My husband often travels to Atlanta to visit many of his accounts that are in the Buckhead area. With so many great restaurants and shopping destinations to visit in the area, I never say “No” to tagging along.
One of the places that has been on my bucket list to visit is Van Michael Salons. I have attended many Serious Business conferences and more recently the Data-Driven Salon Summit where owner Van Council was on stage sharing his many years of knowledge, and he has always been an inspiration to me.
As a salon owner, I do plenty of what I call secret shopping. Anytime I travel, I make it a point to visit a salon or spa in the area that I see dominates in the marketplace. With Google and social media, this isn’t hard to figure out. When deciding where to visit, it’s important that we share a similar business vision and values.
I recently even passed along this task as a homework assignment to my team. I asked them to visit another salon or spa location and have a service similar to the one they provide, and come back and share their experience in our Friday morning meeting.
So while being stuck in the car for six hours on this trip, I decided I would make sure to book a service and really experience the Van Michael operation. I called on a Tuesday asking for a blow out and I was booked with Kelli the next day at 12 p.m. The guest services team member was warm and friendly on the phone. She took my information, and before hanging up gave me Kelli’s blow out price. I thought this was a nice touch.
I arrived for my appointment 30 min early so I could be nosy and peek around a bit. I was greeted by four guest service team members and checked in by one of them. She asked, “Is this your first visit to the salon?” When I said yes, she offered me a beverage and a tour of the salon.
She brought my water and a robe from the other side of the des and started showing me the salon, the new talent section and the different color and cutting departments. As we walked thru the salon, she showed me where to change, where the ladies room was and then she escorted me back to the front where I could wait for my stylist to come for me.
When I waiting, I was approached by one of the salon’s managers and thanked for my visit. Kelli was on time and greeted me warmly with a handshake. I must add that if you are single and wondering where all the pretty people are in Atlanta, Van Michael is where you need to go. Everyone was dressed to the nines, very polished with just the right amount of sexy.
Kelli escorted me to her chair, showed me where to put my purse and she started right in on the consultation. She asked if I had pictures of a desired result or a special event that I was attending that evening, and I explained I was a salon owner visiting from New Orleans and I had always wanted to have a service here. At this point, I realize the experience changed a bit from a typical client experience as Kelli and I talked shop a bit throughout the service.
For example, instead of making product suggestions to me like she routinely would, Kelli explained their retail incentive program and how she is working hard to reach $30,000 in retail sales so she could earn a $3,000 American Express gift card from the salon. I happily filed this idea away.
Another standout experience of my service was the Van Michael shampoo room. It was private, and their shampoo chairs were super comfortable. Kelli was polite and I really enjoyed my visit with her. Everyone in the salon was either busy assisting someone or with their own guest.
After my hair was finished Kelli made sure that I loved the finished result and thanked me for our time together. While Kelli understood I was visiting from out of town she didn’t try to rebook a second appointment, I really appreciated the framed appointment reminder at her station that clients calculate when to book their next appointment by pointing exactly when four weeks, five weeks, etc. would be. Kelli walked me to the checkout counter and we said our good byes.
My encounter at check out, was another valuable take away. The salon manager was standing there and she thanked me again for my visit. After we closed out my ticket, the team member assisting me out said, “Because this was your first visit with us and we know you have many choices, here is a gift from us to thank you.” I thought this small gesture is genius.
As I left my visit I called my husband to tell him about my experience and he happened to be working down the street, and said he’d love to check them out before we left. So, he stopped by and was greeted in the same way and offered a tour of the salon. He of course took the tour and they gave him a business card so he could call when ready to book.
As soon as I left I started messaging my salon coordinator with my list of take-aways:
1. We need to give every guest a tour of our new space.
2. Both of us should be shaking hands and thanking new guests for their visit with us.
3. Let's give every new guest a thank you gift because at the end of the day, they have so many choices and they chose us!
4. Let’s develop appointment reminders for the stations that help clients see the actual dates when they need to book their next appointment.
5. Let’s design a retail competition that rewards any employee who hits 35% or more of guests purchasing retail by the end of the month with a $200 Visa gift card.
Jennifer Bellau Baudier is the owner of Bella Style Salon in Slidell, Louisiana.