Have you ever had a new client who absolutely LOVED the haircut you gave them? They even raved about you on social media, only to never hear from them again?
It can be a blow to your ego when they ghost you like that, especially when you’re new and building your clientele.
In some cases, there are folks who just don’t like to commit. They don’t want to feel tied down so they hop from stylist to stylist. Even if you did everything perfectly, you’ll never see them again.
And there could also be a legitimate reason why they don’t come back. Relocation, illness, personal issues, financial issues…the list goes on.
Sadly, the average rate for first-time client coming back is around 30 percent. So for every 10 new clients who sit in your chair, statistically speaking, only three will come back.
It’s an expected part of doing business.
But what if you find this has become a pattern with some of your regular clients? If that’s the case, you definitely need to rethink your client experience strategy.
Are You Providing A Great Salon Experience?
Becca was a hard-working and eager stylist who came out of beauty school with hopes and dreams of owning her own salon. She established a plan and worked tirelessly to reach her first goal of building a solid clientele.
She was one of those stylists who just had a natural flair for brilliant haircuts and flawless color. And her appointment book reflected her skill level.
In record time, Becca had a full schedule with a waiting list. She was on the fast track to reaching her goals and felt so accomplished by checking off all the boxes on her aggressive To Do list.
Becca was so busy cutting and coloring and focusing on reaching her goals that she didn’t even notice a few of her faithful clients hadn’t rebooked. Then a few more cancelled their appointments, but she rationalized that something must have come up but they’d be back because they loved how she made them look. So she didn’t take the time to reach out to them to find out why.
It didn’t even occur to her that she was treating her clients like they were on an assembly line. Color, Cut, Next…
She wasn’t taking the time to connect. To really listen and make her clients feel important like she did early on.
She just put them in her chair, draped them, hurriedly swept up the last client’s hair, and started in with the exact same haircut and color without asking if they’d like to try something new. She wasn’t taking the time to find out if they had any personal changes that might affect their hair like stress, pregnancy, menopause, health issues or medications.
The personal relationship aspect that she built her business on had dwindled.
And her appointment book began doing the same.
It's All About Relationships
It’s rare that a successful business can be built and maintained without first building and maintaining relationships with your clients. Maintaining client relationships is key. They are the most important and valuable part of your business. Without them, you have no income or business.
If you’re facing a client retention crisis, it’s time to take an honest evaluation of your relationship with your clients. Are you providing a great client experience?
What steps do you take to provide your clients with a fulfilling experience in your chair? How do you structure your allotted appointment time with them? Do you think of it as just giving them a great hair cut or a beautiful color and that’s good enough? Or do you spend some time connecting and getting to know them?
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be besties with your clients in order to build a relationship. Frankly, you don’t even have to like them. (Trust me, you’ll have some clients who will drive you crazy!) But as long as they aren’t hateful or abusive, you still need to keep a respectful relationship and provide a great experience for them if you want to build and maintain your business.
What Makes A Client Experience Great?
Anything you do to make your client feel special contributes to making their experience great. And we all appreciate feeling understood and valued!
Here are 7 vital steps for you to consider adding to your client experience to make it great:
1. Give great consultations. It makes sense to give a thorough consultation to a new client but what about your regulars?
It’s fun to catch up on their lives since their last appointment but do you take time to talk about their hair and find out if they are facing any hair challenges?
Do you ask if they’ve had any recent changes to medication, their health, their lifestyle that might affect their hair?
Do you assess their hair health, their growth patterns, and cowlicks? It’s amazing how quickly new cowlicks can emerge, especially for older clients. When you’re aware of these changes, you can adapt the haircut as needed.
Your clients will appreciate your attention to their needs.
2. Give a great shampoo. If you’re the one who shampoos your clients, this is a great opportunity to provide an amazing sensory experience.
Make sure the water temperature and spray pressure are comfortable for your client. Use soothing strokes while shampooing and conditioning the hair and finish it off with a brief scalp and neck massage. This is a perfect time to pamper your clients.
Pro Tip: Did you know this is the only time some people are touched? Taking just a few more minutes to massage their scalp and neck makes all the difference. You not only help your clients feel relaxed, but you will also make them feel valued.
3. Give great haircuts. Duh! It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many stylists don’t continue to improve their cutting skills or practice their techniques. Any haircuts outside of their area of expertise can be a huge challenge.
