Retention: the word that describes the whole salon industry. If you don’t have clients, you don’t have a business! Look at all the exclamation marks! That’s how passionate we are about this subject!

The most frequently asked question we hear from salon owners is, “How do I get new clients in the chair?” Then next, we were asked, “What questions SHOULD your customers be asking?” In fact, the right question salon owners should be asking is “How do I KEEP my current clients in my chair?”

Take a Look from the Client’s Point of View

Let’s shift your perceptions; step around the desk and look at things from the other side. Look at retention from a client’s point of view. Imagine being a client and not being asked to come back to your salon, how would that make you feel? Put it in the perspective of a guest in your home not being asked to return.

Here’s the perfect story to illustrate this perception; we think it sums it up. After a visit to a salon, a client called the salon manager back with a complaint (while she was getting worked on, the client next to her was asked to come back for any of her future needs by the stylist working on her). The complaining client wanted to know why the other client had been invited back and she hadn’t.

Consistency must be part of Day-to-Day Management!

If one stylist is using the correct dialogue, we all need to use the correct dialogue. If a stylist has the ability to carry on a conversation and inform the client of their last holiday, last night’s date, or their two-year old twins, then they have the ability to ask the client to return to the salon! Again, it is having the right systems in place and a detailed job description for every stylist. In that job description is the mandate for retention.

Did you know that in North America and probably much of the world over, the industry average for first time client retention is a dismal 25%! The cost for getting a new client in the door is between $80-$100 per client. Every time you let a new client leave without re-booking or following up, you are allowing those dollars to walk out the door with them!

Imagine what the future holds for the stylist who can open their appointment book and look ahead several weeks and see that they are booked. It means a steady pay cheque for the stylist and it means a steady pay cheque for the salon. It creates continuity for everyone in the business.

Create a Reason for Clients to Return

The best way to invite your client back is to create and share your client’s hair “future” with them. Tell them what your vision is for them and their hair. For example, you might say, “Sally, the cut I have created for you today will start to lose its style in about 4 – 5 weeks. I will make sure that our front desk finds an opening for you in that time frame.” Or you might say, “Sally, you will have some re-growth with this color in about 6 or 7 weeks. I will have our front desk make an appointment for you in that time frame.”

Then there is the hand-off to the front desk support person. They can’t read minds, so your stylists will have to prompt the front desk with the client’s needs, “Sally will need her color done in about 6 -7 weeks. Would you please make sure to book her next appointment in that time frame?” Or, “Sally will need her hair cut in about 4-5 weeks. Would you please make an appointment for her?”

If a stylist escorts a client to the front desk and forgets to prompt the front desk support person, that support person should prompt the stylist, “Philip, what time frame should we look at for Sally’s next appointment?” The dialogue in the salon should always be aimed at the client’s comfort and their future needs.

Everyone who sells time slots for their business wants to make sure that their clients are coming back. THAT is what insures the success of their business. Our industry is no different – we are selling time slots! Let’s keep them filled!