8 Ways to Build a Better Salon Business
Many things can go wrong when running a beauty salon—just ask Australian hairstylist and business guru Tabatha Coffey. Her successful Bravo series Tabatha’s Salon Takeover and later, Tabatha Takes Over highlighted the post-recession plight of countless failing beauty salons across the country, and Coffey’s coup-like efforts to save them from closing their doors forever.
A lot has changed in the business world since Tabatha Coffey’s last show aired, which probably explains why Bravo has decided to update and repackage the hit series for another season. While the new show, Relative Success, is likely to be more of the same—a crash course, boot-camp style business makeover that teaches its audience how to make a salon successful, Coffey’s business advice and salon survival strategies will need to have evolved dramatically since her last taping to address the challenges salon owners face in 2017.
Relative Success has yet to air—Bravo will announce the new fall lineup later this year. In any case, we’re jumping in ahead of time to give you a sneak peek into what we think will fill up Coffey’s brand new, updated arsenal of sage advice on how to improve beauty salon business in 2017—so that you can get started building a better business now rather than later.
Tip #1: Customize Your Website for 2017
Smartphones and tablets have become unusually popular in the last decade. You can be certain that people seeking out beauty services in your city will most definitely be searching for options with a mobile device much more often than on desktops or laptops—and you need to make sure that your website is catering to these potential clients as best it can with a slick, modern, mobile-friendly platform. Your website should also connect with your credit card processing company to allow online purchases through a virtual terminal. This way, you can sell products to customers through your website and expand sales opportunities beyond in-person salon visits. Contact payment processing companies like National Bankcard, which offer specialized services for salons at low rates, including online shopping cart options along with in-store payment processing.
If you need help setting up a modern website that attracts clients and increases revenue, you might want to consider hiring a web designer and a digital marketing specialist. To keep costs down, you should consider hiring a freelancer online—Upwork and Guru are great places to find qualified professionals to help you with your website.
Your website gives clients a first impression of your salon, and if it’s not up to snuff—people will assume that your business isn’t, either.
Tip #2: Choose a Better Payment Processing Company
Speaking of payment processing, when was the last time you revised your merchant services account? If you are clueless about your payment details, it is imperative that you take a look at your contract and start comparing your rates and fees with other companies. These fees can certainly add up, and no one wants to be paying more than necessary under outdated, high-rate plans.
If you’re serious about learning how to make a salon successful, it’s a good idea to choose a payment processing company that is working for you, not against you. As we mentioned in the last tip, we recommend payment processing companies that encourage business growth through specialized tools and services designed especially for salons.
Tip #3: Become a Serious Digital Marketing Player
Back in 2008, social media marketing was an entirely different ballgame. Today’s social media marketing scene is more intense and complicated than ever before, and a good strategy involves a serious amount of time, effort, and dedication towards learning how to take advantage of new technologies, apps and sites to engage with old and new clients. Your goals should include improving Google search rank, maintaining and growing a loyal group of followers, and figuring out how to create an online identity that reflects your brand in the way you want.
Tip #4: Answer Your Google, Yelp and Facebook Customer Reviews
Are you actively engaging with clients and advertising excellent customer service by responding to your online reviews? Whether a client is glowing about your services or raging mad about a recent visit—you cannot afford to ignore them. If they make an effort to go online and post a review about your business, you must make a similar effort to provide them with a warm, thoughtful and professional response in a timely manner.
Your review responses should be personalized, custom messages designed to connect with the client and encourage their loyalty. If a client is thanking you for exceptional service, thank them back—and let them know you’re dying to see them again. If you’re responding to a negative review, apologize and invite them to discuss their feedback with you over the phone or through email. Again, do not make the mistake of answering your reviews with a general, copy-paste message—this communicates insincerity and a lack of genuine concern for their feedback.
If a review is particularly abusive, defamatory, or full of “alternative facts”--you can request that the review be removed from your page. If that option is not allowed for whatever reason, feel free to address the inaccuracies in a polite, professional way in your response.
Tip #5: Get More Likes and Shares
We talked about social media marketing in Tip #3, and now we’re going to talk about producing regular, highly shareable content. You want a lot of likes, shares, and friend requests all day, every day—because doing so will increase your exposure and get more clients in your store, guaranteed.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Every business online is trying to accomplish the same thing, and you need to know your client base and how to connect with them. If you have a blog, you need to write interesting articles on newsworthy beauty topics, trends, new treatments or anything else your clients will want to know about. Post them to your website, and then share the article on your Facebook account, tagging customers that you think might be interested in what you have to say.
Another great way to engage with clients online and get a lot of likes and shares is to post pictures of them after a visit to your salon. Make sure you’re using a professional camera, and that the pictures are flattering—nobody likes bad pictures of them online. Once you’ve gotten a good shot, get the client’s permission to post it to your social media sites, tag them, and add a hashtags that advertise your services.
Tip #6: Start a YouTube Channel
As we mentioned earlier, the best way to find new clients is to engage with them on social media. We already mentioned Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, and your own website. But what about YouTube?
YouTube has become an important tool for business owners seeking to gain exposure and earn more business through clicks, likes and shares. Pick up the camera and start looking for inspiration for your salon’s very own YouTube channel, featuring you and your stylists in a range of fun, shareable videos. Film your stylists expertly demonstrating a complicated technique, finishing up a beautiful blowout, a series of how-to videos, beauty tips and anything else that makes your salon stand out and look professional. Share the videos on your social media sites, and then keep track of the analytics to see which videos are being viewed the most.
Tip #7: Start an Aggressive Campaign to Sell More Product
Chances are, you’re not selling as much inventory as you should—which is a shame, considering the high quality of most salon products compared to what the client is usually buying in department and grocery stores.
Selling more retail will help to seriously increase beauty salon revenue, improve the health of your clients’ hair, skin and nails, and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty with solid results. If you are selling quality products in your salon, your stylists and clients need to know about them and start buying them from you—and you’ll need to set a plan to move the inventory.
Start by holding weekly meetings with your stylists to educate them on the different products you’re selling in your store. Give staff discounts or trial sized samplers to take home and try out for themselves, so that they’re prepared to expertly talk up a product with a customer. Offering your stylist a commission on product sales is a must—so start compensating them for the extra income they’re bringing in through sales if you aren’t doing so already.
The next step for spreading awareness about your merchandise is again, through social media. Write blog articles about new products, or share celebrity endorsements or newspaper articles featuring your merchandise with links to purchase through your website.
Tip #8: Encourage Clients to Connect with Your Salon Online
Another social media tip--and it's a big one. Any business has to actively work to get more followers on social media, and we mentioned earlier the importance of producing shareable content to your website, YouTube channel, and social media sites.
An easy way to amplify the number of people that see your content online is to speak with your existing clients about your online presence, and encourage them to engage with you in any way possible. You can offer them incentives (discounts, free services or products, for example) for following your pages, sharing your content, posting a review, or best of all--posting an “after” selfie along with a mention of your salon.
Think of it this way—your average social media user is connected to about 200-300 people on Facebook and Instagram. In general, if people like or comment on a picture with your salon tagged on it, another 200-300 people are going to see the post too. And that’s just good business exposure, any way you look at it.
It’s likely that Tabatha Coffey’s new show will revolve more closely around improving the personal, real life aspects of maintaining a salon or business—after all, the new premise centers around families working together, and relies on that sort of drama for ratings. Even so, we’re sure that a lot of these helpful tips on how to improve beauty salon business in today’s world will come up time and time again—amidst the usual arguments and stormy exchanges between staff members, of course. As salon owners, keep an eye out for them on the show, if you plan to watch it—and use these tips to learn how to grow beauty salon business into the next decade.