Hair & Beauty salons are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year because of no-shows, and the lack of deposit-taking policies for fear of upsetting clients.
That was the headline on a blog post a couple of years ago. And it seems, little has changed. I fixed it in my salon, permanently, by insisting on deposits.
In fact, I was interviewed by Greg about this shortly after implementing the policy:
But in a survey conducted by Worldwide Salon Marketing, the vast majority of 130 salon owners questioned revealed they had no policy of taking deposits to secure appointments, and even it they did have a cancellation policy in place, it lacked ‘teeth’. But it CAN be so simple to both eliminate the fear, AND stop the no-shows, as long-time WSM member Kim Susskind explains in this recording with WSM founder Greg Milner.
If salons want to be taken seriously by their clients and stop hemorrhaging money, they have to take the lead from industries like travel, hospitality and entertainment, which simply refuse to take bookings without payment. Customers accept those policies completely. Try booking a concert ticket and telling them you’ll pay when you get there. It just doesn’t happen.
- But, 88% of salons do not take deposits.
- The average annual loss through no-shows is a whopping $10,000 per salon, with one salon reporting a staggering $52,000 – even though fully 80% of salons claimed they sent appointment reminders by text message.
- Extrapolated across Australia’s approx. 25,000 hair & beauty businesses, the losses represent $250 million annually.
- Of the 12% of salons who insist on deposits for appointments, the average annual losses dropped to less than $2,000
- Asked ‘How many times must a client ‘no-show’ before you no longer take bookings from them?’, 31.5% said three times, while another 32% said “I always let them book another appointment because I’m too scared to lose the potential business.”
It appears the industry is beset by fear. According to one respondent,
“We do have a cancellation policy, but rarely enforce payment, as so few other beauty clinics do so. Clients will not come back.”
And this from a salon in Melbourne:
“I would like to put a cancellation thing in place but I don’t have credit card facility nor any way of safely storing peoples numbers. And yip I am scared of scaring people away.”
But that fear appears largely unfounded. Said another salon owner,
“We started taking credit cards or a cash deposit on February 1st this year, for the first time. It works a charm, no more no shows, the clients now know we’re serious.”
Another long-time WSM Member, Sharon-Lee McGaw, says deposit taking has dramatically changed the way her clients behave:
Get the PERFECT client letter to stop no-shows – PLUS hundreds of tested and proven salon promotions, TEST DRIVE the exact same system Kim and Sharon and I use to boost our sales and profits.
No contracts, no ifs or buts, just hundreds of tested, proven, done-for-you salon & spa promotions, templates and how-to videos.
It’s client-grabbing, ‘push-button’ simple
For all the hair stylists, nail techs, beauty therapists and massage therapists reading this – something to think about.
How long did it take you to become good at your trade? How many years did you spend studying, on-the-job training, attending professional development seminars, doing exams, going to demonstrations?
In Australia, for example, a hairdressing apprenticeship is three years. That’s just to become a competent technician.
And yet every year, all over the world, as if by magic, tens of thousands of hair stylists and beauty therapists suddenly wake up, find a shop somewhere, hang out their shingle – and overnight, they’re in business.
Exactly how so many expect their transition from highly-trained technician to zero-training business owner to be somehow painless remains an enduring mystery to me.
After many years supplying marketing and sales tools and training to thousands of salon and spa owners all over the world, it still makes me shake my head when I ask a salon owner what self-education in business she’s put herself through, how many marketing seminars she’s attended, what business books she’s read, and so many reply,
“Er…well, nothing really. I just opened my business and hoped everything would sort itself out.”
Of course, this remarkable disconnect is in no way peculiar to the hair & beauty industry.
At the height of the Global Financial Crisis, a TV documentary chronicled the breathtaking collapse of Iceland’s entire banking industry.
Iceland had been a collection of fishing villages for centuries, the skills of seamanship and fishing taught to sons by fathers for generation after generation.
As the world drowned in cheap money in the salad days just before the GFC, Iceland’s fishermen walked off their boats and re-invented themselves as bankers.
Questioned on this glaringly-obvious disconnect, one of these fishermen-turned-financiers paused tellingly, and answered
“Mmmm….yes, I see your point.”
Perhaps you’ve just started your hair or beauty business. Maybe you’re just about to. Or, like so many salon & spa owners who finally make a decision to educate themselves with systems like Worldwide Salon Marketing’s My Social Salon marketing & mentoring program, you’ve been in business for years, making the same mistakes over and over again.
If you fit into any of these categories, take a moment to ask yourself some questions:
It takes years of study and training to become a competent technician. How can it NOT take years to become a competent marketer, an accomplished hirer, trainer and motivator of staff, a sensible financial manager???
