Salon Marketing & Sales (Prevention) – Why Doesn’t Anybody Want My Money???

How much money’s slipping through YOUR fingers?

The Sales Prevention Department’s alive and well in my part of the world, and I’ll bet my mother it is in yours, too. The world seems to be lurching from one financial crisis to another – first the GFC, now Europe on the brink thanks to massive debts – and yet so much of it could be solved if only sales people did nothing more than their job; to take the money people are begging you to stuff into your cash registers.

You don’t have to smart to be successful in sales. Just SHOWING UP is usually enough.

But most can’t even get out of their own way. I’ve been shopping for a new car, but if my experience is typical – and I fear it is – then it’s a mystery to me how car dealers, and the salesmen they employ, manage to feed their kids. And this is by no means restricted to the car industry.

Hint: how much money is slipping through your own Sales Prevention Department?

Example #1: Six months ago I decided on one of those up-market, outrageously-expensive European models. Phoned a nearby dealer, arranged to meet a salesman at the showroom, sat down with some kid in his twenties, ticked all the options I wanted, roughly added up the bill to somewhere on the nasty side of $120,000, suggested he might want to sharpen his pencil for a quick sale, and told him to send me a final figure. He had both my email address and my phone number.

I never heard from him again. Maybe he got snatched by aliens. Or his dog, fed up with not being fed, ate him. I have no earthly idea, but it’s the sort of nightmare that should be keeping his boss awake all night, staring at the ceiling.

Example #2: Bemused and somewhat perplexed by this, I simply refused to follow him up and try convincing him to take my money. I left it a few months – still nothing – so last week I started shopping again. This time a different dealer for a different make. Found one I liked, and with the young salesman in the passenger’s seat, took the thing for a test drive.
Back at the showroom, I told him I wasn’t going to commit to a new car for the next two or three years without spending at least a couple of days with the vehicle first, so he promised to get back to me about loaning me the car over the following weekend. That was last Saturday. Today is Wednesday. Still haven’t heard from him.

Example #3: Unwilling to waste any more time dealing direct with yet another Sales Prevention Department face to face, I instead went shopping online. On the most popular car website, I find two or three examples of the car I’m looking for, all at different dealerships across the country. (And by now I’d switched preferred models. I figured if the previous idiot’s sales skills were so lacking, his dealership’s service levels would be similarly inefficient)

I complete the online forms to make an inquiry, and hit the submit button. Four days later, not one of those dealers has bothered to respond.

Now, it’s not as if I’m buying a built-to-price, poverty-pack Korean tin can. I’m spending north of $100,000. And they don’t want my business???

Laughably, the website every dealer in the country uses to sell their cars clearly doesn’t trust the dealers either. It’s just sent me an automatic email, inquiring as to whether I’ve been contacted, and asking if I’d like them to give the dealers a gentle nudge. I presume something like “Gee, some jerk is trying to buy a car from you, wondering if you’d lower yourself to actually give him a call sometime.”

I don’t think so. Let them drown in their own sloth.

Here’s what’s instructive for all salon owners:

Think this kind of sabotage isn’t happening in your business? Do so at your peril, ‘cos it is. It happens in every business. Be paranoid. Paranoia is good. Every single time your phone rings, it’s ‘cos you’ve spent money making it ring. And every time that prospect falls through a canyon-size crack, it’s money wasted. Sales begging, not made. Profit left sitting on the table.

Be paranoid enough to mystery-shop your own business. The results can be terrifying. That’s why most business owners don’t.  Just last week, one of our recently-joined Inner Circle member salons asked us to do it for them. Senior IC coach Annette Gomez booked herself in for a two-hour session. The salon owner thought his business was doing ‘okay’, but when he read Annette’s report, detailing at least twenty glaring, obvious-to-any-customer ‘service failures’, he just about had heart failure. But to his credit, he got stuck into fixing them.

But at least he had the courage to get it done in the first place. Most salon owners – in fact most owners of most businesses – have a head-in-the-sand attitude when it comes to this kind of detail. Folks, this stuff IS marketing.

