Owners Ramiro Corrales, Taylor Miller and Cameron Kepford check out a client's recent positive review at Haus of Heir in Davenport, Iowa.
 - Karen Bishop

Owners Ramiro Corrales, Taylor Miller and Cameron Kepford check out a client's recent positive review at Haus of Heir in Davenport, Iowa.

Karen Bishop

When you communicate with clients, are you able to choose which ones you want to market specific services to? Can you reach them via text if you don’t have their email addresses? Are you able to get them to leave five-star reviews on Yelp and Google?

If you’re not answering “yes,” you need to rethink the marketing features available with your salon management software. More importantly, you need to consider the variety of marketing you use to reach both your existing guests and potential ones.

“When choosing marketing channels, they should be viewed as an and not an or, says Connor Keppel, vice president of marketing for Phorest Salon Software. “Using multiple channels increases your reach, as well as the chances your clients/potential clients will hear your messages more than once.”

Technology is the key to marketing in today’s world in a way that is planned, targeted, and most importantly, relevant. “The difference between a successful campaign versus an unsuccessful one is not so much down to the creative—it is relevance,” Keppel says. “Why would this person want to hear from you about your business or offer, and where is the best place to reach them? Technology allows you to do this through data—filter, segment and analyze to make sure you are saying the right thing, to the right people, on the right places—then watch your business grow.”

Ready to review some of the newest marketing practices? Some savvy owners share their favorites:

Smarter Email Marketing

Emailing newsletters, promotions and other marketing campaigns to clients has been common practice for years, but both owners and technology have gotten better at delivering news that clients want with more efficiency.

Over the years, Travis and Adelle Graham, owners of Salon Adelle in Greenville, South Carolina, along with Barb Blair, the salon’s director of operations, have refined their newsletter’s messaging, honing it to deliver news their clientele craves.

“Our monthly newsletter used to tell readers how great we are, and suggest how they should spend their money with us,” Travis says. “But we realized we were writing content for us, not for the guest. Now our newsletters cover the latest beauty and fashion trends, happenings in the community and even a seasonal recipe for food or a cocktail.”

Blair, who designs each issue, says now salon news is curated to be fun. “For example, we’ll wrte about our DoggiePoo fundraiser that donates to the Humane Society or how we’re celebrating National Doughtnut Day.”

Blair says with technology, the design process has gotten easier as well: “We used to use ShutterStock for images and MailChimp to design the newsletters, but Phorest has all that built into their editor program—there are some great pre-made templates or you can create your own. The system is easy and very user friendly.”

Adelle and Travis Graham (center), owners of Salon Adelle in Greenville, South Carolina, with their team. 
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Adelle and Travis Graham (center), owners of Salon Adelle in Greenville, South Carolina, with their team. 

“We have more than half a million, license-free images for our customers to use, and it’s all built within our marketing suite,” says Patrick Monaghan, Phorest product director. “We also have a spell-checking tool called Pro Writing Aid. We bundled that in to ensure content is always well-written and grammatically correct.”

No matter how well-written and designed a newsletter is though, its impact is diminished when it isn’t reaching your guests. “The average salon only has emails for 32% of its clients,” Monaghan says. “So you’re missing the majority of your client base.”

To combat this, Phorest created the Fallback feature, which uses clients’ mobile numbers to text a salon’s marketing message if their email addresses don’t work. By texting, you reach 92 to 98% of clients—a big difference.

“We post the email newsletter the salon created as a web page so the client can click on it via text,” Monaghan says. “This extends a salon’s reach to make sure it’s hitting all clients—not just 30%.”

But what if you only want to reach clients who have had color services at least three times, but not in the last two months. Sound specific? It is. But with Phorest’s marketing software, you can target the exact clientele you want to speak to, and give them a call-to-action button, such as “book now” that will take them directly back to your site.

When a marketing campaign is over, the salon owner knows exactly how effective it was, down to the last detail.

“We integrate everything together, and by using the salon’s data along with our data, we can provide total transparency,” Monaghan says.

The software determines if the client found the staff member or service they were looking for, if they booked the service, arrived on time, paid in cash, bought additional products, etc. Everything is tracked so owners know whether or not your campaign worked.

In the Palm of their Hands

In the spring, Phorest rolled out its new branded customer app that allows the salon complete control over its brand.

“First you select your theme—floral, luxury, hipster, etc.—and then you add your own imagery, brand colors, logos and one hero image that defines the salon,” Monaghan says.

