Plan now to attract new clients, stay engaged with current clients, learn new techniques and get the edge by partnering with technology.
click image to zoomWestend61 You’re all about developing a relationship with each guest, but does that guest think about you when she’s out of your chair? Talk about you to her friends? Establish a compelling online presence to get the buzz going.
“Have you invited clients to join your conversation?” asks Kelly Ehlers, an online and social media marketing expert with Evoke Brand Strategies. “Engagement is key. If you have 10 clients who are incredibly engaging, that’s far more valuable than having 100 clients who follow you but do not comment or engage. A comment extends to all of that person’s friends, so instead of hitting one person you’re hitting 301 people. That’s the real magic of social media.”
While social media is indeed magical, agrees Nina Kovner, a salon communications coach at Passion Squared, it also can be intimidating, which is why Kovner brings it back to relationship-building.
“The social and digital web is no different from what we already do every day,” says Kovner, who is presenting her program, Social Beauty Live, throughout the country in cooperation with CosmoProf. “Hairdressers already are social! We listen, we respond, we deliver value. We understand the phone conversation at the front desk; we understand the consultation. It’s all in the DNA of the hairdresser; it’s just a different platform.”
Technology enables stylists’ favorite marketing strategy—word-of-mouth— to really explode and generate referrals. “Instead of three new clients per week, you can attract six,” says Kovner. “For a very low cash outlay, you get very high output. Social media can deliver what you’ve always wanted from a mailer, an ad, samples or any other way you’ve tried to generate a continual stream of traffic.”
But it all takes time. How do you choose a preferred platform?
“Meet clients on the platform of their choice,” Ehlers advises. If your primary demographic skews young, you may find that Instagram or Twitter is your best bet, while the Baby Boomers have embraced Facebook in a big way. But the one platform you may want to make sure to cover is Yelp.
“Someone moving to a new city and looking for a hairdresser will type in ‘best salon in Cincinnati,’ for example,” says Kovner. “If you’ve claimed your Yelp page and popped in a picture, and the page has a lot of reviews, you’ll be very discoverable. I know of a salon that had 2,000 referrals to its website in one year just from Yelp.”
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Evoke Brand Strategies
A google-friendly presence is a side benefit of having an online booking page.
“Within the first 90 days after subscribing with us, one stylist in Texas got three new clients,” reports Joshua Spitzer, CEO of Schedulicity, an online booking system offered through CosmoProf. “One of those clients now schedules a shampoo and blow dry every week—at $60 each time.” Schedulicity dovetails with other platforms by, for example, permitting current clients to link from their Facebook page.
Whichever avenue you take, set a deliberate tone for your online conversation, the experts advise.
“A lot of salons are just posting without any idea of the message they want to get across,” Ehlers says. “Your message can’t be only promotional. Approach it the way you would talk to your best friend. People want to see off-the-cuff, witty posts. Then they’ll enter into the conversation.”
Experiment by posting beauty tips one time and exclusive offers the next, and see which generates the most buzz. And try to make the online/offline conversation seamless.“The whole ‘build it and they will come’ mentality doesn’t work in social media,” Ehlers notes. “You have to promote it offline. Your clients are staring at their phones during the salon service anyway. Capitalize on that by having them join your social media network.”
Social media, particularly combined with an online booking system, puts a twist on traditional income-generators.
click image to zoom * Fill gaps. Schedulicity, makes this easy. “If someone cancels at the last minute, the stylist can offer that newly opened time slot on email, Facebook, Twitter or wherever she wants,” says Spitzer.
The latest tool from Schedulicity, “Fill My Book” helps the stylist start up a “deal engine” that generates an assortment of different services and discounts that the stylist can accept, tweak or continue to search.
“The stylist determines everything about the deal—how many to offer, who can see it, which services it includes and what the discount is,” Spitzer says. “Fill My Book provides the stylist with all of the consumer information—email, phone number—the same as if the client hadcalled into the front desk.”
* Upservice. Fill My Book also helps stylists build the ticket with add-on services.
“Clients are enticed with a limitedavailability discount on services they haven’t tried before,” Spitzer says. “This trains clients to watch for the deal and to look for an opportunity to try a new service.”
Ehlers suggests building a Pinterest board to show the services you provide. She explains, “It will remind clients that they’re going to need a holiday blow-out. I know of one salon that posted some cool men’s looks, and women began sending in their husbands.”
* Retail. Watch the sales fly when stylists demonstrate a new product on an Instagram or YouTube video. “This increases product sales and shows off the stylist’s expertise,” says Ehlers.
“People say learning is easy,” says Eric Fisher, owner of Eric Fisher Salon and Eric Fisher Academy and guest artist for Aquage. “It’s not easy. It’s hard, especially for creative people, but Proper U makes it a lot easier.”
Prosper U is the salon business curriculum Fisher and his academy team developed to take the bite out of biz ed. Available through the Eric Fisher Academy, the series of 21 hour-long video lesson plans covers business-building concepts ranging from hard numbers like frequency of visits to soft skills like how to do the client meet-and-greet. Salon teams can go through the videos and accompanying booklet at their own pace.
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“This program presents information four times four ways,” Fisher explains. “There are all sorts of tools to measure how well it works, and we know it works and it’s very teachable.”
For a completely different learning environment, mark your calendar to attend some beauty shows. On March 22-24, many of CosmoProf’s top brands will be exhibiting and educating at America’s Beauty Show (ABS) in Chicago. It’s always inspiring to be in a world-class city with some of the most dynamic hair pros on the planet. This year’s ABS evening events include a showcase of beauty, fashion and talent at BeautyBASH 2014, with all proceeds benefiting the Cosmetologist Chicago Presidents Scholarship Fund’s scholarships for advanced education— pay it forward!