You have been dreaming, strategizing and planning for years and all of your hard work has finally paid off. You have just opened the trendiest new salon in town and your stylists are booked for weeks! Business is booming, so now you can just sit back, relax and watch the money come rolling in, right? WRONG!!! If you want your salon to be successful and profitable, then it is now time to work on what should be one of the most important elements of your business plan – client retention.
More than likely, your salon is attracting some new customers because it is new or because the decor is chic and sophisticated. Other customers were probably drawn to your new business by your creative advertising and marketing techniques. But just getting people in the door is not enough. If you want your first-time customers to become regulars, you need to ask yourself, “What can I do to make sure that my clients keep coming back for more?”
There are many strategies, incentives and tips that salons can use to turn first-time customers into regulars. As a salon owner, you must choose the ones that work for you and that are most feasible for your business. So let’s take a look at five strategies that could help you build a loyal, reliable client base:
Wow them from the moment they walk in.
There is more to today’s salon experience than just leaving with an adequate haircut. To stand out against your competitors, you should put thought into every detail. Try to think like your ideal client. What is your first impression when you step inside the salon doors? What kind of music is playing? How would you describe the decor? Does it reflect the services that are offered? How are the stylists dressed? Did they greet you with a smile? Is the layout functional and inviting, or does it seem too bare or too cluttered? Does it seem clean? Did someone offer you water, or better yet, wine and cheese or fresh baked cookies? Did you have to wait long? If you did wait, was your waiting experience worth it because they gave you a paraffin hand treatment or some other complimentary service? People appreciate a salon that offers them a little special treatment and hospitality.
Impress them with an amazing salon experience.
After the customer has been wowed by the atmosphere, it is time for the main event – the salon treatment. To impress a customer, a hair stylist must go above and beyond a wash, cut and blow dry. The hair stylist should create an experience. The client should never be taken to the sink for a hair wash first thing. Stylists should greet their clients and immediately take them to the chair for a consultation. By doing this, the stylist can examine the client’s hair and ask appropriate questions. Clients want a stylist who is knowledgeable and who listens to their wants and needs. Stylists should also offer extra touches during the salon treatment, such as a glass of champagne or a shoulder massage after the shampoo. An expert stylist communicates effectively with clients during haircuts or coloring and makes sure that clients are pleased with the results. To complete this experience and ensure return business, it is a good idea to hand out comment cards to find out what the clients liked or disliked about their visit and if they were pleased with the services they received.
Offer creative incentives.
The best advertising for a new salon is word of mouth. Many salons utilize this advertising strategy by offering free services to clients who refer their friends and families. The services you offer are up to you. It could be a haircut, or even something less expensive like an eyebrow waxing.
Salons also offer free services to repeat customers by creating loyalty programs. This could be as simple as giving a customer every fifth haircut for free, or offering discounts after a certain number of appointments. Loyalty programs are effortless to create and a guaranteed way to make your customers happy and to entice them to visit your salon again and again.
Hosting events is a great way to create publicity for your business and to make your preferred customers feel as if they are VIP. Many salons host hair shows to provide demonstrations and training and they invite their customers to be the hair models. Other salons host networking events, charity events, or holiday parties. Social media is a great way to get the word out about salon parties, but sending personalized invitations to your regulars is always a nice touch.
Make the most of your front desk staff.
Many salon owners don’t realize the importance of their employees at the front desk, but they are the heartbeat of the salon. They are the first faces that customers see when they walk in and the last faces they see before they leave. They play an important part in the first strategy we talked about – they are the ones responsible for wowing clients with hospitality and charm before they are taken back to the stylist chair. The front desk staff has an important job before the clients leave, too. This is the prime time for them to sell products, get client information and to secure a future appointment. The stylists should communicate to the front desk about products used and the front desk should sell, sell, sell. The front desk should also find out how the client’s experience was and also the best method and time for communication. The staff at the front desk should also do their best to schedule that next appointment. Another important aspect of their job is to keep the lines of communication open with customers. They should contact customers about special deals or incentives that the salon is offering and about events that the salon is hosting. They should also send thank you emails and follow-up phone calls. Hiring effective help at the front desk and utilizing them in every way can be vital in customer retention.
These are only five ideas that are sure to keep your customers coming back for more, but honestly, the possibilities are endless. The key to keeping your customers happy is to think like a customer and to be creative! But whatever you decide to include in your client retention program, be committed to it. It could mean the difference between success and failure for your salon!