Jeff Grissler, Amazon Best Selling Author, Consultant and Educator
Jeff Grissler, Amazon Best Selling Author, Consultant and Educator

When you have guests come to your home, you greet them, right? You stop what you are doing and run to the front door of your home to greet your guests. Even if you were in the shower, you grab a robe and run half-naked to the door. No matter what the situation, your guests are your focus and answering your door and saying hello is a top priority. When greeting them you give them a big hello and a handshake or hug. If they are a friend, you use their first name and you may invite them in depending on how well you know them. Your guest’s immediate attention is your focus, your greeting is essential and your guest is a top priority. If you were to time this event, the whole process would be less than a minute, maybe 30 seconds.

How many times have you entered a place of business and it seemed like hell had frozen over before someone even acknowledged your presence? No big hello, "nice to see you," "great to have you back again," "have you been here before," or "we are so happy you have arrived." Not even a hand gesture  simply nothing. You seat yourself and wait for someone  anyone  to acknowledge your presence. No matter what type of business, you already have a bad taste for the experience you are about to encounter. It doesn’t matter how good things get from this point on, your service experience didn’t start as a 5-star.

Greet Your Customers Promptly

A business study clocked the number of seconds people had to wait to be greeted in several businesses. Researches then asked customers how long they had been waiting before someone acknowledged there presence. In every case, the customers' estimates of time elapsed were much longer than actual time. A customer waiting 30 or 40 seconds often feels like it’s been three or four minutes. Time drags when you’re waiting to be noticed and you know you’re going to be paying for a service.

In today’s world we live in an era of instant gratification. People want what they want, and they want it now. ASAP has become our standard deadline as a society, and when it comes to serving customers and offering a 5-star service level your greeting better be fast, polite and right on target.

In face to face interactions, a prompt greeting reduces customer stress. Throw in the customer's first and last name, smile and put out your hand for a handshake, and the whole world just stopped and said you are important and we appreciate your business. "This is why I came here, for the 5 Star services. I am important!!"

Why would customers feel stress when entering a place of business? Remember, whether they have been there before or this is their first visit, they are not on their home turf and they are likely to feel somewhat uncomfortable. The anticipation of the service, new treatment, new color or hair style has them in a bit of a tizzy, giving them a hurry-up-and-get-this-going or get-me-out-of-here type attitude. Remember what we said before: ASAP is the new norm.

A quick, friendly greeting starts to relax the customer and greases the wheels of smooth service.

Speak Up and Shout It Out!

Who is the designated person in your salon or spa to greet your customers? Is it your front desk person? Your entire staff, if they are near the front entrance of the salon or spa? Is it the manager, or maybe you, the owner? My suggestion is everyone that has the capabilities to smile, put out there hand and say hello. That’s right from the front desk person to the girl or guy who shampoos hair. If they can walk and talk, then they can certainly give the acknowledgement that a customer has just arrived and they are here for business. 5-star doesn’t stop because they may not be the salon greeter. If you want to offer it then it has to start at the top  that’s you  and trickle down to your staff.

How many times have you walked into the fast food restaurant Moe’s and heard, “WELCOME TO MOE'S!” as soon as you enter? It’s not a whisper, you don’t have to guess what they’re saying and you certainly know it’s meant for you. It’s not the person closest to the door who shouts it out, it’s the entire staff – a teamwork approach to 5-star service.

Verbally greet a customer within 10 seconds of the time he or she comes into your salon/spa place of business. It will take the customer that long to put their car keys and cell phone away and get acclimated to the area. The clock starts ticking as soon as that front door swings open and your entire staff needs to be cognizant of the fact that a guest has arrived.

No matter if you are busy with another customer or on a phone, pause to say hello, make eye contact and make sure you have the biggest smile on your face no matter how bad your day may be going. Let them know you’ll be ready to help them soon. If you can’t greet them the right away, your smile should compensate and buy you a few seconds.

Let's look at an example situation that prevents you from offering a 5-star greeting experience:

Mary the shopper has picked out 3 retail products but is looking for an explanation on how the products were made. She asks if the hair product is organic and what she can expect from using them. She simply has overwhelmed you at the front desk and has thrown you off your normal routine. The phone is also ringing and you have two other guests waiting patiently to pay for their services. OMG, what else can happen? The inevitable of course, the front door of the salon swings open, and in walks what appears to be a new customer. He or she walks in, notices a crowd and immediately seems out of place. Remember what we said earlier in this chapter. The clients are not on their home turf and your salon or spa is like walking into a whole new world to them. The clock has already started ticking and you have less than 10 seconds to make a 5-star service happen. It’s up to you, your staff and anyone else to step it up, remember your 5-star philosophies and make things right.

