In this month’s article I would like to ask the question “Are you engaged with your clients?” I think that many salon owners will feel a lot of pressure to be sending out regular emails to clients telling them of news, specials and other information that they hope will lead the clients to return and spend more money with them.
On one hand you will have salons that spend a lot of money paying designers to build beautifully professional emails and on the other hand you may find the salon owner, manager or receptionist creating a rather less appealing newsletter using word, power-point and clipart as their canvass and design tools. And then you will have those that just don’t do anything at all, they rely on face to face interaction when the clients are in the salon and use personality as their engagement mechanism.
Now, I do feel that a monthly or quarterly newsletter via email is very useful as it lets your clients know that your business is still in operation and you are ready for their business … even if they don’t open the email, just the fact that you sent it means that you are operational and are organised enough to be able to send them an email. I also believe in the positive engagement that takes place once the client is in the salon.
However, I believe that there are many other opportunities to engage with your clients in smaller and more frequent communications. I also feel that if they are done right they will be far more effective than an impersonal monthly newsletter or sales special.
Booking confirmations are more powerful than you might think. The most commonly used reason for sending booking confirmations is that they will prevent no-shows and thus save you money. This is true, and important. However, there is something else it does, which I believe has a deeper impact and therefore a longer lasting value. I believe that the client has a feeling of gratitude when they receive the sms reminder. On one hand it reminds them to not miss their appointment and the other hand it gives them enough opportunity to cancel and avoid the embarrassment of not showing up. It makes a small positive impression in their mind about your business and its these positive impressions that you want to create as often as possible and build upon. Talk to your software provider about automating this function so that it takes place at the same time each day and becomes part of your standard operating procedures.
Everybody loves to feel special on their birthdays and sending someone a birthday sms does just that, even if deep down inside they know it was a machine that sent it to them. These days it’s actually common for people to complain if they did not get their automated birthday sms.
However, what people love even more than a birthday wish is a birthday gift and if you are able to offer them something special on their birthday then the chances of them walking into your salon to spend some money with you are even better. How you capitalise on the situation thereafter is up to you. Again, talk to your software provider about automating this process to take place at the same time each day.
If you are running a loyalty scheme in which you offer rewards then whenever a client is rewarded with something ensure that they immediately receive an SMS to notify them about it. Its no use having a loyalty scheme and hoping that clients never use their loyalty rewards. If it has been well thought out then it is better for them to redeem their rewards as the long term benefits are greater. Speak to your software provider about automating this notification so that staff members do not have to manage this process manually.
Following on from the loyalty reward notification, you may wish to notify people that have rewards available but have not been back to the salon for a long time. On one hand it is common courtesy for you to let them know that they have unclaimed rewards and so the impression should be a positive one, as long as the reward value is worthwhile. Maybe only send a notification to clients who have rewards over a certain value so that they don’t roll their eyes when you send them an sms, which costs more to send than the rewards they have available.
One great way to engage your clients is to send them a follow up email or sms the day after they have been to your salon. The message should thank them for their visit so that they feel valued by you and that they get a sense that you want them to come back again.
Furthermore the message should welcome their feedback so that you can improve your service to them and give them the opportunity to complain if they need to complain. Its better for them to complain to you the day after their visit than to complain to their friends and families (or an online complaints forum) and never return to your salon.
Do I need to say it … talk to your software provider about automating this process so that it is something that always happens at your salon.
All salons will have clients on their database that have not visited for a long time. An opportunity exists to send an email to these clients with the goal of either de-activating them from your database or getting them back in to the salon. I would do an exercise whereby you send them some sort of worthwhile offer in order to test whether they would consider coming back or not. If they respond positively it means that you have won back a client. If they respond by asking to be taken off the mailing list then at least you know your database is that much more accurate.
Talk to your software provider about conducting this exercise so that you ensure you send the message to the correct clients.
There are many ways apart from newsletters and specials to engage with your clients in order to continually shape a positive perception of your business. As you consider each of the above remember that once you start you must not stop. It must be something that is continued in your business for the long run. Also, start with one thing at time and ensure you get it up and running properly else you may bite off more than you can chew. Work with your software provider to automate as much as possible as this has the best chances of ensuring it is continued for the long run.