Your 6-Step Salon Success Roadmap for 2020

The Christmas/New Year madness is done and dusted.

As you gaze into the crystal ball for 2020, what do you see for your business?

A limp re-hash of 2019…or a newly-dynamic, expanding, organised enterprise with systems in place that bring a constant flow of new and returning clients?

Marketing success isn’t a happy accident – it takes planning, focus, ACTION, and a well-defined infrastructure in place to help you take advantage of opportunities as they appear. But what does this infrastructure look like? Here’s the Worldwide Salon Marketing Blueprint.

Think of these Ten Essentials like the internal structure of a small sailing ship – the keel, ribs, bulkheads, pumps and labyrinth of wiring and hydraulic plumbing – all hidden from public view – that all work together as a system to keep the vessel afloat and drive it through the waves.

1) Your DATABASE.

Your database is like the keel of a ship…unseen, but VITAL.

The keel of your ship. And like a ship’s keel, it’s THE very foundation of a successful salon.

Anyone these days who still believes you can efficiently and effectively run and market a hair or beauty business using names written on the pages of a school exercise book is either seriously deluded, or accustomed to fighting battles blindfolded and with one arm tied behind your back.

Your list of clients – their names, their (full!) contact details, what they’ve previously purchased, their date of birth, their average spend…all of this information is GOLD.

But most of this vital information is useless unless it’s collated in a properly-organised database.

If you wanted to create a special offer appealing particularly to women aged between 29 and 45 who have one or more children and a history of buying facials and/or brazilian waxes, and email/SMS them with a link to that offer on your website, you simply cannot do it effectively and efficiently without those details in a database.

The price of computer-based systems has plummeted.

There are now scores of purpose-built, off-the-shelf database systems designed specifically for the hair & beauty industry.

You can implement a complete Point of Sale and Client Management system in your salon, and have it up and running inside 24 hours, for as little as $29 a month. There’s absolutely no excuse any more.

2) Testimonials and Online REVIEWS.

Testimonials and word of mouth have always been a primary source of new clients. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. Nobody these days would dream of booking an overseas trip or a new restaurant without Googling first and reading reviews.

And online reviews are now THE crucial piece of information prospects seek when they’re searching for a salon or spa. Many of our Member salons report getting 10, 20, even 30 new clients every month because of the prominence and sheer volume of their online reviews.

There are literally dozens of review sites – Yelp, True Local, Womo, Tripadvisor and more – but for most local service businesses like salons & spas, there is one review site that stands head and shoulders above the others. And that’s 

GOOGLE!

Think about it. 

You’re looking for a restaurant, or a travel agent, or a hair salon in your local area. What do YOU do? You pick up your phone, open a browser and Google “hair salon near me” or “waxing Sydney…”

Most people do that. And what do they find at the top of their search? Something like this: 

See all those reviews? 

One of the (many) reasons these three salons appear at the top of the search results for “hair salon Melbourne CBD” is because of their many reviews. 

This is what Google shows first, because Google owns the platform. They’re not going to show Facebook reviews or Yelp reviews before their own!

How to get reviews on your Google listing: 

1) Log into your Google account and find your Google My Business listing.

2) Find the “Get More Reviews” box on the home page of your listing. Click ‘share profile’ and it will give you a link you can send to clients. 

3) TEXT or email your client: “Thanks for coming in today (name)-) I’d love it if you’d write a short review on our Google listing. Just click here (and copy the link.)

sms marketingWSM members: in the Client Attraction System here, you’ll find the How to Get Masses of Online Reviews pack you can download, complete with done-for-you templates you can use to both collect reviews (the easy way) at your reception desk, and to send to clients by email.

Not a Member? In WSM’s flagship Client Attraction System marketing & mentoring program, you get unlimited access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive library of business & marketing resources designed and continually updated ONLY for salons and spas, as well as technical support, wesbsite and mobile app support, search engine optimization, and one-on-one coaching and guidance. Strictly limited to those salon owners who want to be business owners and entrepreneurs, not merely technicians. Go here to find out more.

 

3) VIDEO – simple, quick, easily uploaded – and devastatingly effective.

Your smart-phone is your friend. It’s also the friend of every single one of your clients, because everyone has one! They do almost everything on their smart phone – they browse the web, post to social media, send messages to their friends, shop, and…they watch videos. Smart salon owners – particularly those members of our My Social Salon program – are beginning to use videos as a stunningly effective tool to both reach out to their clients with interesting content, as well as generating instant business.

