You drive by that new restaurant in town and wonder if you should give it a try. Your first step? Grabbing your phone and checking the place’s online reviews. If they’re good, you go ahead and make a reservation. If not, you probably pass. And guess what? This is exactly how prospective clients are assessing your salon. “The first thing an interested customer does is check to see how many reviews you have and what your average rating is,” confirms Karen Kerr, manager of Artistry Salon & Spa in Estero, FL. “Salons that don’t have a lot of reviews just don’t seem as legitimate to new customers.”
Your Online Reputation Matters a Lot
Salon owners no longer have the luxury of operating a business without paying attention to their online reputations. “The consumer is more knowledgeable than ever before and will do plenty of research before deciding on where to spend their money,” confirms Tomy Lulgjuraj, co-owner of the 6 Salons in Michigan. “This includes reviews, price comparisons, websites and social media.” Agrees Jason Glass, owner of Cha Cha’s and Rooster’s Nest Barber Shop and Shave Parlor in Lexington, KY, “It no longer matters what I as an owner think. It’s all about what your clients think and what they say. Remember, millennials are comfortable with instant feedback.”
What? This salon is doing December numbers in April thanks to Google reviews! Find out how that happened!
Reputation Management Requires Time and Attention
Considering this new reality, already-busy salon owners and managers must add another task to their to-do lists, namely generating online reviews and addressing those that aren’t so great. Glass used to spend hours taking care of that part of his business. “We did follow-up calls,” he says, “which was hard because we provide up to 160 services a day. Plus, we discovered we were getting fake reviews from some unscrupulous competitors.” For those reasons, Glass is now using the online reputation management feature on Phorest salon software. It works like this: as soon as a client checks out, the software sends a text asking for feedback on their experience. If the feedback is negative, the salon is notified immediately. If it’s positive, Phorest asks if the client would mind sharing their response on Google or Yelp and provides a link to make the process as smooth as possible. “This encourages the people saying the good things to leave good reviews,” says Glass, “and gives us a chance to address the bad experiences right away.”
Artistry Salon also uses Phorest and notes that the volume of five-star reviews has increased considerably since implementing. “The survey that goes out from Phorest automatically is our favorite tool,” says Kerr. “Our customers get a chance to share the good and the bad and it helps us do better. It also gives client a way to communicate with us if they’re not comfortable saying something in person.”
Melrose & McQueen's online reviews went through the roof! Here’s how it happened.
Bad Review? Jump On It Right Away!
All three owners believe the best way to deal with negative feedback is to respond immediately. “The other day,” says Glass, “one of our customers responded to a text for feedback saying the towels were too hot in the barber shop. I went back and checked right away and sure enough, one of the cleaners had inadvertently bumped up the temperature on the towel heater. We fixed it and we gave the guy a free service instantly. Not only did we retain a client, we also prevented a problem from getting out of hand. I always say, knowing your weakness is your greatest strength!”
You can’t automate a haircut or highlights, and who would want to? But you can automate many of the things that make it more profitable to provide those haircuts and highlights, like boosting your online reviews and tamping down negative reviews before they burn out of control. “With Phorest online reputation management,” says Lulgjuraj, “all we have to worry about now is doing great work and providing great service to all of our new and existing clients!”