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Last updated: August 08, 2017

Keep Your Clients Longer

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Client retention must be top priority in every salon that wants to grow their business. Neil Ducoff and his team at Strategies take you through client retention boot camp to understand and identify rules that keep clients returning. Happy, returning clients will naturally build your referral business.


According to Neil, “To understand the meaning and goals of client retention, you must be familiar with the language and factors that impact how well you retain clients.” Below are the productivity numbers you absolutely must evaluate in your salon.


• Client Base. This figure is the total number of retained clients on the salon’s client list. Each client must have made more than one visit to the salon within the last twelve months.


• New Client Retention Rate. This is the percentage of first-time clients that return for a second visit within a specified period of time, usually ninety days.


• Average New Clients per Month. This is the average number of new, first-time clients that will visit the salon each month. Use a six-month time span to calculate this figure.


• Visitation Frequency. Average number of visits a client makes to the salon per 12 month year.


• Average Client Ticket. The average amount paid for services and retail per client on each visit to the salon/spa.


• Attrition Rate: The average annual percentage of retained clients lost for any reason including relocation, stylist leaving or dissatisfaction.


Just about all modern salon point-of-sale software programs can help you calculate these statistics. You will need them to monitor your retention program and to project future sales.


The 9 Rules to Build Successful Client Retention
The following ground rules should be planned into your monthly salon operations and profitability review.


1. Track client retention — not request rates. Request rates do not have anything to do with client retention. Calculate these numbers every 3 months.



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. Release the employee if there is no improvement.


3. Develop a basic collection of marketing promotions to support retention.
• Develop programs aimed at first-time clients to get them back for a second visit. “Thank You” cards, automated email campaigns, second-visit discount cards, haircut and color club cards and other simple programs that encourage repeat visits.
• Use email surveys for follow-up phone calls to find out why first-time clients did not return.


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 service providers.
• Print and mail an announcement card to your client list introducing your “total salon concept” that offers the skills of the entire business at the service of each client. You want clients to get comfortable with the idea that they can switch stylists within the salon.


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, website, telephone answering techniques, signage, etc.
• Evaluate the skill level of each service provider in each service category. If a stylist has a bad retention track record with updos — prohibit the stylist from doing updos until trained and certified.


8. Develop a client referral program that encourages retained clients to recommend your salon to friends, family and associates. We’ve seen salons do very well with “send-a-friend” referrals and two-for-one promotions that are simple cards that stylists hand out to clients. Many do well just asking for referrals and handing out business cards.


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.
• Be a no-compromise leader!


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Neil Ducoff