Tags Posts tagged with "business tips"

business tips

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Joshua Ness

How can we know how we are doing as a business if nobody tells us? You will hear every negative comment a client or employee has to offer, but probably only one out of every fifty positive comments! Because we are human, it is the negative comments that sit in our hearts and cause us to worry and fuss. There is a way to head off a lot of the negativity that floats around out there and infects your business? It is FEEDBACK! And not just client feedback, but employee feedback as well!

When we are giving GREAT customer service, our employees are our number one customer!

They also need to experience and understand the customer experience in the salon. To find out about that experience from their point of view you need to ask.

When was the last time you handed out a Feedback Form to either your clients or your staff? Is negativity creeping up on you? If it is, it is time to get out the forms and find out what is going on in your business.

Put together a feedback form for your employees. Some of the questions you might ask them are:

  • how do you rate as an employer?
  • what do they love best about their position?
  • what do they like least?
  • what can you do as an owner to improve on your delivery of service?
  • where do you see yourself in the next twelve months?

The questions can be as simple or as complex as you want, depending on the type of feedback and information you want to collect. After all, if you are collecting the information on what you can do to change, grow and develop, you must be prepared to make the changes!

If you are doing an employee feedback form, make sure that it is anonymous.

Let’s face it – none of us are perfect, but how do we bring about change if we aren’t sure of where to change? Get it from the horse’s mouth!

Client Feedback Forms are different from Client Survey Forms. A survey form establishes who your client is; their age, gender, socio-economic status, demographics, buying patterns, etc. A feedback form tells you how you are doing as a business. This form will include information such as:

  • how accessible was the parking?
  • how were you greeted?
  • how were you checked out?
  • how was everything in between?

Again, this form can be as in-depth or as simple as you want, depending on the level of information you are looking for and the changes you are willing to make.

Use “Consultation Cards” to head off negative results from your clients.

Turn your “First Time Client Card” into a consultation card to be used at the beginning AND at the end of the service. The information you gather should include:

  • lifestyle of client
  • length of time available to spend on hair daily
  • allergies
  • styling competence
  • service expectations
  • types of product used

The stylist then uses the consultation card to go over the expectations of the client for the service they have booked. At the end of the service, the stylist uses the card to affirm they have achieved the results that the client has asked for.

A salon business offered a refund on services if the client was not completely satisfied with the results.  After doing all the right things; consultation card, follow up affirmation at end of service, a client called the owner and said she wasn’t happy and wanted her money back.

The owner had seen the beautiful results on the client and how happy she had been on completion of the service and realized that the client wanted to take advantage of the refund offer by complaining. The owner said she would be happy to refund the money, but could the client please come into the salon and explain precisely where and what the errors were so that the stylist and the business could grow from their mistakes.  Needless to say, the client didn’t return for her money because the salon had given her everything she had asked for!

Feedback is the one of the most important forms of communication you will need from your staff and your clients.  Start collecting information and find out how well you are operating your business.

 

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Rob Sarmiento

Catherine and I are out travelling the world these days and are experiencing customer service from the more modern venues. The shortcut language we have developed between ourselves usually results in a lifted eyebrow, immediately followed by guffaws of laughter as we recognize that we read the situation in the same manner.

The Ideal Customer Experience

If customer service is in the small things we do for our customers then let’s look at those small things individually, then add them up to that exceptional customer service experience:

The greeting

Introductions are important, so introduce yourself and then make sure you use their name at least five times while they are in the salon. It has been proven (boy, wouldn’t you love to do that research!) that it takes five times for the customer to feel like they belong to the salon.

The consultation

Whether it is for the first time or repeat client, a consultation is an important aspect of the customer service experience within the salon. There should be a specific formula for first time clients and a follow-up consultation with each visit afterwards.

The service

Make it about them, their hair, their fashion, their color, their world!

Presenting retail; an extension of the service you offer in the salon. Make sure that your clients go home with product to enhance their salon experience. It also improves your chances of your client returning.

Re-booking

Take care of your client’s hair future. It is part of the customer service experience – they will be grateful!

Check-out

Graciousness and courtesy throughout!

Smile, smile, smile

Through the entire transaction; from greeting to check-out.

Example Good Customer Service

We were at a Starbuck’s last week and had the most wonderful server at the counter. A welcoming smile greeted us and an uplifted voice asked us for our order. After placing our requests she told us to find a seat and she would bring our order to us. When she arrived with our coffees she also had a sample of the freshest batch of muffins for us to try. Again, a lovely smile and a gracious attitude. We were both struck by the overall feeling of well-being; of being welcomed in a place of business.

