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3 Steps to Discount-Free Salon Client Loyalty

3 Steps to Discount-Free Salon Client Loyalty

In an industry known for an ability to engender long-term client loyalty, it might surprise you to find out that for one in five salons it is client retention, not acquisition, which presents the biggest challenge. Here are three ways to strengthen ties with your salon’s clientele so that customer churn becomes a thing of the past.

In a recent Phorest Salon Software survey of more than 250 beauty industry professionals, one in five listed client retention as their biggest challenge. Salon owners point to client perceptions about prices as compared to competitors or as compared to the cost of performing DIY beauty services at home, as well as staff who are failing to rebook clients at appointments as specifically contributing to higher-than-desired client defection rates. Many salon owners are looking for client retention strategies that engender loyalty beyond the deal or discount, so that clients are less likely to try their competitor’s services.

Competing on price can become a race to the bottom. With profits depleted, cash flow concerns can quickly become more than the flow of new clients can offset. Plus, if it was a deal that brought a client in, a better offer might take them somewhere else.

While you may not be able to make clients completely impervious to pricing concerns or competitors’ deals, you can change the value they ascribe to the services they receive in your salon and lessen the likelihood that a competitor’s deal will lure them away. You can also help them better understand the downside of at-home beauty products and even the risks they run when they opt for what they perceive as low-cost DIY beauty alternatives.

Many salon owners are also struggling with how to motivate and educate staff so that every client is rebooked, or even pre-booked out months in advance. Here are three steps to stronger relationships, repeat business and client loyalty that is not dependent on deals or discounts.

3 Ways to Improve Salon Client Loyalty without Discounting

  1. Individualize the Experience

Nothing about your salon, from the client experience at an appointment to the loyalty rewards you offer should be one size fits all. The more that the client feels their experience is (or can be) tailored to their needs and preferences and the more special they believe they are to you, the more likely it is they will believe that the experience they receive in your salon is not one that can be replicated by your competitors. If they perceive your salon’s services to be interchangeable with the experience they can receive in other salons, they are far more likely to leave when competitors put a better deal on the table.

Your salon loyalty program can also become an individualized part of the client experience. From the rate at which rewards are earned to allowing clients to choose their own rewards, every aspect of a client loyalty program represents an opportunity for you to give clients the impression that they have something to work for that they actually want to receive.

  1. Use Stories, Statistics and Scripts

If clients perceive your salon’s services to be commodities; that is, that they are roughly equivalent to the services they could receive elsewhere, they may be susceptible to offers that would take them to another salon. Price-sensitive clients may also believe that they can achieve satisfactory results by doing some of their own beauty services at home instead of paying a professional.

Individualizing the client experience and loyalty rewards is very likely to improve the perceived value they receive from your salon. However, for those clients that are particularly price-sensitive, you can reinforce the value they ascribe to professional salon services in general, and the services they receive in your salon specifically, by sharing stories and statistics with them about what makes your services special. Cite the continuing education you receive, the techniques which cannot be replicated at home and the concern that you have for the health and well-being of their hair, skin and scalp while they are in the chair.

Ironically, the key to changing client perceptions may lie in changing your own mindset, not theirs. Remember that you are not selling services, because services are commodities. What you are really selling your clients on is your expertise, skills and the extent to which they believe that only you can deliver the results they want.

A strong pre-booking initiative can be developed quickly if your salon relies on scripts instead of stylist initiative. Ensuring that a client is rebooked before they walk out the door can become an automatic event when stylists assume the client wants to rebook and extends the new appointment time before they even present the bill. Salons that want to solidify rebooking even more will allow clients to pre-book appointments out at given intervals over the course of several months or even a whole year, and reinforce this program with automated email and text message reminders.

  1. Add Value Outside the Appointment

Interacting with a client for just an hour or two every five or six weeks at their appointments does not provide you with an adequate platform for accomplishing all of the marketing goals that will turn a casual client into a loyal client and brand advocate. It’s the communication that occurs between the appointments in the form of interaction and engagement online and via email that gives you the opportunity to tell them what is truly special about your brand and keep your salon top of mind, making it more likely that they will feel connected to your brand, share your content online and refer your business to others.

Discounting isn’t the way to a client’s heart, just their wallet. Instead of thinking about your clients as a base, think about them as individuals, and focus your efforts on forming relationships that become an irreplaceable part of their lives.

What about you? What do you think is the biggest challenge for beauty professionals today? Tweet your comment to us @KabbageInc or leave a question or response below.

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Kabbage Team

The Kabbage Team is here to not only fund the small business loans you need, but to help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at content@kabbage.com.

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