I’ve been a salon and barbershop owner for more than 21 years, and my first and only concern was, how can I give the customer a great experience? In the early years, I just wanted to provide a great location and a proper atmosphere that was friendly, diverse and safe -- because I thought that this one thing would bring them back.
Fast forward to today. I have learned so much and feel that my fellow salon and barbershop owners fall short in this area by not understanding that the full customer experience is so important.
I have witnessed the client experience with booking and appointment apps get markedly better because technology has allowed us to have different platforms. However, we are still figuring out this customer improvement thing.
Remember the television show Tabitha Takes Over; where Australian stylist and salon owner Tabitha Coffey, would go into salons that were suffering and bring them back from the edge of closing? She would investigate first and uncover all of their unprofessional shortcomings, like uncleanliness and drinking on the job. The premise of the show was to help salon owners who reached out to her for help. She would go in and take over in ways the salon owners were not really used to, or ready for.
Without adding too much color because all the salons and situations were different; Tabitha changed the salon owners and managers for the better. But sometimes all the staff was not in agreement with the changes and ended up leaving. In the end, the salons, estheticians, or hairstylist teams were forever changed in ways they could not have imagined.
There is really no blueprint to how you should run a salon, but there are many examples on how to. Here are some of my tried-and-true ways that can really improve your customer experience:
- Be true to your stated open and close hours of operation. If it says 9am-5pm, don't turn the lights out early. You'd be amazed at how something so trivial can add up to lost revenue.
- Greet the customers as they walk through the door. People do business with people they like, so add a smile.
- Ask customer specifics on what their needs are. They may walk in wanting one thing but walk out with an entirely different look because you took the time to actively listen.
- Offer customer refreshments/snacks. Water and bite-sized chocolates are small investments that pay big dividends.
- Remove foul language/music and inappropriate television shows. No further explanation needed.
- Promote a fair and diverse experience for everyone of all colors, creeds, and religions.
- Think retention! Repeat customers are always the goal. Challenge yourself to be consistent in winning back clients and scheduling them BEFORE they check out.
If we really think about the customer we serve and how we want to keep them coming back and retaining their trust, these are some of the ways you can do it.
Remember that the goal is to be intentional about wanting to be a successful salon owner. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just you as a solopreneur or a team of ten+ in the salon, make sure the first goal is a great customer experience. Bad customer experience will travel super-fast in today’s social media-driven society, and that alone can hurt your business, along with your finances and growth in the long run.
NOTE: Hiring the wrong team members can hurt your business as well and one toxic personality can become cancerous, spreading bad vibes to a point that you cannot rebound from.
I believe that if you have the right mindset and goals for being a great leader and salon owner, you will make major leaps and bounds. Seek a successful mentor that is already achieving what you want to do. And don’t overlook reading self-help leadership books or listening to podcasts -- these can be your virtual mentors as well.
Focus on the first 6 things I listed and you will get that 7th bullet as a result. Here’s to an awesome start to the new year and much success.