WHILE THE RECESSION had salons around the country taking a look at existing clients with new eyes and appreciating them just a little bit more, nowhere was that more true than in Saginaw, Michigan. For a town built on the former strength of General Motors, businesses including Avenue Hair Studio and Spa witnessed a 30 percent decline in clients virtually overnight.
“Around the time I went to my first Strictly Business class, I was in a state where I had to look around at my community of clients to see who could still afford to come see us,” says owner Dawn Carter. “I developed a new mindset. Our clients wanted more than a great hair cut—they wanted the whole experience. They wanted to hear about everything we had to offer, and it’s our job to tell them. We started looking at ourselves as beauty advisors.”
On Purpose, Every Client, Every Time.
While it’s easy to give a new client a thorough consultation, Carter and her staff are determined that the consultation is just as important—or even more so—to the client whose been coming to see a stylist for years. “We’ve developed a five-question consultation that’s mandatory with every client, every time,” says Carter. “It’s taught the second day of training, and is designed to open the client up to the possibilities of retail and add-on services.”
The Coffee Theory
There’s a running joke at Avenue Hair Studio that a client will walk into the salon and the receptionist will offer her a cup of coffee, which will be turned down. Five minutes later, that same client will happily accept the offer of coffee from Carter’s husband Neal, who’s the salon’s co-owner. Whether the client had too much on her mind upon entering the salon to process the offer or whether it was the power of suggestion, who knows, but the theory seems to apply to sales as well.
“For example, we had these Power Dose backbar treatments that we thought were great, but we’d only sell maybe two a day. So we did a contest, and we carefully included the Power Dose promotion at every stage of the guest experience. We had signage at the front desk, and mirror clings at each station. When clients booked an appointment, we’d ask if they wanted to upgrade to a special signature hair cut with a prescribed treatment for only $18 more. If we didn’t get them on the call, we’d tell the same client about the opportunity while they were in the chair. We’d also give away Power Dose treatments with a retail purchase and send home cards about Power Doses with clients who just had services. Just like the coffee theory— the promotion has to be full circle. It ended up being a great promotion and we raised our sales 25 percent.”
Don’t Expect What You Haven’t Taught
When Carter was working with one of her stylists to boost her low prebook rate, she learned all the coaching in the world won’t help, if you haven’t taught them how to do it. “We would meet and go over her numbers, and review them and they weren’t budging. And I knew she was frustrated and trying. Then one day I was at the front desk, when I saw her remove a guest’s cape, escort her to the front desk and say, ‘Do you want to book your next appointment or just call when you need one?’ She didn’t understand that once you remove that cape, the appointment is over for the guest, and her mind has raced on to her next errand. Nor did she realize that if you give them that second, ‘easier’ option to call in later, that’s the one they’ll naturally take. That was when I learned she needed to be taught exactly how to talk to her clients about prebooking.”
Power of Productivity
“It’s really powerful if you can teach a new stylist how to be productive with each client she has,” says Carter. “After we took Strictly Business and were simply more self aware, we grew our business 24 percent. But when we really implemented the consultation process and the scripting about retail and add-on services, we were doubling our retail for a full year—it was crazy. Now I’m an open book with my staff. We go through my P&L together and they see how retail sales fuel us. They really sell, and they see how this money sends us all to the ABS show, allows us to bring in big name educators and pay for things such as our recent $150,000 remodel. And they see the fl ip side too, how it solidifies brand loyalty and our clients’ trust.”