be banging on your door. But also, they’re absorbing a good chunk of the cost.

Katie Lowndes: They are because, at the end of the day, they’ll get more sales from it. If you’re doing £3000 in retail, £1500 of that is their money, so if you think about it, it’s in their interest to have you buying more products, and having your clients bought into the range, because they’ll get a big, juicy order the next day, so they’ll be like, “Yay!”

Killian Vigna: You’ve cleared them out. You need to go back to them now!

Katie Lowndes: Yeah, exactly!

Killian Vigna: Look, Katie, listen. Thanks very much for joining us on the show today. Some really good insights into the ABCs of launching a successful product demo; not just any product demo. And for our audience listening to this episode, if you do want to book in for some consultation with Katie, Katie is a consultant on the Salon Mentorship Hub, so please do avail of that.

You can find her on the Salon Mentorship Hub website, which will be linked in the bio here, and for all your retail queries, you can get onto Katie there.

Katie Lowndes: Thank you for having me.

Inside Phorest: reflections, upcoming events & final words [35:21]

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So that was Katie Lowndes, founder of Beauty Sale Mate, and Katie’s Beauty Kitchen, discussing what it takes to host a successful retail demo, or I suppose, product launch, or event in your salon or spa, and hopefully you guys got quite a bit of tips in this episode.

I think there was a lot of golden nuggets in there, and so this brings us then, to the second part of our show, and Killian, it’s been a long time. You’re actually kicking this one off this time!

Killian Vigna: It feels weird. Usually, I stop talking at this stage!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I know.

Killian Vigna: We’re nearly at the stage of just pre-recording my “all the best” bit.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Almost!

Killian Vigna: But yes, we do. We have our Phorest clients webinar, so this one is talking about the new Phorest feature, Fallback SMS. It takes place with Andrea Kane, Grow Marketing Advisor here at Phorest, and with Rachel McAdam, our online Phorest trainer.

So what is this webinar about? Well, did you know that you could fill three jumbo jets with clients who never receive your email campaigns? So this is the problem that we’re trying to solve. By joining us on this 30-minute webinar, we’ll explore Phorest’s newest feature, the Fallback SMS, why it’s a salon must, and how it works perfectly with our new email editor too.
So you have three sessions. One is actually on Wednesday, so in two more days, so we have April 3rd, April 8th and April 15th, all at 2:00 pm GMT.

By the end of this webinar, you should be able to identify why you aren’t reaching as many clients as you think. You’ll be able to understand how Fallback SMS complements email marketing. Andrea and Rachel will take you through creating an email campaign with our new email editor, and finally, they’ll show you how to execute your next email campaign, and reach more clients with Fallback SMS.

So a lot of people already enrolled in that webinar, and the email only just went out there a few days ago, so jump on board that one, and you’ll see it floating around social media too.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Perfect, and then I suppose the last bit of news before we wrap up the show, is on the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow, because the Summit is taking its wings, and bringing them to Chicago in April. April 15th, specifically, on Monday.

The conference is taking place from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, followed by a drinks and networking reception, that’s taking place at the Dalcy at Alba in Chicago, and some of our announced speakers are Scott Buchanan, Stefanie Jackson, Jay Williams whom we’ve had on the show recently, with Sinead Carrol, Neil Ducoff, Marlo Boyle, Heather Yurko who also spoke at the Salon Owners Summit in January, in Dublin this year, and Ann Bray.

So for any additional information on the Salon Owners Summit Roadshow, it’s the first stop in Chicago, you can head over to the website

That’s all we’ve got for this week, guys. So as always, if you want to share your thoughts on this episode, or have any suggestions, you can send us an email at, or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. We genuinely love feedback and are always looking for ways to improve the show.

Otherwise, have a wonderful week, good look on #30Days2Grow, and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Related links

Book a consultation with Katie Lowndes on The Salon Mentorship Hub

Salon Owners Summit: The Roadshow, April 15, 2019


This episode was edited and mixed by Audio Z: Great music makes great moments. Montreal’s cutting-edge post-production studio for creative minds looking to have their vision professionally produced and mixed. Tune in every Monday for a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars or events you can join.

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