Better Business Conference

In Their Shoes

To run successful businesses, salon owners must put themselves in the customers’ shoes, advised Colin Caruso, owner of Caru, a salon in Hoboken, NJ, at American Salon’s Better Business Conference. According to American Salon research, the top-performing salons know more abouttheir customers than other salons; a survey revealed they all collect client email addresses, compared with 79.1 percent of others. Here, conferencespeakers share their best marketing tips.

Reaping the Benefits

Rewarding customers for their business goes a long way in ensuring they return, Caruso says. At his salon, he offers guests a blow-out punch cardwith different blow-dry options and even posts a visual of these services on the salon wall. This program not only helps gain repeat customers, but italso provides a chance to sell different hair products. At Caruso’s salon, the staff makes sure to care for existing customers just as well as newones. “We reward customer retention,” he says. During the recession, Randy Currie, owner of Currie Hair, Skin & Nails in Delaware andPennsylvania, says his salon gave gift cards to 975 nurses at the local hospital to increase clientele. Currie says the gesture was picked up by thelocal news station, generating even more interest in the salon. While hairdressers look at what they do as art, Currie says they must also rememberit’s business.

Technology is on Your Side

Salons like Caruso’s use software programs including Demand Force to send thank-you emails and appointment reminders. Client retention stemsfrom a combination of human interaction and help from technology, Caruso says. His salon also uses Demand Force to contact customers whohaven’t been back in awhile. If guests don’t return within eight weeks, they’re considered not retained, he says. Caruso also keeps in touch withguests through Millennium Software, which provides online marketing support, automated messaging and online appointment services, as well as asalon appointment book that alerts the salon’s front desk staff when there’s an opportunity to increase revenue.

Tips of the Trade

Styling tips are effective in keeping customers coming back, panelists agreed. Robert Reed, founder of Ergo Research Inc., stressed the importanceof staff members consulting with their customers and providing styling advice to gain customer retention and referrals. Guests need tangible tips totake away from the salon, which they can share with their friends and family, in turn expanding the client base, says Artistic & TechnicultureDirector for Goldwell and KMS California Patrick McIvor. In addition to styling tips, pampering guests from start to finish of the appointment will makethem more likely to recommend the salon. McIvor suggests that when guests check in, they’re given sample products, which starts the conversationabout which ones are best for them. Outside, face-to-face marketing is also crucial, he says. For example, your salon can have monthly externalmarketing initiatives such as showing guests how they can incorporate hair into Halloween costumes, or giving free blow-outs at the gym. “The keyis meeting people in ‘disruptive’ ways,” McIvor says. —Corie Russell

ABOVE: Conference attendees learn tips from industry experts during the two-day Better Business Conference

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ABOVE: Randy Currie and Patrick McIvor lead the panel "Winning Marketing Strategies" during the Better Business Conference

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ABOVE: Colin Caruso and Robert Reed discuss the importance of customer retention in "The Customer is King"