Although George Alderete was a seasoned colorist when he joined Salon Visage, he was new to the community, so he still had to build his book from scratch. With the salon VIP program, he increased his clientele by 50 percent in six months. A new stylist who is focused on building her book can be good about asking her guests to refer their friends and family members. But as her business grows and her book starts to fill, she becomes more complacent, and she quits asking for that new business.
No matter how sophisticated marketing programs get, there’s never going to be a better way of attracting new clients than using your existing guests to attract them for you. It remains the oldest, yet most effective, way of generating new business. And, the best way to do that is to not take your existing guests for granted. Make each of their visits an exciting and memorable, and they will talk about you everywhere they go, from a night out with their girlfriends to the local PTA meeting. In essence, they become ambassadors for your brand.
Of course, you can sweeten the deal every once in a while by giving away something to the guests who are recommending you, as well as to the friends who being referred. We do recommend though that you never offer a discounted service to new customers—that just sets up a mentality that it’s all about the money, and it can build up resentment within your current customers. Today, many salons use group couponing to generate traffic because it seems so easy – but these programs often don’t generate incremental traffic. They either cannibalize the salon’s business by discounting services the guests already is buying, or they attract one-time bargain hunters who never intend to patronize the salon again.
It’s much better to find a way to incentivize your loyal customers and even gift them and their friends with products or an experience in your salon or spa. If done correctly, the new clients will come in four times over the next year—making it worth your investment—and your loyal guests will become even more excited about your brand.
For example, at Salon Visage in Knoxville, Tennessee, about twice a year we give our associates a stack of VIP cards and ask them to give them out to their guests, asking guests to help us by sharing the cards with three friends who have never been to the salon before. The cards offer the referred friend a salon experience.
While many salons do this, here’s what makes our program unique. After the guest accepts the card, she goes to check out and there, the front desk staff present her with a card of her own, inviting her to have a service in our salon or spa she’s never experienced before. We tell the guest it is our way of showing our appreciation in advance for handing out the cards and for being a valued client.