Top 10 Strategies to Attract and Retain Hair Salon Clients

All too often we walk past hair salons which are virtually empty with stylists standing or sitting around chatting with each other or at the very worst – looking bored. This is a terrible advertisement not only for your own hair How to attract salon clients and keep them coming backsalon, but for the industry as a whole.

One would expect a professional, well managed and successful hair salon to be busy for most of the day, with talented stylists and staff who look friendly and approachable.
If you find yourself in a predicament where either your hair salon is quieter than you would like it to be, or your stylists and staff not quite as proficient as they should be – then we invite you to read on, as well as look out for our upcoming articles in which we provide you with practical tips to help drive your salon to success!

Tighter client budgets mean more effort for hair salons…

Analysts say that South Africa may be heading for another recession soon. This is really not good news for hair salons and stylists. In an economy where household budgets are already tight, further strain on the pockets of existing and potential clients, mean that salon owners and managers will have to work much harder at ensuring that clients find real value in the salon services on offer to keep them coming back.

How to attract salon clients and keep them coming back!

The sad reality is that many of the clients who come through our doors have experienced appalling levels of service from a string of salons. For many of them, finding the right salon and stylist who actually cares about them, is genuinely talented and professional, and who makes an effort to ensure that they return to the salon, is an ongoing challenge. This common problem does not promote the reputation of the industry as a whole and many people have quite understandably developed some serious reservations when it comes to truly trusting hairdressing salons.

This scenario, though not entirely positive for the industry, does present an opportunity for the individual hair salon who is seeking to secure success. Creating a great experience from beginning to end, each and every time, is achievable.

If you are genuinely committed to outstanding service and creating a solid client base, here are 10 essential strategies to help you succeed:

1.    Offer impeccable service

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

Outstanding service goes beyond a great treatment, wash, cut and style. The entire client experience, from beginning to end, needs to be a positive one and attention to detail is therefore absolutely crucial.
Consider your salon environment: Is it impeccably clean? Is hair swept off the floor constantly? Do your styling tools look a little shabby? Are your posters looking dog-eared? Are your towels a little discoloured and rough? Do you have paint peeling from the walls?

Also consider how you interact with your clients: Is your receptionist welcoming and efficient? Is your phone answered in 3 rings? Are you asking for client feedback at every appointment? Are your stylists acting on client complaints or queries in a friendly and open manner? Are you using healthy salon products? Do you freely offer your clients with tips and information?

When you seek to go above and beyond the norm to offer more value than what your clients actually pay for, you will be able to exceed their expectations and pave the way to building a long term relationship, among many other great benefits!

2.    Be personalised and thoughtful

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” ― Maya Angelou

From the time that a client calls in to make their appointment, or enters your hair salon as a walk-in, to the time that they walk out the door after their appointment, ensure that they feel welcomed and valued as an individual.
In a world that has become so impersonal and in which people are very often rushed and out of touch with each other, a personalised approach means a lot.

Achieving a personalised approach in business does take a little more time and commitment, but its rewards far outweigh the effort. Imagine how impressed you would be if your local pharmacist remembered details about your medical history, or your local supermarket recalled your preference at the bakery counter? You would undoubtedly be more willing to continue supporting them than going elsewhere! Engaging with clients in a sincere, personalised manner and remembering little details about them and their preferences is key.

To make the task easier, consider keeping a client card for each and every client and include information on it such as their birthday, their phone number, their preferences in the salon and any little details that you glean from your conversations with them at the chair. Because you can’t conceivably be expected to remember everyone all of the time, client cards are a great way for you to quickly jog your memory so that you can engage with each client personally, every time.

3.    Create a Hair Care Plan for each and every client

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves” – William Arthur Ward

Very few people will turn down an opportunity to look their best, so even if you are not certain whether your client will return to your salon, be sure to work out a plan with them to help them achieve their very best head of hair. There are actually numerous reasons why a Hair Care Plan is essential to your client retention strategy.

Shows genuine care: By taking a good look at your client’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and by helping them to overcome these and look their best, you show that you care about them and how they will look and feel after they have left the salon. Opportunity to upsell: Helping a client to maintain their style each day away from the salon, and helping them to nurture their hair back to optimal health, provides you with the opportunity to market more specialised products. Great Advertising:  Your client’s hair is ultimately a living advert of your skills. By helping clients to look their best outside of the salon, you actively promote your professional abilities.

4.    Practice effective communication and listening skills

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say” – Bryant H. McGill

The people we all tend to like the most, are those that actually listen to us, understand us and try to help us when necessary. When we genuinely listen to what our client’s real concerns and desires are, and then use our professional knowledge to address those concerns and desires, as well as highlight issues that they may not even be aware of, we begin establishing a relationship of trust with the client. As we said at the start of this article, trust is the one thing that is difficult to build with clients because of the bad experiences they so often have at hair salons. By building trust, you will build the foundation for a highly successful business and career.
By asking leading questions, which help you to understand the lifestyle of the client, their style preferences, allergies and so on, you will be able to hone the service you offer far quicker and easier. Pushing a product or treatment on to your client is never the answer. Clients need to understand precisely why you are recommending a product to them. The Organic Colour Systems Stretch Test is one example of a method you can use to motivate products and other recommendations.

