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Like so many new approaches, the idea to get serious about client appreciation at Lola Hair Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, came about during the pandemic. 

“First-time clients are often the ones who get the attention with special offers and incentives, but I wanted to reward our most loyal existing guests,” says Lola owner Anna Walsh. “I wanted to offer them something valuable that will keep them coming to our salon, and I want to always treat them the way I would like to be treated by the businesses I frequent.”

Hoping to get her guests back into that regular salon routine, Walsh liked what she saw when she looked into the Salon Socials membership plan concept. Two years ago, she launched it.

Unlike a “series” punch-card type of membership that rewards guests with a free service or product when they hit a benchmark number in visits or purchases, the Salon Socials program offers clients something free every month. Walsh likens it to a gym membership. Guests pay a set fee monthly or annually, and they receive more than the value of their payment. 

“Salon Socials is user-friendly software that lets you create and customize your memberships however you like them,” Walsh explains. “You can use your own branding and colors to customize the look of your membership. It’s simple for your client to sign up. While the software currently integrates with Phorest Salon Software, you do not need Phorest to take advantage of it. Salon Socials is a new software that is developing every day, and they’ve been great to work with.”  

The software also integrates with the Stripe Payment System. It tracks revenue and membership numbers. All Walsh had to do was come up with the terms. She settled on three options, and guests can choose more than one:

  • Color Obsessed. Guests pay for 11 color services comprising a root touch-up plus an all-over glaze, and in each of the 12 months of the year they receive that service along with a deep-conditioning treatment worth $35 and a 10% discount on home care products.
  • Always Flawless. Guests receive one blowdry a month, and the annual membership fee for this is less than they would pay separately for 12 blowdry services. Like Color Obsessed, this membership includes a 10% discount on retail products.
  • For Men. Guests pay for 11 cuts to receive a monthly cut all year plus an exfoliating, nourishing scalp treatment and 10% off home care. 

Walsh emphasizes that nothing is set in stone. Although all three programs have been well-received by the select group of clients who come in regularly, she’s thinking of swapping out one or more options and then swapping them back in at some point. She’s also considering reworking the blowdry program as an unlimited plan.

“We’re still learning,” Walsh explains. “We’re conducting surveys and asking clients what they like and don’t like. We’re talking to other salons with membership programs to find out what they have learned.”

Since Walsh launched the membership program two years ago, her team has grown from nine to twelve, and she credits the program with helping to fuel that growth. Guest retention is holding steady at an enviable 88% to 91%. And Millennials, an increasingly attractive demographic, seem to be particularly onboard with the membership structure.

“They purchase the membership, book their next appointment, and they’re done,” she notes. “That generation likes this kind of thing.”

Walsh reports that the membership program has helped the salon’s cash flow, and the money left on the table with freebies and discounts is more than recaptured. For example, some guests who were coming in every five or six weeks, totaling eight to ten times a year, have joined the Color Obsessed plan and now pay for 11 color services per year and come in monthly. 

In addition to the numbers, there’s the culture. 

“This is a point of difference for our salon,” Walsh says. “We really want our clients to feel they’re getting extra value by coming here.”

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