Ok, so you can throw up your hands and your entire staff can yell welcome to Moe’s?? Don’t think so. Instead, you can excuse yourself from the guest you are working with, simply saying, 'excuse me, I will be right back,' and immediately address the new guest. Explain that things are a tad bit busy and promise that in a minute or two you will assist with getting them situated. Then look for any person in the salon or spa to assist until you get a handle back on the reception area. Never lose your cool and always wear a smile that never goes away no matter how bad things get. Job well done, 5-star service still managed to happen, even though for a minute or two it seemed like the world was coming to an end and all was lost.

Many times as a receptionist or greeter, no matter how busy the salon is, he or she must simply acknowledge all customers. If the receptionist is busy, he or she should let the customer know with a simple “I’ll be with you in a minute," and a smile. This can go a long way and save a customer from having less than a 5-star experience.

Talk With Your Eyes

"Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal."Samuel Richardson

How many times have you acknowledged or had someone get your attention with their eyes. The eyes are a great way to say hello out loud without talking. Eye contact will buy you a few seconds when an approaching customer is looking for assistance. Simply looking at your customer tells them much about your willingness to serve.

As with your greeting, your timing is important, the 10-second rule applies here as well, even if you are busy with another person. Quicker is better. The good thing about eye contact is, all you have to do is look up, smile and let the customer know you see them. Bow your head and look straight in their eyes. Job well done, they know you know they are there.

Eye contact creates a bond between you and your customers. It conveys your interest in communicating further. It builds rapport. You don’t have to interrupt what you are doing with another customer. Using your eyes allows you to multi task while still giving the ability to give ultimate service no matter how busy you may be. Just a pause and a quick look captures new customers into an obligation to deal with you further, greatly reducing the chance they’ll feel ignored and leave.

Smiling Says a Thousand Words

How many times have you walked into a place of business and the person who greets you has a mean look on their face? Certainly not the welcoming smile we all would prefer. You immediately think something is wrong and that maybe you should leave, come back or walk outside, snap your fingers and pray that this person is no longer there to greet you and try it again. Most times if you have the chance, you don’t come back. 

How hard is it to put a smile on your face? It really doesn’t require much. You don’t have to eat something that makes you smile although eating something good does put a smile on ones face. You don’t have to go to the gym every day to produce a smile so why is it so hard to give one when a new or existing customer walks in the front door of the salon? Guess what salon owners, managers and employees  it’s not. Smiles and or smiling should be something that your salon or spa makes mandatory. If one can’t smile, then have your makeup artist airbrush a smile on that person's face. Seriously, only kidding, but I hope you get what I am saying here. If they don’t like smiling then they shouldn’t be working for you in the service business. I have a good bit of business advice, send the non-smiling employee down the street to your competitor and have them work there. You will surely get some of their customers in no time flat.

Smiling tells customers that they came to the right place and they are in a friendly environment. Remember what we said before: customers get weird when entering a place of business they are not familiar with. Smiling puts them at ease and lets them know they are on friendly ground.

Smile with your eyes and your mouth. Let your face show that you’re glad your guest arrived. Remember, you are not dressed for work and greeting customers unless you have a smile on your face.

Rocket Science or Common Sense?

When going into the salon or spa business you knew you had the creativity and the business sense, but you may not have realized how important the service offering is to the success of your business. What we have discussed in this post is not rocket science it is the common sense basics that should be applied to your 5-star business strategy. How many salons or spas loose the focus of running a business without putting in the little things that are so important? The greeting is the first part of your service offering. You need to make it memorable. The cost to put these principles we discussed is nothing, except the basic principles you put forward with your team.

Simply saying hello, giving a handshake or a hug when appropriate, using the clients first and last name while smiling and looking in the customer's eyes is basic business 101. I may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but most of these things my mom and dad taught me when I was a youngster. Saying hello, smiling when you meet someone new and putting out a hand as a gesture of kindness was not invented yesterday. These basic principles of kindness need to be used in your salon or spa no matter what the standard levels of service you are trying to reach in order to have business success. Since 5-star is what your business is striving for, then hone in on these basic skills and make sure each and every one of your employees use them when they are greeting and meeting.