Over the past few months, I feel as though I have been having the same conversation with different reps, Salon owners that I chat with from time to time and Stylists. Everyone says that business is slow. They all seem to be having the same problem and they all seem to have the same reasons for it. “It’s probably the weather.”. “The economy is slow.”. “It’s peak vacation season, so people are away.”. “We charge $90.00 for a color. Our clients don’t want to spend more for product.”. “My client bookings are down. I guess my clients are really busy.”. I have news for you, and you aren’t going to like it. The above excuses – yeah, I said it, excuses for the lack of business at your Salon comes down to you, your staff, your customer service, your policies and your lack of retail. Plain and simple. I say excuses because sitting around complaining about business being slow and doing nothing about it is an excuse and is lazy. *To be clear – I agree that the weather can affect sales – Mother Nature is not always our friend up here in the Great White North – a blizzard or a good ‘ol Polar Vortex will keep people at home. As for the others, well, there is always something that can be done.
I have been in the retail/customer service game for over 25 years and in our beloved industry for over 12 of those years. I know too well the struggles we can face, from product cost increases, rent increases, wage increases and competition from other Salons that offer the same services. Here’s the deal. When your Salon has procedures in place, when your staff is educated on your products and your stylists re-book and follow up with their clients and your retail shelves are stocked, your business will sustain itself, and grow. It will. *The key – you have to work at it, everyday. You have to believe in yourself and your business and what you are trying to accomplish. Being me, I have compiled a little list for you.
– Policies. I cannot stress this enough. Dress codes need to be in effect and followed. Personal calls are not for the Salon floor or the store front. Take it to the lunch room. I understand emergencies arise and a call from the school must be taken on the Salon floor. Booking your next oil change…not so much. *Remember – all your client in your chair is doing is listening and watching everything going on in the Salon…and good news travels fast….bad news travels faster.
– Make it your Salon policy to re-book every client at the end of their service. Now, I know this will not happen 100% of the time, it can happen 85% of the time – I know this because that is what our average is in our Salon. Once you explain to your client that you cannot guarantee that you won’t be booked solid 6 weeks from now, they will re-book. Let your client know they are more than welcome to cancel or reschedule if need be. In my experience, once they realize they are not indebted to that exact date, they re-book, and show up to their appointment.
– Be sure to offer a consultation to every client, new or existing. Take a minute to ask them how they are, what plans they have, if any special events are coming up. Ask them if they were thinking of changing it up or did they like their last color and style. Asking these questions makes your client feel important and that they matter. It also gives you a chance to find out what is happening in their lives – for instance, if they have a gala coming up, trying a pixie cut for the first time may not be the best idea. During a consultation you may find out about a health scare, a new medication or a new product they have been using that could affect their color service that day. Asking them “same as last time” doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t.
– Make sure your Salon is stocked with water, tea and coffee. Having a choice of milk, cream or flavored creamer, sweetener or sugar goes a long way. At our Salon, we have clients that as we are taking their coat are asking if we still have that “yummy creamer”.
– Get on Social Media. Facebook is checked before email. I update our Facebook page at least 4 times a day. It takes all of 2 minutes each time. We have gained customers and clients from our updates. I have gained new customers that drive from other cities because of the specials and the new arrival of products I have posted.
– Your Salon must retail product. It must. Before you get all “that’s a huge investment!”, calm down. I am not saying you have to have every brand and every product. You should have the products you are using in your Salon for sale to your clients. Keep 2 – 3 bottles of each product you use on your shelves, at all times. You can’t sell what you don’t have. *Think of it like this – as a stylist, would you go without having bleach at your color mixing station because “No one will probably want it”? No, you wouldn’t. The same rings true with retailing the hairspray you use at your station. Thinking for your clients instead of thinking about them is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Retailing products works. I know. I do it everyday. Once your client/customer realizes that their hair can have the same look and hold at home that they get from you, they will buy the product.
– Provide good customer service. Talk to your clients and customers. Educate them on their hair and their products. Offer free consultations, from an up-do to how to use their flat iron. I personally have helped our customers learn how to use their new flat iron or curling iron. I have been known to flip my head upside down and from side to side and mess up my own ‘do just to show them how to do their own hair, and correct a mishap with a flat iron. If your client is not happy with the product they bought, ask them to bring it in, ask them to show you how they use it, then show them how you use it. In my experience, the product is the right product, the application needed improvement.
Following policies and procedures, re-booking and following up with clients, taking the time for proper consultations, utilizing Social Media, educating your clients and your customers and retailing products and keeping the shelves stocked, your Salon will thrive. It will.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford