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As the owner of the relatively young Be Inspired Salon in Madison, Wisconsin, Kati Whitledge frequently found herself searching for a way to help her team build their books quickly. At the same time, she realized that a client’s first impression of a salon starts well before she walks through the door, and Whitledge wanted a hand in helping shape that impression.

She knew if she could better match a new client’s personality with one of her stylists, the more promising it was that the relationship would end in long-time client loyalty.

“Many clients receive a great service, but they don’t come back because they didn’t click with the hairdresser,” she says.”They would rather have a less superior hair cut with someone with whom they have a better relationship.”

A student of psychology and behavioral economics, Whitledge understood that clients, like most people, fear rejection and they are uncomfortable rejecting others.

“When most clients decide not to go back to a stylist, they’d rather go to a different salon rather than run the risk of running into that ‘rejected’ stylist,” Whitledge says.

Whitledge believed the key to building a strong culture for her salon was to foster stronger relationships between her clients and their stylists. She started reaching out to software developers who understood algorithms to find a tech approach to matchmaking clients with her staff.

They arrived at a personality quiz much like the ones that are popular on social media. The resulting Meet Your Stylist tool resides on a salon’s website and invites a prospective client to take the quiz to see which of the salon’s stylists she best matches with, offering three potential matches and connecting the client to their bios.

“Essentially, having clients fill out the survey gives me permission to market to them in good taste,” Whitledge says. “People are eager to take the quiz because everyone loves to learn more about themselves. Once they’ve found a match, our site helps them book an appointment.”

When a client takes a quiz, Whitledge better understands what the client is looking for and she can reach out with pre- and post-marketing options. Because Meet Your Stylist is a web page, it’s easy to promote it through social channels.

“I think of marketing as a cherry pie, with each marketing vehicle as a slice of the pie,” Whitledge says. “Meet Your Stylist is the cherry filling. It converts leads into clients and helps us retain them at a significantly higher rate.”

On average, Meet Your Stylist salons have a 46% return on investment. Testing the program with her own 1,150-square-foot, nine-station salon, Whitledge says she is luring an average 56 additional new clients each month, which she credits with an additional $286,000 to the bottom line in 2017. She now markets Meet Your Stylist to fellow salon owners interested in attracting new clients and boosting their retention rates.

Chelle Neff, owner of Urban Betty in Austin, Texas, adopted the program in September 2017 and fully expected it to take several days to show any result.

“Within the first hour, four people took the survey,” she says. “Since September, we’ve seen 5,942 people take the survey and about 25% book an appointment.”

Neff feels Meet Your Stylist gives her salon an edge when prospective clients are searching for a salon. “Clients research salons online, and there are so many options, but when you have a tool that helps match them to an individual stylist you start developing a personal link between the client and a salon,” she stresses.

Neff continues to advertise on Google and Yelp to drive prospective clients to the salon’s website, but believes Meet Your Stylist is a complementary tool to get clients to choose Urban Betty.
“It’s totally worth the $197 a month because you only need to bring in a client or two a month and you break even,” Neff says. “What I feel it really does is keep us consistently busy all the time.”

Neff also likes the fact the tool gives clients something to buzz about.

“Clients talk about how cool it is when they come in,” she says. “I had a meeting with a financial advisor the other day who told me they just took my quiz and recently someone asked on Google if our salon was good at short haircuts. Two of our clients recommended us with one counseling the woman to go on our website and take the survey.”

Karie Bennett, owner of Atelier Salons in San Jose, California, has only had the tool on her website for the past two months but has witnessed more than 400 clients find their match.

“Anything that helps a new guest feel more comfortable and less like they are on a blind date is a plus!” she says.

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