Referrals are the gold standard in this industry and success is built upon both word of mouth and online referrals. Paul DiGrigoli, owner of DiGrigoli Salon and DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in West Springfield, MA, says, “Referrals are the money machine.” The quality of your work should speak for itself. Easy, right? Well, almost. DiGrigoli offers several tips on how to master the “money machine.”
1. When a client leaves the salon your autograph is on their head. Think of your cut or color as personal branding.
2. Develop an authentic rapport with your existing clientele. Your personality can go a long way to gaining a client’s trust, which can then lead to a referral.
3. Retention determines how fast you can accelerate in building a clientele. Focus on your existing customers by offering them an experience as well as a high-quality service.
4. Professionalism is key. Dress for success. The way you carry yourself affects how many clients trust you and ultimately impacts your income.
5. Consistency counts. A client has to come back to you at least three or four times before he or she can be considered a regular client. If clients love what you do and connect with your personality, they’ll refer you to their friends, co-workers and even strangers.
6. Immersion is the name of the game. Be fully involved.
7. Always carry a minimum of 10 business cards with you everywhere. If you want to go to another level, put these words on the back of your card: “Thank you and I appreciate you,” followed by your name.
8. Avoid distractions that don’t help your business. There are no time outs.
Steven Brooks, another industry expert weighs in on some strategies that he's used in his salon, Diva Studio, in Las Vegas to increase referrals.
1. Think about why clients would refer you and find ways to engage in conversations that give them the tools to promote your work. Offer them incentives for referring new clients.
2. Understand that referrals tie into online reviews.
3. Reward stylists who get a certain number of referrals by offering them a perk such as a three-day vacation package or a cruise. Motivate them to continue to draw in new business.
4. Carefully manage your online reviews. Leverage your positive reviews by sharing them on your social media platforms and always thank the reviewer personally. That way they feel acknowledged and engaged in continuing to promote your business.
To Push or Pull?
It’s important to understand both push and pull actions says Brooks. For example, someone who comments on a client’s new look and gets a referral falls into the pull category. In other words, the referral gets pulled out of the client. A push strategy would be giving your client the tools to refer your services online or via word of mouth. One idea is to offer gift cards to clients who refer even one person. Another strategy is to engage in a conversation that targets somebody they know who might benefit from a makeover or a new cut. Offer an incentive for the client to refer them to you.
Neil Ducoff, founder and CEO of Strategies, a coaching business for the salon and spa industry, offers his advice on referrals.
Create a salon Code of Conduct that states, “Everyone is responsible for creating extraordinary client experiences.” It should include stylists and other service providers as well as front desk, guest services and call center staff because they are the front line creating and maintaining every client’s experience. More than anything, earning referrals is a team sport. Anything less is a compromise.