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Mindset: Tips from Tech Leaders on Leveraging Technology to Attract and Engage Clients

Anne Moratto | July 19, 2017 | 1:19 PM
—Michele Pelafas, Michele Pelafas, Inc.
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Jim Bower, Rosy Salon Software
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—Detra Smith, artistic director, Hot Tools
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Shelly Yomano, MyAppointments Salon Software
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—Dilan DeSilva, Web App Clouds
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—Corrinn Dinan, social media creative team member, Arrojo
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—Rosa Hawkins, national artist, Goldwell
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—Stephanie Jennings, senior VP of sales, Mindbody
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—Louie Lago, president, SalonBiz
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—Tamra Segert, national trainer and salon owner, Eufora
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—Micki DeJean, Ennoview
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—Jeff Mason, president, STX Software
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—Krista Troy Foster, VP business development, Smarter LifeStyle Network
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—John Harms, CEO and founder, Millennium maker of Meevo
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—Joe Atang, Summit Salon Consultant and owner of Innovative Looks Hair Salon in Houston
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—Jeff Dickerson, CEO of DaySmart Software, maker of Salon Iris
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—Leslie Salonen,  John Paul Mitchell Systems and Studio Be Salon Social Media Director
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—Eric Ducoff, vice president, Strategies
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As technology evolves, it continues to offer salon businesses more opportunity. New platforms, applications, updates and tools are introduced to a market hungry for what’s new. We invited the sponsors of this technology issue to answer: How can salons and stylists leverage the latest technology to attract new clients and continuously engage existing ones?

The latest technology in station mirror lighting can be an effective tool to continuously engage your existing guests who can experience a high level of comfort and happiness during their visit. One of the biggest complaints from the consumer in salons is that they don’t like their appearance in the mirror because of poor lighting and shadows. This seems so simple, yet this is a repeat offense in most salons. Guests are tolerating this infraction during their visit while they are there to change and enhance their personal appearance for the better. For this reason and in this type of environment, it is mandatory that the lighting enhance their guest’s beauty and not detract from it. By utilizing an electronic mirror with LED lighting integrated into them with a 2700 to 3200 Kelvin Temperature Bulb and a high-color rendering index of 86 or better, these results can be achieved and you will have a guest that is not only relaxed and confident but happier for it.To learn more about salon lighting, check out my blog on salontoday.com.

—Michele Pelafas, Michele Pelafas, Inc.

With the power of the Internet at our fingertips, stylists and salons are able to see immediate marketing results. It’s not uncommon to see a new stylist quickly build his or her book by regularly posting on Instagram or Snapchat. Strategic use of Instagram Stories, @tags, #hashtags and geo-location tagging allow stylists to cast a wider net, showcasing his or her work to the type of clientele they want to attract. We’ve witnessed tremendous power in a salon team working together to develop a cohesive social strategy, which encourages all stylists to have a professional profile and posting guidelines at the very least. Before it would take years for a salon to build its books, but now we’re seeing it happen in rapid time through marketing on social media. Finally, new salon software and smartphone technology also allows the hairdresser and owner to communicate with clients in increasingly strategic ways. Targeted marketing, for example, allows for messaging that is personalized to specific clients and engages them in ways that was not possible before.

—Matthew Pestorius, VP of sales, Oribe

Today’s customer expects convenience. They order food online, shop for clothing and gifts online, book travel online and, these days, expect to schedule their salon and spa services online. The best way to offer such a convenience is to make booking your salon or spa services simple and accessible. Web-based salon and spa software with online client scheduling allows you to do that. Between a mobile web app, a portal on your website and through social media, your customers always know how to find you and book services. And the beauty is that they can do it 24/7 as their schedule permits. To engage with existing customers, try setting up automated emails to thank them for becoming a client, wish them a happy birthday, or even to remind them that they have not booked in a while, is a good place to start. Keeping them informed with regular email newsletters and offering unique, helpful and hopefully share-worthy content on your blog and through social media helps keep them interested.

—Jim Bower, Rosy Salon Software

 A few years ago, I would have been worried if the phone wasn’t ringing. Now I think nothing of it. The clients that visit my salon are very impressed by the online booking option. They like the convenience of seeing the available appointment options and choosing for themselves. They appreciate the email or text reminders. This has reduced the number of no-shows more than enough for the system to pay for itself. Innovative technology in the latest tools impresses clients. The Hot Tools Curl Bar is built for ergonomics and ease of use. The minute I use it, the clients want it. Another favorite high-tech tool is the Hot Tools Smart Touch Flat Iron. The controls are touch-screen. Salons that are not keeping up with the latest technology may give an impression that they do not keep up with the latest fashion, hair, and makeup trends either. Stylists must be tech savvy in order to have a trendy clientele.

—Detra Smith, artistic director, Hot Tools

Today’s technology makes it much easier for salons and stylists to manage and grow their businesses. Cloud-based software allows them to access data anytime, anywhere, on any device. Automatic notifications and confirmations reduce time playing phone-tag with clients and also greatly reduce no-shows. Clients can book or request their appointments online 24/7 from any mobile device. This results in more scheduled appointments and higher client retention. New clients discover your salon on social media sites or through internet searches and can book their initial appointment online. Existing clients will be more likely to book appointments if they can do so from any device at their own convenience.

—Shelly Yomano, MyAppointments Salon Software

 Technology is a part of our everyday lives, and it is rapidly changing consumer behavior from buying habits to daily tasks. The biggest challenge a salon and spa owner is faced with today is how to leverage their existing salon software to get new clients, retain existing ones, and sell more retail. Salons and spas can accomplish this with bots, beacons, and free online tools like zapier.com. A beacon essentially is a tiny, low power, inexpensive device that can be attached to walls or objects. It uses proximity technology to detect human presence and behavior and triggers pre-programmed actions like retail specials, last minute appointments, and much more. A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks. It can help your clients book appointments via chat, send automated emails, and help clients pick the correct retail product. Zapier.com gives you a free account that will let you automate tasks, like respond to emails, and auto post to Facebook and Instagram. This simple task creator can save time to a salon and spa.

—Dilan DeSilva, Web App Clouds

 As hair stylists, we are fortunate to have so much technology at our fingertips because it offers an array of opportunities to engage with clients and to find new ones who have a similar aesthetic to our own. I see it as a business card, a portfolio, and a way to communicate all in one. It’s a powerful way to bring people together, create new, meaningful moments with clients, and strengthen the bond that can be forged through the salon experience. To leverage technology, use it to be social. Post a blog, share images of your work, show others your inspirations, or just start a conversation. Make your social media come alive with the things that make you tick and you will build the associations that will continue to build your success.

—Corrinn Dinan, social media creative team member, Arrojo

 Today, social media platforms are critical to both salons and stylists. Stylists and salons can use their social media channels to communicate who they are and their point of difference to each audience. While using social media from a stylist or salon perspective, it’s important to always remain professional. Prior to the world of social media, it would take my stylists a year or longer to build a full client portfolio. Now, my stylists are booking themselves a year out due to the following that they’ve created across their social media channels. The most successful stylists in my salon post multiple times a day on Instagram. I always advise my stylists to establish what they want to be known for and what type of client they want to attract. I also recommend that they use relevant hashtags so that clients can quickly see their work when looking for a new stylist. We as a salon have received the strongest social engagement when sharing videos of our stylists’ work in progress, followed by a before-and-after photo of the look created. Another successful way that we have found to engage is through Snapchat, which allows us the ability to communicate the culture and behind-the-scenes of the salon.

—Rosa Hawkins, national artist, Goldwell

 Online booking is the way of the future, and salon guests enjoy the convenience and flexibility that it provides. With Mindbody, salons and stylists have the comfort of knowing that both existing and potential clients can easily find, book and pay for appointments via various online methods, such as their own website, the Mindbody app, or their own branded app. With Mindbody branded apps, salons can create their own custom mobile app with the look of their business and flawless integration with their online booking. This is a powerful marketing tool considering that when a client is willing to give you real estate on their phone, you know they will be a dedicated customer. Salons using Mindbody to run their business are automatically listed on the Mindbody App, making all of their available appointments easily searchable and bookable by existing and prospective clients.  Consumers who have downloaded the app can search for services based on their location. For example, if you search “hair cut,” salons offering hair cuts nearby will be displayed in a list or map view depending on your preference. From there they can select a salon, search available appointments and then book and pay for your service or treatment directly through the app.

—Stephanie Jennings, senior VP of sales, Mindbody

The best way to leverage technology is to make it easy and accessible for everyone to use. Salons have to embrace new technology and ensure that their teams are using it. From owners to managers and stylists to customers, all have to continually adapt and utilize new technology. And the secret is out—it’s mobile! A traditional business to consumer approach is no longer enough to engage and attract clients. At SalonBiz, we constantly analyze our methodology and focus on a 360-degree customer experience to ensure our mobile technology is always on the cutting edge. This practice helps us continually develop and implement technology that will involve everyone in the cycle from ease of booking to seamless checkout.

—Louie Lago, president, SalonBiz

Salon life is ever-changing, and nowhere is this more apparent than in how we gather, inform, and create relationships with our salon guests. Using technology makes it easier than ever to reach out to new clients and keep our existing clients excited and engaged, however, there are elements we must bear in mind before embarking on this high-tech journey. It’s important to sit down and decide what your salon aesthetic should look like. This enables you to portray a genuine consistent message. Projecting your unique vision through email, Facebook, Instagram, etc., allows clients to connect with their experience before they even walk in the door. If the reflection portrayed by social media doesn’t match their actual experience, we may fail to engage clients in an authentic way. Building loyal clients is always the best endorsement. If we create an encounter that exceeds expectations, it encourages them to share with family and friends, and that promotion is the best way to sustain and grow business. Technology is wonderful, but we must remember it is a tool to bring clients onboard, nothing can replace personal consistent service.

—Tamra Segert, national trainer and salon owner, Eufora

 Using multiple social media platforms, stylists and salons can create a fun and interactive communication flow between the business and potential clients. You can show off your work and encourage clients to book online with Envision’s online booking or Facebook app while your salon is fresh in their mind. Use hashtags to reach a broader audience, reward your loyal clients when they refer people to your business, and reward new clients during their first visit. Loyalty points are integrated in Envision so your clients don’t have to bring cards or use any third-party option to obtain points. Don’t forget to get new client’s mobile numbers and update current clients’ mobile numbers so you can send out a text message from Envision when you have last minute availability or a special promotion.

—Micki DeJean, Ennoview

 Last year, the average salon-goer visited between three and four different salons. This fact highlights how it is more important than ever to engage your guests and keep them coming back. In order to accomplish this, salons and spas must utilize technology to communicate with their clients. Automation within your software is one of the main keys to success. STX automates the referral process within a salon’s existing client database to bring in new business; it also manages inventory and tracks team members to achieve service and retail goals. A great system has everything built-in to grow your business: online scheduling, marketing, point-of-sale, social media integration, inventory management, and more. Cloud software enables you as an owner or stylist to have the freedom of using any device, anywhere, to conduct business and check on the health of your salon. STX is built for stylists by stylists who understand the tools you need to succeed on the business end so that you can focus on what you love—hair.

—Jeff Mason, president, STX Software

 Smarter LifeStyle Network (SLN) is the latest salon technology to attract new clients and engage existing ones. Your clients will enjoy the latest in beauty, fashion and lifestyle programming synced between interactive tablets and TVs. Quality programming is updated bi-monthly and entertains, engages and educates clients. New clients will notice your custom messaging when they are handed a tablet at check-in and existing clients will be engaged as they look for new coupons to send to their phones, answer trivia questions, or check out new information about your salon and its services. Custom content creates a community within the salon, as clients click through the Stylebook to check out the best cuts and color from your salon. SLN gives you the tools to connect and communicate more effectively with your clients.  Promote your high-margin services, share salon updates and introduce staff. Stylists who may not otherwise be comfortable selling additional products and services are using SLN to raise the client’s average ticket when they point out the high-margin services and retail products on your custom “about” page. Some salons have seen up to a 35% increase in retail sales plus your salon will also receive 15% ad revenue share. With Smarter LifeStyle Network, you create value for your client and add to their experience with every visit.