If you’re struggling with any particular haircutting techniques or styles and know you need some professional help, contact me.
By giving your clients a great, high-quality haircut, their style will look amazing even as it’s growing out. This will keep your clients pleased with their hairstyle in between visits.
4. Give great styling lessons. If you give your clients beautiful haircuts but they don’t know how to style them once they get home, they might blame the unsatisfactory result on your haircut.
Do you spend the time teaching your clients which products to use and how to use them in the proper order? Do you show them which tools are best for their hair texture, and what styling techniques they should use to replicate the gorgeous style you gave them?
As you’re styling your client’s hair, it’s the ideal time to talk them through what you’re doing, what products and tools you’re using (great way to increase retail sales), and look, you just gave them a styling lesson!
Pro Tip: You can take it a step further by offering additional styling lessons if your client needs more help. Have them bring in their own styling tools and watch how they style their hair. This way you can assess their technique and offer solutions.
5. Keep you and your space looking great. Sometimes we don’t notice our own little messes because we see them every day. We can get in a hurry and forget to tidy up our space in between clients. It seems innocent enough - we’re busy.
But if your station or suite is cluttered or unorganized, it can send a message to your clients that you don’t pay attention to details. And that’s not the message you want to be sending to the clients who trust you with their hair!
The same goes for how you look. You don’t have to dress up like a model heading to a photo shoot (unless you want to) but you should take the time to make sure you look nice and smell pleasant. Are the onions in the salad you had for lunch lingering on your breath? Is the cigarette smoke still noticeable on your hands, clothes, and hair?
A simple way to find out if this is an issue is to ask for honest feedback from a trusted stylist or friend. Also, try looking at your space through the eyes of a new client. Are things messy? Disorganized? Are you constantly digging through your drawers when you’re looking for a comb or product you want? How is your appearance? How do you smell?
6. Have a great booking system. Offer to book your client’s next appointment before she leaves. Explain that if she books now, she’ll be able to secure a time that works best for her schedule.
Pro Tip: If she needs to check her calendar and get back with you, tell her about your booking app. You can even offer to help her set it up on her phone if she’s not tech savvy.
Also, put a reminder in your calendar to send her a gentle reminder that it’s time to rebook if you don’t hear from her.
Make the booking process a breeze for your clients.
7. Have a great attitude. I’m not referring to Pollyanna attitude here. I’m referring to a healthy attitude of doing your best and letting go of the rest.
If you gave a client your absolute best and she still ghosted you, that’s on her, not on you. Be proud of yourself and chalk it up to experience. Then give your absolute best to the next client in your chair. And the next client after that…
The clients who are worthy of your best will keep coming back because they see your value as much as you see theirs!
How Did Becca Do?
Let’s check in and see what happened to Becca. Was she so focused on her goals that she continued to lose clients? Or did she finally realize she needed to make some changes?
The answer is yes. To both questions. Unfortunately, she did lose a few more clients because she wasn’t paying attention. But she woke up when her good friend, Lynn, who was also a client, confronted her about it.
It came as a shock to Becca when Lynn brought it to her attention. Becca’s first reaction was to defend herself and her goals. But the more Lynn talked about it, the more Becca realized she had neglected her clients. That was a hard truth to face.
Ultimately, Becca reworked her schedule by allowing more time for each client. She reached out to the clients who had stopped coming to her and apologized for her poor service. She explained that she was making positive changes and offered them a discount to come back and give her another chance.
Many of Becca’s clients did come back and they were thrilled that she was back to her old self. By focusing on each client’s experience and giving them her absolute best, Becca actually built her business faster than she was when she was focused on her aggressive To Do list.
The key ingredient to a client-based business is clients. And happy clients make the experience so much more fun!
P.S. If you need help or support with client retention, I would love to assist you. I’ve been in this industry as a hairstylist and educator for over 30 years and boy have I learned a lot of lessons the hard way! Becca was so fortunate to have a bold and caring friend like Lynn. If you don’t have a Lynn in your life, you can always contact me.
On Point Hair Academy and my Own Your Chair program were created for stylists like you who need just a little help (or a lot of help) in different areas of their hairstyling business.
I invite you to book your FREE 30-minute Coaching Call to see what it’s like to work with me. We can discuss your challenges in your hairstyling business, and I'll help you formulate a plan of action.
Take the first step in your journey to hairstyling success and book now. I look forward to meeting you!
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