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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Selling your salon? Before you do… [VIDEO]

selling your salonWhat really matters to a prospective buyer – and the nonsense business brokers, accountants and your closest friends will tell you.

“I’m going to put my salon on the market,” said a confident young lady on the phone to me the other day. “I’ve worked hard for five years, it’s time to start a family.”

So, I asked, is the business ready for sale?

“I think so. I take a good salary, we have great products, lots of regular clients, and the salon looks wonderful and it’s in a great location…”

But when I started asking questions, I could tell from the tone of her replies that this was going to be a disappointing conversation for her. And that’s because there’s a gaping chasm between what the owner of a business thinks has value, and what an astute prospective buyer thinks is valuable.

(And I use the word ‘astute’ advisedly. With stars in their eyes, many a beauty therapist or stylist on the hunt for their own business will fall in love with the ‘pretty’ surface and fail to look at what really matters.)

Add value to your business with a Worldwide Salon Marketing membership. Check it out here. 

First, the ‘standard’ way to value a business.

Financials (obviously).

An accountant will look at a business the way accountants do, with a calculator, analysing past performance, profit and loss, assets and liabilities, and come up with a ‘valuation’ for you based on those bare essentials. Valid, certainly, but extremely limited, and limiting. Past performance is only half of the story.

Stock, fixtures and fittings and shop lease (again, obviously)

Yes, they may have some value. But have you ever tried to sell second-hand furniture? It’s worth next to nothing. Retail products? You’ll need to be a very good salesperson to get anything like what you paid for it. And an astute buyer will screw you down on the remaining term of the shop lease, knowing you’re legally obliged unless they’re prepared to have the lease assigned to them.

Then there’s that hoary old chestnut,

Goodwill.

It’s just air. Business vendors will, usually on the advice of their accountant/broker/business coach, attempt to ascribe a dollar value to that most intangible of intangibles, the ‘goodwill’ or loyalty of the customers to the business. These days, there is little or no loyalty. And buyers know it. Don’t even think about trying to pull that one over them.

Now to the stuff you haven’t thought about, and certainly your accountant hasn’t.

Your database.

By far the most valuable, most measurable part of your business is your list. Your list of clients, customers and prospective customers held in an orderly, well-maintained electronic database containing not only their full contact details (name, email address, phone number, and most importantly, physical mailing address) but their spending habits and booking frequency.

This is the gold. This is the thing that a buyer can look at and determine with reasonable accuracy the current health of the business, and its potential, given a more robust and refined marketing program. If you software program is set up correctly, a prospective buyer will also be able to determine what marketing information you’ve been sending out to that database, and its responsiveness.

Your list has a strategic value in and of itself. If I were buying a salon, it’s the first thing I’d look at, not the financials of the business. I’d then put that list alongside the financials, and try to find cause and effect.

Then I’d take a very close look at the thing that really matters…

Your marketing infrastructure, both online and offline.

The second most important, most valuable, and easily the most measurable asset of any local business like a hair or beauty salon is…drum roll please…your online presence.

Thanks to technology, an astute buyer will demand your Google logins. Why? Give me your Google account logins and within one minute I’ll be able to tell exactly how many phone calls and website visits you’ve had in the last 30 days or 90 days from people searching for a hair salon or a beauty salon in your area. Here’s an example; the Google Insights figures for one of our Member salons, in the little South Australian town of Port Pirie.How to sell your salon

It shows that this salon received 74 phone calls in the last 30 days from people who had Googled a beauty salon in Port Pirie and called the business using the ‘click to call’ function provided by Google.

In addition, the salon received 67 clicks through to its website from the Google Plus listing in search results, which would have produced another raft of phone calls.

Here’s what Amber Clayton, the owner of that salon, says about the value of her local search ranking:

This is important, value-adding stuff. For a prospective buyer, it is incontrovertible proof that the investment put into online marketing by this salon owner is paying off in easily-measured numbers.

