Unless you’re the odd one out, your salon or spa is probably losing clients without even noticing them slip away.
Today, there is a great deal of competition for the same clients, and unfortunately, client loyalty is not what it used to be. This isn’t always because salons were better back in the day, but more likely because there were simply less salons to choose from, and therefore going somewhere else wasn’t always the best option when there was a service hiccup.
People are now more informed and less tolerant of poor quality treatments and customer service, and they’re not shy about telling other people about their experiences via social media and the internet.
This is why it’s essential that you’re on top of your quality control and know how to be (or become) the go-to salon in your area.
In this article, I’ll pose some questions to help you discover how to keep your VIP clients returning to your salon for the long-term.
1. Have you got your welcome right?
Believe it or not, getting new clients is the easy bit. The difficult part is getting them to return.
Statistics show us that in some salons as many as 3 out of 4 new clients visit just once, and never
come back. Now some salons do better than this of course, but the fact is that once a prospective client arrives in your salon, your sole goal should be to get them to come back.
A new client’s first impression of your salon should be the best you can possibly deliver. If you don’t look, smell or feel professional, you’re already off to a bad start.
Clients will make assumptions about their forthcoming treatment based on their first impressions.
Don’t let yourself down before you even have the chance to prove how good you really are.
2. Does your new client leave with a thorough understanding of everything you offer?
In most instances, clients know very little about your salon by the end of their first visit.
It’s your job to make sure your new client knows what you offer, and what makes you the best salon in the area.
And there’s never going to be a better time than at the first visit. Tell them about your services, your programs, and everything else that they’ll benefit from by being a client in your salon.
If you offer a Rewards Program, Referral Rewards, Special Birthday Offers, Monthly Promotions or anything else that makes you stand out from other salons, you need to make certain that your prospective client knows about it as soon as possible.
If you wait for the second visit, it may never happen.
3. Do you provide a financial incentive to return?
On the first visit, many clients leave unsure of whether they’ve found their perfect salon. You need to give these clients a worthwhile reason to return and give you another opportunity to shine.
Ensure your new client receives a voucher from your salon to entice them back. Most people will find a voucher irresistible, unless they were really unhappy with your treatments or service.
Once you get your new client back, the relationship phase is underway, and they’ll start to feel much more at home and comfortable in your salon.
This is then the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
4. Are you rewarding loyalty?
Clients are just like you and me. We all love to be rewarded!
By introducing a Loyalty Rewards Program you can reward your clients for spending their money with you, and they’ll love it.
If you’re computerised, it’s generally as easy as turning on the loyalty program option in your software and deciding how your reward points will be attained and spent. If you’re not yet computerised, the good old card system works just as well.
Just keep in mind that your reward must feel like a true reward. If it’s not meaningful for your clients, they won’t have any reason to return to your salon, instead of trying the one around the corner.
5. Are you being consistent?
Your clients love to know exactly what they are going to receive when they visit your salon or spa. Change is not always your friend; even if it’s sometimes in the client’s favour.
Be consistent in all things that affect your clients, especially in the treatments that they receive. Even a missed cup of coffee on arrival can make a client antsy sometimes.
This also means you must be cautious when providing freebies (discretionary services) to your clients.
While the clients do love getting that something extra on the day for no charge, it can backfire on you when those little extras are not provided at every visit. After all, if the client receives a little extra pampering once, she’s got every right to expect it’s a normal part of the treatment.
Create a protocol for all your services and ensure all team members stay rigidly within that protocol when delivering services. If you want to deliver a little extra pampering, add it to your protocol.
Nothing more and nothing less is then the best policy.
6. What are your re-booking skills like?
How frustrating is it when a good client rings your salon for an appointment and you just don’t have a single spot available for them? Naturally they become frustrated, and you’re left feeling stressed, because you know that there’s a good chance your client might try another salon for an appointment at a time that suits her.
Getting your client’s to re-book is a skill that needs to be perfected so this kind of scenario almost never happens to you. Once a client goes elsewhere, you run the risk of losing them permanently, and that can cost your business thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
Added to that is the massive impact regular appointments have on your profits.
