Gaining new salon or barbershop clients is important – but make sure this isn’t at the expense of your existing ones. Long-term loyal clients are the bedrock of your business – but you have to earn their continued loyalty. Find out how to keep your clients, if loyalty schemes can help, and how to make the most of your salon software. 

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Don’t forget: new data protection laws called GDPR came into force in 2018. Under the new rules you cannot assume that it’s OK to send out marketing messages (including appointment reminders and follow-up emails) to your clients. They have to give their prior permission, and you must keep a record of when and how they gave permission. Find out more.

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The value of customer loyalty

Sally Salon Services’ 2017 Beautiful Britain Report found that:

• Women now spend £994 on an average annual basket of treatments, up 13% (£118) from last year.
• Men now spend £779 on an annual basket of treatments, up 9% (£68) from last year.

These figures show just how important and valuable customer loyalty is. Losing even a single customer can be very costly financially. In addition, a lost client may also give your business negative reviews leading to the loss of more customers – whereas loyal customers will help to do your marketing for you through word-of-mouth recommendation.

Find out what your clients really think

A good starting point is to find out what your clients think of your salon/barbershop and the services you provide. There are a few ways to do this, for example:

• Try a client questionnaire. keep the questions short and simple and hand it out to clients for about eight weeks. Explain it can be filled in anonymously, and don't look over their shoulder if they choose to fill it in while still in your salon or barbershop. After all, you want to get honest responses.
• Make a point of logging even minor complaints and grumbles. You can use this information to build an overall picture of your main weaknesses and take steps to address them.
• Check out Google, business listing sites, and your own social media accounts to see what clients are saying about you. Don't be disheartened if you find negative reviews. Instead, take steps to help prevent it happening again.
• Discreetly follow a client's journey during their appointment and try to see things through their eyes. Are they addressed by their name? Offered a drink? Are the magazines up to date? Were they kept waiting without explanation?

What drives customer loyalty?

The Beautiful Britain Report found that women value having a good relationship with their hair/beauty professional as more important than price in encouraging customer loyalty. 

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But based on hair and beauty industry statistics, client retention hovers below 50% and is even lower for new clients. So what can you do to create that ‘special relationship’ with each of your clients to maximise client loyalty?

Make your salon clients feel special

If you don’t make your clients feel valued when they arrive for an appointment at your salon or barbershop, they won’t value you and may start looking around to see what else is on offer locally. Below are a few key steps you can take to help prevent this from happening:

Contact your client before their appointment to remind them about it (this will also help to reduce ‘no-shows’). Tailor your messages: for existing clients say you are looking forward to seeing them again, while new clients can be sent a personalised welcome message.

Always do a consultation at the start of any appointment – even with longstanding clients. This will show new clients that you are professional, able to offer expert advice and keen to understand exactly what they want. Your longstanding clients will also appreciate a consultation before their appointment as it will demonstrate you are not taking them for granted. Find out more about the importance of client consultations.

• Always try to personalise your service – make a mental note of comments clients have made during previous appointments about trying a different treatment or colour or where they are planning to go on holiday. You can then bring these topics into the conversation the next time they visit so they feel appreciated as an individual rather than just one of many clients.

• Make sure you involve all your staff in creating a great customer experience and encourage them to contribute new ideas and suggest different ways of working to encourage client loyalty. By valuing your staff in this way you'll create employee loyalty too!

Find out how to make your clients feel special and pampered as soon as they walk in the door.

loyalty card

Good goodbyes: Once the appointment is over there can be a temptation to leave your client at the cash desk and hurry off to your next client. Your client may then feel abandoned and this could undo all the good work you’ve already done to make them feel special.

Don’t rush them out the door. Ask if they are happy with everything and make sure any discounts or special offers for future appointments have been offered and explained to them.

Encourage your client to make their next appointment before they leave the salon. Suggest a few dates that may suit them and mention that slots are already getting booked up.

With new high-value clients such as a first-time restyle and colour, encourage them back with, for example, a free conditioning treatment if they return for a repeat appointment.

If it’s raining, ask someone to walk your client to their car with an umbrella. Small gestures like this mean a lot and will help to make your client feel valued and special.

Appointment follow-ups: always send out a feedback request to your clients – including your most loyal clients. Make sure it’s simple and fast to do – for example, simply ask if they’re happy with their appointment and request a star rating of between one and five. Follow up negative feedback to sort things out as soon as possible – It’s always possible to turn a negative into a positive. 

 • Make the most of salon software to increase client retention (see more on this below).

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Salon and barbershop loyalty schemes

Loyalty schemes are a great way to keep your hair and beauty clients coming back. Here are a few pointers on how to run a successful scheme:

Keep your loyalty scheme simple, for example, a set amount of loyalty points per visit. Most people don’t want to be bothered with anything too complex or difficult to understand. This will also mean less explaining for you – both to clients and employees who will also need to understand how it works.

Publicise your loyalty scheme – display notices on your reception desk, in the waiting area, in treatment rooms, and at salon chairs. Make sure it’s highlighted on your website and via your social media channels.

Make sure your staff understand the loyalty scheme and feel confident ‘selling’ it to clients. Find out more about the importance of training in your beauty salon or salon/barbershop.

Barber interior

Offer new clients a welcome pack with their loyalty card. This could include a money-off voucher for a third or fourth appointment and some product freebies from your retail range (ask your supplier if they can provide some complimentary samples for this purpose).

Make sure you tailor rewards, otherwise you may find yourself giving away money unnecessarily. For example, a longstanding client who has regular appointments for more expensive treatments may put less value on saving money. Instead of a discounted appointment it could make more sense to offer them an additional service for free – one that they may be happy to pay for in future or recommend to someone else.

Regular but low-spending clients may be more appreciative of money-off appointments in return for their loyalty points.

You’ll need to decide if you want to give your clients physical loyalty cards, or if you want it to be entirely online, for example, via your salon software (see more on this below). Remember that a physical loyalty card or an eye-catching key fob card is a great daily reminder of your salon – making it harder for your clients to forget you!

Salon software and client loyalty

Salon software can be a great tool to help build client loyalty. Among many other features, it can be used to:

• Track employee performance and flag potential problems such as poor client retention.
• Send targeted messages and carry out automated marketing (but make sure you comply with GDPR).
• Provide a computerised diary and booking system to ensure clients are dealt with efficiently when they book appointments.
• Offer online booking for clients for maximum convenience.

You could also consider a call manager system to ensure all missed calls are picked up and responded to. Instead of hearing the engaged tone, your clients would be greeted with a professional message and a reassurance that they will be called straight back. Call manager systems can also divert calls to a mobile phone if your landline goes down.

Your software supplier will be able to offer updates and general advice to ensure your hair/beauty salon or barbershop complies with GDPR.

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 Client loyalty checklist

• Understand the importance of client loyalty.
•Take steps to find out what your clients really think.
• Make your salon clients feel special.
• Always do consultations – even with longstanding clients.
• Ask for post-appointment feedback – and deal with any complaints straight away.
• Don’t ‘rush clients out the door’ – aim to book them in again before they leave.
• Keep your loyalty scheme simple and publicise it well.
• Tailor loyalty scheme rewards to suit individual clients.
• Use salon software to make client retention easier and hassle-free – but don’t forget the need to comply with GDPR.

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