Posted on July 22, 2015
Customer loyalty is arguably the most important factor in business today. According to Forbes, loyal customers visit more often, spend more during those visits and provide free word of mouth promotion. And yet small business owners like salon professionals often focus their efforts on chasing new customers as a way to increase foot traffic and cash flow. New business is great, but don’t neglect those clients you’ve already snagged! Try these tips today for increasing the kind of loyalty that’ll have customers coming back for decades.
Loyalty comes when you’re able to predict what you customer will need before they know it. Sound complicated? Relax! You probably got into hair for a number of reasons, one of which is that you’re good with people. It’s time to use those people skills to your advantage by establishing personal relationships with each customer.
During the consultation, you’ll ask about service needs, style preferences and hair care. Don’t stop there: “Find out things like what they do for a living, and how that impacts their beauty regimen,” says Jennie Wolff, Director of Marketing for Sola Salon Studios.
Wolff also recommends asking clients about important events that are going on in their lives. Consider jotting down personal post-visit notes – Is there a big vacation, graduation or special event happening soon? – and make sure to review those notes before the next appointment so you can follow up on previous conversations. “That will make them feel special,” says Wolff.
Say Thank You
Remember the manners you learned way back in kindergarten? It might sound almost too obvious to say, but in a world where premium customer service is on the decline, remembering to thank clients for their business can set your apart from the rest.
A short, handwritten thank you note is a great start; if you go this route, make sure to mail your letter promptly. Tap into modern technology, too, and follow up a few days after an appointment with a text message asking your client how they liked the results of their last service. But, adds Wolff, “Be open to feedback, and be accommodating if they aren’t happy.”
You might also consider sending clients home with a small trinket, such as a sample product — something you know they’ll love. The truth is that customers will remember the first and last moments of their appointment far more vividly than anything that happens in the middle.
Speaking of manners: this tip might be short and sweet, but it’s critically important. Your client doesn’t have time to wait around. Be on time, and if you’re running behind or you get held up in traffic, be courteous: call or text your client to let them know. In an effort to be fair to all customers, you might even consider imposing a fifteen minute rule for the sake of your schedule – just make sure you’re upfront about the rule so late clients aren’t stunned.
Partner with Other Professionals
When current clients have to go to another full-service salon for a treatment you don’t offer, you risk losing that client to another stylist. Making sure clients stay loyal, though, doesn’t have to mean adding to your list of salon services. It’s totally possible to increase customer loyalty by partnering with other Sola Salon professionals to offer referrals, promotions and specials.
Sound like a massive task? Partnering might not be as complicated as you’d think. When you entered the Sola family, you joined a thriving facility that most likely boasts a wide array of pampering services. You can increase customer loyalty, then, by joining forces with professionals in your building, giving your clients (and theirs!) multiple reasons to visit Sola. If you do hair, now’s the time to introduce yourself to the nail technician or cosmetologist down the hall. Take a look at 9 Ways to Partner with Other Sola Professionals to learn more about teaming up to increase customer retention.
Being consistent and predictable is one of the best ways to build trust with your clients, according to Wolff, who says, “Being consistent means you are reliable and solid, and it tells clients that your beauty business will be a trustworthy one that’s deserving of their time and money.”
Allow clients to have expectations for your salon, and vow to meet those expectations. When communicating, strive to “contact clients in a consistent way,” says Wolff — “either always by text or always by email,” she clarifies. Pre-booking, Wolff continues, is key to repeat business, so make sure your systems are in place. Wolff also recommends keeping salon messaging simple: “Live by a mission statement or a motto that will keep you in line with your overall salon goals,” she offers.
Be a Rockstar
A recent Forbes survey showed that 71 percent of customers who ended a business relationship did so because of a poor customer service experience. If you want loyal customers, do your best job every time, and give your clients way more than they expect.
If you have extra time on your hands, for example, you might do a longer scalp massage or offer a free service like a deep conditioning treatment. You don’t have to do something special every, single time — sporadically going the extra mile can make a huge difference.
Keep in Touch
Forget the superfluous technology; stay connected with clients via email. Not everyone is on social media, but even the least tech-savvy folks have an email address. Email newsletters are an easy, effective way to stay in touch with clients while pushing out valuable information, such as tips for between-visit hair care or news about product promotions and rewards programs, which are great for attracting repeat business, says Wolff, who advises sending “clients random emails or texts with special offers or deals just for being loyal customers.”
You don’t need to be a graphic designer or copywriting expert to create an excellent newsletter that communicates with your clients while subtly reminding them to schedule their next appointment. Check out Salon Newsletter Best Practices for ideas on starting up your own.
Take the time to listen to what your clients want; it’ll always pay off! And, if a client isn’t vocal about their needs, ask during the consultation.
“Don’t just assume a client wants the same thing as last time,” reminds Wolff. She recommends having a set list of questions to ask at each and every appointment. “That way you know exactly what their wants and needs are on the artistic side, and your can also make sure they don’t have any problems with product recommendations.”
You should also ask your clients about comfort items, and listen to them when they reveal what sort of ambiance they prefer. Play the music they like, or tune the TV to their favorite channel. Consider stocking up on beloved magazines, as well as the drinks and treats they crave. In other words, “make the salon experience theirs,” as Wolff puts it.
If you love what you do, your clients will intuit that, and they’ll have a better salon experience because of your joyful, positive energy. Luckily, Sola is known for its fantastic, drama-free environment, and stylists across the nation have flocked to our facilities for the greater job satisfaction Sola owners experience. Check out 10 (Super-Easy) Ways to Style Your Boutique Salon for tips on how to customize your salon so it reflects your unique style, and feels like a home away from home, and a place you (and your clients!) want to spend time. Close the door and turn up the tunes to get those happy vibes flowing; when you aren’t working with a client, open your door or wander the halls and meet other like-minded Sola professionals. At Sola, it’s easy to love what you do.