It’s a fundamental business problem, but one that seems to be passed over by the many business information sources around today. Everything seems to be focused on social media being the answer to all your customer problems, but the truth is that as powerful as social media can be for your salon business it takes time to grow an audience through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram etc. What if you need clients right now . . today . . tomorrow or next week at the very latest! Here to help as always, I thought I would bring together some of the best practical advice regarding the getting of, and keeping, of clients for new and growing salons.
Why Do You Want More Clients?
This might seem like a stupid question, but humour me. If you are already busy, working from 8am in the morning until 7pm at night and spending all your time with clients yet you need more because you are not earning enough money. Then it might not be more clients you need. This might be an ideal time to look at your prices, if you are busy all day with clients and still not earning enough money then the chances are that your prices could stand to be raised. You are clearly doing things correctly to be getting so many client and a modest price rise is unlikely to affect numbers greatly.
Another example area of concern is when you need more clients because the ones you have only come once and then you never see them again. A salon business can not survive longterm without loyal returning customers. If you are only seeing your clients once or twice and then never again, then you might need to take a long hard look at your service levels, basic skills or the atmosphere of your salon . . . could any of these be putting clients off returning to your salon? Think about the real reason you want more clients, is it really more clients you need or is there and underlying problem that no amount of new clients will fix on its own?
Finding the Right Clients
Assuming you have considered the above question and it really is simply more clients you want because you have just started out, just opened up in a new area or you have expanded. Maybe you have taken on new staff and you have additional resources needing more clients to fill them . . . then you are in the right place.
Now I know I said above that this is going to be real, practical advice and you may be thinking “Enough with the considerations and questions . . . . I need more clients now!” Just stay with me for another minute. If you are going to put in the effort required to get more clients then you might as well get the right type of clients, the ones you want to work with. Those clients that make you enjoy what you do and keep coming back again and again! Wouldn’t you agree?
Who Are the Right Clients?
I am going to presume you have at least some clients here. Even if you have just opened your first salon then you will at least have the clients you worked with as part of your training. If you have moved from another salon to set up your own business, then some of your clients will have come with you. Think about your existing clients. If you have a list of names, a card index or database containing your customers details, have a look at it now. Read through the names and identify who are your favourite clients, which ones are a joy to work with and you look forward to seeing them walk through your door. On the other hand, which ones are not quite so wonderful, the ones where it brings you down when you see their names in the appointment book. Think about the qualities that make the good ones a pleasure to work with and the others not so much fun to work with.
The list could be anything from personality type to income level, from gender to age. Don’t worry, you are not being mean, you are simply identifying the type of client who would make your work more enjoyable everyday.
Now, using that list, write a short profile of your perfect client.This is not some pointless theoretical exercise. We need to know who our ideal client is so we can figure out where we can find them and invite them to come to our salon. The chances are that your ideal clients is someone like you, this makes perfect sense as you will be able to relate to them. It will be easier to talk to them and build a longterm relationship. If this is the case then coming up with the answer to “Where do I find these people?” should be easier . . . where do you hang out, where do you go?
How Do You View Your Clients?
While on the subject of “the ideal client” it is worth thinking about how you view your clients? Do you simply see them as walking dollar signs? Or do you see them as people you want to provide a fantastic service for, people you want to get to know and see again and again! The answer to this question might say a lot about where your underlying problem – if there is one – might lie. Just like you need to value yourself, your time and your services you equally need to value your clients . . . without them you are going to fail so take a long hard look at how you view them. If a change needs to be made, is it only new clients you need or do you need to start with yourself?
The Lifetime Value of a Client
Before you think I am getting to carried away talking about “valuing” you “ideal” clients, this is a Salon BUSINESS website after all, you do need to think of your clients in terms of money at some stage. However I encourage you to think of them in terms of their lifetime value rather than just “What can I sell them today?” Even if has been a slow week and you need to bump up your revenue. Never damage the longterm relationship you have with a client by shortchanging that relationship. By giving advice, selling something or charging them for something you don’t truly believe would benefit them, you could damage that trust you have built up and destroy that lifetime value.
The Real Business of Client Getting!
Right, down to business now! The best place to get new clients is from the ones you already have. I am going to make two assumptions now, the first is that you have at least some clients ,as I have stated earlier and the second is that you truly care about what you do and you believe you offer an excellent service. I feel pretty safe in these assumptions mainly because you are here . . . reading this article . . . and building your business.
Client referrals are the very best way and often the cheapest and fastest way to get new clients. For the very same reason that the internet is being used by businesses to create wide social networks, we still value the opinion or recommendation of a friend or trusted individual far more highly than any advertisement. Your existing clients come to you because they value what you do, so why wouldn’t they want to recommend you. The problem is that sometimes they may simply not think to recommend you and they may need a little nudge. So the first way to get more clients from your existing clients involves a very complex formula . . . . ASK THEM!
It really does surprise me why people do not ask for more referrals. As I said, the person you are asking is an existing client, don’t ask brand new clients for referrals, ask the ones that come back again and again. They like what you do, presumably they would therefore recommend you to their friends, they may just not have thought to do so. I am confident that if you start asking your clients if they might know of anyone else that would enjoy coming to your salon you will get a list of names, you will be surprised.
Maybe you feel uncomfortable asking your existing clients to recommend you to their friends? Well, you really shouldn’t, however there is a way to do this without any discomfort what-so-ever and it even increases the amount of people your clients are able to think of to recommend you to! Its the magic of the Referral Offer!
The Magic of the Referral Offer!
OK, so it is not actually magic . . . in fact it is very simple. You basically create an offer, usually a discount of some sort or special package, for your existing clients to offer to a friend who is not already a customer of yours. Make sure that you have some method of identifying who the friend is and that they are not already an existing customer. Also make sure that you know and can track who the referrer is so that you can give them a special reward too. If they know they are going to get a little something out of it then you will be amazed how many referrals they will come up with.
If you really, truly don’t have any clients at all then you might want to consider working for or from an existing salon for a few months, just to build up a client base in your area before opening up your own salon and starting from scratch. I don’t want to stifle your drive or discourage you in anyway . . . but just consider this as an option before taking on the expenses of a salon.
Beyond the Referral
So you have just a few clients – or no clients at all – and even after using the Referral Offer you still do not have enough customers to fill your appointment book. What next?
Time to break out the big guns. It is time for my 3 Step “Client for Life” strategy! However, you are going to have to wait until the next article to read about it. This article here is getting a little long and I don’t want people to skim it and be put off by the amount of reading, so I am making todays article Part 1 of a 2 Part series.
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Image by: hktang