And did you become a good stylist or therapist all by yourself? Of course not. You had teachers, mentors, trainers to guide you along the way. Expecting that knowledge of how to market and run a profitable business will somehow fall out of the sky like a Fairy Godmother is almost a definition of insanity.
There are many, many stories among Worldwide Salon Marketing’s member salons around the world of how a change in the way they think about their business turned their salons – and their lives – around completely.
Marnie sold her salon business for a big payout
Marnie Kallmeyer is just one of them. Five years ago, Marnie was on the brink of bankruptcy. She lost her house, her marriage was shaky, you could fire a cannon through her salon without fear of hitting anybody. Fast forward to 2013:
“Oh gosh…how things have changed,” she says. “My business has tripled, just in the past year. In fact, a hand injury back in January forced me ‘off the tools’ completely – and yet the business is making more money now than ever before. It’s fantastic, it’s emotional, it’s just so wonderful, and I can’t express my gratitude enough for what being part of Worldwide Salon Marketing has meant to me, my family and my life!
“And yet, it might never have happened if I hadn’t bitten the bullet, and actually picked up the tools that WSM had given me, and put them into practice.”
In fact the change has been so dramatic, Marnie took a cue from those popular ads on TV…and bought a Jeep!
For how long do you wish to remain a willing inmate of the Insane Asylum?
Almost every salon owner’s worst nightmare; getting so sick that you’re forced ‘off the tools’ for an extended period. For most, it would be a financial disaster.
But for Anita Clements of Twisted Desire salon in Brisbane, a sudden and debilitating illness that left her bedridden for weeks has been a…
As Anita relates in this 5-minute interview, her salon – with only three staff – made $3,000 MORE money in a week. And sales are continuing to go UP, not down, as she was forced to concentrate on the business, not cutting hair. Here’s how it happened:
Now, for just ONE DOLLAR, you can TEST DRIVE the exact same system Anita used to boost her salon’s sales and profits
No contracts, no ifs or buts, just hundreds of tested, proven, done-for-you salon & spa promotions, templates and how-to videos.
It’s client-grabbing, ‘push-button’ simple
The other day I called in on a cafe that I occasionally visit on the way to work. I’ve gotten to know the owner a little, over the years, and on this day, the cafe was empty and she was sitting on a stool, tooling around on her phone.
“Hi Cindy, how’s it going?” I asked breezily.
“Bloody awful,” she said, gesturing around the empty cafe. It was nearly lunchtime, it should have been busy. “I just don’t know what’s happened, business has just…dwindled off…”
I actually DID know what had happened. Another cafe had opened nearby – brighter, better food, happy staff, clever marketing (they were using Instagram to brilliant effect), and Cindy’s business was suffering.
“So, what are you doing about it?” I inquired.
“There’s not much I can do,” she moaned. “I sit here and wait for the customers to come, and they don’t…”
I could have taken her by the scruff of the neck and shaken her. There she was, doodling around on Facebook, for crying out loud, and whining about ‘how bad things are.’
Had she done any marketing to her list of regular clients, with an offer? Nope. Had she sent a staff member out into the street, handing out a ‘buy one, get one free’ gift voucher to passers-by? Ah, no. Instead of idly browsing inane cat videos on Facebook, had she actually done any paid advertising on Facebook to drive people to her website? Negative.
I ran off a string of other ‘actions’ she could be taking to generate business. She shook her head at all of them. Sadly, she was sitting on her stool, waiting for something to happen, rather than taking Massive Action.
To be frank, she’s no orphan in this. Many owners of small businesses are the same. In fat times, most are too busy taking easy orders to even think about the possible lean times ahead. Most pay little attention to threats to the business. And hardly anyone is prepared to take the massive action required to combat such threats, let alone thrive in the face of them.
Success in fat times is easy, even for the lazy. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Churchill said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”
But he didn’t mean enthusiasm for failure. In nearly 15 years of consulting to and advising salon & spa owners on their marketing strategies, I’ve spoken to literally thousands. And the statistics never change.
Eighty percent do nothing, change nothing, take little or no action to change their circumstances. They fall at the first hurdle, whine that ‘it’ doesn’t work. And sulk. Ten percent get to the second, even the third hurdle, and give up.
Only the top ten percent keep going. Many of those ‘ten percenters’ have been members of our Worldwide Salon Marketing online and offline programs for years and years. They understand that not everything works, all the time. Success isn’t linear. It’s not about taking consecutive actions. It’s about doing lots of things, simultaneously. Such as…
· Regularly, frequently reaching out to your list of clients and prospective clients via email, text, social media with compelling offers to get them in the door.
· Being pro-active about ensuring your business is visible to prospective clients searching for your products or services online. That means either doing your own SEO (search engine optimizing) or paying a professional to do it for you.