Here’s what to do:

1) Shoot a short video using your iPhone or Android. It can be just about anything – a quick ‘selfie’ interview with a happy client, a one-minute ‘how-to’ video featuring a new treatment or service in your salon, an introduction from a new staff member, a special promotion you’re running.

Here’s an example from one of our Members, Anita Bowe of Twisted Desire in Queensland:

Here’s another example from Carolyn Evans of Absolique Hair Health in Brisbane:

 

Any salon owner can do this! If you can touch the ‘record’ button on your smart-phone, or get one of your staff to do it, you CAN do this. But it’s what happens next that makes the magic.

2) Upload your video – straight from your smart-phone – to YouTube. For this you’ll need a free Google account (if you already use gmail, you’ll already have a Google account.) The whole process takes just a few minutes. YouTube will ask you for a Title, and a Description. In the ‘Title’ field, type a few words of what the video is about, and don’t forget to include your phone number, and your location. Why? Because Google uses this information as part of its Search Engine Optimisation process – if people see your video by going to the YouTube website, you want them to be able to see where you are and how to contact you.

You can simply leave your video there on YouTube. However, it’s smarter, if you know how, to then embed your video directly into your website.

Here’s an example on our Member, Escape Skin & Body’s website (just go to the home page and scroll down a little.) 

3) SMS and email your clients with links to the videos.

Here’s where you get the impact, and the results.

There’s no point in recording videos, uploading them, embedding them in your website if you don’t tell anybody about it.

Even if you don’t have everybody’s email address, you no doubt have every client’s mobile phone number. Send out a group text message, eg “Hi Jane, it’s Mary from (your salon name), I’ve just uploaded a quick video on a brilliant new hair style we’re doing, would love your feedback, check it out here: http://bit.ly/1vpCgGp and give me a call on 000 000 000″

(Hint: web addresses can be loooong – and soak up a lot of characters in an SMS. To shorten the link, copy the web address where the video is and go to www.bitly.com, paste the address of your video into the field in bitly, and it’ll instantly give you a much shorter link you can use in your text message and email. If you have email addresses of your clients, send them an email as well as a text message.)

You can do a video like these examples every week. Your clients will love them.

 

4) Your Website – but that’s just the start. 

If your current website – and all the other infrastructure around it, like Google Maps, reviews, videos etc – is bringing you a steady, measurable, identifiable stream of customers and clients every month, then you probably don’t need to do too much with it. If it’s already on the first page of Google for relevant searches, like ‘hair salon (your suburb)’ well and good.

But if you’re NOT getting a steady stream of clients who find you online, it’s time to ramp it up – or be left behind.

Here’s what to check:

1) Test your website’s Google ranking like this; open the Google Chrome web browser and ‘go incognito’ by pressing ‘control’ + ‘shift+ ‘n’ so Google doesn’t know who you are and gives you totally fresh results.

In the search bar, type what you think people in your area are searching for, e.g., ‘waxing’ and then your location or major geographical area, like ‘waxing northern beaches’.

If your website isn’t listed on the first page, it’s nowhere, and needs work.

Nobody searches Page Two.

2) Is your business appearing in the Google Business Listings? If not, you need to ‘claim’ your listing, and that involves generating an old-fashioned hard copy postcard from Google with a PIN number in it. They’ll mail it to you.

3) Look up your website on your smart-phone’s web browser. If all you get is a tiny version of the whole main website, it’s not mobile resp0nsive. That’s a problem, because more than half of web searches these days are done on mobile phones, and if all prospects get to see is a tiny version of your main website, not only will Google eventually downgrade your site in the rankings, but prospective customers will find it too hard to read, and go elsewhere.

4) Is your phone number prominent at the top of your website? It needs to be. On your smart phone, is your phone number appearing as a ‘hot’ or ‘click to call’ link? If not, it needs to be. Don’t make people jump through hoops just to call you.

5) Is your website being updated frequently and regularly with fresh content – text and images? If not, it needs to be. Google ranks websites it sees as being ‘loved’ and updated regularly. There’s no such thing as a ‘finished’ website.

5) Social Media – it’s for building relationships, not immediate sales. 

Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, can be useful to help build rapport and interaction with your ‘fans’. But they’re a LONG way from being the be-all and end-all.

In fact, Facebook particularly is becoming less so, as the company is constantly making it harder to reach your audience unless you’re prepared to pay.

It’s not ‘Free’ marketing by a long shot. Relying on Facebook and other social media platforms entirely to drive customers into your business is just plain dumb. If you do that, you WILL fail.

But there are ways of using Facebook much smarter than most people realise.