When a 4 weekly client is left to her own devices, she’ll often extend her booking interval out to 6 weeks. What this means for you is over 4 visits less per year from that 1 client.
Do the sums. For most salons it can mean up to a $50,000 loss in revenue.
Can you afford to lose this amount of money each and every year?
Most likely not.
The only way to really make sure this doesn’t happen to you is to take control of the booking process, and ensure every client is offered a re-booking for their next appointment (or several) before they leave your salon.
When you re-book a client, you are actually helping her to get what she wants, when she wants it.
7. How are your communication skills?
Constant quality communication helps to build and maintain the rapport you have with your clients. If you’re not constantly top-of-mind, clients can be lured away quite easily.
Stay in touch with your clients regularly with informative newsletters that have content they want to read. Use SMS marketing to promote your special offers.
Don’t rely solely on Social Media to stay in touch unless you’re willing to use paid advertising. Without it, your message won’t reach many of your followers anymore.
8. Do you have a program for client referrals?
Did you know that if a client refers a friend to your salon, she’s far less likely to leave herself? Because she’s sung your praises to the person she’s referred, she’d feel a bit foolish going elsewhere without a very good reason.
Referrals are gold for your business and not just because they bring in new clients, but because they help to keep the ones you’ve already got.
9. Are you living up to your promises?
Think about it.
Do you promote yourself as a serene salon where clients come to relax and pamper themselves, but you also have a kid’s corner in your waiting area?
If this is the case then you’re not living up to the promises you’ve made in your marketing.
Get clear about what your salon style really is. If you promise total pampering, get rid of the kids corner, and ask clients to have their children looked after while they enjoy their treatments.
If however, you want to be known as family friendly, a kid’s corner is almost a must.
Whatever it is that you’re promising to be to your clients, don’t disappoint them with if you want them to return.
10. Is it time to let go of the silly rules?
Make your salon client friendly and get rid of silly and often offensive rules and signage that make the clients feel uncomfortable (you know the ones I mean….’Turn off your mobile phone or you will be shot and fed to the crocodiles!’)
Your goal should be to make each and every client feel like they’re being welcomed into a warm, friendly environment where they’re respected and valued for their patronage; not one step away from being in a prison camp.
Resist the temptation to punish every client for the sins of one or two who’ve done the wrong thing, and ditch the dictator-style signage that clients will find insulting.
Every salon needs to have some rules and policies, but learn how to phrase them in such a way that the clients feel like your rules and policies are there to make their life more enjoyable, not less.
11. What’s your Point of Difference?
Be unique. Stand out from the rest of the salons in your area by offering something that your clients simply can’t get somewhere else.
Many salon owners make the huge mistake of believing that being cheap is what their clients want. The truth is your clients want to receive value; not necessarily cheap services. I’ve experienced cheap and I’ve experienced value that isn’t cheap, and I can promise you that value will win out every time.
Every service you offer should stand out from what your competitors offer in some way. Given that you offer as good as your competitors do, then adding that something extra and unique will keep your clients returning to you, instead of meandering off to other salons.
12. Do you remember to celebrate your clients’ birthdays?
Birthdays are our special day (even if we share them with thousands of other strangers)!
Let me ask you, how many service providers have ever acknowledged your birthday? If you’re like most, the answer is very few, if any at all.
If you’re lucky enough to have had your birthday acknowledged, you’ll already know how it helps to develop a warmer relationship with the business that not only remembered your birthday, but also acknowledged it with a small gift.
You can easily acknowledge your client’s birthday with a small salon gift certificate.
It doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg, but your clients really do love to be remembered on their special day.
13. Are you really an expert?
Would you consider yourself and your team members to be experts in all services provided?
Ongoing training and learning are a necessity in this ever-changing world of beauty. If you’re not the best at something, either stop doing it or become the best.
Invest in training for your team and remember training isn’t a once-off activity. It needs to be ongoing. It’s pointless spending a small fortune on that new piece of equipment, if your team members cannot deliver basic services expertly.
