Industry • COVID-19
May.20,2020By Cynthia Popper
Whether you’ve been under quarantine or closed for renovations, the time is always right to reengage. Here’s how to get clients back into the salon.
All proprietors know that anyone can face a temporary shutdown. As a salon owner, you might face anything from unexpected repairs to widespread COVID-19 closures. Thankfully, even pandemics aren’t forever. One day your doors can open to the public again. There’s just one problem: You’re not sure how to get clients back into the salon.
At first glance, this may sound like a non-issue — after some time away, you’d assume people need salons more than ever, right? But even a few weeks is a long time to go without hearing from your stylist. What’s more, your clients may have caught wind of a competitor promotion in your time apart. And when you haven’t seen any customers for a while, that’s a risk you can’t afford.
Whether you’re going through a slow period or a temporary closure, the key is to avoid treating it like a staycation. Now is the time to engage clients, update your marketing, and make a plan for when your business reopens. The good news is that these customer retention strategies are evergreen — you’ll use the same tactics to attract clients post-pandemic as you would after a run-of-the-mill slowdown:
Just because you aren’t seeing clients face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate with them. In fact, reaching out with interesting content (or even a friendly hello) is a great idea. Your strategy can be as simple as a salon newsletter, or as hands-on as starting a new blog or video channel. Business research shows that customers who engage with a brand are more likely to become long-term clients. It doesn’t matter if they can’t book an appointment the next day — they’ll remember the experience, making them more likely to look you up when the time is right.
Unlike some services, salon care isn’t purely transactional. It’s rooted in relationships, and relationships thrive through ongoing communication. That makes it crucial to keep contact lines open, so the connection doesn’t fade over time.
In an age of social media and streaming video, it’s often best to communicate through a variety of channels and media — especially if you serve clients from multiple demographics. For example, you could do any or all of the following:
Send a “checking in” email or postcard to wish the client is well in a difficult time. And don’t forget to personalize the communication with their first name!
Publish blog posts with practical, step-by-step beauty tips.
Create and post YouTube or videos with at-home beauty advice.
Run live hair tutorials on live-streaming platforms like Instagram.
Each example is practical, but also creates opportunities to highlight your brand and forge deeper connections with an online audience. While not everyone who reads or watches this content will become a returning client, those who do will feel like they maintained a connection while you were away.
While salons are well-positioned to get an influx of customers after a break, it’s a good idea to offer some incentives just in case. Remember that “incentives” don’t need to take the form of massive discounts or freebies. Even a $5-off coupon could boost business in a pinch. If you already offer a membership or rewards program, consider how you can keep regulars engaged in this period. Maybe they could earn points for tagging you on social media, or writing a favorable online review.
If all else fails, it’s hard to go wrong with a discount for long-time clients. If you’re especially ingenious, you could promote the purchase of hair salon gift cards at a small discount while you’re closed. That way, clients will be lining up once you reopen, and the gift card sales will act as microloans in periods where you can’t serve clients directly.
If you don’t already have one, a referral program is another excellent way to bring back old clients and meet a few new ones. The benefit can vary, but a shared gift bag or a joint pampering treatment for both visitors creates reasons for friends to attend together.
Salons and spas aren’t just businesses; they’re local businesses. The vast majority of clients will be individuals from nearby neighborhoods and surrounding areas. So if you’re wondering how to get clients back into the salon once your doors are open, start by reaching out to the local community. By hosting a social event, you can increase the number of curious visitors, get them interested in your products and services, and have fun doing it!
There’s no hard and fast rule for managing this event, although you probably shouldn’t serve customers at the same time! Instead, offer snacks and wine, put out product samples, and create social media contests and giveaways via a raffle. Your existing clients will enjoy the chance to socialize, and you might gain a few new customers in the process.
Periodically updating your website and brand messaging is always a good idea for any business, but it’s also the first thing to put off after a long day with clients. While the circumstances are far from ideal, a temporary shutdown is a perfect opportunity to take some time to finally plan an operational “facelift.”
A brand refresh can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be — at the end of the day, it’s an opportunity to reinvent your identity. If handled correctly, this exercise will highlight your strongest traits while renewing your salon experience for clients. Here are a few common points you might want to consider:
Update or redesign your website to ensure it makes a strong first impression. It should be easy to navigate, provide up-to-date service offerings, and clearly emphasize details like prices.
Review your social media strategy. Do you have a presence across your social media platforms? Are there any opportunities you might be overlooking?
Keep all elements of your online experience clean, professional, and optimized.
Include clear calls to action on your website and any marketing materials that make it easy for customers to book an appointment.
If you are refreshing any individual element of your brand, the important thing is to be consistent. If clients are reading a blog post or social media update, the messaging should enlighten them equally on the experience of your salon — whether in terms of product and service.
We’ve tailored this guide to reflect the circumstances of salons and other beauty industry businesses at this unique point in time. That’s not to say, however, that it doesn’t reflect sound and tested advice for retaining clients under any circumstances. Keeping your customers engaged, offering loyalty rewards and incentives, and optimizing your brand messaging are all ideal methods of communicating value. Whether you’re adopting these practices in the wake of COVID-19, an economic recession, or any other crisis, understand that these strategies are tried-and-tested. Any salon looking to develop and sustain long-term relationships with valuable clients can benefit from them, even during difficult circumstances.
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