1) Never, ever ‘boost’ a post in an effort to reach more people. It’s expensive, and generally unproductive. A better way is to use Facebook ads. But it can be tricky, with major traps for the unwary.

2) People use Facebook and other social media to be social. They don’t go to Facebook to buy stuff. So post stuff on your business page that is engaging, that has been shown to get likes, shares and comments. Pictures, videos, funny stuff. Occasionally, a pitch or special offer.

But Facebook is not a selling platform, it’s an engagement platform. (Hint: if you’ve uploaded on of your videos to YouTube, do NOT merely post a link to that video into your FB page. Instead, upload your video directly into Facebook. It plays better that way, and doesn’t take people away from your page like a YouTube video does.)

6) Paid Online Advertising

If you’re serious about marketing your business, then you must use paid advertising – on the two biggest online platforms, Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Instagram) and Google.

As example, our digital marketing team set up the campaign above (and a similar ad on Google) for one of our members, Lorina Cassidy-Reid of Original Skin Tattoo Removal in Canberra.

Those ads – and variations of them – continue to bring in a steady stream of two, three or four appointments every day.

You can post nice updates on your Facebook business page till you’re blue in the face, but if you really want your stuff to be seen by the most people, and acted on, paid ads are the way to go.

But there are smart ways, and dumb ways, to advertising online, as I explain in this short video here: 

 

If you need any clarification of the above, or just want to discuss your hopes, goals and plans, feel free to call me or one of my specialist team on +61-8-94439327. 

We’re old fashioned. We like phone calls. 

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Scroll down to get your FREE Salon Business Plan Template

Perhaps you’ve found this post because you’ve followed a link in an email or social media…or you’ve been searching on Google for “Salon Business Plans”

Excellent – it shows you’re at least interested in the business the hair and beauty industry.

But I have some bad news for you – laboriously mapping out a detailed business plan for your salon is largely a waste of time, unless you’re clear on how you’re going to get customers.

So, you’re all excited about starting your new salon. Or starting the New Year. Excellent. Excitement is good and necessary. You’ve talked to everybody you can think of for advice. Bank managers, accountants, business coaches, the uncle of the guy who mows your lawn, and the lady next door who once owned a florist shop and retired 17 years ago.

And they all say ‘write a business plan for your salon‘.

You sit down at your computer, bring up a blank Word document on the screen, and carefully type My Salon Business Plan at the top of the page. You lean back, lean forward again, highlight the text, and make it all in CAPITALS, so it looks more official and important. And, for a little extra flourish, you make it RED. And you make it BOLD for an added touch of gravitas.

And you sit back and stare at the rest of the page, which obstinately remains blank.

“What the hell does a ‘business plan’ for a salon look like?’ you mutter to yourself. Well, here’s the somewhat disturbing answer, in two parts:

Dirty little secret 1: It doesn’t really matter what it looks like. The only people who are going to look at it are you (once!) and the bank manager you go to when – and if – you seek a loan. (And even then, it’ll have precious little impact on your ability to actually get a loan.)

Dirty little secret 2: three weeks down the trackor three months, six months down the track – your carefully-written business plan will bear absolutely no relationship with what has actually happened in your business.

The problem with most business plans – the ones you learn to write at business schools, or worse, via templates you download from the internet – is that they’re more about wish lists than reality. And the reality comes down to this:

a) What step-by-step, calculated systems and processes are you going to use to get customers into the salon, and make sales?

b) Exactly how are you going to get these things done in a timely, consistent, persistent manner?

Because in effect, a real salon business plan is a marketing plan.

Some of the world’s greatest and most widely acclaimed entrepreneurs of recent times – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell – started their businesses with nothing that even resembled a written business plan. BUT…. they were very clear and focused on how they were going to market their products. Sure, those plans would change dramatically, frequently, but they were never in any doubt that marketing was the business.

According to on-going research at Babson College in the US state of Massachusetts, regarded as having one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the world, there is no correlation between a start-up business’s ultimate revenue or profits and the existence or otherwise of a written business plan.

The problem with writing a detailed business plan is that invites ‘paralysis by analysis’. The very act of writing a business plan consumes valuable time making wild guesses, instead of doing actual market research, test marketing, study of real, available sales information, not to mention actually learning and implementing the most important thing – getting prospective customers excited about your soon-to-open business, ready to queue up at your door.

According to Entrepreneur magazine’s Kate Lister, “It distracts the entrepreneur from slaying dragons and thinking big thoughts. And it’s largely a waste of time. The result usually is a long-winded missive that’s out of date almost the moment the ink dries.”

