Increasing client retention

How many of your first-time clients end up returning? Do you know if all of your clients feel comfortable in your salon? Is ‘feeling comfortable’ even enough to keep them choosing your business over another?

Successful client retention can be wholly dependent on a client’s single experience in your salon. You’ve already put in the hard work to get them through the door. Now, it’s time to focus on how you can provide them with the best possible experience and keep them coming back. 

If you find that you’re getting a lot of new clients but not so many familiar faces, it could be time to take a look at your business through a client’s eyes. Do you know your client retention rate?

We’ve designed a collection of guides to help you navigate the world of client retention. From mastering the upsell to choosing your decor, we have the top tips and tricks to keep your clients coming back. You’ll find templates for using SMS marketing messages, tools to help you remember each and every customer, advice from industry experts and inspiration for making your salon stand out.

Taking steps to improve client experience doesn’t mean that your service is poor or that you need to change your salon’s personality. In fact, it can be  something as simple as making sure that your address is easily discoverable, telling people about the free parking or buying a few multi-plugs so customers can charge their phones. Even the most successful salons have room for improvement! 

Separating yourself from your business and stepping into your client’s shoes can also be extremely worthwhile and provide you with a whole range of worthwhile insights. And we’ll have your back at every step. Let’s dive in!

What is ‘client retention’? And why should I focus on existing clients instead of new ones?

What do we mean by client retention? We’re talking about all of the steps that you and your business take to ensure that your customers return to your salon, rather than choosing another business. Generally, this entirely relies on client experience. Every interaction and touchpoint that your client has with your business, whether it be online, over the phone, in the waiting area or in an appointment, contributes to their perception of your salon. 

If you offer an impressive client experience, you’re likely to see these key outcomes:

  • Increased referrals
  • Fantastic online reviews and recommendations
  • More retail sales
  • Improvements in client retention
  • Growth of client base

When you’re reviewing customer retention, experience is the chief factor to consider. But it’s also important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all guide for humans. For some people, going to the salon is a rare luxury, whilst for others it could be a regular social outing. Some clients are loud and love to chat, but others may want peace and a chance to relax. It’s near impossible to please everyone, but finding a balance will be appreciated by all. 

Timely customer retention success blueprint:

Are you ready for your business to reach its full sales potential? If you want to start building lasting relationships with your clients and have them return time and time again, here is our roadmap for getting started:

1. Start with the online experience

Your customer’s experience with your business begins long before they arrive at the salon. Clients are busy people and this means that convenience is key. In fact, more than 22% of respondents told us that ease of booking is a key reason for staying with a salon. Ensure that your clients can easily book an appointment, find your location and access a current price list from the comfort of their home. Timely’s tool for online booking is a great place to start!

Your customer’s experience with your business begins long before they arrive at the salon

2. Think about the entrance

When a client arrives at a salon, how are they greeted? Some salons require clients to introduce themselves at a front desk, while others prefer people to sit down immediately. Is it clear what your customer should do? Is there always someone who will acknowledge them? Are there enough chairs? Do they need to fill in forms? And what if their stylist is still working on someone else? 

3. Deliver the perfect consultation

It’s so important to conduct professional and thorough consultations, ultimately reducing complaints, elevating your client experience and protecting your business’ reputation. Timely’s Consult app is easy to use on iPads & iPhones and is free for everyone. Consult lets you design and tailor forms for your salon, including client intake forms, waivers and consent forms. It also helps you to clarify the treatments or services  you will be doing and confirm the prices before you start. Check out our other tips for delivering the perfect client consultation

4. Create a comfortable atmosphere

Take time to consider the atmosphere you have created. The volume and type of music, room temperature, lighting and decor can make a huge difference. Check out our guide to cracking the client happiness code for some tips on getting started.

5. Make your clients feel valued

A few simple steps can make a world of difference. Use your clients’ names, listen to their stories, set clear time expectations and ask to take photos of their finished hair/treatment. Use Timely’s Client Notes feature you can  record their birthday, favourite drink, colour or blow dry preference. Remembering the little (and big) details will show you care!

