Advice for small salon owners
January 3, 2008
Running a small business is less fun than you think. I talk people out of opening salons all the time. When I explain to them the details of payroll, inventory, taxes and the like, all but the most determined think better of the idea. But many of you didn’t ask me before you started your salon. So if you are already in too deep to get out, here are some tips (from my workshop: Getting and Keeping the Clients You Want).
The average salon only keeps 30%-50% of the first time clients who walk through the door.
If you can control who comes in, you can significantly increase your odds!
- You need a website. The day has passed where you could put this off. I used to think I didn’t need one because, as a service business, I didn’t need to reach the whole world. The thing is, the people in your community want to be able to check you out anonymously and at odd hours. At the very least, give them some basic info: hours, prices, location, contact info, staff names, payments accepted, products you carry. You probably have a client who can do such things and would trade services with you. Put a note up on your mirror asking “Can you help us build a web page?”
- Our salon and our clients LOVE our online scheduling. It cuts down on phone calls and decreases the chances of no-shows (it sends a reminder the day before.) The one we use, Flash Appointments, is very affordable for small salons. There is an interesting service I have read about, but not tried called Salon Service Central that can take the place of a receptionist.
- Every business has a personality. Does yours have a personality disorder? Don’t try to be all things to all people. Not everyone is your target client. I know you think you want anyone with a pulse and a credit card, but you will be much happier (and more successful) if you determine your business personality and embrace it. Azarra is the salon where you can wear your pajamas and cuss. What makes your salon different from the 300 other salons in your town?
- Don’t waste money on advertising your target client won’t see. If you are an upper-end salon, discounts and coupons that come in a bulk mailer are unlikely to appeal to your target market. We use CitySearch. It lets you set an advertising cap and we pay what we can afford. It allows clients to leave reviews and we get tons of new clients from it (way more than we ever got from our yellow pages ad which we have now dropped.)
- Build relationships with your vendors. They have tools to help you grow. Partner with the ones who can be the most help.
- Get an accountant you can trust and understand. It is crazy to think that you can keep up on all the tax rules. If you ever have a problem with a tax agency, you will be glad you have someone who can back you up.
- You do not want pissy clients. If a customer is pissy, give them back their money and send them on their way.
- Under-promise, over-deliver. Don’t promise the moon if you don’t think you can hit Mars.
- Detoxify the staff. Staff who sabotage your goals and vision will cost you more than you will ever make from them. Let them go. You know who is poisoning your environment. Get rid of them.
- Live your brand. Once you figure out who you are, be sure that all your materials reflect it. Business cards, menus, website and advertising should all be cohesive and should help prospective customers determine if you are the right salon for them. If you do a better job of appealing to only your target market, then you will be more likely to keep the clients you get.