By all means, spend a little time writing a SINGLE PAGE, bullet-pointed list of what you’re going to do to get customers through the door. But a detailed, 30-page document to impress your bank manager? Forget it.

Says Julian Lange, co-author of the Babson College Study, “Your time would be better spent out on the street, learning all you can from potential customers.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Now that you understand all that, it’s still a good idea to have a business plan – IF it’s all about marketing and sales!

So feel free to get started, by downloading our FREE Salon Business Plan Template!

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Things you didn’t know about salon price lists…

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burger1 In my morning newspaper today, a story that precisely illustrates and emphasizes this essay on pricing strategy I blogged about earlier this year. The story is about an Australian chef working at a restaurant in London who’s created a waygu beef burger with a sticker price of more than two thousand dollars. Now, if your immediate reaction is “that’s ridiculous, nobody’s going to pay $2,000 for a burger!” you’d be absolutely right.

And you’d be absolutely missing the point.

The chef, Chris Large, of Honky Tonk restaurant in up-market Chelsea, created the burger – with gold-coated buns, lobster and black truffle brie – with no intention of actually selling it.

In fact, the story quotes him as saying “…although I don’t excpect we’ll be selling many at that price…” The entire purpose of a burger for the price of a small second-hand car is not to sell it. Its ONLY reason for existence is to get free marketing exposure, and make everything else on the menu look cheap by comparison.

On both counts, Mr Large’s creation has over-achieved. In the past few days alone, his gold-plated burger has received massive publicity in print and online, all over the world. As I wrote (below) back in July, ANY salon or spa can – and should – find ways to exploit this strategy. But very few owners bother to even try. Nevertheless, here’s the rest of the essay I wrote earlier. (And from the comments posted below, it clearly struck a chord.)

diners

I’m a well-known thief, and a lazy one at that.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked at what’s working in one industry or company, swiped it, and put it to use in another industry or company. It’s productive laziness and larceny though, and I teach it to our Member salons & spas because it saves a whole lot of time compared to the energy, money and intellectual property required to re-invent the wheel.

Here’s a prime example:

Recently I came across a report in Business Insider based on research by the Cornell University of School of Hotel Administration on all the sneaky tricks restaurants use to get you to spend more money. And I instantly thought, ‘well, what if we applied exactly the same thinking to salons & spas?’

So here are some of the key points of this research, and my ‘swipe and implement’ thoughts on how to use the strategies behind it in a salon.

Get rid of dollar signs...they scare people.

Get rid of dollar signs…they scare people.

1) Clever restaurants don’t use dollar signs! (Next time you dine at an upmarket eatery, check that little gem out.) According to the report, a dollar sign is one of the top things restaurants should avoid including on a menu, because it immediately reminds the customers that they’re spending money. Cornell’s research showed that guests given a menu without dollars signs spent significantly more than those who received a menu with them. Even if prices were written out, eg “Ten dollars” – as though it signified a more upper-class diner – it bit them on the backside because guests still spent less money, triggered by negative feelings associated with paying.

My take: same applies in a salon. Get rid of the dollar signs. Do you really think that putting ’89’ against a service, rather than ‘$89’, is going to confuse your customers?

2) Restaurants are tricky with their numbers: Menu designers recognise that prices that end in 9, such as $9.99, tend to signify value, but not quality. In addition, prices that end in .95 instead of .99 are more effective, because they feel “friendlier” to customers. Most restaurants just leave the price without any cents at all, because it makes their menu cleaner, simpler, and to the point.

My take: simple. Just steal the concept and apply it to your price list.

3) Restaurants use extremely descriptive language. Research from Cornell University revealed that items described in a more beautiful way are more appealing to and popular with customers. According to further research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, descriptive menu labels raised sales by 27%, compared to food items without descriptors.

Menu Engineer Greg Rapp (yep, there is such a thing as a ‘menu engineer’) poses an example of Maryland Style Crab Cakes. They are described as “made by hand, with sweet jumbo crab meat, a touch of mayonnaise, our secret blend of seasonings, and golden cracker crumbs for a rich, tender crab cake.” This brings the ultimate sensory experience to the reader, and the descriptive labelling will make customers more likely to be satisfied at the end of the meal.

Interestingly, brand names in menu descriptions also help sales, which is why chain restaurants such as T.G.I. Friday’s use Jack Daniel’s sauce or Minute Maid orange juice on their menus. The more adjectives, the better.

