"It's all about the customer." You've probably heard this phrase many times. In fact, you may have centered your entire business philosophy on these words—but can the same be said about your Web site?
A few months after opening his salon, Patrick McIvor Color Studio, Patrick McIvor realized that his Web site, patrickmcivorcolorstudio.com, did not reflect the customer-oriented philosophy on which he bases his business. "We created the Web site when we opened and made it very studio-driven, which was the wrong thing to do," he says. "Now we've made our site more guest-oriented, which allows clients to find out more information about what they want."
One of the primary changes McIvor made was to add more information about each team member, such as prior experience and specialties, to the Web site. "Each one of our team members has a page with a bio, which allows them to show what they like to do," McIvor says. "We have team members who love doing warm blondes, and the last thing we want to do is get a cool blonde in their chair because then they aren't exploring their art and what they want to do," McIvor says.
Each staffer's page displays symbols that represent who the person is and what kind of hair he or she likes to work with. For example, one stylist might have symbols that signify "10 to 20 years of experience," "likes to chat with customers," or "likes to work with brunettes." "We have greatly increased our retention by getting the right people in the right seat," McIvor says. "And now we have team members who are just getting better and better at what they love to do, instead of just trying to make other people happy."
According to McIvor, the Internet is a huge part of his success. "I know the Web is our greatest asset right now. We have 20 new guests this month; seven have come from referrals and 13 have come from the Internet," he says. Instead of studio brochures, McIvor says he directs clients to the Web site. "Not only is it more environmentally friendly, it gives the clients all the information they need," he says. "The biggest mistake salons can make is allowing guests to go to the next stylist available. That's why many salons have only a 20-percent retention rate."
According to McIvor, knowing when to launch is one of the most important—and difficult—things about creating a Web site. "It's always better to start something even if you have to tweak it later," he says. "Our Web site is a constant work in progress—it's a sculpture that's never finished."
McIvor is now building a consulting company to help other salon owners create this same kind of success with their Web sites. He hopes to launch the service on patrickmcivorcolorstudio.com by fall 2008, in addition to an educational DVD and audio series. —R.A.