Retaining your client base whilst your salon is closed
Marie-Louise Coster offers advice on keeping in touch with clients and encouraging them to return.
We are currently living during history, what is happening to us now will be taught to our children for generations, and as interesting as that is, I am sure I am not alone in not being able to get past the worry that comes with this…the worry for our health, the worry because we aren't earning any money and the worry that - once this is all over - what state will both the economy and our businesses be in?
It is a fact of life that during your career as a therapist, or as a salon owner, you will gain clients and you will lose clients. Many clients will try you out for one visit because their usual therapist is away, on maternity leave etc., some because they are spying on behalf of a friend who is a rival therapist or salon owner, others because you have a special offer on and the rest because they are looking for a new and regular salon/therapist to visit. As a professional you can work out quite quickly which of the above categories said client falls into and so some wastage is expected, but what of those clients who you did see regularly and thought you had a good relationship with?
It is extremely hard to constantly rely on and attract new clients. Only a certain number of the population is female (which is largely the demographic you are going to attract), only a portion of that population live within a distance of your salon that they are willing to travel, many will not see beauty treatments as a necessity and others won't have the time or finances. Thus, because there isn't an infinite number of clients, this makes the potential audience sizeable but too small to constantly expect that for every client who doesn't come back there will be a new one. At some point the pool of clients you have never seen that fall into the categories that we have mentioned will be empty and there will be none left.
Also, people's lives are busy and when clients forget to book in and get back into the cycle, a little reminder that you are there often jogs their memory. This is why it is so important to rebook a client at the end of their treatment before they have left the salon.
So, what should you do to prevent losing clients when your business has been forced to close?
Firstly, do not panic! It is happening to everyone. Then use your time wisely and productively.
At this point when you're trying to retain contact with clients, and ensure they remember you when business resumes, clients who previously came to you regularly are the first people to contact as the hardest job of attracting them once has been done.
Regular e-newsletters are a must!
Send out an e-newsletter to all clients, those who book in regularly along with those who haven't for a while. Use an email distribution system, like MailChimp, and you can schedule different emails to be delivered weekly.
Fill the newsletter with tips for the coming season, focus on a key product or treatment, offer advice on maintaining good skin or nails whilst your salon is closed, and include news from the salon.
If you retail products and can take orders online, now is time to remind clients what you have available. This, landing in clients, inboxes, will remind them you are still here.
I recently sent emails out all about what was happening with COVID-19 etc. to all clients on my database, and a client I hadn't seen for almost a year, who hadn't been in lots before and who I assumed had gone elsewhere, emailed me back to express her upset for me having to close temporarily and to tell me how great she thought I was and that she hadn't been in as she had been made redundant but would be back as soon as I re-open.
Send a cheery greeting through the post
Another idea is to have some postcards printed (this can be done easily and relatively inexpensively on the internet) and send them out to the clients. Title the postcards something like ‘We're Missing You', have a nice visual of the salon, treatment room or your team along with your logo, and on the back remind the client of all the great things you have and what they are missing out on.
You could include an offer of a percentage discount to entice them back when you resume trading. Make the discount worthwhile but remember it is purely a gesture so don't go too high. In my opinion, 10% is pointless as on a £25 Manicure it equates to a £2.50 discount which I don't think would have people rushing back to you; 20 % is a good discount as it is enough that the client sees a saving but not too much that you are out of pocket or selling yourself too cheap.
Recommend a friend offers
Thirdly, and I would do this anyway alongside anything you do to encourage clients back, is to set up a recommend a friend scheme. Your regular clients come to you because they like you, the service, what you offer and the treatments they are having, so it is likely that their friends would feel the same. Encourage clients to recommend a friend and give them both a discount off their next/first treatment when you resume business. Recommendation is by far the best advertising and quickest way to grow your client base, so maximise and utilise this with the clients you have.
Keep up your social media content
On a daily basis, keep your social media active. Post advice, do live Q&A sessions, remind those following you – who may not already be regular clients – of the brands you stock and work with. Check what resources your suppliers can provide; some have designed social media assets that you can post straight to your feeds with advice for clients. Encourage your followers to share your posts, thus widening your promotional circle. Keep reminding your followers that you are the skin/hair/nail expert with ‘how to' videos; whilst you don't want to suggest the same results as your professional services can be achieved at home, advising how they can manage without their monthly facial, fortnightly nail colour change, regular brow shade, means they will trust you and help maintain contact with clients.
Our clients become like friends, we often see more of them than our families, they are very important to us. Don't take what is happening now personally or to heart, dwelling on the negative will consume you and stop you doing something positive to grow the business in other ways, and there will be positives if you take the time to stop and look for them.
Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 20 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School is ABT-accredited.