Focus on what you’re positive your clients want from your salon, and become the best provider of these services in your marketplace.
Now, while this is by no means an exhaustive list of how to improve your client retention, many of these simple and inexpensive tips will help you to keep your clients and therefore build your revenue.
And what’s even better is that you can start implementing these tried, tested and effective strategies immediately without spending a small fortune on expensive marketing programs.
Treat your clients like VIPs, reward their loyalty, invite them back, be consistent, and give them the very best service at every visit. After all, the cost to retain a client is only a tiny fraction of what it costs to gain a new one.
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day. Jim Rohn
However, all that’s changed dramatically.
Competition on the ground has increased, with more salons and spas popping up in most suburbs. And this means of course, there’s an even greater need to stand out among the crowd these days.
The once-optional web presence has now developed into an absolute essential for all businesses that want to be found by potential clients.
Your web presence can be broadly broken down into your website and various social media platforms; both important, but often serving different needs.
Your website forms an important part of your business brand, and is in fact, the primary client attraction tool for your salon or spa. It provides your prospective clients with a sneak peek of your salon, which in turn allows them to feel confident enough to make that initial appointment.
But not all websites are equal in terms of their ability to help prospects find you in the first place.
The truth is that a visually appealing website, while lovely to look at once found, may not necessarily be helping you to get discovered by those prospective clients looking to do business.
Here are a few points to consider when optimising your website for client attraction purposes.
SEO: Improving your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) helps search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo (plus all the others) find your website when a prospective client types key words into her search bar. If you’re responsible for your own website maintenance, then take the time to learn more about how S.E.O. works, and then keep your website updated with the necessary changes.
If you’re not technically minded, do some research and find a reputable company to help you improve your search rankings. It’s well worth it, given that the internet is now the number 1 place people go to find a new service provider and most people seldom scroll past the first page of search results to find what they’re looking for. It really does pay to be on page 1 of those search results.
Blog: An entertaining and informative blog on your website helps to accomplish several things.
First the fresh content supplied by adding a blog article will help improve your SEO. Search engines are constantly striving to find fresh, up-to-date and relevant content for their customers (you and me), and so interesting blog articles help them to achieve their goal, which in turn helps you to achieve yours (being found).
As well as improved SEO, a well-written article also offers you the chance to showcase your professional expertise to prospective clients who’ve found your website. Keeping this in mind, remember to write in a non-technical way so that your readers (who won’t be industry professionals) can easily understand what you’re trying to tell them.
For those of you who have video skills, adding a video makes your website very attractive to the search engines and you can add these to your blog also.
Whether you choose to write text articles or upload videos, do so regularly (at least twice a month) to maintain the need for fresh content.
User Friendliness: No matter how attractive your website may look, if your readers find it hard to navigate around, then there’s a better than average chance that they’ll click out and go elsewhere. Try testing your own website for this by asking yourself:
• Can my readers easily find the information that they’re most interested in?
• Is it structured in a way that allows them to drill down to find a specific treatment or category of treatments quickly and effortlessly?
• Is the information easy to understand and based on the benefits they will receive, rather than the technical aspect or the method of delivery?
• Have I included good photographs where appropriate, to help the client understand what I’m trying to say?
• If I were the prospective client who knows nothing about my business, have I provided enough information to encourage them to make a booking, or at least an enquiry?
Contact page: There is nothing more frustrating for a prospective client, who has taken the time to read through your information, than to send an enquiry and never receive a reply. If you have a contact page on your website (and you should), then ensure you’re checking your emails regularly every day, so that you don’t lose the chance of gaining a new client due to poor communication skills.
e-Store: In a previous article, I discussed how important it was to protect your retail sales from on-line competitors. One way you can do this is by having an e-store on your own website so that your current clients can re-purchase a product they’re currently using without going elsewhere.
With this option in place, clients are less likely to head off to other websites in search of their favourite product when they’re running low.
As well as retail product, your e-store can also provide the option to purchase profit-boosting gift vouchers.
