It’s a common refrain I hear from salon & spa owners constantly; “Our re-booking rate is awful. My staff just don’t know how to re-book their clients!”
We all know that getting clients regularly re-booking is perhaps THE crucial ingredient to owning and running a successful hair or beauty business. Yet according to salon software company Kitomba, the average re-booking rate is somewhat less than 40%. Which means that in most salons, more than 60% of clients are walking out the door with no forward booking at all.
Let’s take a look at some numbers – and these should make your eyebrows shoot north in surprise.
Say you have 300 active clients, and if you’re re-booking them every 4 weeks, that means they’re coming in approximately 13 times in a year. If, on average, they’re spending $100 a time (on services and products)…
300 X 13 X $100 = $390,000 in revenue.
But if you’re not actively rebooking them, they might only come in every 6 weeks. Which means they’re only visiting 8 times a year.
300 X 8 X $100 = $240,000.
That’s a massive $150,000 in ‘lost’ revenue!
And here’s where the biggest mistake most salons make when it comes to re-booking:
They’re asking the the wrong question!
Your client has just emerged from the treatment room, feeling a million bucks. Or she’s just spent two hours having a cut and color and she’s looking sensational. At the reception desk, she’s standing their with credit card in hand, about to pay, and you (or one of your staff) nervously ask The Question:
“So Mary, would you like to re-book for next time?”
Mary stands there with a blank look on her face. She’s just been asked to…think. She’s distracted. The kids are due to be picked up from school, she’s wondering what to cook for dinner, the house is a mess, she has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and she’s worried about that, and then there’s that social event coming up in two days and she still doesn’t have a clue what to wear. And now she’s being asked to make a decision about something so far into the future that she can’t get her head around it right now. So, she offers the Default Answer, the easy answer, the one almost everybody provides when asked to make a Yes or No decision:
“Ah, no thanks, I’ll give you a call and let you know.”
And you smile and say “Thanks Mary, we’ll see you next time.” And as Mary walks out your door, you have absolutely zero idea when, or even IF, you’re going to see her again. But…it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s how it SHOULD happen.
Years ago, McDonalds decided that burgers don’t taste anywhere near as good without fries. They coined a phrase which has entered the language – “Would you like fries with that?” Insisting that every single staff member across every one of its 30,000 stores around the world ask that question for every single burger order made a massive difference to the company’s revenues. That single question increased revenues by 13%.
Now, to my mind, even that was the wrong question. McDonalds would have seen an even bigger increase in revenue had they tweaked that little question by just word or three. Instead of asking “Would you like fries with that?” – to which there is only a Yes or No answer – the question should be “Would you like a regular or large fries with that?”
See the difference? There’s no Yes or No answer – just a choice between two alternatives, either of which produces more revenue.
In many salons, the re-booking conversation doesn’t even begin until the client reaches the reception desk at the completion of service. This in itself is a big mistake. The conversation needs to start during the client’s treatment. For example, “Your hair is really taking to this new style Mary. But it’ll need doing about every 4 weeks to keep it in top shape.”
But the killer question comes at the end.
You’re standing behind your reception desk, with your computer screen in front of you, and Mary’s on the other side of the counter. Here’s what you say:
“Okay Mary, looking ahead four weeks, we can fit you in again on Tuesday the 29th at 10am or Thursday the 31st at 3pm – which of those two times would suit you best?”
It’s just a small change in the script. But it can produce a massively different result. Just as in the McDonalds example, the psychology is glaringly obvious. Instead of asking your client to think – “Oh, um, do I want to re-book…er, I can’t think that far ahead, um, I’ll call you closer to the time…” – you’re making it easy for Mary by NOT asking her to think. Instead, you’re giving her a simple, done-for-you choice. A Tuesday at 10am or Thursday at 3pm. “Mmm, got to pick up the kids at 3pm, okay I’ll take the 10am Tuesday appointment please.”
But this isn’t going to happen in your salon unless YOU make it happen. This is a set-in-stone script that can and should be used by every staff member, after every appointment. You should always be indicating to your clients that appointments are scarce. Scarcity drives sales. Nobody’s going to feel they need to re-book if they can see that your appointment book is wide open.
The above script is a bare minimum. You can do more. For example, you can offer a Gift Voucher for a friend as an extra incentive.
“If you re-book for one of those two times now, I’m going to give you a $25 Gift Voucher you can use yourself, or give to a friend or member of the family.”
You can create a competition. Eg, “Re-book now and we’ll put your name into a draw to win a $500 Gift Voucher – we give one of those away every three months.”
There’s a LONG list of ways you can add incentives. But you must have a script – one that’s followed rigorously by every team member.