When Haus of Heir in Davenport, Iowa, rolled out their custom app, they found they were filling a need for clients that they didn’t even realize existed.

“Our books are incredible because of this app,” says Cameron Kepford, co-owner of Haus of Heir. “A client can cancel an appointment at 10 p.m. and it’s re-booked by 10:05 p.m.”

Clients can manage booking/rebooking, check out loyalty points, see stylist availability and more—right within the app. If clients use the app often enough, it will prompt them to rebook with their regular stylist and their regular service so booking becomes even faster.

Ramiro Corrales, Cameron Kepford and Taylor Miller, owners of Haus of Heir in Davenport, Iowa.
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Ramiro Corrales, Cameron Kepford and Taylor Miller, owners of Haus of Heir in Davenport, Iowa.

“We have data that shows clients book more often and spend more when they book through the app,” Monaghan says. “And 30% of bookings happen when the salon isn’t even open.”

“The engagement created with an app is invaluable,” Monaghan says. “It’s salon branding right on the home screen of the client’s phone.”

Kepford says clients booking via the app has created a better customer experience at the front desk, too. “Our front desk staff is able to be more attentive to the clients in front of them,” he says. “The phone isn’t constantly ringing, and when someone does call, we can have more communication to create a more positive experience.”

Ramiro Corrales, co-owner of Haus of Heir, is not a stylist, so he spends most of his time at the front desk interacting with clients. He has found filling cancellations to be easier as well. “We can send a message out to clients telling them there has been a cancellation and they can book now if they want an immediate appointment,” he says.

Cultivating a Reputation

“Online reputation management has been the biggest game changer for our business,” Kepford, says. “Before we started using this feature, it was really difficult to get clients to write a review—unless it was something about their experience that needed to be improved.”

In their first four years in business, Kepford and his co-owners, Corrales and Taylor Miller, received only five reviews on Google. In the last two years since they took on Phorest, they’ve had 456 Google reviews, and 3,789 reviews total.

Generating these positive reviews is a huge part of Haus of Heir’s marketing strategy, and for the trio of owners it’s fairly effortless.

“The Online Reputation Manager sits on top of the review system we have in place,” Monaghan says. “It identifies the clients a salon would want to leave a review. For example, if a client has had three visits and left five stars each time, we ask them to leave a review on Yelp, Facebook or Google.”

By waiting until a client feels strongly about the salon, a good review is more likely achieved. “We still get feedback with three stars or below,” Kepford says. “But we only ask the client to share a review on social media if they give us four or five stars. And if someone does have a bad experience, we’re able to talk to the client right away and rectify the problem.”

Most importantly, when prompted to leave a review, clients are taken to their own Facebook account, so the review shows up under their name, rather than the salon weeding through reviews and posting only the good ones.

“When someone leaves a review under their own account, Google recognizes this and naturally ranks a salon higher when users are searching,” Monaghan explains.

“When our software has identified you as a great client and asked you to submit a review, it then sends you to a Thank You page where you’re prompted to click a button to go to the salon’s Facebook page (already logged into your account). From there, you simply paste your review.

“We cannot create a great experience—only the salon can do that,” Monaghan adds. “But we can help them share it. It’s the perfect partnership between the salon and the salon’s software.”

Leveraging Social Media

At Haus of Heir, Kepford, Corrales and Miller have found a way to capitalize on positive reviews beyond bragging rights.

“We want to share these reviews with people who may not be on Google or Facebook, so we get creative on Instagram,” Kepford says. “I choose a stylist of the week to spotlight and create a graphic with her reviews.”

An example of how Haus of Heir celebrates their team members by sharing a positive review on Instagram. 
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An example of how Haus of Heir celebrates their team members by sharing a positive review on Instagram. 

The Haus of Heir team also celebrates good reviews during their morning meetings, but it’s the public praise on Instagram that really gives the team a boost.

“Instagram helps connect the dots,” Corrales says. “It puts the team out there, and then a client can use the app to find the stylist they just saw on social media.”

Monaghan and his team are well aware of the power of Instagram and working hard to stay one step ahead.

“Salons aren’t using Instagram to its full capacity,” he says. “They post regularly but are afraid to advertise because they don’t know if it’s going to work.”

Phorest is helping to solve that problem for owners, too. “The framework we built for texting works on Instagram,” Monaghan says. “In our software, you can first identify your top 10 clients. Then, we can submit those clients’ qualities to Instagram to find a look-alike audience.”