5.    Encourage Word of Mouth Referrals

“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them” – W. Edwards Deming

When you are certain that your clients are happy with the level of service that they regularly receive at your hair salon, asking your valued and loyal clients for referrals becomes easy.

A reward for referral business is the norm, however be generous, because a 10% discount is hardly the encouragement that people will value for sending new business your way!

At the close of each appointment, we recommend that you ask your client for feedback regarding the service they received and, if their experience was good, you can at this point ask them to refer any friends or colleagues that they know to you. A simple solution to motivate multiple referrals is to offer your client referral cards which not only provide a discount to the new client being referred, but also a discount to your existing client who is referring the business.

Of course if you are not getting referrals from your clients, you need to be finding out why!

6.    Offer a Loyalty Programme

“You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day-by-day” – Jeffrey Gitomer

One of our key salons, GojiSpa, which is situated in Tygervalley, Cape Town, offers their clients an option to become a member at their Spa and Salon by way of a monthly membership fee. The monthly fee works as a great budgeting tool for their clients, as all fees translate directly to credits which the client can use. Their membership plans also entitle their clients to great discounts and free treatments every month. This is a great way to promote repeat business and a steady stream of income.

An alternative option is to provide clients with the opportunity to accrue points, or credits each time they visit your salon, or purchase products from you. These loyalty points or credits should enable the client to use them against any products or services, while membership to a loyalty programme should entitle them to some additional benefits.

The more generous you are with your loyalty programme the better. The most popular and successful loyalty programmes offer their members benefits which are so tangible and valuable, that they really do find every excuse to support the company.

7.    Do some pro-active marketing

“The way to bring about change is to be proactive and active” – Octavia Spencer

If you have decided to keep a client information card for each of your clients, or have made the effort to capture their contact details in the past, pro-active telephonic marketing to your clients, especially those who have not been to your salon in a while, is a great way to drum up new business and revive relationships.

Offering an incentive (such as a loyalty programme or membership offer) for the client to return to your salon is a good motivator for them, while getting in touch with them provides you with an opportunity to address any concerns that they may have had.

Be pro-active and imaginative and be sure to be personal in your conversation with the client. Place yourself in the shoes of your customer – what sort of telephonic marketing approach so you think you would find impressive from a salon?

8.    Maintain a professional online presence

“Almost overnight, the Internet’s gone from a technical wonder to a business must” – Bill Schrader

Though you don’t need the most expensive website, something simple and eye-catching, which gives the client a feel your business is not only advantageous – it is actually imperative in our modern digital age. More South Africans are searching online for information than ever before and very often they use Google as their live directory for local businesses. If you are not active online, you may potentially be missing many valuable clients.

In addition, social media is not a passing fad. Companies that maintain an active social media presence are more successful than those companies who do not. The key is to ensure that whatever presence you do have online is professional. If you consider the cost of traditional print advertising, online advertising and marketing is far cheaper and offers far greater longevity.

9.    Host special events

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better” – Jeff Bezos

Your top-spending and most loyal clients should be made to feel extra special and this can be achieved by hosting a special event, or party at your salon.

Consider hosting a special event once every quarter and inviting your top clients and perhaps one or two of their friends to come along. Depending on your budget and the size of your regular client base, you can decide to go large, or host something small and more intimate. A portion of the event should include a pampering session for your clients, which should enable them to experience some of your new and existing products and services for free. This often motivates them to partake of additional services that you offer, or encourages them to purchase after-care products to take home. Product demos are a great way to showcase your skills and product range, and it’s generally easy to find one or two willing clients to act as models for the day. Your event will definitely give your team the opportunity to engage with your clients in a relaxed, less formal setting, where they are able to discuss concerns and ideas with clients. Something to take home makes the event all the more memorable, so consider sourcing give-away items and testers from your suppliers.

If you really want to put your salon in the spotlight, consider combining at least one event per year with some volunteer work. Get the whole team involved, as well as your clients and give back to the community. Whether you host a ‘cut and blow day’ at your local old age home, or partake in larger events such as the Cansa Shavathon – there are really so many ways that you can do something exceptional.

10.    Remain consistent

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours” – Ray Kroc

Attracting and retaining clients is hard work and even more so in our challenging economic climate. To be successful means that you need to think out of the box and go the extra mile to keep your clients coming back. The hair salon industry is underpinned by passion, creativity and the determination to become just that little bit better at our craft every day. Without a consistent approach in the hair salon business, you can never succeed. Instead of allowing your efforts to be a flash-in-the-pan affair, decide on a few activities that you feel comfortable with and can afford, and prepare a plan to make them work for you.