This is a great convenience for purchasers who live outside your trading zone when they want to purchase a voucher for someone who lives close to your salon or spa. As with your contact page, you need to be aware of product orders, so be sure to keep a close eye on your emails where you’ll be notified of sales and payments.
If it’s been a while since you’ve actually visited your own website, make time to do so soon. Try to navigate through your site as if you were a new prospect looking for information.
Ask others to help you with this task by giving them a particular service or information to look for and then presenting you with their feedback. Make sure to ask them to time how long it took to find what they were looking for and most importantly, act on the information you receive.
Social media platforms are often places where your existing clients will go to connect with your business and check out your latest promotional offers. This makes them, in most cases, more of a client retention/sales tool.
There are so many social media options to choose from today, that it’s easy to get totally confused about which ones you should choose, as well as when and what you should post. You want to make sure that the valuable time you invest in posting on social media is going to provide a worthwhile return for your business.
The truth is that there’s no ‘one right social media option’. Your choice will depend on where your potential and existing clients like to visit.
For some it’s Facebook, others Instagram, maybe Twitter, or it could be any one of the dozens of choices now available.
The best advice I can give you is to find out where your clients like to hang out online and focus on 2 or 3 social media platforms at the most. Any more than that and you’re sure to be spending too much time online, leaving you not enough time to manage your business effectively.
To find out what the best sites for you are, consider asking your new clients where they first heard about you, and possibly survey your existing clients also. This should provide you with enough information to decide on where you should concentrate your online marketing.
Special tip: Many business owners make the mistake of bombarding their online readers and prospects with “why you should buy from me’ messages. Readers soon get tired of these types of posts and tune out quick smart.
Whether it’s your blog articles or social media posts, the rule of thumb is generally about 80% of your posts should provide worthwhile and feel-good information for your readers, leaving 20% for promotional messages about your business and services.
Remember, you have to woo, romance and engage your readers before you have the right to ask for their hand in everlasting commitment.
If you’re in business and have never given online reviews much consideration, it’s definitely time to do so.
Generating positive client reviews on platforms such as Google and Facebook can have a major impact on your new client acquisition, with 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as if they were a personal recommendation!
With this astonishing statistic in mind, it’s definitely worth the investment of your time to ensure your businesses is generating regular and positive online reviews.
And doing it is not as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. As long as you have happy customers with access to the internet, it can be as simple as a quick click and comment.
Now you might think that a happy client will always be inclined to leave your business a review without being prompted. Unfortunately, this isn’t generally the case.
As a matter of fact, most clients don’t even think about leaving a review unless it’s to complain about something, and that’s definitely not the kind of review you want. With this in mind, it’s imperative that you regularly ask satisfied clients to post a review.
So, how do you get your clients to leave that review?
It’s pretty straightforward!
All you have to do to entice happy clients to leave a positive review is to remove any awkward or time-consuming barriers they might encounter, and you can do this by providing the direct links required to the review site. Once there, the rest flows naturally.
One thing to consider before you get underway is that you need to have ‘Recommendations’ (the new and improved (?) version of Facebook Reviews) turned on in your Facebook business page. If you’re not sure how to do this, here’s a handy tutorial provided by Facebook: Facebook link
You will also need to verify your business with Google so that your clients can leave a review for your business there. Follow the link to find out how to do that: Google link
Now that you’ve done these things, you’re all ready to collect loads of client-attracting online reviews that will help you grow your business.
Let’s move on to how to ask your clients for a glowing review or recommendation.
Ask your happy clients to leave you a review/recommendation after their service.
There is never a better time to ask your clients to leave a review than just after she has had an exceptional treatment at your salon/spa. You don’t even have to actually ask her yourself, but instead use a follow-up text message, including a link to your preferred review site.
A nice message along with a polite request that she leave a review if she was happy with her service should get things happening for you. Once you’ve gathered up reviews and recommendations from your existing clients, you can automate this request by adding the appropriate links in your New Client Welcome email.
Include permanent links to review sites in your email footer when you send out your salon newsletter.