—Krista Troy Foster, VP business development, Smarter LifeStyle Network

 With the shift from desktop to mobile, a lot of consumer habits—such as purchasing, booking travel, and communication—are all mobile-based. Leveraging the latest technology involves determining how your business can fit seamlessly into the world that sits in the palm of your client’s hand. How do you bridge the gap between a customer’s mobile device and your salon? That’s the challenge, and the answer is in the app. Leveraging the power of an app for your business provides clients unprecedented access to your salon 24/7. The benefits of apps include building guest loyalty, communication regarding appointments, special promotional offers, consultations, events notification, and much more. Using apps that work on a phone allows stylists and managers to improve visibility into critical business metrics throughout the day. Also, with things such as IP restrictions, managers can limit access to certain features depending on whether the stylist is in the salon or not. For instance, they cannot punch in from home but can view (but not edit) the appointment book.

—John Harms, CEO and founder, Millennium maker of Meevo

 Technology is not going anywhere. Salons and stylists must find every way to leverage technology to reach new referrals and engage existing clients. The latest trend in social media engagement is through disposable video. Snapchat made it famous and now it is being embraced by other social media platforms with ‘stories.’ The number-one reason why disposable video is important for business is the high consumption of content. The lifecycle of content in a feed is minimum. If you have 1,000 followers, a traditional post will be consumed by only 90-100. With disposable video, out of those same 1,000 followers, 900 will consume your content. This is due to the story being live for 24 hours. So how can you stand out in disposable video? Cross promote your social media channels, post as much original content as possible and make it stand out. Before-and-afters are great. Create contests and giveaways and always engage with your followers.

—Joe Atang, Summit Salon Consultant and owner of Innovative Looks Hair Salon in Houston

One of the biggest advances the industry has seen in recent years has been this concept of online booking, whether through a salon’s website or Facebook page or outlets like Yelp and Microsoft Bookings. This automation has yielded real results for salons, stylists and clients. It means always being open for business, it means waking up to a full schedule—it means more engaged clients and more profitable stylists. Another breakthrough technology for salons and stylists has been automated marketing campaigns. These easy-to-use tools allow stylists and salon owners to quickly develop and deploy outbound marketing campaigns. That could be as simple as setting up a birthday notification campaign to let clients know you’re thinking of them on their special day, but these can be far more sophisticated: targeting product promotions or specials only to clients who have purchased the same in the last year, for instance. Targeted communication means greater returns for the salon, but it also means fewer irrelevant mails to the client. Saying the right thing at the right time is crucial, but saying it automatically?  That’s magic!

—Jeff Dickerson, CEO of DaySmart Software, maker of Salon Iris

 Utilizing the latest technology and systems is no longer optional within the salon industry—it is a must. Stylists and salons need to be leveraging themselves online and providing branded social media accounts displaying their professional work. Providing their clients direct access to engaging videos, photos, and live content on a consistent basis. Technology and social media have given us the tools and opportunity to connect with people we normally wouldn’t have access to, and engage with those clients we already have relationships with. We live in a time where people are more likely to read an email or text message than to answer a phone call, leaving salons and stylists to find new and innovative ways to connect directly with their clients. Embracing technology can help salons be more productive, find solutions faster, and save on time and money. New clients will be grateful they can reach you through multiple platforms, both online and off, while existing clients will be thankful to see the steps you’ve taken to utilize innovative technology along the way.

—Leslie Salonen,  John Paul Mitchell Systems and Studio Be Salon Social Media Director

 Rule #1: You’ve got to be relevant! If you really want to attract and engage clients, you need to be creating and sharing content that is attractive and engaging to them. If your clientele is young and edgy, these are the folks that will be attracted to all your amazing pictures of unicorn hair. If your clientele is older and more sophisticated, unicorn hair isn’t going to be relevant to them, regardless of how you feel about it. Remember, the name of the game is to enhance your audience’s online experience. Rule #2: It’s not called social media for nothing. You know that one guy at the party that talks about himself the entire time and doesn’t listen to anything anyone else says? He’s not being social, he’s having a one-sided conversation that nobody else is interested in. The same goes for your social media and digital marketing efforts. It’s social! That means it’s imperative to take the time to engage with your audience. And that doesn’t just mean responding to comments on your posts. Join other online conversations. Engage in groups, with other businesses and other beauty professionals. You’ll get more mileage than you think!

—Eric Ducoff, vice president, Strategies

 

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