How To Talk About Referrals

Kelly Cison | July 10, 2011 | 10:19 AM
Hesitant to broach sensitive subjects with your clients? Never feel tongue-tied again! Use expert tips from our comprehensive guide to talk to clients with professional confidence.

How To Talk About Referrals
How To Talk About Referrals

It's a problem that's not unique to new stylists: "All salons lose guests to attrition," declares John Benedetto, education director for Global Keratin Hair Taming System. "Without new guests, there can be a significant drop in revenue." And, as any beauty professional knows, it's much easier to continuously attract referral guests through satisfied customers than to scramble for a new brand-new clientele after your base has already dwindled. For that reason, innovative salon teams are working together to encourage a steady word-of-mouth buzz.

The tried-and-true referral card is one surefire incentive. Here's how it works at Accolades Salon and Spa in St. Paul, Minnesota: "It's mandated that each stylist presents three referrals cards to the client at the front desk during check-out," explains owner Brad Schlaeger. "They also include their business card, present their retail recommendations, thank them for the service and shake their hand." When the client passes on the referral card to a friend, the new client gets $10 off her first service, and the referring client gets $10 off her next service. Referral cards typically have the current client's name written on it, so it's easy for the stylist and front desk to track.

Other salon-wide initiatives drum up excitement that clients love to share with friends. Indra Salon and City Spa in Andover, Massachusetts, regularly throws in-salon parties to celebrate top clients, reports owner April Lyn Graffeo. The favored guests are indulged with wine and cheese and watch fun runway presentations that showcase fashions from local boutiques. Each invitee can bring up to five friends who get to see the salon, meet the stylists, learn more about the services … and maybe even become top clients one day themselves.

The Spa at Folawn's in San Antonio, Texas, uses the allure of exclusivity to draw referral clientele. Their Spa Club memberships, available at three different price points, allow a spa guest to receive an array of discounted services every month. And talk about friends with benefits: Any pal who accompanies a club member for a service will get the same discounted prices.

Folawn's VIP program takes the club idea to a new level. Their VIP clients, whom they dub "Honorary Board Members," pay a $2,000 fee to receive a credit for $2,200 worth of services-as well as goodies like free products, a discount on retail, and a spa robe and slippers. The VIPs also get special pricing when they bring a friend in any time, as well as special nights at the spa where they're encouraged to bring a group and try out complimentary mini services. With currently about 40 "Honorary Board Members," there are a lot of people spreading the Folawn's love!

On an individual level, be sure to take good care of your all your clients. Reward them for their loyalty with advance notice on special promotions, little extras on their birthdays and thank-you notes for their business. The extra effort will have them talking you up to everyone they know!

How To Talk About Referrals

Also in the same series:

...Updating Their Style
...Breaking Up
...Other Services You Offer

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