Instagram goes out and finds the top 1% of people who are most like your ideal client within a radius you choose (for example, five miles), and then sends them the ad you design through Phorest.

“Those potential clients will be the only ones who see your ad,” Monaghan says. “And if they’re not online that day, you don’t pay for it.”

If an Instagram user clicks on the ad, Phorest tells you everything they did post-click from booking to buying retail.

“I firmly believe Instagram is the future of advertising in our industry,” he says. “By putting our software and Instagram together you can create something more powerful.”

Fueling Employee Engagement

Everyone falls victim to monotony in their daily work, and salon owners are no different. Phorest recognized this and set out to provide inspiration and motivation for its customers, and for the industry as a whole. Every August and April, Phorest creates online competitions that get salons thinking out of the box.

“One is Salon Retail Week (August), and the other is 30 Days to Grow (April),” Monaghan says. “Salons can register on the site and get daily challenges from the Phorest team.”

Rowena Yeager, owner of Studio Wish in Twinsburg, Ohio, participated in 30 Days to Grow last spring and found herself and her staff looking forward to the daily challenges. Some challenges were about referrals, some about team building, some simple, some more complex—they were all unique.

Rowena Yeager, (bottom left) owner of Studio Wish in Twinsburg, Ohio, with some of her team at an event. 
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Rowena Yeager, (bottom left) owner of Studio Wish in Twinsburg, Ohio, with some of her team at an event. 

Yeager’s favorite challenge invited any client who purchased retail to guess how many Easter eggs were in a vase. The person who got the closest won a shellac manicure and blowout style. “We did the challenge all month, and it not only got clients to buy more products, but they also posted about it on social media.” she says.

There was also plenty of creative inspiration to be found on the competition’s private Facebook page.  “We picked up ideas from what others were doing,” Yeager says. “There were salons from all over the world involved and it made us feel part of something bigger.” 

During Phorest’s Salon Retail Week, inspirational posts honed in on retail.

“Last year, we asked salons to record a video about why they chose the haircare brand they use,” Monaghan says. “Or to have a staff member perform a how-to on product usage for clients.”

The average increase for participating salons in last year’s retail week was 78%. And the after effects continued for months.

“We wanted to help create good habits,” Monaghan says. “And we want it to be across the entire salon industry. Anyone can go to salonretailweek.com or 30daystogrow.com and participate.”

Ultimately, Phorest’s goal is to keep its customers, and all salons, ahead of the tech curve.

“At our core, Phorest is a marketing company—we started out in the industry doing the world’s first SMS marketing campaign for a salon 15 years ago,” says CEO Ronan Perceval. “Today we have a dedicated team of marketers, researchers and programmers whose sole job is to come up with new marketing ideas for salons. To succeed, you have to be willing to come up with ideas that never see the light of day—this team has the freedom to be incredibly creative. The other thing they do is regularly go out and work in salons at reception—not just visit them. That brings a level of connection with the challenges that owners face every day to a deeper level.”

“We end up with a list of issues to tackle, and that’s how we come up with new technology,” Monaghan says.  “Technology can solve salons’ problems—we just need to marry the two together.”

On the Road Again

Phorest's next Salon Owner Summit is scheduled for October 21 in Philadelphia. 
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Phorest's next Salon Owner Summit is scheduled for October 21 in Philadelphia. 

Earlier this year, Phorest’s Salon Owners Summit Roadshow made its debut in Chicago. Following the success of the one-day business education event, the software company is planning an encore with a stop at the Lucy in Philadelphia, October 21, 2019.

“We absolutely loved the event in Chicago,” says Haus of Heir co-owner Cameron Kepford. “From the venue to the diversity of the speakers, the attention to detail was incredible—anyone can take away value from this event. It’s also always so nice to network and build relationships with other salon owners. Our expectations were exceeded!”

The Philadelphia event is open to all; attendees do not have to be Phorest customers. The aim of the roadshow is simple—to host an event with education, networking and festivities that brings salon owners and managers together with the greatest minds in the industry. 

Featured speakers include: Ashley Toliver Williams, salon owner, co-founder of Fuse Republic and Eufora International business team chairman; Olivia Smalley of OMG! Artistry; Jay Williams, author, educator and 25-year salon industry veteran; Rachel Ringwood, hair stylist and wellness speaker; and Josh Hafetz, president of Art of Business

For more information visit salonownersummit.com/philadelphia.