Do You Have What It Takes To Win Clients?

By Faye Murray

The reality is that in 2009 you will need to use all your skills as a business manager to make sure you have a good year. All the things you know – but sometimes, when you get too busy, just don’t take the time to implement – you will need to be getting on with. A strong focus will need to be on winning every client on every visit. Here are some ideas.

How do I attract more new clients?
This is a question that I am constantly asked and I know salon owners ask it of themselves on a very regular basis.

To operate a successful beauty and day spa business, you need a steady stream of new clients. The general rule is that as an established salon you should be attracting ten to 15 per cent new clients to maintain your current base of client numbers because…

No matter how special you and your treatments are you will have some clients who will choose to leave for some reason; perhaps one listed below: 

– They move from their place of residence;
– They change jobs; 
– They alter their lifestyle; 
– They get bored and need change; and 
– Their friend tells them about “this great new salon”.

So yes, it will always be essential to have some new clients coming into the salon each and every week.

How do I retain my existing clients?
This is another question that I am asked often, and it should be a question that you are asking yourself almost daily. It is well known that client retention is more important than attracting new clients to ensure the growth and development of your salon.

If you retain your existing clients and at the same time focus on increasing their average dollars spent you don’t need as many new clients.

It costs a lot more to attract a new client than it does to retain an existing client.

The big question that you need to have the answer to is:

How do I get my existing clients to remain loyal and not desert me?
The answer is that you have to give to get back.

Here are a couple of giving ideas that can help you receive the loyalty that you want and need.

1. Loyalty Programs
Many salons offer a loyalty program that allows them to present clients with a reward for their allegiance. I believe that it has almost become expected rather than the norm. So if you are not saying “thank you” to your clients in this way, maybe you should.

Just read on if you need convincing. This is a true story.

I have a close friend who had been a client of a salon for about four years. She went every six weeks and spent around $180 each visit.

Recently she said, “I’ve changed my beauty therapist.”

“Why?” I asked, “I thought you were happy.”

“I was” she replied, “but all my friends who go to other salons get lots of rewards and gifts and I have never had anything. I have referred lots of clients and have never had even a thank you. I have spent good dollars and they don’t have any sort of a loyalty program. So I left.”

Now that salon should have noticed that they had lost a very good client and they should have been on the phone enquiring why, but that was mistake number two. At no stage have they made contact. If they had, they would have realised that they needed to look at their salon marketing and how they were looking after their existing clients. I usually recommend contact be made between three to four months but in this case, a phone call from the salon owner should have been made when the client cancelled her appointment without re-scheduling. To allow a client to be a non-return for longer than three to four months is not a good business strategy.

There are two messages from this story:

1. Your clients almost always expect to be rewarded in some way for loyalty, or at the very least have it recognised; and

2. If you lose a regular client it is worth the time and effort to ask why. You may not get that client to return but you may learn from the situation and make sure you don’t lose other clients for the same reason.

Your computer program, if you have one, will tell you the clients who haven’t been in for a given period of time, so use it to keep track of lapsed clients and make sure you invite them back.

How To Operate a Successful Loyalty Program: 

– Keep it simple. Make sure clients understand how they benefit; 

– If you have a computer, use it. This makes it very simple to manage for both you and the client. No printing costs and no lost cards; 

– Don’t give away your profit. Your rewards need to be no more than three to five per cent of the total spend. You can’t afford to give any more without eating into your hard-earned profit; 

– Encourage clients to spend more. Allow clients to build reward points through the purchase of any salon service or product. You want them to spend freely. Don’t put up barriers. All hair and beauty service treatments, gift vouchers, take-home products, makeup or any other services you offer. 

– Rewards should always be a voucher for a service. It costs you a lot less to provide a service than it does to give a product. You can often encourage a client to have a treatment they don’t usually have; 

– Spoil a friend. Your reward voucher can be “one for you, one for a friend”; and 

– Always have a “valid to” date. I usually suggest four weeks. This should encourage the client to visit prior to their next scheduled visit.

To those many salons who may feel they are already operating a very successful loyalty program, remember you need to keep it looking fresh and new.

Some ideas that work: 

– Link your lapsed clients to your loyalty program by sending a letter inviting them to return by a nominated date and they’ll receive double bonus points; 

– Offer an in-salon promotion for a nominated period where you can purchase a product and receive double bonus points; 

– Offer an in-salon promotion for a nominated period, have a beautiful treatment and receive triple bonus points; and 

– Offer bonus points when a client refers someone to you. A great way to say thanks.

Loyalty programs are a terrific way to encourage a client to keep supporting you, but what else can you do to keep clients giving you their loyalty?

2. Get them to tell you!

Step back and have a long look at what your clients want versus what you are giving them.

How do you find out what they want? You ask them.

How do you ask them? 

– Feedback sessions. Invite six to eight clients to attend and give them one or two focus areas for discussion. Encourage honesty and ask for lots of new ideas. I feel that if you have an independent person facilitate the session, you will gain more valuable information. Our coaches offer this as a service to their clients. A breakfast works well. Always say “thank you” to your clients for their time and their input. Give them some feedback about the things you decide to implement; 

– Feedback forms. A great way to gather information. Don’t try and gather information about the all areas of the salon. Concentrate on one or two things and really look closely at these. You are more likely to take action on one or two areas than if you gather a mountain of information that is quite overwhelming to implement. Use them regularly and they will be more effective; and

These two methods will allow you to gather information from your clients about what it is that is important to them and the things that they don’t find particularly desirable or acceptable.

Some magic words you should use every day:

“What can I do today to improve the salon experience for you, my client, and give you what you want?”

The important thing is, now that you have asked and your clients have given you some ideas, make sure you listen and deliver.

Faye Murray is the National Director of training for Your Coach, a beauty-specific coaching company offering tailored coaching and training to salons and spas in all states of Australia and New Zealand. To find out how you can become a client of Your Coach in 2009 and increase your success, visit their website and enrol for your one hour free coaching session. You can also register for your free monthly marketing and business tips while you’re there.

Faye Murray All States of Australia and New Zealand: 0409 342 653, Lisa Ezzy Vic: 0407 159 389, Dianne Ford WA: 0417 982 637, Kym Krey Qld: 0403 042 312.

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