While many stylists-turned-salon owners do “okay” running their own shops, their salons could be doing much better if they took the time to really invest in the mechanics of the business.
Below you’ll find 7 ways you can improve your salon business.
Attract More Clients
That’s a no-brainer, right? But how do you go about doing that?
Create a referral program. Car dealerships do it, why not you? Give current customers the opportunity to earn rewards for bringing in friends, family, and even strangers. You can offer discounts on services, free products, or consultations—anything to get new people in the door. Likewise, you can offer new clients discounts in order to eliminate their fear of the unknown.
Target different clientele such as men and children. Offer competitive rates on “standard” haircuts that most go to barbers for. Dedicate a portion of your salon just to children—not only will it help the stressed-out busy moms and dads relax a little when they come to get their hair done, you may end up cutting the kid’s hair as well. The only caveat with this is that the kids’ area of your salon shouldn’t be within sight or ear-shot of your regular clientele.
Look for unique marketing opportunities. One entrepreneurial salon owner in Bangor, Maine writes a weekly hair advice column for a weekly newspaper with a circulation of over 17,000. (That’s a big bang for a few minutes’ worth of work.)
Upsell Existing Clients
Your existing clients can provide the most bang for your buck. You’ve already convinced them to come in your door. Therefore, you should take full advantage of this captive audience. By upselling your clients to more, better, and higher-priced products and services, you’re mining an existing market to earn more money per individual without spending any more.
In order to do this, you have to practice your elevator speech. Existing clients don’t want to listen to you ramble on about something for an hour while you’re styling their hair. They just want to get done and get out (with maybe a little gossip on the way). But if you can perfect a short pitch for a product or service that gets a client interested, you may make a bonus sale today and several more in the future.
Offer New Services and Products
You can earn more money per customer and attract new clients by constantly revising your offerings. Whether that means bringing in an aesthetician, a masseuse, a dietician, or simply offering a new line of product, you have to constantly keep up with what your clients want. Just make sure to spend time doing a little market research to find out what people want before you add on any additional expenses.
Ask Your Clients What They Want/Need
Always rely on client feedback when it comes to altering your services and offerings. But how do you get that feedback?
You can go the old fashioned route and simply ask, but some people are uncomfortable talking. Plus, they may say nice things just to please you. To get the real nitty gritty, you have to give them something in return. Create a contest. A simple comment box placed in-store with a low-cost prize such as an exclusive bath bundle or a free day of pampering for a customer and a couple of friends may be all that you need to get that feedback flowing.
It seems counterintuitive to try and create more business by charging more but it really isn’t. Salon clientele expect a certain level of service—a certain level of luxury—or else they’d be going to a barber or one of those places hidden inside the big box stores. You can use a higher price point to actually set yourself apart from the low-cost competition and create an air of exclusivity.
There are two things you must get right in order to pull this off successfully.
1) Don’t burst your client’s price bubble (there is a cap to how much they’re willing to pay)
2) Don’t forget to offer services worth what you’re charging (nobody wants to feel ripped off)
Identify a Niche and Dig In
Whether your niche is organic products, the Zen feel of your storefront, or catering to busy moms who just need to get away from their kids, finding it can mean the difference between success and failure.
Ideally, you should do your market research before you ever open your doors. Take a look at the salons that are around your potential business and what they offer. Can you spot any gaps they aren’t filling? Can you compete with exclusive offerings, top-tier services, or price point? Make the effort to really identify what your market is missing and then do your best to fill that hole.
Invest in Your Staff
Your staff is your store. These people are the ones who are creating the experience for your clients, they are the ones that are selling your products, they are the ones on which your business rises or falls. It’s your responsibility to cultivate them and reward them for excellent performance.
While competitive pay and benefits are essential for securing excellent employees, flexible (and responsive) scheduling is important as well. While a stylist’s job may not be the most stressful or physically demanding, they deserve a healthy work/life balance just as much as the next person. They have significant others, kids, family and friends as well as hobbies and personal pursuits that all deserve their time as much (if not more) that your salon. You need to recognize that and reward them for their time, their loyalty, and all of their hard work.
Build on the Best and Forget the Rest
In order for your salon to succeed, you constantly need to build its best aspects (customer service, product offerings, and marketing) in order to carve out your market share. Identify the things that aren’t working (outdated scheduling methods, improper/broken equipment, outdated products) and fix or eliminate them..