Pictured above © Tabulara Rasa Salon
Running a hair, nail or beauty salon is no easy feat. Between managing contractors, organizing the agenda and promoting the salon, there is always something to work on. Even the most capable managers sometimes need to take a step back and see how they can improve business.
You may have invested in the massage chairs in leather, and the state-of-the-art 28-lamp tanning bed, but if you can’t get customers into your salon in the first place, you may as well be throwing money down the drain.
So just how do you go about increasing bookings and boosting sales for your salon?
Each salon is going to have its own hurdles, whether it be the stiff competition or the lack of online visibility, and maybe there are parts of the marketing funnel you’ve already mastered, but today we are going to be taking a look at three distinct goals:
- Make sure they can find you
- Make sure they book
- Make sure they come back
1. Make sure they can find you
The first step to increasing your bookings, and therefore your salon revenue, is simply by making sure potential clients can find you, and like any business in 2019, the first place to start is with your online presence.
Think about your typical clients for a second. You’ve got; your regulars, your occasional visitors and your special occasion clients. But no matter the profile, the initial reaction when searching for a new salon service is probably the same: Do a Google search. In the United States alone, there are between 1M and 10M searches per month for ‘hair salon near me.’ (Based on the Keyword statistics from Google Ads as of July 2019).
Apart from word of mouth, most potential clients are going to be searching for a few keywords into Google. Typically those keywords be something along the lines of “Hair salon near me,” “Best manicure + Zip Code” or even “Highest rated Brazilian wax.” Then with some luck, they find you. When that happens, the first impression your salon is going to give will be your Google listing on Google Business. This will quite literally put you on the map in your area, making you searchable and allowing your best customers to leave comments and reviews. Not only does having a Google business listing add you to their map, but it also has the added benefit of helping your Google ranking.
Since this is such an important first step towards a booking, make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Take Boston’s Aesop Newbury Street’s Google Business listing for example, they have a stunning salon front, so they’ve made sure the interior decoration is the first thing you see when you look on their listing. According to a study by Synup, “Online Business Listings with photos are 2x as likely to be considered reputable and get 35% more clicks.”
Google Business Listing for Aesop Newbury Street
This is a great example of how to play to your strengths and it is an easy listing to update. Google recommends a minimum of three high-quality photos for the exterior, the interior, people at work and each product or service offered.
By the same standard, Google Ads are a surefire way to get the eyeballs of people ready to book. According to WordLead, pay-per-click traffic is 50% better at converting leads than organic traffic. If you combine this with Google Business, you can really get a step ahead of your competition. Here’s what it looks like in practice. We searched for “Hair Salon” in Orlando, Florida, and here are our results:
Google Business Listings in Orlando, Florida
Google Ads works on a highest-bidder-gets-the-spot basis, so you’re going to need to take a look at what keywords you are willing to bid on.
Test out a few campaigns, if this seems daunting, take it one step at a time with Google Ads training videos. They walk you through the process one step at a time, and before you know it you’ll be a Google Ads pro.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, promotions are as old as sales itself, and they are a great way to attract new customers. Consider promoting a 15% discount to fight off a seasonal dip in bookings at the end of summer, or buy-two-get-one-free for booking services in a package. Whatever your promotion is, make sure you share it on your social media channels in addition to your regular printed goods!
In addition to your own promotions, be aware of advertising sites like Groupon. These sites can be a great way to improve your visibility and find new customers but proceed with caution.
Groupon is a bit of a double-edged sword, as The Balance Small Business explains it. Groupon takes quite a chunk of change from any bookings you make (up to 50%), so a 100$ service sold at a 50% discount is going to put 25$ in your pocket. This may be a steep price to pay, but there are ways to use the advertising service to your benefit without getting taken advantage of.
The Balance Small Business suggests using Groupon bookings to find new recurring customers. How do you do that? By offering discounts on multiple visits rather than a one-off service, you are more likely to create customer loyalty.
Another natural way of attracting customers that you may be overlooking is Social Media. Nowadays, it’s the gold standard to have at least a Facebook page where people can quickly look you up but there are so many possibilities with Social Media. You can geotag your Instagram posts, promote Instagram contests and giveaways, give exclusive deals to your Facebook fans that share your content and post lots of before and after pictures.
Additionally, your Facebook page should give important information like your salon hours, your contact information, a booking option, and your photos should absolutely make people want to come to your salon. We’ll get to photos a little more in detail later, but on Facebook, it is essential that your photos show the reality of your salon and not fake stock photos.
This is because if your customers arrive at their appointment and what they’ve seen online does not match the reality, they are going to head straight for the comment section to complain. The best way to leverage your Facebook photos is to have a professional photographer come in and make your salon look fantastic. But more about that later.
When you are planning your content calendar for Social Media, remember that videos are a great way to get leads on Social Media because Social media posts with videos have 48% more views.
Let’s take a look at this post on Ambiance Nail Salon & Spa’s Facebook page. Ambiance is a Nail salon in the Cincinnati area that has done all of the above!
Ambiance Nail Salon and Spa Facebook
They have combined a giveaway promotion with user-generated content, with salon photos that show the ambiance along with a little self-brag.
2. Make sure they book you
Finding your listing is half the battle, the harder part is convincing them to stay on your page and book. Did you know you only have 10 seconds on average before most people will leave a site? But luckily you can communicate much more in 10 seconds through a photo than you can through words.
