This morning I reviewed a 2011 Small Business Report by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service. The report provided a scorecard for small business success that rated small business marketing as a falling “D” grade. (For those that have been out of school for a while, the only place to go from “D” is “F,” for fail.)
The poor rating relative to marketing and innovation, coupled with an article a friend shared today on Facebook about a salon that is creating at-home color kits made up of professional salon color products which are then sold to clients to self-administer at home, led to this article. The salon reasons these clients were going to use drugstore color if they didn't provide this as an alternative. And let’s face it, if they’re selling color kits, they've also found a way to recoup some of the losses in color services with retail color sales.
In the comments below the Facebook post, stylists were pretty much unanimous in decrying the practice. Even so, it’s not the first version of this story that I have run into online or even in person. It got me thinking about the problem. Aren’t there other ways to keep your color clients in the salon beyond capitulating to economic factors which have led to more at-home hair coloring?
Here are 6 ways to keep those color clients (and improve your marketing grade, too!)
- Educate your clients. If they believe in-salon hair color, administered by a professional colorist is equivalent to buying drugstore color to use at home, then your marketing deserves that “F.” Educate clients on your website, on your menu of services, at the point of purchase, in your e-mail newsletter and on social media about what makes your color services different:
- Your products are superior because (insert the ways your products benefit the client, here).
- You choose different products, toners, colors, etc., based not only on desired color outcome but also on your client’s particular current hair color, their hair condition and local environmental conditions (such as the minerals or other things in local water sources, wells, etc.) What boxed drugstore color can do that?
- Your services include conditioning services needed to restore and protect the hair from chemical damage, and result in less damage to the hair.
- Show before-and-after pictures that demonstrate the pitfalls of at-home color experiments and/or show the amazing color results that you produce in the salon.
- Be more creative. Rather than applying all-over color every 6 weeks, can the time between applications be extended slightly and/or could you develop an “in-between” touch up for the hair color at the 6 week mark that would be less expensive?
- Do the work of budgeting for your clients. Budgeting makes things easier for everyone. Take the cost of your clients color services and the other services that they receive in-between colors (like trims). Estimate what the total for 6 months or 1 year of these services would be for the client, then divide by 12 and break the cost down into a flat, monthly rate.
Ask the client to sign an agreement for the 6 or 12 month period and pre-book all of their appointments out over that time. Each time the client comes to see you, they will pay you the flat rate, regardless of what services they receive on that day. That way, they won't pay $120 one month and $33 the next; they'll pay the same flat rate every month. In return, they'll agree to adhere to pre-booked appointments that bring them in at least once each month.
For customers that pre-book and pre-pay, offer a VIP customer discount, or include a free retail product as a gift with each service.
- Party on! Create group appointment blocks for color clients (this could also be a great way to hold “color party” events in the salon). These blocks of time would allow you to maximize the use of your time, serving more than one color client at a time in a color ‘party.’ Party rates would allow you to lower the cost for everyone, since you would be serving multiple clients at the same time.
- Give away "free" retail. Build the cost of an average retail product (such as a color-enhancing or extending shampoo or conditioner) into the cost of your color services. You add value to the service for the customer by providing them with a ‘free’ retail product, and if the retail product extends or even enhances the life of hair color, you can help clients to stretch out the time between their visits a little bit longer, which reduces their costs over time.
- Take your show on the road. Girlfriends gather in groups to enjoy jeans parties, jewelry parties, lingerie parties, etc. Chances are you have independent party-types right in your client base or among your own family and friends, already. Partner with one or more of these individuals and attend their parties, adding a free blowout or hairstyling demo plus free consultations for all the attendees. Distribute written prescription or recommendations (a free sample prescription form that shows two different options is available at www.12monthsofmarketing.net/bshop.html).
Credit for this party idea goes to Jennifer Beatty of Pure Salon Designs (www.puresalondesigns.com) . Jennifer's website has a lot of great resources including ideas you can use to engage your clients, I highly recommend you wander over and spend some time there!.
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Now available on amazon.com: the 2012 Salon and Spa Marketing Calendar by Elizabeth Kraus.
Elizabeth Kraus is the author of the newly released 365 Days of Marketing and Make Over Your Marketing: 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa, available on amazon.com or 12monthsofmarketing.com.