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Last updated: November 13, 2017

9 Ground Rules Every Salon Must Follow

Driving Client Retention:
9 Ground Rules Every Salon Must Follow

“Winning at today’s salon and spa business means building a retained customer base that is loyal to the company,” sites award winning author Neil Ducoff. Why is client retention so important? For one thing it’s your “True Quality” score. Are you providing extraordinary salon experiences that inspire clients to come back again and again? The sad truth is that the salon industry average for first-time client retention rate has hovered at 30 percent for years. That means that for every 10 new clients that you work so hard to bring in, only three ever come back. What does that say about our level of service? Our training? Our culture? Our policies? Our compensationit hurts to think we’re paying high commissions only to lose 70 percent of our clients.

So what can you do NOW to start improving your client retention rates? You will quickly find that any program designed to improve your salon’s client retention performance will cause you to rethink many aspects of your business. This is because virtually everything that happens in a salon directly affects client satisfaction to some degree. A total retention program addresses as many of these reasons as possible. It can be overwhelming at first, that’s why we suggest you start with the basics and fine-tune your program as you gain confidence and control.

Here are 9 ground rules that should be built into every salon client retention program:

1. Track client retention—not request rates. Request rates do not have anything to do with client retention. The valuable information for the salon is if they came back. Who they came back to is irrelevant.

2. Base stylist compensation on their ability to retain clients.
– Reward improving and excellent retention rates with a raise, bonus, prize, etc.
– Address poor and declining stylist retention rates quickly. Coach, train, mentor, etc., until rates improve within a specified time frame. If there is no improvement, it’s time for a serious talk with the employee in question.

3. Assemble a basic assortment of marketing promotions to support retention.
– Develop programs aimed at first-time clients to get them back for a second visit. “Thank You” emails, second visit discount cards, haircut and perm club cards and other simple programs that encourage repeat visits. Demandforce is a great product that automates this process for you.
– Use email surveys to find out why first-time clients did not return. Better yet, do a follow-up phone call and ask them.


4. Profile and guide new client traffic.
– Match new clients with those stylists best suited to retain them based on skill level, personality and personal profile.
– Evaluate and review each stylist’s retention rates every month. Since retention affects the entire salon, consider posting monthly retention rates in the dispensary. This will reinforce your resolve to improve retention and encourage stylists to reach for the best overall retention rate.

5. Develop a marketing program to introduce clients to other qualified stylists.
– Use social media and email to introduce your “total salon concept” that places the skills of the entire salon at the disposal of each client. You want clients to get comfortable with the idea that they can switch stylists within the salon. Remember, we are only concerned that they return to the business, not a particular service provider.

6. Perfect the teamwork concept.
– Every staff member should be working to achieve the salon’s goals.
– Set up team projects, retention evaluation committees, first-time client programs and other team-based efforts.

7. Assemble a target list of real and potential retention problems at your salon.
– Examine every major and minor detail of your salon operation: parking, music, cleanliness, retail displays, reception area, telephone answering techniques, signage, etc.
– Evaluate the skill level of each stylist in each service category. If a stylist has a bad retention track record with perms—prohibit the stylist from doing perms until trained and certified.

8. Develop a client referral program that encourages retained clients to recommend your salon to friends, family and associates.

9. Make the commitment to develop your retention program and stick with it.
– Don’t try to accomplish everything too quickly. Develop your program and fine tune it as you gain control and master retention skills.
– Don’t leave retention to chance.