It means I, the buyer, can count on getting a steady stream of appointment-producing phone calls. And that means sales, and profits. And that means you can put a defined value on that online presence, quite apart and separate from any valuation your accountant might put on past revenue and profit. (You should also know – and Google provides the tools to find this out – how many people are searching online for a hair stylist or beauty therapist in your area in any one month period.)

Your presence in social media also matters, though not to the extent that Google ranking does. How many Facebook fans you have, how many Instagram followers you have, matters in that it gives a buyer a sense of how active and productive you are on social media.

But don’t be fooled, or try to fool – Facebook and Instagram followers are not customers. They’re just fans. People who actually call your business are customers (or potential customers).

Offline marketing

You should also be keeping accurate records of responses, sales and re-bookings from your offline marketing – mailbox flyers, direct mail to clients, newsletters, ads in newspapers. As a buyer, I want to know, because those figures give me a precise record of what works for the business and what doesn’t.

These things have real value. They are the value of your business.

So yes, financials and balance sheets matter. But smart buyers know they’re only part of the story. And they are past history. The only figures that can give me a picture of the future are those produced by the marketing metrics above.

If you don’t know what your marketing metrics are, then you – and the buyer – are floundering in the dark.

NOTE: members of our My Social Salon flagship marketing program – such as Amber Clayton – get all the above and more as part of our service. Click here to find out more.

The Salon Business Crystal Ball – Predictions for 2014

“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” C.F. Kettering

crystal ballJokes aside, there WILL be great shifts in the hair & beauty industry this year. Some will be brought about by technology (mobile apps, for example), some will be caused by changes in consumer behaviour, others by the gathering increase in disposable income, and still more by competition.

As a keen observer of, and supplier to, the hair & beauty industry for a decade (yep, Worldwide Salon Marketing is ten years old this year), I’m probably as qualified as any to dust off my crystal ball and gaze into the future.

Be aware: assuming you’ll be able to run your business in 2014 the same way you did it in 2013 is a recipe for failure. The world IS changing. Here are my predictions for the year ahead.

Technology

child covering eyesBehaving like a two-year-old, holding your hand over your eyes and declaring “You can’t see me!” isn’t going to cut it in 2014. Sure, technology IS confusing, headache-inducing. Only those business owners who embrace it’s efficiencies and the opportunities technology offers will prosper this year. No, that doesn’t mean you have to become a geek, or a web developer, or a programmer. But at minimum, you must acknowledge the need, and hire the right people to get things done for you.
Back when cars had carburettors, distributor leads and zero computers, I could tear down the engine of my old 1951 Riley and put it back together again. These days, they’re so complex I’d be an idiot to even attempt it. But I willingly pay an expert to make sure my Range Rover is always in peak condition.

For the same reasons, salon owners all over the world pay WSM to host, maintain and fine-tune their mobile apps, websites, search-engine-optimization and more. (Find out more about that here.)

Prediction: mobile – that means smart-phones and tablets like iPads – will completely swamp ‘old-fashioned’ desktop and laptop computing in 2014. Those salons which embrace mobile, find out how to use it, and exploit it will leave behind those who ignore it, hoping it’ll go away. It won’t.

Finding your Niche
nicheThe days of the ‘one-stop’ shop, all-things-to-all-people salons are over. The vast majority of hair & beauty salons are ‘me-too’ operations that provide pretty much the same kind of services and products as a hundred competitors within a ten-minute drive. Hair salons do hair. Beauty salons do facials, waxing, spray tanning. And all of these same-same businesses will pretty much take anybody with a pulse.
The way forward to prosperity in 2014 is niche. Being ‘the’ one salon in your town/suburb that becomes known as the go-to place for X, or Y, or Z. Or the salon that certain ‘types’ of people prefer. There is absolutely zero marketplace advantage in being ‘average’. You must research, discover, invent if necessary, products and services that are unique to your business, that cannot be found anywhere else. And/or, you must find a way to attract and exploit niche demographic and psycographic markets, and learn how to specialize in them, become known as ‘the’ place to go for that kind of person/group of people.

And one of the biggest drivers of this change is staring you in the face; almost nothing you currently sell cannot now be found faster and delivered cheaper through a simple online search.