I advocate ruthlessness. Many a time I’ve had a salon or spa owner on the phone, complaining to me that a staff member “….won’t do what I want her to do/say…” – and my instant and repeated advice is; fire them. Now.

The danger of effective marketing is success….getting more and more customers, who quickly find out you’re no good.

Salon Gift Certificate Template: Does this happen in YOUR salon???

customer service

Salon Gift Certificate Template: Does this happen in YOUR salon???

Yesterday, I did some free research for you, ‘mystery shopping’ a local salon business touted as one of my town’s most up-market, stylish salons.
And the news is:

It failed my report card.

I won’t name the salon, but if its owner is reading this, she’ll recognize herself. This salon is one of three owned by a young entrepreneur who’s done a lot of things right, but still lets money fall through the cracks through lack of attention to detail. And there is magic in the detail.

I wandered in late yesterday afternoon, a Monday, to get a haircut. The layout is impressive – 20 chairs line the walls, with a massive raised catwalk down the middle for the fashion shows the salon has become known for.

That’s a tick for laterally thinking about how to create a ‘buzz’ that spills over into attracting new clients, an ‘involvement device’ to acknowledge that as the majority of customers are women, they’re interested in all things fashion and style, not just getting their hair done.

I was greeted at reception by a pleasant young lady (one of five staff on duty, only one of whom was actually cutting hair, being a Monday) who informed me that my haircut would cost an eye-watering $71. This for the privilege of having the services of the company’s ‘art director’, an innovative way of describing their most talented stylist.

When I visibly gulped at this – in a town where an average male haircut might stretch to $35 – she offered me instead, one of their ‘artists’ – another inventive term for what ordinary salons would call a ‘senior’ – for only $62. And if this was too much, I could have one of their ‘designers’ – their version of a mere apprentice, for a few dollars less.

Another massive tick from me for innovation. This salon owner is doing what I’m constantly nagging our Members to do – to re-think what it is they’re selling, to re-invent the business in such a way that it differentiates itself from the competition, simply by re-branding the common and thus making it un-common. Out of thin air, creating more perceived value. “Ordinary salons have seniors and apprentices. We have ‘artists’ and ‘designers’.”

Here’s what’s instructive: using differential pricing, you can elevate the perceived value of your own services. Example – clients insisting they only want the owner pay more for that privilege.

Next, I was asked to complete a client details form – name, all my phone numbers, email address – and crucially, tick-boxes for how I found out about the salon. A database-building system most salons are too lazy to implement, too ignorant to recognize its value.

I was introduced to my ‘artist’ who led me to her chair.

Unfortunately, that’s about when the shine started to come off an impressive start.

I was handed a selection of magazines. They were dog-eared, months old. As she washed my hair, my ‘artist’ cheerfully asked me the standard questions – ‘had a busy day so far?’ Yes, thanks. … ‘Got a big weekend planned?’ Mmmm…couple of social functions, that’s all. ‘What line of work are you in?’

I knew she was going to ask this, so I threw in a truthful answer, specifically to check her pulse.

‘Er, I show salons how to market themselves more effectively, more efficiently, how to increase the per-visit ticket price, and get customers coming back more often…’

“Really….and do you live locally?”

She might have been thinking, but it wasn’t about what I was saying. Nice enough girl, no pulse.

But the wheels really fell off back at the reception desk. Here I was, a brand new customer just walked in off the street, happily paying my $62 buzz-cut bill. I stood there idly chatting with the receptionist, my ‘artist’ attentively nearby.

Sigh. No attempt to sell me product, despite earlier telling my ‘artist’ I always use gel in my hair.

No request for feedback (i.e. testimonial) about my experience in their business.

Not even the slightest effort to re-book me next month.

I walked out the door, the sound of staff chattering to each other about their Christmas plans fading in my ears.

What a crying shame that it’s like this in almost ALL businesses. Attention to detail is its own economic stimulus package.