It’s a tricky time for salons; after being forced into lockdown for close to six weeks (and our Victorian peers are facing even longer lockdowns), we’re in the process of trying to get back to normal trading. And here’s the age-old question: do we focus on winning back our existing clients, or go gang-busters looking for new ones?

According to research from Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, retention is king. In fact, Frederick says that not only is it simpler to retain clients than foster the loyalty of new ones, “it can be five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.”

It’s a notion that Kimberly Smith, a business analyst, agrees with. “While we should obviously always be looking to new business as a means of continuity when existing clients leave us, maintaining the loyalty of exisiting customers is where you should be placing your efforts, especially in strange times like these.”

According to Kimberly, the efforts involved in reminding existing customers of the reasons they favour your salon are simpler and more immediately effective than the efforts involved in luring a customer away from another salon. “A lot of factors come into play when trying to convince someone to give their patronage to a new company,” she says. “Price, convenience and quality are all factors, but mostly, with something as personal as the beauty business, customers build a rapport with their therapist. Switching to a new salon is an emotional decision. With that in mind, building on the services you offer to existing customers is likely going to be a better way to assist your cash flow.”

For example, offering trials of new services to a loyal customer as an add-on treatment will more likely lead to a future booking for that specific treatment, than advertising the treatment in an attempt to lure entirely new customers to your salon.

“The common belief is that to do well and recover quickly, you need to get a whole load of new customers,” Kimberly says. “But in reality, the answer is much simpler. Educate the customers you already have.”

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