As a salon owner, you know what it means to work hard.
Your day-to-day revolves around service; you’re dedicating your time and focus on customer satisfaction. While it’s rewarding and you may love many of your clients, it can also be draining. What often goes unseen is the passion, grit and improvisation you have to do behind the scenes to make it work.
One of the reasons we started heymate! was because the tech was available to make a genuine difference in the lives of small business owners. They didn’t have to just get by, and we wanted to bring the means to the larger market. It shouldn’t just be the bigger players who thrive.
We want you to have your cake and eat it, too.
Look, full transparency – there aren’t too many concrete studies about the why and what of growth for salon businesses. You’ll find a lot of blogs with vague customer archetypes, stats on median wages or how many salon businesses there are in North America. You’re hard-pressed to find a data-driven study about what has worked, and what hasn’t, in growing business.
But we’ve done our research. We know that the biggest threat to the livelihood of a salon is churn; when customers decide to go elsewhere. Today’s market is rife with start-ups, the new hot thing and major players. Retention is your best friend, if you can achieve it. So we’re going to highlight some valid points of focus to hone in on. Information is power. It means informed decision-making.
Who Do You Think You Are?
A great Spice Girls song, and an even better question. Know what your approach is, and make it consistent on all platforms, including in-person.
You can’t underestimate the power of branding. With a unified image and messaging online, you stand out, especially when the competition is between you and the other salons in your area. Locals are a huge source of new business; people who live in the area search online for treatment nearby. If it’s down to you and two others, your branding can make all the difference. That means a coherent approach, from color scheme and logo, to how you write your copy (any form of writing for advertising) or post on social media.
Your design approach doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be clean and simple. As long as it’s clear, appealing and consistent.
Look your salon up online, and make sure that your profile on all listings pages and especially, Google Business, is accurate. There are a LOT of salons out there with broken web links, wrong addresses, wrong telephone numbers. Knowing the power of word of mouth means that losing even one customer to a minor detail like that can constitute a huge loss. It’s a simple fix, logical and totally free.
If you have a website, make sure that your metadata (basically the description that shows up on Google search results) is concise, representative, and uses logical key words.
Instagram can have a greater impact than you know. Focussing on selling the quality of your work, not the value of your deals, is going to be the best approach. Make sure you’re posting consistently, using hashtags that have a 5 to 6 figure usage range. It’s easy to find out the range by typing your preferred hashtag into the search bar on Insta; it will tell you how many people have used the same one. You want to hit that sweet spot where you’re not using a tag that’s overwhelmed with numbers (it’ll get lost), but still has attention.
Have you already got your online approach clean and consistent?
Mandy Zehnder, a salon owner and business guru recommends hosting a content creation day each month. You can invite people from your social circle, workout class or friends of friends, to come and get a treatment done for free, or heavily discounted. This gives you a fresh store of looks to use for social media over the month ahead. That way if you’re busy, or lacking in unique content, you’ve got a go-to inventory. Plus, if the clients love what you do, it’s a potential new referral; you can tag the models so that their friends can see your work, and you can recommend products for purchase.
One more parting fact – if your employees feel comfortable, asking them to share on social media and tag the salon can actually up your engagement by 30% on its own.
Fairly or not, your image will be ascribed to an impression of trustworthiness and appeal. Know who your demographic is. Are you kid-friendly? Built for working Moms? Upscale clientele? Where you are situated will largely inform your audience.
One inexpensive, substantive change you can make that shouldn’t cost crazy money is reviewing the lighting. Just that one trick can take your ambience to the next level. Remember, too, that self-presentation is also key.
Consider setting up a selfie wall or spot in your salon and offer to take photos for your clients. Most people are on social media, and most will post with work they love. Ask them to tag you, and that’s organically a way of generating more eyes and potentially, more clients.
Don’t push, just provide value
Everyone’s lives are busy, more complex than we’re built to comprehend; we’ve got enough going on personally. What is important to one is minuscule to another; economic restrictions and values are different from person to person.