Here’s what intrigued us: her smile and welcoming attitude, method of introducing a new tea blend to us and the use of the word “experience” in describing a new product. She brought our coffee to us rather than make us wait at the counter where the barista makes it (you know as well as I do, they don’t normally do that!), and she brought us a sample of a new product to try.

Each of these aspects seem small on their own, but put in a total package from the coffee shop perspective, this was exceptional customer service! It made me realize that exceptional customer service is in the small things we do for our clients.

Improving your Customer Service

What else can we do to bring an exceptional guest experience to our salon clients? We have a tendency to sometimes take our clients for granted. We have an established relationship with them so perhaps we stop seeing them as new and fresh when they come in to the salon on a regular basis.

Ask for customer feedback

Our first clue then is to take a step back when a client comes in to see us and see them as new again; kind of like an old love that we want to refresh and re-romance! Ask your client how they are doing! Put together a client feedback form and get the information straight from the horse’s mouth. Again, this will gather valuable information for you to analyze and make adjustments.

Compare your business with competitors

When was the last time you or your staff experienced a salon service in another salon? It is an important aspect of the customer service you offer to your own clients. Find out what services others in your area are offering to their clients. You may learn something new or you may come home happy with the level of service you are offering at your own salon.

Bring in a mystery shopper

Have you ever hired a mystery shopper to explore your customer service policies? Ask a friend from a community group, someone who hasn’t been a client of the salon; ask them to be your mystery shopper and give them a gift coupon for one of the services provided by your salon. After their visit give them a feedback form to fill out. The feedback questions should cover every aspect of their visit, from greeting to check-out. Cover all the areas discussed above. The information gleaned from the experience can guide you to service improvement or a super-duper pat on the back to your staff!!

Put together a customer service policy

Finally, it is important to establish a written customer service policy for the salon. Every aspect of our clients’ experiences needs to be in writing within your policy manual. That way your customer service policy is part of the systems you have developed for the salon. It will make your life simpler when the plan is laid out and in writing. Any questions your staff have on how to handle a client situation will be in an established policy for them to follow; takes some of the guess work out of the equation!

So let’s get out there, romance our clients and watch our retention and re-booking figures grow in an upwardly motion!

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Kris Atomic

Just got back from a selling trip in another city; and it looks like the same issues exist in every city! We came up against one of our major complaints at least SIX times over the last week – service providers that are DISCOUNTING their services!

The unfortunate truth: stylists only do it, because the salon owner allowed it to happen.

We cannot understand how a service provider can charge their clients a lower price than the one offered on the menu!  As a salon owner/business person, you establish your pricing based on what you need to bring in to the salon to meet your rent, salaries/commissions, and expenses. It’s actually stealing from the salon owner to charge less than the prices stated by the owner! Yet, salon owners complain about this happening over and over again.

Because we actually touch people, service providers often feel close to the client and think of them as friends and therefore want to offer them gifts like lower prices. This also happens when the service provider themselves feel they are not worth the price being charged or make unnecessary assumptions that their clients can’t afford their services. The most upsetting thing for these Two Blondes is the complaining that salon/spa owners do when this happens. If you have discounting happening in your business, go and look in the mirror for the real culprit!

Imagine this scenario: you need $30,000 per month to break even with your expenses. You set your prices accordingly, market your business, book your employees and BANG! Johnny Angel decides that $60 haircut is too much for his clients to pay and only charges them $45. He still gets his 50% commission of $22.50 but the business has been screwed out of the necessary amount they need to cover the cost of the service. If you are like the majority of business owners, you are probably not making much profit and that discount Johnny just offered just cost you 8% of the sale!!

PUT IT IN YOUR POLICY MANUAL!

If a stylist is discounting due to lack of faith in their abilities, consider putting the stylist back to a level where they feel more comfortable. The solution is really quite simple. When you hire a new employee, make sure that they understand all of the policies in your manual. Go over this particular one until you are sure they understand the implications.

Let the stylist eat the discount.

If you discover that a service provider is discounting, take the discount from the service provider’s portion of the service. In other words, if a service is $50 and the client is only charged $40, the lost $10 should come out of the service provider’s portion. For example, if you are paying a 50% commission, then the salon still receives its $25 and the service provider receives $15. Johnny Angel, for example would only receive $15 for the service he performed instead of the $30 he should have earned if charged correctly or the $22.50 he would have received for discounting.

Number One lesson here? As the owner, you have the right to determine the policies and procedures you want in place to operate your business efficiently. Do it!

Policies are the foundation that every business, that’s EVERY business, from the largest corporation to a small enterprise, must have to determine how they want their business managed and developed.

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Dan Gold

One of the recurring themes we hear from stylists (and even owners on a regular basis), is “I don’t like to sell”. Here are some real truths: every service organization is selling something– either products, services or the people who give it. If a client comes back to see a stylist a second time, it’s because the stylist has sold their service value. That’s selling! So guess what: we are in the business of selling.

