By Chris Parker
If your appointment schedule is full for the next three years and you have no plans to expand to more branches or more stations in your salon and you are happy with your current turnover then the following information will not be that useful to you.
However, if you still have space in your appointment book that you would like to fill then perhaps some of these tips may come in handy.
Book their next appointment before they leave
This practice is nothing new but very often is not used. When a client walks out make sure it is with some sort of retention plan in place. Try and not ask a closed end question like “Would you like to book your next appointment?” to which a client can simply answer no and close down the discussion. Rather ask “When would you like to book your next appointment for?” If the client says they will get hold of you when ready then ask if its ok for you to send them a follow up reminder, just keep the door open.
Remind them of their appointments
A client who does not show up for their appointment means empty slots that will be harder to fill on the day. Two SMS notifications should go out, one when their appointment is first made that confirms the fact that you have in fact scheduled them and secondly a reminder the day before. Ideally this should be automated so that its not up to staff members to remember to do it.
Work harder to find an opening
If you are fully booked don’t let the conversation end there. If it’s a new client then work hard to make a plan because the cost of acquiring new clients is very high and may be worth your while to offer an incentive to come at a different time. If it is a regular client then work just as hard to make a plan as regulars are your bread and butter throughout the year. Encourage staff members to check a clients profile while they are on the phone to give them a sense that they know the client and make them feel important to the salon. If you are anticipating a busy time ahead and perhaps a lot of tourists then a good practise would be to send out an SMS to your regulars to encourage them to book early to avoid disappointment during busy times.
Find out what their goals are
The consultation with your clients is the focus area here. Finding out what their desired outcomes and goals are regarding their hair implies a journey rather than a once off stop. A journey implies future visits and the question “What are we doing today?” starts to feel a little bit out of place because it has no greater context and it’s almost like you are surprised they came back to see you for another haircut.
Flag first time visitors
Take special note of first time visitors. These are your most expensive to acquire and so you want to make especially sure that they come back again. All of the other points in this article are especially true for first time visitors and you want to get some sort of sense of how many first time visitors you are retaining.
Give them a chance to complain
I recall getting my car serviced recently. When I collected the car I asked the service advisor if all the headlight bulbs had been checked as I recalled that one was faulty. He advised that it is a standard check and that they were all fine. I asked him to double check as I was sure there was a problem. A technician from the workshop re-assured him that the bulbs had been checked and were all fine. However, we all went over to my car to check and it was confirmed that there was actually a problem with one of my bulbs. The concern for me was, if such a simple problem had been overlooked what else had they missed. Nevertheless the service advisor was very apologetic and advised me they would order the bulb and call me to bring the car back when the bulb arrived. I left without kicking up much of a fuss.
A few days later I received a machine generated follow up SMS to find out if I was happy with the service received. At that point, when I was not face to face with the service advisor I felt the need to say something, and I did. I then received a follow up call to further understand my dissatisfaction and take further measures.
Now, the point here is that they found out about two things, one the fact that poor service had been offered, which they could address internally and two, that I was actually an unhappy client even though I didn’t say anything at first.
It takes very little to get a follow up SMS going out to your clients each day and in most cases your clients will not respond to them if they were happy. However, if they were unhappy it gives them a safe way to complain and gives you an opportunity to save a client. 25 cents for an SMS versus the cost of losing a client..? It seems like a no-brainer to me.
And one more thing … if a client complains then give them something as an incentive to come back. Start with a “sorry” but finish with something enticing like a freebie or a discount of some sort. Nothing tells them you actually mean it like when you put your money where your mouth is.
Contact them if they don’t come back
Follow up with clients who do not come back to your salon. Your methods should be slightly different for different types of clients. For example, in one process you want to know of any of your top spending clients who have not come back and then follow with them with one particular message. Then, in another process you want to know which of your first-time visitors have not been back and then follow with a different message. Then for the general population of your clients who have not been back you may follow up with a more generic bulk message.
A full appointment book is not the only way to generate revenue but it plays a large roll and very often we have more control over this than we think. Some of the requirements can be automated with technology but others rely on the efforts of your staff members. Therefore it is critical that your staff are trained on what is required of them in order to play a deliberate roll in your salons successful retention of clients.