My take: Day spas are often pretty good at using descriptive language. Hair salons and beauty salons, not so much. Try this – take a look at a typical service in your salon, say “Cut n Colour”. Now, 99% of salons do nothing more than list “Cut ‘n Colour” and a price, or price levels based on length of hair. But what actually happens during a cut and colour? The more effort you take to describe in detail the process of performing a cut and colour, the easier it’ll be to sell, at a higher price.

There is magic in the detail.

4. Restaurants use expensive items to draw you to the cheaper items. According to Rapp, restaurants use extremely expensive foods as decoys. “You probably won’t buy it, but you’ll find something a little cheaper and it will look more reasonable,” he says.

According to William Poundstone, author of “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It),” in a New York Magazine interview, “The main role of that $115 platter — the only three-digit thing on the menu — is to make everything else near it look like a relative bargain.”

My take: this is an absolute steal for any salon or spa. For years I’ve been showing how salons can ‘bundle’ or ‘package’ services and products in such a way that there’s always one ‘hero’ service, one so expensive, so luxurious as to almost ensure that nobody ever buys it.

You don’t actually want them to. It’s purpose as an ‘anchor’ service is to make everything else on the menu, no matter what it costs, look relatively cheap.

5. They offer foods in two portion sizes. This strategy is called bracketing. The customer has no idea how much smaller the small portion is, so they assume it’s the best value price because it costs less. What they don’t realise is that the restaurant wanted to sell the smaller portion at the lower price all along, and simply used the bigger portion with the higher price as comparison.

My take: similar to ‘anchor’ packages. Except you can repeat this all the way through your menu of services. A 90-minute facial for $120, and alongside it, the facial you really want to sell, 60 minutes for $89. Far more profitable.

6. Restaurant engineers analyse your reading patterns. Restaurants consider scanpaths, which are a series of eye fixations that can be studied to see how people read certain things.

According to a Korean research study, a third of participants are likely to order the first item to which their attention is drawn. As a result, restaurants will put the most profitable items in the upper right hand corner, because it is where peoples’ eyes go first.

My take: you can do this research yourself. Show a few clients your standard, garden-variety price list and ask them to pick their preferred service. Then show them your ‘psychologically refined’ price list, with your most profitable service in the top right hand corner, and see what happens.

10. They limit your choices. Through features such as “try-all” samplers, tapas, or fixed menus, restaurants remove the heavy responsibility people feel when choosing what to eat. It is much more effective for restaurants to limit their selection. Apparently, the optimum number of menu items is six items per category in fast-food restaurants, and seven to ten items per category in fine dining establishments.

My take: salon menus are often far, far too complicated. I saw one recently with no fewer than 104 different service items. Give people too many choices, you’ll confuse them. Confused people don’t buy.

11. They set the mood to spend. According to psychology research from the University of Leicester, playing classical music in restaurants encourages diners to spend more, because it makes them feel more affluent. Meanwhile, less sophisticated pop music caused people to spend 10% less on their meals.

My take: for salons and spas, this is easy to test and measure. Play classical music for two weeks, and play pop music for the next two weeks, even if muted. Keep everything else the same, and measure results.

Free Salon Appointment Book Template

Hi, Marnie here, as a salon owner myself, I know that running a successful salon requires a lot of things. One of them is organisation, and strict procedures. Not every salon has a booking system on a computer, and if you don’t, look into one now.

Before you download your free salon appointment book template, remember: this template is in 15-minute time slots from 7am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

It’s designed to be an easy, temporary replacement to your booking system on your computer or iPad. One spill of a coffee, and your appointments are lost!

How to Stop No-Shows

One thing, before you download your free salon appointment book template, is to stop your no-shows. Studies have shown that people value and cherish products they spend money on, versus products they get for free. In other words, when you put your credit card towards an appointment, you’re going to show up. So the next time you’re booking in a client, respectfully ask for either a deposit to secure the appointment (which you take over the phone), or ask for their credit card information in-case they don’t show.

Use this script:

“Now, Jolie, for me to secure this appointment on Friday at 11am, I do need a deposit of $50. This secures your time and appointment, and guarantees you’ll be getting the best service we can offer you.” 

If they’re uncomfortable, or against a deposit, you can try one of two things:

  1. Insist you can’t book the appointment, as it’s salon procedure:

“I’m sorry, Jolie, but it is salon policy. I do need this deposit for me to secure your appointment. How would you like to pay for the deposit today?”

2. Ask for their credit card information, but insist you’ll only charge if they don’t arrive

“I’m sorry, Jolie, but it is salon policy. I do need this deposit for me to secure your appointment. What I can do, instead, is take your credit card information on file, and only charge you if you don’t show up for the appointment. How does this sound?”

Get instant access to your copy of the salon appointment book template here.