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#009: FAQ - I want to get rid of a product line. What's the best way to do it?

Nov 13, 2019

There will come a time when you will make the big decision to discontinue carrying a line of products and replacing with another.

>>Cutting it out cold turkey is a big mistake if you have a decent, existing following of the range<<

Even if the supplier of the new range offers to buy back your old range! Now I know that it feels like an offer too good to refuse when the range that you are replacing it with, offers to buy back what you have but I want you to really think about this. It’s a bigger decision than you first realise and may cost you more than you bargain for.

Cutting a range off cold turkey might very well lose you some clients that you have worked so hard to attain and that is the last thing you want to risk doing.

The decision to change ranges is a big one and no doubt you made this decision for a good reason. More than likely it’s because you think the new range will provide your clients with a greater result than the range you are currently carrying and if that’s the case, your clients do not know what you know and educating them about this will more than likely be a process.

Of course, you want your clients to move onto the new range as soon as possible but handling how you do this, is critical. You NEVER EVER want to downplay the old range in any way. After all, you thought this range was the bees knees at some point and you don’t want to contradict yourself and come across as inauthentic.

You need to allow for 'transition' to the new range for most clients. This means that you have to have a crossover period of stocking both ranges for a minimum of 3 months (and a maximum of 6 months). Here are some important things to consider and where relevant, follow.

(1) DO NOT TELL CLIENTS THE OLD RANGE IS BEING DISCONTINUED

For the transition period, do not tell clients the old range is being discontinued but rather tell them that the new range is an addition. 

“Mary, at Skintastic, we’re always researching to provide our clients with what we believe is the best at any given time.  [Name of new range] is a superb range we’re adding to our arsenal because [strong reason ie. the results we’ve seen are phenomenal or this range has a strong emphasis on anti-ageing or has a unique delivering system]”

The reason you don’t want to disclose that you’ll eventually stop stocking the old range is because some clients may think that the only reason you want them to try the new range is because you’re no longer stocking the old one and they may choose to look for another salon who stocks their preferred brand to moving to the new range you’re offering. Remember they don’t know what you know, so asking them to try the new range because you think they’ll receive better/bigger/faster results whilst still stocking the old one will be a lot more believable and easier.

(2) WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A CLIENT TO STOCK UP ON PRODUCTS

When a client runs out of a particular product, every therapist should take this opportunity to transition the client to the new range. One product at a time.

“Mary, I now want you to replace your Vitamin A serum with the [new range] Vitamin A serum. As much as the [old range] has been great for you, this Vitamin A, has [find a point of difference that will appeal to the client ie. a unique delivery system that will work faster and more consistently in the skin”]. I’m confident that you’re going to fall in love with [new range]. I’ve been using it now for 2 months and love the level it has elevated my skin to.”

(3) ORDERING PROTOCOL FOR THE OLD RANGE

Keep regular stock levels of the most popular products in the old range and as the cut-off time approaches, gradually reduce stock levels. Aim to have minimal stock left at the end of the transition period and either give away what’s left or try to sell to another salon who stocks this range. DO NOT sell it in your salon at a discounted price. That is counterproductive. You want your clients on the new range as soon as possible at full price. Selling it cheaply to existing clients is simply extending the time it takes to transition and less profit.

(4) NEW CLIENTS

To the team, MAKE IT VERY CLEAR that NO new client should under any circumstances be put on the old range. There is no point in starting someone on the old range and then transitioning. Put them immediately onto the new range.

(5) WHEN THE TRANSITION TIME IS UP

How long the transition period is, will largely depend on how regular your clients visit the salon. Ideally, they should be visiting a minimum of once a month. Also, on average a product will last around three months so generally speaking 3 months is long enough for the transition, but you may decide to make it longer. Whatever you do, if you’ve followed the tips above, then by the time the transition period is up, most clients or at least your very good clients, would have transitioned with most of their products so it won’t be a problem to say something like…

“Yes Mary, we’ve received such amazing results and feedback from our clients that we made the decision to no longer stock [old range].”

If it’s a problem to some, then at this point (after transitioning most), losing this client is a better option to keeping stocks of a range you no longer want to keep.

(6) CREATE TOOLS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM

Plan the introduction of the new range by creating as many tools as possible to help clients with the transition such as before and afters (create a photobook or have laminated sheets of B+Fs in every treatment room).

Write a blog highlighting the new range and perhaps why it was important for you to introduce this range into your salon.

Collect articles and stories about this range so you can either link or attach in emails, social media posts and therapists in their follow ups with clients.

As I said, deciding to change ranges is a big decision. Doing it smartly and strategically is also a big decision.

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