Use Meero for all your salon pics and videos
People go to salons to be pampered. So having accurate and beautiful photos of your salon is an important part of the salon experience. If a customer has never been to your location before, a photo is going to speak to them much more than any written description. They will be looking at your photos to see 1. How professional your salon is, 2. What amenities you have available, and 3. What they can expect overall.
From the moment they see your site and the location, they will be forming an idea in their head about your services so it is an essential
What’s more, hiring a professional photographer is no longer a hassle. Meero makes it easy to order stunning salon buttons through our online platform. For a salon chain that is looking for consistency for all of their locations, there isn’t anything easier.
Meero provides professional-quality photos anywhere around the world. These photos can then be used for your website, for your social media content, your blog, and any review sites your salon is on. Speaking of which…
According to Inc., “89% of consumers viewed online sources of product and service reviews as trustworthy--and another 80% have changed their minds about a purchase based solely on the negative reviews they read.”
Negative reviews, like positive reviews, can, and do, have a serious impact on bookings. People turn to review sites before investing and so it is really worth your time to sit down and address the situation. If you have lots of negative reviews, you need to do damage control and respond to those Negative Nancys. If you have very few reviews but very happy customers, it is time to work on your email marketing and reach out to ask for clients to leave a comment.
Take a look at Luxe Nails in San Francisco.
As of July 2019, they have a five-star grading and over 40 reviews. It may have taken some time to get to that point, but now anyone looking to book is going to feel secure in their choice!
Booking on the site
“If you’re a salon or spa with an established website, offering online booking could potentially boost appointments by 25%.“
Fit Small Business (6K Twitter followers - contact and ask to retweet)
When it’s time to finally book an appointment, you need to make it as easy as possible with online bookings directly on your site.
Why bother with an online booking platform? It's more convenient; your users are already online looking for services, so once they are ready to bite the bullet, it's easier to just book online than by picking up the phone.
It’s also a sharable medium, think about how many of your clients come in pairs or groups. By making your reservation service digital, your visitors can simply share their bookings with their friends to coordinate their salon visits.
Lastly, visitors love the control online booking gives them. Rather than calling and asking for availability, they can look at all of your open slots and chose the time that suits them best. Think about companies like Doctolib or Treatwell. They give their users maximum control when translates into more bookings.
31 percent of respondents would be more likely to choose a new service provider if that provider offered online booking options. - GetApp Lab
Today there are so many excellent booking software available that there really isn’t any excuse for not having an online booking option on your website. Using an online booking platform will not only free up time for your secretary (or you, most likely), it will make it so you don’t miss any potential bookings because you aren’t open 24/7.
Some booking sites even let customers book directly from an app, or your social media sites!
3. Make sure they want to come back
“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one”
Here’s another tried and true technique; your classic stamp card. Get 9 waxes and the tenth is free. But nowadays, don’t bother wasting paper on cards that people lose. There are many loyalty card applications and software that will not only keep track of your customer’s visits but will also promote your salon on their own platform.
If you want to create loyal customers, LoyalZoo recommends a ‘clear and generous’ approach to Loyalty Programs. Really reward your loyal customer
Engage your customers after the visit
After a great pedicure where you can tell the client is very happy, ask them if you can take a picture of your hard work and post it on your social media channels. If you can tag the customer all the better, and remind them that if they post online to tag you and you’ll repost! They’ll be flattered to be selected to be on your page, and they may even share the post themselves.
The other side of engagement is encouraging your customers to post their own photos and tag you. If you can leverage your user-generated content correctly, you can grow your followers (and therefore your reach), you can make your customers feel special by putting them in the spotlight.
One of our favorite ideas we’ve heard is from Owner and Master Stylist of Matii Salon Bernhards Ziverts, who suggested “Offer(ing) a Selfie Station Inside Your Hair Salon,” for Fit Small Business. We love this idea because after a fresh cut and blowout, everyone is guilty of taking selfies to share with their friends. By including a selfie station, complete with flattering lighting and your custom hashtag on the mirror, you are increasing your salon's exposure, while tapping into user-generated content. It’s a win-win!
© Be Core
Ask for reviews
We’ve already mentioned the importance of your rating, but just in case you weren’t listening (ok, well reading) just take a look at what people are searching the most in regard to ‘salons.’
‘Worst rated’ and ‘best reviewed’ are the highest growing search words in association with ‘salon.’ By simply encouraging your happy customers to leave you a review on Google, Yelp etc., you can do wonders for your ratings. You can do this with a simple follow-up email, or just by asking your customers after they’ve complimented your work. A word of caution, however, avoid bribing people for reviews or writing fake reviews yourselves. These techniques backfire on companies more often than not, if customers feel you’ve been dishonest that will change their perception of the other reviews.
Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. One way to maintain those gold friendships is to create and maintain a friendly emailing strategy. An effective emailing strategy can include a promotion schedule, service reminders, community news, you name it! There are a variety of appointment booking services out there, some that will even help you to keep track of which customer booked what. So in three weeks, when that gel manicure is growing out, or in six weeks when it’s time to touch up their roots, you can send a friendly email reminder that it’s time to get it filled!
What other tips and tricks do you know about to boost salon appointments? Tweet us at @Meerophoto and let us know!