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Home away from home

Did you know that it can cost 5 times more to find a new client than it does to keep a current client coming back to your salon? A healthy, thriving salon depends on customer retention, and the experience you provide is the only way to keep them coming back again and again. Studies also show that a repeat customer is likely to spend more during each subsequent visit at your salon.

But what does all of this have to do with adding homey touches to your salon? We’re glad you asked! It’s true that there’s no place like home — And if you want to keep your clients coming back for more, it’s time to think about how you can make them feel at home in your studio. We caught up with a bunch of Sola stylists to find out what they do when they want to treat their guests like a member of their salon family!

Look Out!

When we think of home, the first thing we think about is the look of comfort. When you’re decorating (or redecorating) your studio, consider adding finishes and furnishings that will make your clients feel cozy, relaxed, and happy.

Kimi Barbano, for example, draws on “plant and nature elements,” she says, explaining, “I have succulent gardens, crystals, and wood designs scattered throughout my salon, and my ceiling light is a big fluffy light made of feathers. It almost looks like a floating cloud.” In Kimi’s experience, calming decorations put clients at ease from the get-go, and set a great tone for the entire appointment.

“As a barber in a Sola studio, I try to keep the design low key,” says Kenya Chappell Smith. Blue walls and dimmer lights add to a “man cave look,” says Kenya. Diana Meister agrees that it’s important to understand your clientele. “I keep my suite and products simple, which is easier for my male clients,” she adds.

Jessyka Williams Heredia offers extra seating: That way her clients can bring their friends and family in. “It's basically a party going on in Salon JéVon, and our clients just love it,” she says.

Set the Mood

Quick! Close your eyes, and think of your house. Aside from the visual look, what do you hear, smell, and feel? Sensory details make a big impact, and when you’re curating your studio, you’ll want to tap into as many of them as possible.

“I have a carefully selected playlist that I love playing on my cute vintage stereo,” says Kimi Barbano, adding, “I try to use songs that won't offend anyone — songs that are mellow on the ears but still fun. I pick songs from many different genres to keep it interesting, but I avoid songs with distracting beats or lyrics,” she explains.  

Kenya Chappell Smith, on the other hand, opts for, “Classic rock, not very loud.” And Natalie Enze says, “I see clients one at a time, and they choose what music they would like to hear.”

Kristen Myers uses essential oils and a diffuser to ensure her clients are comfortable. Adds Angela Dabney, “I have a diffuser, and the first client chooses the scent for the day. Then I offer scalp massages using that essential oil.”

Natalie Enze tweaked her lighting scheme to “soften the look of the salon,” she says. Rather than mess with hardwire lighting, Natalie purchased plug-in track lighting that connects to a Wi-Fi device she controls with an app on her iPhone. “This way Sola’s electrical wiring structure was not tampered with,” she explains.

Luxe Life

Pampering your clients is a surefire way to make them feel relaxed. Diana Meister specializes in men's grooming, and offers her clients a hot towel treatment with essential oils, plus a shoulder massage with every haircut. Adds Cecily Vinegar, “I give a complimentary neck and shoulder massage before every service.”

Odds and Ends

Now that your salon has the look, sound, and smell of home, it’s time to think about a few more details that will help make your guests feel at ease.

We know it seems obvious, but as Karen Taylor points out, “Keeping a clean salon is one of the keys to success.” (Come on! Who can relax in a pigsty?)

Karri El Husseini has a soft blanket and a small heater in her suite — just in case her Florida clients feel chilly coming into a cool salon on a hot day. And Kelli Leach installed “an electronic charging station with several chargers,” she says, to ensure her guests always have access to their favorite devices during their visits. 

It’s important, too, to think about how you interact with your clients. When Natalie Enze does new client consultations she says, “I sit down and talk to them at eye level because I feel it's intimidating for the stylist to stand above the client.”

Talk It Out

Take full advantage of your private studio by using the inherent intimacy to build lasting relationships with your clients.

Kristen Myers says, “Whether it's my client’s hundredth time in or their first, I talk to them face-to-face, and I try not to communicate through the mirror.” Kenya Chappell Smith finds it is helpful to let her spa guests lead the conversation.

It’s typical for stylists to shut down the conversation during color processing. “I usually end up talking to my clients the whole time,” says Kimi Barbano, noting that during lulls in services, “We either sit on my couch or I sit on a stool next to the hydraulic chair.”

All of our stylists polled agree that it’s best to feel out the situation, and provide conversation on an as-needed basis. As Kimi puts it, “If I can tell they'd rather have alone time, I provide that as well.” When Jamie Ryder’s clients need extra R&R, she says, “I recline them back into the sink with a towel and dim the lights, then I close the drapes and leave the room while their color processes.”

Extra Entertainment

We know that you’re amazing, and your clients love chatting with you. But it’s smart to have a few courtesy items on hand, too. Sami Gabb, for example, subscribes to a number of magazines and has an iPad for clients to use. “I have Netflix,” adds Jen Tyson, noting that many of her clients enjoy binging on their favorite shows during services.

Offer Refreshments

You wouldn’t forget to offer beverages and snacks to your houseguests, would you? We recommend giving your clients that same treatment.

Karri El Husseini offers cold water to her clients the minute they walk through the door. “In Florida, it is extremely humid and hot outside,” she explains, adding, “Water seems like such a little thing, but my clients are so thankful for it.”

“I have a Keurig coffee machine with coffee and tea available, along with brown sugar and various creamers,” says Tracy Henry. Cody Ferro likes to brew a fresh cup of java for each individual client.

In addition to water, Kimi Barbano stocks wine and mimosas in her mini-fridge, along with healthy snacks. “Craft cocktails,” adds Holiday Childress, simply. 

“I offer mints and chocolate covered mints,” adds Kenya Chappell Smith. And why not encourage your clients to indulge a little bit? That’s why they came in to your salon in the first place, after all!

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