This past year, it was not unusual to work from early morning to late at night to fit in anyone and everyone who wanted an appointment in order to pay our bills—what we told ourselves was that we were accommodating clients so they wouldn’t be disappointed. But more often than not, we disappointed them anyway, as evidenced by the fact that seven out of 10 new clients never came back. That statistic suggests something was broken.
We thought we were doing alright because we were making money and could make more the next day too. But what about the clients? How were we treating them in the process? Let’s take a look. Keep in mind these are generalizations.
- We didn’t listen. We heard "haircut," and headed to the shampoo bowl.
- We didn’t make a professional recommendation about their requested style.
- We didn’t tell them which products they would need to keep their hair looking great.
- We didn’t suggest other services that could enhance what they wanted.
- We didn’t tell them about the upkeep or commitment needed for the style they want.
- We kept them waiting. We didn’t correctly determine out how long it takes us to do a service and schedule accordingly.
- We didn’t keep them up to date and stylish because they were "just getting the regular.”
- We didn't have a set schedule, and so we bent and twisted to accommodate clients, even when it didn't make dollars or sense.
- We overcharged and we undercharged, because we weren't confident that we charged the right price or that we're worth what we are charging.
- We give in to clients who say they can't afford all of their hair/skin/nail services and ask for specials, yet they're sporting the latest designer outfit or just told you about an amazing trip or great weekend they had. Then we discount our way out of business.
- If they don’t like their hair, we blame the client. We convince ourselves that we did a great job.
It's easier to whine to coworkers or vent about it on social media than it is to develop the conversational and relationship skills to address the situation, find the real problem and fix it. But most times, if we listen, we can—that is if we’re willing to humble ourselves.
If you’re saying, ‘I would never do any of those things!’ my question is: When was the last time you thanked a client after their visit? Called or texted to find out how they made out with their hair? These things show we care about them as a person and want them to come back, and can prevent a client from feeling like just a number.
Two great things about our business is that what we do makes people feel good and that hair continues to grow and will need to be maintained (as we saw during the COVID-19 shutdown). However, the reality is that some people are hesitant to return to the salon. Even with the vaccine on the way, it may take some time to shift back to normal. Additionally, some people are financially struggling. They may need to space out their appointments, which means less money in your business. They may get fewer services, or they may look for lower cost options, including DIY at home. With all of that in mind, what’s your plan to maintain and grow your salon business in 2021?
The way to win in 2021 is get back to basics—and to become brilliant at them. Taking time to freshen up your hair skills is great, but more importantly, focus on the 5 Rs: Relationships, Retention, Rebooks, Referrals and Retail. And don’t forget the big P: Pricing. We need to focus on taking the absolute best care of each and every client, creating a niche or specialty that allows us to generate the most money with the less time that we have in the salon, and to keep clients coming back.
Miki Wright, founder of www.BeautySuperStars.com and host of the Beauty SuperStars Talk Podcast, is respected as a leader in the Beauty Industry. Wright has been a long time Educator at many of the top Hair Shows in the country. She continues to share her knowledge to help Beauty Pros create the clientele, income and lifestyle they desire with online classes and her new Mastermind. Beauty SuperStars Talk offers weekly interviews that celebrate Black Artists who are excelling in the Beauty Industry and gives beauty enthusiasts a backstage pass to ‘Experts in Beauty’.
Wright is the former Owner of Fabulous Finishes Salon and Day Spa, which was one of the first African-American owned spa facilities in the country! In addition, her salon was selected by Salon Today Magazine as one of the “200 Fastest Growing Salons” in the country, for three consecutive years!
Wright will host a monthly training, Reinventing Your Salon Biz for 2021! to help Hair Stylists and Owners reposition themselves by getting ‘brilliant at the basics’ of business and customer care.