The sale makes the customer.

It took me a minute to get it, but here’s what it means: we often think that it is the customer that makes the sale, but if you change it around and look at it in a different light, you start to realize that the point of sale can be the pivot point in creating a long-time customer.

As an example, Catherine and I were out shopping the other day in a store we hadn’t frequented before. We weren’t offered any help on the floor, but finally found what we were looking for and proceeded to check out. We weren’t given any love there, either! Our discussion on leaving was, “Well, they didn’t make a customer there!” That idea of “the sale makes the customer” came back to me and I finally got it. If that store had given us the feeling that our attendance was appreciated and our business was worth something, that store could have made long-time customers out of us.

Nathan Fertig

So, let’s think about what goes into the sale.

Of course, the most important aspect of a sale is to have a customer! That means prospecting or finding the customers to frequent our business. Once we have a prospective customer, we offer to sell them something; in our industry, of course, we are offering time slots for services, and take home products for maintenance.

This is often where we, as an industry, fall down on the job. We leave all the decisions to the customer. We let them direct our business because we don’t help them in the decision making process. What makes a successful business is a returning client. They don’t come back unless you ask them! They don’t buy anything unless you ask them!

Most of us are not trained to sell. Selling isn’t a skill that you are born with; it is a skill that you develop. Make no mistake, every business that you and your employees will work for, will be sales organizations. You are either selling products, services, or your own personality.

In our industry, the products and services we sell to our clients enrich their lives.

We are their beauty experts. We ensure that their hair, fashion, scalp-health, skin care is up-to-date and increases their sense of wellness. We ENRICH their lives! Let’s change our attitude towards presenting our products and services to our clients and ENRICH their lives with our talents and products.

Let’s break down ENRICHING into something easy and manageable. Here’s Enrichment 101 in a nutshell! Let’s ASSUME every client or customer wants what we have to offer and offer it to them. Let’s word our offer in such a way that it ends up guiding our client in the decision making process. To do that we simply offer them ALTERNATIVES until we have satisfied their needs.

Here are a couple of examples:
  1. “Mary, you will notice re-growth from your colour in about four to six weeks. Let’s book your next appointment in that time frame so that your colour stays fresh. What works best for you: the beginning or the end of the week? Morning or afternoon? Which time works best for you, 9:00 or 11:00? “
  2. “Mary, the colour care shampoo we talked about to hold your colour investment is available in either an 8.5 ounce size or a liter size. Which works best for you?
Felipe P. Lima Rizo

It sounds simple, yet stylists and front-end staff often struggle with these simple techniques. The best way to overcome this objection is to create some simple scripts for employees to use and you can create your own, like the samples above. Then make sure that every staff member has a copy. The consistency of dialogue is very important. After a day or two of scripted dialogue, the conversation becomes your own!

Let’s face it; you can be the greatest technician in the world, but if you don’t have a client in your chair, are you still a stylist? We need clients to be stylists! To get clients, we have to sell our services. So, let’s get out there and practice!

 

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I was discussing prices increases with salon owner last week and he brought up a conversation that he had with a customer who was concerned about hair cut prices. When a service provider gets asked questions with the implication that their service is too expensive, it’s hard not to get insulted for all the incredible service providers who spent years studying and practicing on perfecting their methods. What does this client think a stylist or esthetician is worth?

Profession Comparison Examples

The client has come to you to put chemicals on their head, cut their hair into enhancing styles, educate them about current fashion and trends, and keep them in the loop on scalp and hair health! So, why do we allow clients to dictate how much of a living we can make?

We always say we don’t do it for the money, and that it isn’t the only motivating factor for a career, but should this justify our complacency in accepting this lower-income status? Plumbers make an average of $52,000 a year in Canada before overtime, with a similar amount of training. An immigration and customs inspector, which requires far little training, earns $54,000 per year. The average police officer receives $51,000 and requires about a year at an academy. A brick mason earns about $47,000 per year, with minimal training.

Take Matters into Your Own Hands

Become active in your local association board and take responsibility for our industry’s growth! Actively educate your clients on the training and expertise you bring to the table and get involved in a local business groups.

Did you know that at one time dentists were also barbers and hairstylists? And look at what they have done for their profession! They have taken it to another level of expertise and customer care! Truly, why can’t we do the same in our industry? Even the manufacturers of the professional brands that YOU put in the consumers’ hands overlook the value of the stylist. Think about this: often the products you recommend cost as much as the haircut you created for that individual.

All over the world, many believe that beauty helps them get what they want and that the relationship between happiness and beauty is directly proportional. Isn’t it time for us, the people who populate the beauty industry, to take a stand and say, “I AM WORTH IT?

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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!

 

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