This is a great way to keep the idea of leaving a review in front of your clients. It just sits there on the bottom of all your emails, wagging its tail like a friendly Labrador waiting to get a good head rub.
Reward clients to tempt them to leave a review or recommendation.
You’ve probably heard about the ‘What’s In It For Me’ mindset. Basically, before any of us do anything for anyone, we ask ourselves ‘What’s in it for me to do this’. With that being the case (and it is) when your clients ask themselves this question, the answer should be, ‘I’ll get a reward’.
It’s easy to monitor and reward clients as you are generally notified if someone has left a review or recommendation. You can then invite that client to come into your salon and pick up a small salon voucher as their reward.
What happens after you actually get a review or recommendation?
Considering that someone has taken time out of their busy day to leave a nice comment about your business, it’s only polite to respond with a ‘thank you’ and a short message. This shows other review readers that you value your reviews and are listening to what people have to say about your business. Reviews without a response look very sad and lonely indeed.
What happens if you get a negative review?
Don’t be fearful of a negative review here and there. I doubt there is a single business that has never received a not-so-fantastic review from an irate customer at some point.
The way to deal with this kind of review is to treat it in the same way as you would a positive review. Thank the reviewer and address the issue that has been mentioned.
Show you are more than willing to fix any problem mentioned and then do so.
Whatever you do, don’t start an argument online or try to make excuses. This does not look good and other readers will see you as not being customer service oriented. Simply show you are happy and willing to make things right for the client with the complaint.
Research shows that 95% of customers who have a complaint that is dealt with well will go on to become loyal fans of your business and will even refer other customers to you.
There you have it. Getting reviews is much simpler than you probably thought it was going to be. The secret to success is to make it easy for clients by providing them with the direct links to the places where you want your reviews to show up and many will happily leave you a glowing review that will help you gain many more new clients for your salon or spa.
Purchasing that new piece of equipment is a dream come true for many salon owners.
They’ve saved the money, done the research, read all the literature, talked to various manufacturers, checked out their competitor’s offerings and tested the equipment to ensure it works as promised – all the boxes have been ticked, and now they’re ready to sign on the dotted line and introduce the exciting new technology into their salon
But hold on a minute.
Have they really ticked all the boxes?
Unfortunately, the answer is a BIG ‘NO’ because they’ve skipped over the most important step and that is…
Finding out if their clients want the new technology-based treatments and, more importantly, will pay for them.
Just because the salon owner really loves the results the new technology delivers, it usually comes at a pretty high price and that means a higher price point for the client treatments also.
Now, this might be perfectly fine in some salons where higher priced services are already being offered to clients and are selling well, however, in many lower price-point salons it can result in that shiny new piece of equipment ending up sitting in a corner gathering dust for most of the time instead of returning that amazing revenue that the equipment suppliers promised it would.
So, what should you do before you commit to buy?
In a word – R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H. You need to be 100% certain that your clients will pay the price to have these new high-end treatments. This means surveying your clients in depth about any new and more expensive treatments you intend to introduce.
And it’s no good simply relying on the fact that the other salons in your trading zone offer these types of treatments because their shiny new piece of equipment might also be sitting in a corner gathering dust.
Ideally, ask if you can borrow the equipment for a week or two and then invite your key clients to experience a treatment. You can then survey them as to whether they would:
- Have this treatment on a regular basis, and most importantly
- Pay the required price to do so.
It’s also necessary to spend a little time doing your return on investment calculations.
You need to know how many treatments you have to deliver each day/week/month to, not only cover the cost of the equipment repayments but, also deliver a reasonable profit for that investment.
And it’s also important to keep in mind that new technology is hitting the market place at a rapid rate and that means if you have to repay your equipment loan over a long period of time, chances are your equipment is going to become outdated and therefore the treatments will be much harder to sell to your clients.
So, no matter how desperately you want to offer the latest whizz-bang technology to your clients, you have to be realistic and honest with yourself about whether your clients want it enough to pay the required price.
And if it’s out of their price range, resist the urge to ‘risk it’ and look for an alternative salon treatment that is affordable and will sell.