Has Your Salon Become An Ugly Duckling?

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by Pam Stellema

in Business Development, Customer Management

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Has your salon gone from being a beautiful swan to an ugly duckling without you even noticing?

It can and does happen when salon owners stop seeing their salons through the eyes of their clients.

Being a business owner means that life is often hectic and trying to fit 12 hours of work into an 8 hour day becomes the norm.  This is when little things begin to get overlooked and before you know it, your salon has lost it sparkle and client appeal.

You will know the saying “you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression” and it’s absolutely true, especially if you are in the business of improving the appearance of others.  A good first impression is a vital part of getting new clients into your salon and first-time clients to return.

As well as expecting great customer service and amazing treatments, clients also expect a beautifully clean and well-presented salon and will judge your professionalism by your salon’s overall appearance;  and they won’t be lenient.

They really don’t care why your salon does not look it’s best, they will simply assume that a poorly presented salon will offer a lower standard of treatments. This, in turn, will heavily influence whether or not they decide to return to you in the future or move on to somewhere more aesthetically pleasing; and if they do return, they will expect to get their treatments at a rock bottom price.

You cannot obtain a high price point in your salon with a low standard of appearance.

The good news is that almost all of the things that might be costing you clients are very easy to fix, and simply require you to put on your customer’s hat, step outside your salon and view it with fresh eyes.

The big turn-offs that are costing you clients are…

Salon Exterior

  1. Rubbish and litter lying on the ground right outside the front doors of your salon is extremely unappealing to clients.  Remove any litter outside your salon first thing every morning before your first clients arrive, and while you are at it, top up your service menu holders and wipe down any outside furniture you have as well.
  1. If your salon is located outside a shopping centre or on a street front, it is more than likely that you are going to suffer from dirty window ledges that have been exposed to car exhaust grime and general dirt.  This is definitely a turn-off and not the way to say welcome to your clients.  The outside of your salon needs to sparkle as much as the inside as this sets the standard for the rest of the salon.
  1. Smudged and dirty front windows are a good sign because it means that people have been looking into your salon while you have been closed.  However, it is not a badge of honour that needs to be left in place all day.  Make sure your front windows and doors are crystal clear and free of those dirty smudges every morning.
  1. Salon towels hanging on a drying rack outside the front door – yes, I still see this happen!  What client wants to see your laundry as they enter your salon?  This is truly tacky, so if your salon is guilty of doing this, consider your alternatives.  You may be making a small saving on your laundry or electricity this way, but it is costing you much more in lost revenue.
  1. Handwritten signage is a definite no-no.  If you are still writing your signage on a piece of paper and using blue tack to stick it into place on your front window (or anywhere else in your salon for that matter) – STOP right now.  It looks unprofessional and cheap; not the image you want to portray.

Salon Reception

  1. Toy boxes right at the front door. Think about this…do you really want to send a message to your clients that it’s OK to bring along small children to your salon?  Not only do small children dampen the pleasure of your other patrons, but they can present a safety risk also.  Encourage your clients to see their time in your salon, as “me” time and to leave their children with friends; and then get rid of that unsettling toy box ASAP.
  2. Front counters littered with other people’s marketing material is a big no-no.  How does this add to your professional appearance?  Every bit of promotional space in your salon should be used to educate clients about your services and retail product. Never allow any other business or charity to use your front desk to promote their product.
  3. Reception chairs need to be kept spotlessly clean and well maintained.  If your cushion covers have seen better days, replace them and give your reception area a small facelift.  Your clients will notice the difference.
  4. Torn and tatty magazines that are well past their prime should be given the heave-ho.  There is nothing wrong with keeping a small array of magazines on hand for your clients to peruse, but make sure you also provide plenty of information about your salon services, product ranges and client testimonials as well. By doing this you are helping to educate your clients about the services your salon offers.
  5. Product displays and tester units must sparkle.  Keep them spotlessly clean and visibly priced to reduce the client’s buying barrier.

Salon Interior

  1. There is just no excuse for dirty floors or walls.  This is one area of your business that you must keep on top of daily. I am always surprised to see a build up of grime on salon floors, especially in corners and behind furniture. Marks on walls should be cleaned off as they happen, and small touch ups are undertaken regularly to keep the salon looking fresh.
  2. Dirty furniture and equipment is a major turnoff to every client.  Wax pots covered in drips looks terrible and is totally unnecessary.  Create a policy in your salon of clean as you go and find ways to reward your staff if they keep their treatment areas beautifully presented.
  3. Last but not least is my pet hate – dirty restrooms.  If you are lucky enough to have restrooms within your salon, they must be kept scrupulously clean and fresh with regular cleaning ( several times daily, not monthly).  If your clients need to use public restrooms within your complex, then you must always make sure that these are kept in top condition also.  Yes, you may have to share them with other businesses, however, it is your clients that have to use them, and this reflects back on you.

Every one of the things on this list can be easily fixed, and all it takes is for you to decide to do something about them.  If you don’t currently have a daily/weekly/monthly set of accomplishment charts in place, then now is the time to create them so that you can keep on top of these small but damaging issues.

Start your charts by making lists of all the jobs that need to be done daily, weekly and monthly (or fortnightly) that will keep your salon sparkling.  Each list should then be prioritised so that the important jobs are done first, and also include a space where each job can be signed off by the staff member who has completed it.

Having a formal system in place to keep your salon looking ship shape will add to the professional appearance of your salon, and this, in turn, will contribute to an increase in your bottom line.

As you walk up to your salon every morning, stop and take a moment to really see your salon through the eyes of others.

See what they see, and feel what they feel.

Don’t let yourself get the faded eyes of a long-term business owner who has stopped seeing their business as existing or prospective clients see it.

Remember, before you can make a new client you first have to get them through your front doors.  Nothing else matters until you get this step right.

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Pam Stellema

Pam is an industry experienced coach, salon owner, speaker, author and copywriter.She works beside salon and spa owners to show them how to effectively grow their profits and remain in business for the long-term.
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