Prediction: By the end of 2014, salons relying on retail sales of commonly-available products for their ‘cream’ will be largely out of business.

Read more about niche marketing here. And here. And here.

Products available online:

StrawberryNETThere are still (a few) product suppliers who refuse to sell their lotions and potions, machinery and consumables online. But their number is dwindling rapidly. It’s inevitable that more and more will face the fact that if they really want volume, they must buckle to the internet trend. Forums populated by hair & beauty professionals are frequently spiked with outrage at such-and-such ‘salon exclusive’ product suddenly turning up on www.strawberrynet.com.
Or a new DIY home IPL kit (‘Oh…what next!!!!’) or the latest, greatest hair straightening system, and a hundred others.

No, nothing is sacred any more. And less and less will be sacred a year from now. Face up to it. Refer to the paragraph on niche marketing above. Simply because virtually nothing you sell won’t be available online cheaper and faster forces the issue; you must find more ways to sell whatever it is you sell in a competitive vacuum.

Prediction:

Opportunity from failing competitors
closing downSad, but true; more hair and beauty businesses will close their doors this year than ever before. The widely-accepted industry ‘churn’ rate is about 20%, i.e., 20% of existing businesses will close, replaced by another 20% opening up with hopes and dreams.

On the face of it, your competitor closing her doors is good news (for you). But few take more than passive interest, doing little more to take advantage of this than merely hoping some of her customers will come your way. This year, the winners will become much more aggressive in their efforts to grab market share, not only by actively seeking to damage a competitor’s business, but by being ready to pounce on that suddenly-available opportunity.

Which means this: database is King. Salon owners who recognise the immense (marketing) value of a well-maintained, clean and accurate database of clients and their contact details – all of them – will be in a position to not only take maximum advantage of their own client list, but also know what to look for when a competitor closes. And pick up that competitor’s database for peanuts in the dollar.

(See Technology above.)

Prediction: For years, farmers have been forced to get bigger, by absorbing their neighbours, to survive. That’s just economies of scale. The same will happen in the hair & beauty industry.

Cutting costs
cost cutting
It’s tempting, when things are going well, not to worry too much about ‘little’ costs. A few dollars here or there. But 2014 will require more attention. Electricity prices aren’t going down. Neither are staff costs. But the winners this year will pay attention to the little things. Getting a better deal on phone and internet supply. It’s easier than you think. Prices have come down dramatically, thanks to competition, since you negotiated your last deal. Product suppliers will – if you push them – give you sample products you can use as deal sweeteners. Newspaper publishers are struggling to sell ad space. (One of our members got a brilliant deal when a local newspaper auctioned a series of spaces they couldn’t sell.)

Ruthless Management
balls
Our business is a people business. By its very nature, it often attracts caring and sharing ‘people-pleasers’ who’ll bend over backwards not to upset anyone, clients and staff especially. Which was fine back in the days when clients wouldn’t dream of being disloyal and going elsewhere, when staff signed up to a career in the business.

Those days are long gone. Daily deal websites have turned millions of people into bottom-feeding deal hunters, who’ll descent like a swarm of locusts at the slightest hint of a bargain, strip the paddock bare and move on just as quickly. Even without the daily deal scourge, instant availability of products and services at the touch of a browser button has reduced concentration spans to that of a mosquito. People are ruder, more discourteous, more demanding, less forgiving, less patient.

Staff – particularly the young ones – no longer think in terms of a job for years. Very few think more than a few months ahead. Again, thanks to technology, competition and social media, your 20 year old staff member can find another job on the other side of the planet faster, and get their more cheaply, than most of us could have dreamed of even ten years ago.

Prediction:

The successful salon owner in 2014 will become more ruthless, less forgiving, more focused on figures, more stringent with staff demands, less willing to be trodden on by clients. She will demand deposits to secure long appointments. She will insist on staff being bound by a simple, carefully-worded Policies & Procedures “This is how we do things here” document. She will, in effect, be swallowing a handful of ‘harden-up’ pills as you’re reading this, determined that 2014 will not end – like so many years before – with her declaring “Next year, things are going to be different around here.”