In the very beginning of my salon career I met a passionate professional who at the time was running the education division for a distributor. She loves every aspect of our business (even nails) and I was always inspired after speaking to her. I credit Didi Merriman with walking me to my first Creative Nail Design class and kickstarting my love for science behind the service with education for all. Knowing what a great business mind she has, Didi was an easy choice when looking for guest business bloggers. I hope you enjoy her tips as much as I always do!
No "Secret" Here . . . Building a Business by Creating Freakishly Loyal Clients!
Do you remember when Oprah was raving about a little book called "The Secret"? If you were one of the 19 million people who went out and bought it, do you remember how excited you were to discover what "The Secret" really was? Do u remember how you felt about 3/4 of the way through the book? When you started thinking …hhhmmm…is this it? (Seriously, didn't we learn this back in Kindergarten?) Every time I see a Groupon for a professional salon service pop up in my inbox I feel the same “I just got ripped off" feeling that I felt back then.
Excuse me miss, I'm going to need you to STEP AWAY FROM THE GROUPONS!
OK, the promise of hundreds (thousands?) of shiny new clients bursting through your door, all wanting add-on services, all wanting to buy oodles of retail product, and all wanting to pre-book their next 48 appointments is pretty hard to resist, right? It ranks right up there with the scientific skin care break-through that "Works Better Than Botox", and the revolutionary new diet pill that warns us to "Discontinue Use if You Lose More than 10 lbs. in 3 Days"! Hocus Pocus, Smoke and Mirrors!
Groupon customers are loyal customers until the next Groupon comes along, so don't be lured into thinking that you'll turn these shoppers in to Freakishly Loyal Clients!! (FLCs!) FLCs are created one-by-one, with hard work, passion and a cult-like obsession for making each one feel better about EVERYTHING after they leave you! It takes time, effort and strategic marketing!
Step #1: Narrow Your Focus!
While the masses are Groupon-ing themselves in deeper and deeper, you are making a Top 20 list of your best friends, favorite relatives and other cool people you just like to be around. Start by sending each of them a handwritten card (no, not a Facebook message just yet), explaining that you are launching your career in this awesome industry asking for their support. In an effort to improve your skills and techniques, you would like to offer them a complimentary service of their choice, in exchange for their honest feedback, their constructive criticism and their social media connections.
Step #2 : Educate, Educate, Educate!
As you will do with every client at every visit from this moment on, conduct a thorough consultation to address any concerns the client has and make sure you fully understand their expectations! During the service itself, engage them in the process, and continue to educate them on the choices you make. Explain everything. You are the expert, and your clients want you to be the best. If you don't feel that you are, contact your SalonCentric Consultant A.S.A.P to discuss the numerous educational opportunities available to you!
Step #3: Post, Tweet & KIK Away!
Now for the fun stuff! After you've completed the service (and given your soon-to-be Freakishly Loyal Client 50% off the first follow-up appointment just for pre-booking), it's time to post the fabulous before and after pics you took showcasing her service. Post the pictures with a quote expressing how much she loved what you did, on both your wall and your soon-2-be Freakishly Loyal Client's wall. You could even have a few, pre-scripted, example posts for them to choose from. Remember, it needs to be effortless for the client, but it is still your responsibility to make sure it gets posted on somebody’s wall before she leaves!
Step #3.5: Food 4 Thought! (literally)
McDonald's sells 550 million Big Macs a year — that’s 17 Big Macs every second. Does McDonald's really need to run a "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" promotion on Big Macs? Absolutely! They know that there is a Big Mac Lover who has a BFF who has never tried one.
Step #4: Recruit, Reward, Repeat!
Recruit. To show your appreciation for the priceless "word-of-mouth" advertising your soon-to-be Freakishly Loyal Client just gave you, you are going to give her three $25 Gift Cards to share with three of her friends. (P.S. These gift cards are redeemable only with you and you have already written their name on the line that reads "A Gift For You From ________"!)
Reward. When one of her gift cards comes back to you, she will receive a very special something. Allow her to choose a complimentary service from the custom "priceless" menu of add-on services that you created , OR allow her to choose any retail item for 1/2 price. Both of these rewards carry a great deal of "added value" in the client's eyes.
Repeat. Begin the cycle again with the consultation when the next BFF comes in. Recruit, Reward, Repeat!
So rather than marketing to those customers who only visit you when you offer a deal, (regardless of how much they love you, or how many Big Macs you're giving away), put your energy in to creating Freakishly Loyal Clients one-by-one. Just remember to take freakishly good care of each and every one!
— DiDi Merriman is a Salon Sales Consultant for SalonCentric Professional Beauty Partners. She is based in Omaha, Neb. DiDi can be reached at email@example.com or 800-777-7335, ext. 1102
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