Women worldwide believe they know more about fashion and beauty trends than their hairdressers. I’ve been a salon owner for 13 years and, unfortunately, can say sometimes that’s true. But it shouldn’t be.
Never before have we had access to so much information. Fashion influencers are using Instagram and Snapchat like a free backstage VIP pass for their followers. Trendsetters are turning to Pinterest to share and discover hair tutorials and outfit ideas. Are you and your salon staff using social media the same way? Our clients look to us as a cultural and community hub — to be successful, we need to exceed that expectation.
Know Your Clientele
To grow your business, you have to be willing to evolve. In the beauty business that means offering up new products and services. For example, salons nationwide are adding blow-dry bars, keratin treatments and extensions to their service menus. Staying on trend is important to your overall success, but only if the trends matter to your clients. Bottom line: Knowing your client is the first step to growing your business.
I teach business courses to other salon owners and the first question I ask is “Who is your client?” With few exceptions, the answer is usually “Anyone willing to pay for the service.” If that’s your answer, that’s a problem. You need to dig deeper. You need to be able to answer these questions:
- Is my average customer a man, woman or child?
- How old is he or she?
- How frequently does he or she visit my salon?
- How much money does he or she spend during each visit?
With salon booking software, or an integrated point-of-sale system that doubles as a booking solution, I’m able to regularly examine data about who comes into my salon. Because of that, I know my average customer is a woman between 25 and 45 years old. She spends about $132 per visit and is in the salon seven times a year. Information like this has helped me know exactly what services to provide and products to sell.
Tailor Trends to Your Salon
When we know our client, we can introduce her to new trends. There is also an opportunity to introduce services that match your market’s needs. For example, at Ted Gibson our client is typically a working woman who socializes a few nights a week. To entice her to visit the salon more regularly, we introduced a service called Express-Lux. For $35 she can come to the salon with dry hair and have her style freshened up with hot tools, braiding or simple up-styles. It’s proven to be a perfect impulse service for after a client leaves work and before she goes on a date or out with the girls.
At the same time, while the rainbow haircolor and bohemian styling trends are very strong throughout the country in general, my customer isn’t particularly interested in wearing those trends. Creating a new service around them wouldn’t make sense for my business.
Plan Ahead and Promote
When creating services or stocking new products, prepare in advance for the logistics of the transaction to ensure the customer experience remains intact. Will your staff need extra training for the new offering? Will there be peak service hours, like with our Express-Lux service, and if so, do staff schedules need adjusting?
When it comes time for your client to pay, make sure your point of sale system is accommodating no matter what the final mix of products and services may be. QuickBooks Point Of Sale, for example, allows a customer to pay for add-on products or services together with a booked appointment. QuickBooks POS also includes appointment booking and automated appointment reminders sent to clients via email or text.
Those emails and texts are a great launching pad for getting the word out about your new offerings. Include mentions in templated notifications. An introductory discount is another effective, easy-to-implement, promotional tool. Just be sure you know where to reach your clientele. Ask yourself which of the following will resonate with your customers and plan accordingly.
- SMS marketing
- Visual-heavy social media (Instagram, Snapchat or Vine)
- Facebook (great for promoting a “daily deal”)
- Email marketing
- Blog content
- Physical signage at your salon (particularly if your business relies heavily on walk-ins)
Stick to Your Salon’s Brand Essence
Not every trend is for every woman. The same goes for trends and businesses. Look around your salon or online at any of your marketing strategies. Are you trying to target luxury consumers with Millennial hipster messages? You have to choose one or the other and make sure everything you offer is compelling to the people you serve.
In addition to advertising and environment, the products you choose to promote, sell or represent will reinforce your brand’s identity. I recently received a sample of a product called Zombie Snott. The packaging is cool and the product worked great, but no matter how hip it is, I know my customers. They aren’t the type to want undead nasal mucus in their hair.
When we are conscious of our brand identity, our consumers’ buying habits and salon routines, we can more easily develop lasting and trusting relationships with customers. Only after we understand exactly who we’re marketing to can we offer them the perfect mix of products and services.