A Loyal Subject: Smart Tips for Customer Loyalty Programs

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Simply put, clients love getting a good deal. That’s the underlining principle behind customer loyalty programs. The client feels like they’re being rewarded for consistent patronage, and the salon benefits from regular appointments. But designing, initiating and maintaining these programs can prove to be tricky. We chatted with Nikki Friedhoffer, (@nikki_doeshair) Scruples Ambassador and owner of Colorboxx Salon in Savannah, GA, to learn how she mastered the art of customer loyalty programs.

Q: What was the first client loyalty program you started? Why did you go that route? Why was it successful or unsuccessful?

A:  Our first loyalty program was a pretty straightforward referral program. It was set up so that when a client sent three new clients our way, they received a complimentary cut. I chose this straightforward route when I went from a one-person salon to adding new stylists. I needed a cost-effective advertising option, and it worked perfectly. Clients really loved it, and our appointment books really showed that love. This client loyalty program was so successful that we still use it 11 years later.

Q: How do you get your staff excited about client loyalty programs?

A:  I get my staff excited by reminding them this is the best measure of their success, having raving fans that promote them. It becomes a win-win for everyone. The stylist feels appreciated, the clients feel great about giving a friend a smart referral, and they’re always happy getting a complimentary service.

Q: What would you say are the five top qualities a good client loyalty program has to have?

A:  First, the program has to make the clients feel appreciated. That’s the linchpin behind every good loyalty program. Second, it has to be easy to track. If it isn’t easy to monitor, your staff and the clients will get frustrated and give up quickly. Third, the reward has to be cost effective or free. Otherwise, what’s the point of doing the program? Fourth, it has to be a program that can endure the long haul. No one wants to start a client loyalty program, and a month later, find out the program is canceled. That’s a quick way to lose confidence with your customers. And finally, the program has to be something that clients naturally want to tell others about. It’s that excitement—both with the staff and the clients—that’s going to get and keep the program going.  

Q: Do you have any funny stories about a client loyalty program?

A: Well, to our surprise, one client tried to get an “advance” on her loyalty points. We had a bit of a chuckle, gave her an “A” for effort, but then we had to re-explain how the program worked. This story highlights an important aspect about client loyalty programs, always be sure that the rules are clearly stated and presented to all your customers.

Q: Besides a boost in revenue or retail sales, what other benefits do you think client loyalty programs give a salon?

A:  It’s been my experience that good client loyalty programs create a sense of culture and community in the salon. In fact, every salon relationship thrives when a client loyalty program is done right—the relationship between staff members, the relationship between a stylist and a client, and even the relationship between fellow clients.