Sports metaphor … it’s Monday, the 1st of October 2012 and the Sprinboks have just beaten Australia for the first time in about 6 matches and for the first time in the new format of the Tri Nations (the Castle Rugby Series).
Heyneke Meyer (Springbok coach) has managed to redeem himself and avoid being lynched by the South African rugby fans, for the next week at least. It’s so funny how quickly we change our minds as only a few days ago most were calling for his head as coach of the Springboks. Let’s see what happens next week …?
For those of you who are rugby Houdini’s and have managed to escape all news about the current state of South African rugby the new coach has received severe criticism for persisting with his game plan of kicking rugby as well as using players who fans think should not be in the team.
To be honest, the Springboks game plan had put them into great positions to win last week’s game against the mighty New Zealand but they had failed to capitalise on all the opportunities their game plan produced.
However, this past weekend after making some adjustments to their game plan and studying previous matches the Springboks not only put themselves into good positions to win the game but they also managed to follow through and take advantage of this fact. They finally sealed the deal!
At this point you may be asking yourself what on earth this has to do with running a salon? So here it is …
Are you getting yourself into a position to capitalise on the opportunities that you create within your business? If you are creating these opportunities are you sealing the deal?
Are you creating opportunities to score?
Generally when I ask a salon owner how business has been going and it has not been going too well then they will say to you that it has been “quiet”. This is an interesting description (quiet) because if the salon has been very busy the salon owner will not generally use the word “loud” or “noisy” to describe their business. I suppose “quietness” comes when there are not many people around to create the buzz that is experienced when you are busy. Either way the terms relates to quantity of people through the door rather than value of spend of those who do visit.
Getting new clients through the door is the first way to create opportunities to score. Generally getting new people through the door is hard work and is very expensive but it is important. If people are not coming through the door then you will never be in a position to score.
However, it is too expensive and too much work to survive only from getting people through the door for the first time. Think about it, if you only had new clients coming through the door then you would be fully dependant on your marketing efforts and would need to be doing this all day every day in order to survive and even this would probably not be enough. It would probably cost more to get the client through the door than what you would make off them from their one visit.
What’s the deal?
The deal that we are talking about in this context is the deal of winning the client. To put it another way you are buying a client and you want to get your monies worth. If you have invested in the branding of your business and promoting it through advertising and other marketing efforts then these costs are what make up the cost of buying your clients.
If you do not RETAIN the clients you buy then you are really paying a very high price for your clients and will not be getting return on investment.
Clients are investments
Now, any self-respective salon owner or even stylist with even the smallest amount of business knowledge will confirm that it is not feasible to only have new clients. Why then do I get more follow up from Insurance Companies, SuperMarkets and Department Stores than I do from hair salons? These companies have understood the cost of winning new clients and that keeping an existing client is far more cost effective.
It is therefore better to think of clients as investments. Good investments yield returns over a long period of time and you need to hang on to them. In just the same way clients should yield returns for you over a long period of time. A client who comes in once and spends R500 is worth far less than one who comes in once a month and spends R500 each time. This is a very basic principle.
Seal the deal!
Sealing the deal (or scoring) requires a game plan. A game plan means that you are consciously making an effort to get clients to return to your salon.
This game plan will be multi-dimensional and the obvious things will include giving the client a good experience when they visit for the first time. This will include everything from the welcome they receive, the efficiency and attitudes of staff, the quality of service and products and so on. But I don’t think that these are enough on their own to get your monies worth.
All of these things put you into a good position to close the deal but you need to actually close the deal.
I think that this scenario is very similar to the difficulty that stylists have when selling Retail. You actually need to go out of your comfort zone and ask the client to return.
Now, depending on the circumstances and positioning of your salon this may take on different forms. It could be that you book their next appointment upon checking out. It could be that you follow up with your new clients via an SMS or Email. It could be that you offer them a special on their birthday or could even be that you put a loyalty scheme in place.
Whatever the circumstances of your salon I believe that clients need your salon to come to mind first when they next ponder a visit to the salon.
Once you have consciously implemented a game plan to close the deal in order to retain clients you need to monitor if your efforts are successful or not. This should start with simply tracking how many clients you are getting into the salon each month and how many regular clients. However, it does not stop here. You need to see growth in your regular clients and if this is not occurring you need to find out why. This could be a salon factor (location, pricing, product range, atmosphere etc) or it could be specific stylists that are problematic and you need to invest energy into turning this around as quickly as possible.
If as a salon owner you are interested in remaining in business then you should bother because there are other salons out there competing for the very same clients that you are competing for. Therefore you need to be doing more than what they are doing. This goes beyond just offering a good service at the right price.
Therefore, do all the basics well and on top of this make a conscious effort to ensure that you close the deal. I would go so far as to say write down a list of maybe 10 things that you are going to consciously do in order to retain clients and ensure that this strategy is shared with your staff because (sports metaphor) if your staff do not know the game plan then how can they be expected to execute it?