Have you ever heard of the four R's in hairstyling? Referrals, rebooking, retail and, last but not least, retention. These R's encompass the foundation of our business. Throw a little marketing in there and that pretty much sums it all up.
As hairstylists you are probably practicing all of the R's to some degree. We all know that we should sell retail. You try and re-book your clients before they leave. Hopefully you are asking for referrals, but we all know that referral business can't be guaranteed. Retention is basically the reason for all of these actions. Retail sales and re-booking will directly guarantee higher retention which means that you won't be praying for referrals to make it through this month.
We often get so wrapped up thinking about referrals, walk-ins and creative marketing that we allow retention to slip. It costs six-times more to bring a new client in the door than it does just to keep your current clients happy. Plus, the longer a client stays with you, the greater the likelihood that they will splurge for luxury services and go to you for their retail needs. I'll take retention over busting my butt to market constantly any day!
On average, only 30% of new clients who try a stylist for the first time will ever make it to a third visit. Stylists stress over how this statistic can possibly be true, but it's actually a very simple explanation. This can be for a variety of reasons, but the overwhelming majority stops seeing you because you don't offer anything unique and you don't make them feel special. Pretty simple when you think about it that way, right? I know plenty of stylists who can't cut hair and even more that are terrible hair colorists yet they have a full clientele. It has nothing to do with their skill. They are retention masters and you can become one too!
- Become a consultation master-Your new clients will know in the first 2 minutes if they like you or not. No pressure, but your consultation will make or break the visit. Practice your consultation skills and really choose your words wisely. Make sure that you ask all the right questions and really use this time to emotionally connect.
- Offer upgraded amenities-I'm not talking water and coffee here. I'm talking about something that makes you really special. I know salons who have partnered with local bakeries to offer their guests cute cookie platters and cupcake displays upon arrival. Talk about memorable and special!
- Take the time to reconnect-Do you ever stop and think "hey, what happened to my client so-and-so. She used to see me every 8 weeks and now its been months". I'll tell you what happened. She stopped feeling special. Be sure that you really talk, listen to and emotionally connect with your clients at every visit.
- Be an educator, not just an artist-As much as your clients love your amazing blowdries, what they really want is to be able to recreate it themselves at home. Take the extra 5 minutes you have to show your client how to use a curling iron or how to round brush properly. This will leave a lasting impression.
- Always re-book-Be sure to offer every single client the change to re-book their next appointment before they leave. Even if they haven't re-booked for 5 years, as soon as you stop offering you destroy any chance of them ever saying "yes". It never hurts to ask and re-booking is one of the best ways to guarantee future business.
- Recommend retail-Retail=retention. As soon as a client purchases retail from you, you've earned their trust and this is the first step to retention. You want to be a one-stop-shop for your clients haircare needs and retail is a huge part of that.
- Have a strategic marketing system in place-A constant connection is essential to retaining your clients. Email newsletters, social media, text message reminders, special birthday gifts are all things that keep you fresh in your clients minds. Monthly promotions and retail offerings keep clients excited and eager to hear the latest and greatest.
Get in the habit of tracking your retention every quarter. Take a look at not only your long-term client retention, but also your new business. Be honest with yourself and look at the facts. Most clients believe that they retain 80% or more and generally it's closer to 20% or less. Save yourself time, money and stress and focus on the easiest of the R's, retention!