Five Biggest Mistakes a Salon Owner Can Make

by Celeste Trapp

Part 2 Poor Marketing

(editor’s note: Part 1 was in last month’s issue of The Stylist)

Owning any business is not an easy job or a guarantee for profitability; it’s staying in business that’s tough. If you own a salon or even if you want to own a salon, take note of these five mistakes commonly made that could affect your profitability and success: 1) Weak Foundation ie policies, 2) Poor Marketing, 3) Failure to Coach Performance; 4) No Systems, 5) Under Utilization of Technology. (These mistakes are based on being a commission based salon).  The second mistake – Ineffective Marketing – is in this issue. See past and future issues for the other topics.

Biggest Mistake Two: Poor Marketing

It takes money to make money. PERIOD. The world’s biggest brands did not get that way by hanging out a shingle. They grew into their huge shoes by building their brand through advertising and marketing.

So get this: It’s hard to spend money to build your business when you can hardly cover your payroll and rent. The majority of small business owners open up shop because they are great at their trade; yet, unfortunately they have no idea how to run or market a business.

As a commission salon you should be offering your team opportunity, and a big part of that is the opportunity to meet new guests. If you are paying top dollar for a location providing ample foot traffic, that may be adequate. If not, part of your model is advertising to help your staff build their clientele.

There are endless ways to market, but most salons find print ads, postcard mailings, online display ads, radio and email marketing are most effective. Of course doing all of these would be too expensive so narrow down the type of clients you want to attract and where they would be most likely to respond to advertising. If you aren’t a marketer, hire one or start reading and taking classes.

Check out sites like upworks.com who has freelance marketers and designers for much less than working with a local agency. Be thoughtful, strategic and make every dollar you invest in marketing turn into multiple dollars. By hiring professionals you get professional quality work which reinforces your brand. Even if you are a low price point salon, you should still have professionally designed signage. Potential clients walking by your salon and even your existing clients will have more trust in your salon if they your professional signage including a great looking sign for your business name.

Internal Marketing — What are you currently doing to encourage your existing clients to buy more? Do you run specials to encourage behavior like purchasing product, pre-booking or adding on treatments or other services? How do you reward guests for referring your salon, purchasing gift cards etc?

You should have programs like this in place to help you build the ticket value of each guest. Once you have the programs in place, promote it with internal signs, cards, window signs, website, email footers etc. Incentivize your team to educate your client about the programs with contests, bonuses etc.

At our salon, we offer each new guest a free upgrade if they prebook their next visit. We also offer reward points (tracked through our Millennium software) for pre booking, booking online, buying products and services and the big one (15,000 points) for every referral they send our way. We also have new client upgrade cards we have our team hand out to their clients to then pass along to their friends. At the bottom of the card (business card size) the client writes their name to reinforce they are getting referral credit for each person they send in.

Inline Marketing — Have you spent enough time seeing how easy it is for a prospective new client to find you online? Do you search keywords in google to see where you place? At the very least you should be managing your Yelp page, Google+ page and Facebook page. This means keeping up on reviews and responding to them, having a complete listing with photos, hours, services etc.

Be sure to send links to these sites to your loyal clients and requests that they leave you a review.  You can download apps to help you manage the business end of these online sites to get notifications when there is any activity. If you are a neighborhood salon look into geofencing display ads on mobile devices where you can target as narrow as a building or a block. And last, but not least, make sure your website not only looks good (we are in the beauty industry after all) but is also up-to-date, easy to navigate and mobile friendly. You can customize website templates so easily you can have a professional site designed for under $1000 (remember upworks.com) which is a smart investment. Hopefully you are automated and your booking system offers online booking also. If you don’t have online booking you can use the “request an appointment” feature on Yelp that emails you requests you can respond to. Unless you cater to the over-60 community, you really need to move towards online booking.

Follow Through — Be careful you are getting a return for your efforts and investment. The only way you will know this is to track how your new clients come to you. This is very important. If you are not automated, you need to make that a priority. There are a number of reasons why (that will be saved for a future article) you should be automated but one is definitely to store pertinent client information like formulas, notes, purchase history, contact info including email address, and how they were referred. Without this information you are missing so many opportunities to run your business at its highest potential.

Your goal should be to have 100 percent of client email addresses. Not only does this save time with confirmations, it also enables you to keep your current minds at the top of your mind but also your inactive guests that may be swayed to be an active client again with enticing communication. Remember email is free (although it is a worthwhile investment to use an online program like mailchimp.com or constantcontact.com) to help you produce more professional email communication. We use DemandForce which offers as one of its benefits automated marketing communication to stay in touch with current and inactive clients. Take many surveys and reviews from follow up emails; that helps our teams be sure all clients are happy after their service, and if not, follow up and fix the issue.

As a business owner you not only need to focus on running a great business and developing an amazing team, but you also must make it easy for clients to know about you. Money spent to market your salon should be considered an investment because it should produce a return that surpasses what you originally invest. So market wisely. Become an expert or hire one. Don’t forget — it takes money to make money.