6. All about the wellness of your team

Everyone in the industry knows that relationship between stylist or therapist is just as important, if not more so, than the final product. Make sure that your staff are well trained, have mastered the act of small talk and aren’t overworked. Take a look at our salon management guide. After all, happy employees make for happy clients!

7. Master the upsell

Put some time into teaching your staff how to sell your clients retail without putting them off. Ask your clients what they use currently, make sure any recommendations are tailored to them specifically and give instructions for how to use the products. With the Timely iOS app, you can see past purchases at a glance and adjust your recommendations accordingly. Most importantly, don’t push if they say no. Check out these 10 ways to upsell at your salon or spa.

8. Refine the payment process

Banish the idea of lines at the counter and temperamental payment machines. As we step further into the digital world, some salons have decided to ditch the idea of a front counter altogether. The Timely iOS app lets you save on space and time by rebooking treatments and taking payments from an iPhone or iPad, anywhere in the salon.

9. Plan the next appointment

Stay proactive and offer to book the next appointment while your client is still in the salon. If your client chooses not to book immediately, always follow up with an SMS message

10. Always follow up and make it personal

Don’t just send out generic campaigns, make it personal. If your client got a special treatment like a perm or a tattoo, send a follow up message to ask how it’s healing. If they’re trying a new colour or cut, ask them how they’re liking it. Show clients that you care. Read about why SMS is a game changer for your salon.

11. Give your salon a special touch

What separates you from other salons? Is it a free treatment for new clients or longer head massages while washing hair? Do you have a particular aesthetic that draws people in? These tips for client retention encourage you to celebrate what makes you unique.

Common customer retention questions:

So, we’ve talked about ‘what’ you need to do to increase customer retention. But how are people actually putting these steps into practice? That’s exactly what we asked a group of highly successful hair and beauty professionals. Here is what they said:

How can I make my salon stand out?

What makes us different is how we make it more personal, we talk to our clients. We don’t just turn on music and stay quiet.

I know when I used to get mine [lash extensions] done, there would be a bit of small talk at the start and then you’d just lie there, how boring, I’d just be waiting for it to finish!

Focusing on your competition isn’t the answer — focus on your client experience.

Even small things like having a nice candle to smell or playing the music they like. Also, being open about our lives help our clients open up too, it can be a bit of a therapy session for a lot of them!

Author Avatar
Owner, The Lash Room

What do you do if a client doesn’t rebook?

Timely’s automated messaging capability is great. We send a client reminder text 24 hours before an appointment and if they haven’t already rebooked, a 6-week rebooking reminder.

We also use automated text messages and Mailchimp after all appointments with tips on hair care, and maintaining a style or colour.

Author Avatar
Shaun Thornbrugh
The Hair Boutique

Is it difficult to set up forms on the Consult app?

It’s easy to setup and it’s totally worth your time if you don’t want to risk your business. It took a few weeks for us to perfect the forms; we had to figure out what questions we wanted to ask and find out what we needed to ask legally. At the end of the day it really was quite easy to set the forms up, and Consult is very quick to use. I would definitely recommend it to any salon owner because it does make you feel so much safer, knowing that you’ve got all your records in one place. You’ve got that protection. I think it’s brilliant, it works great for us.

Author Avatar
Jason Donnelly
Owner, Asylum Hair and Beauty

We’ve never done patch tests before and haven’t had any problems. Are they really necessary?

Doing a patch test has saved us plenty of times. The reaction can be really, really bad. For the patch test, we put a little dot of colour behind someone’s ear and sometimes the whole ear will swell right up, or it will get really red and irritated. If you can imagine that on someone’s whole head it can be really dangerous.

Author Avatar
Jason Donnelly
Owner, Asylum Hair and Beauty

When it comes to client experience, it’s often the small things that prove most effective. Take your time to review your systems and seek out any opportunities for quick fixes before you try to make bigger changes. And never be afraid to ask for feedback! Listening to your clients is a fantastic free resource that will simultaneously make them feel valued.

Ask yourself why you got into this industry in the first place. If it had anything to do with helping people feel special, then you’re halfway there already.

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