Tips to Avoid Becoming the Back-up Salon

One thing is for sure. Clients have options. In most major metropolitan areas around the world, clients have a plethora of options for hair care and grooming services. Then you may ask, why do many clients say that they don’t know where to get there hair done? Many clients consider many of the businesses that they walk or drive by as only viable “back-up” options. If you are an owner striving to for more consistent income, you need most of your clients to view you as their #1 option.

When you are striving to cater to all the needs of your clients, it is tough to learn that you are just the back-up. What makes a salon become a back-up for clients? Perception of a lack of broad expertise, high staff turnover and bad customer service (including long wait time, poor parking, bad service from staff) all could put a salon in the back-up zone, according to my research with clients.

The problem for you as salon owners is that often you don’t pick up on the clues that you are in that maybe/back-up zone. One clue can be booking trends that only include basic maintenance or limited services. In addition, these clients tend to not rebook right away and have long lapses in between visits, in general. You have to continue to review your key client metrics to discover that you have a problem early enough to take action.

I have spent time speaking with self-reported “Maybe” Clients. These clients usually tell me something like, “I’m going to go to that salon 2 or 3 more times but I’m not sure right now if they are the right one.” Typically, Maybe clients do not post reviews on your website or any of websites. “I don’t want to write a review because I don’t know if I’m going back,” one Maybe Client told me.

Here are a few tips to improve your chances of converting these Maybe clients into regulars and avoid the “back-up” label: 

  • Hire staff that match or can model your approach to service. Clients view your hiring decisions as a reflection of you. If you make desperate decisions to hire the wrong stylist or front desk personnel, you will damage your brand and also impact the revenue that you will make. You should be a role model of good service, especially if you are a stylist/owner. However, if it appears that you cannot get anyone to follow your lead, you will lose clients.
  • Follow up with your existing clients regularly. You should devote some of your marketing budget to communicate with your existing clients. Too many salons see marketing as something that you only do to get new clients. Possible follow up processes to implement are: 1) call clients who have not booked an appointment in the last 90 days; 2) give clients that refer their friends a $20 coupon; 3) send every client a thank you email after their appointment. When clients feel appreciated, they keep you as their #1 option.
  • Make time management a priority. I know that many of my readers attract professional and influential people to their businesses. Well, high profile clients are busy people. These men and women want to look good but have limited time. If you can’t consistently cater to this need, you will be viewed as a back-up. One way to acknowledge the value of time is to introduce late fees.  Late fees are becoming more acceptable. A salon that strives for 5-star service may also introduce a service guarantee that gives the clients a discount if the salon staff is late.

 The Final Scoop:

The beauty business is competitive. Clients know that they have options. Your financial success depends on your ability to produce the best service experience for not only your new guests but also your regulars. The better you can deliver on your service promise, the more likely you will be their #1.

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