This includes you.
When you approach clients, think about engaging on the premise of finding genuine solutions to real problems. Don’t just push a deal that you think is really good, for the purposes of filling the coffers. A win for your client is a win for you. Their experience and referral power should always be the core focus. If you take care of that, the rest will flow naturally.
As Zehnder says, if you know they like to book on a Saturday, take the time to find pre-booking options in advance. Open the conversation with, ‘I know you prefer a Saturday, I have one available coming up in six weeks. How does that suit?’ If your current approach is ‘I fill up fast, so you should book soon’, you’re heading in the wrong direction. You’re making it about your business needs or wants, instead of authentically meeting your client where you are, with what they need.
Another great example is product sales. Say you have a poorly performing product, so you give it a markdown of 20% and tell everyone who comes through about it. From your point of view, this makes sense, and because you know your profit margin, you think it’s a more than fair deal. A better approach is asking your client genuinely about their needs; what are they lacking that one of your products could actually help with? Then recommend that product. If after doing so, you’re finding certain products aren’t performing well, perhaps it’s time to reconsider what you’re stocking. heymate!’s AI assistant will be helpful to you in this area.
It might seem like a small or unimportant pivot, but each time you seek to provide value, not gain value, it’ll genuinely add up. The one-push you can give which will make a substantial difference? Let them know where they can leave a review if they’d be willing to, and tell them how much you’d appreciate it. There’s a difference in phrasing between:
“So I hope you’ve been satisfied with your service today, and if so, I’m going to give you this card with information about how to leave us a review, thank you so much.” And, “If you’d be willing to leave us a review on Google, that would be an awesome help!”
One is genuine and casual, low pressure. Easy to access, if the client decides to do so. The other is overly formulated and can make you question, as a client, whether your approach the whole time just contained the agenda of getting something from them.
If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and don’t feel comfortable probing to upsell, or asking to re-book, Zehnder says ‘following systems will give you confidence.’ Set a routine that you follow with every client, every time. Bit by bit, you’ll feel much less uncomfortable and it will become a helpful habit. Remember, as long as you’re genuinely seeking to add value for your client, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Be realistic about the health of your business
You don’t know how to move forward if you don’t know where you are.
Finances are hard; they can even be depressing. But they’re the last aspect of your business you should keep vague. Get clear about your numbers and expenses. Maintain business savings separate from your personal savings. That’s a big one. Even if your business savings has a balance of $5, it’s a huge step towards building further security. Life is made up of ‘unexpected’ – make sure you aren’t in a position where these become consequentially costly.
Zehnder recommends getting to know what your average service fee, average pre-booking rate and average retail ticket rate are. Not only is this an excellent measuring stick for the health of your business, it’s also a great way to understand your personal starting line.
Goals always work better when they’re process-driven and specific, and when the stepping stones are incremental.
Prioritizing your staff means better client relationships
Statista did a study on the driving factors of customer loyalty in spa and beauty salons. Their findings were that the most important aspect was the relationship the client had with the salon, followed by good value and satisfaction with the previous service.
Let’s be honest – customer service can be exhausting, and there are poorly behaved people out there! Disrespect, generally grumpy and rude clients take a toll on your team. The ‘customer is always right’ motto dehumanizes the worker when fair boundaries are violated. When you know that the biggest contributing factor to retention is positive customer relationships, you need to prioritize the wellbeing of your staff.
Treat your employees as more than just a resource you’re afraid of losing. Treat them as a team you’re proud to have, grow, pay, promote and work with.
Salon owners should feel empowered to set boundaries around verbal harassment, abuse and patronizing behaviour. This also goes for your team. When they feel supported against that kind of behaviour, it breeds loyalty and goodwill. Ultimately, those kinds of tetchy people don’t make for good vibes, happy employees or fellow patrons.
We hope you found this helpful, with some ideas you had yet to try, to grow your salon business! Feel free to get in touch with suggestions on features that could be supportive to your growth in heymate!. We love hearing from you.