· Being a Nazi about customer service – constantly training your staff, being ruthless about how you want things done.
· Planning your marketing months ahead, using a big wall calendar, or even the calendar on our Mobile App, My Salon Success.
· Accessing relevant tools and techniques – like the Client Attraction System website, which houses literally hundreds of done-for-you marketing for salons & spas that you can download and use, any time of the day or night.
· Planning and executing – well ahead of time – special events like Client Appreciation Nights, new product launches, membership programs, marketing ‘trigger’ events like Christmas, Mothers Day, major national holidays.
· Taking advantage of ‘news’ events – and rapidly tailoring promotions to ‘hook in’ on what people are already talking about.
· Monitoring and measuring the results of your marketing efforts, so you know from day to day what’s working, what isn’t working.
If you’re not doing at least some of the above, all the time, you’re sitting on your stool, like Cindy the Miserable Cafe Owner.
WANT TO TAKE ACTION?
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Thirteen years ago this month, I started coaching and supplying marketing resources to the salon industry. I guess I must have spoken to literally thousands of salon & spa owners all over the world in that time.
Many things have changed. When I started Worldwide Salon Marketing in February 2004, smart phones hadn’t been invented. Apple had only recently launched the first iPod. Facebook was only launched the same month. Google wasn’t even a listed company, let alone the giant it is today. Instagram was still 6 years away from birth.
Most salons & spas didn’t even have a website back then. Many were still using paper and ink to book appointments.
The phone, mailbox flyers, and newspapers were their primary marketing media, along with word of mouth.
Much has changed, and changed rapidly. And it won’t ever stop. But one thing has never changed, and I’m guessing it never will.
It is this: 90% of people who start, or buy their own salon or spa business should never have gone into business in the first place. It sounds brutal, and it is; but in my 13 years of providing all sorts of marketing & business support for salons & spas, it’s been clear from the very start.
Very, very few people in the hair & beauty industry go into business with a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Almost none has read a business book, studied a business course, subscribed to any kind of business or marketing publication, or taken the trouble to seek out specialist help or advice.
It’s a sad fact that most come from a purely technical background – they’re merely good at what they do – and suffer under the delusion that simply being good at what you do is sufficient foundation on which to build a business.
And yet – silly me – I’ve spent the past 13 years attempting, and often failing, to turn many of these hair stylists and beauty therapists into entrepreneurs and business owners. In many cases though, spectacular success.
When Amy Farley came to me ten years ago, she was a struggling massage therapist, breaking her back for 60 hours a week. Today, she’s a successful entrepreneur and marketer with thriving days spas on both coasts of Australia. When Tracey Orr bought our first Essential Salon Owner’s Marketing Toolkit in 2004, she was operating as a nail technician in a single room at the back of a hair salon. Tracey went on to build Launceston’s biggest and most successful salon.
There are many more such cases. The successful ones possess some common attributes.
· They were relentless about educating themselves on what works.
· They took advice, and hired professionals to do the jobs they were either unqualified to do themselves, or didn’t want to do.
· They ALL took massive action.
· They recognised the difference between working ON the business, and working IN it. And did everything in their power to do the former.
· They understood that their JOB, as owner, was to market the business, bring in the customers, and pay others to do the technical work.
· They started their business with the end in mind.
These are the people I call the ‘ten percenters.’ The ten percent of salon & spa owners – hell, it’s probably less, but I’m generous – who I really should have concentrated on helping further their success, rather than attempting to drag some of the other 90% to the water trough and forcing them to drink.
(Yeah, I know, it’s strange. I’m constantly nagging our Member salons to forget about trying to get recalcitrant, lazy, unproductive staff to do their jobs properly, and instead concentrate their efforts on their winners.)
The vast majority of owners in the hair & beauty business conduct their lives in a constant state of quiet desperation. Too afraid to make the changes necessary for improvement, they struggle from year to same-same year, hoping that perhaps by some miracle, things will get better.
Without changing anything. It’s a common definition of insanity.
You’ve no doubt read many articles telling you what to do to become successful in your personal and business life. This is all very well and good, but I’m sure you have also figured out by now that there is no magic trick to win this race.
There is no quick fix or shortcut to the fame and glamour most of us dream of. So where does that leave us?
As part of my role at Timely salon software, I frequent many expos and networking events. Just recently I attended Beauty Expo Australia, and the highlight this year was talking with Julie Piantadosi. She is a no-nonsense type of gal, with a highly contagious and positive spirit. Her wealth of business experience makes her a powerful and effective speaker. As I chatted with her and listened to all the amazing things she does, I couldn’t help but wonder “How does Julie do it!?”
Check out Julie’s website here!