There is no doubt that client behaviour has changed dramatically in the past two years since the pandemic hit us so hard. Navigating the new version of our tried-and-tested customer wish lists isn’t easy for salon owners to contemplate themselves, let alone explain to their staff. But patterns are now beginning to emerge and the see-saw behaviours of 2020 and 2021 are levelling off into a “new normal”.
So, how do we educate our teams to understand how to tackle these complex challenges and what is the biggest issue we face? Undoubtedly, it’s that most clients are coming in far less frequently.
This was a trend that was well underway before the Covid-19 pandemic, and now has become firmly entrenched. Think back to even a decade ago when the average client visited every six weeks (eight times per year). Now the average gap between visits has more than doubled, meaning that a salon visit is becoming a mere quarterly occurrence for a lot of people.
But the key lays in drilling down into the why, because the reasons for visiting the salon less often aren’t the same for everyone, so it makes sense to disseminate the possible causes:
Some clients are feeling the pandemicpinch and the luxury of a salon visit is a treat rather than a regular occurrence, even though they may be spending more when they do come, which is what a lot of salons are finding.
Highlighting which interim services you do (those “quick fixes” as I call them) and pointing out how reasonable they are to keep skin, nails and hair in perfect condition in between the longer visits is now essential.
They may find out that you get what you pay for and it’s more cost-effective in terms of quality and longevity to let you attend to their T-Section or gels rather than shopping on price alone.
I encourage my team to speak to their clients on an individual basis and devise an ongoing grooming regime that keeps them looking and feeling great but suits their budget. Don’t be afraid to create something bespoke. This takes detailed consultation to discover which elements are most important to them, then find a way to make these affordable and keep them in the salon.
Some customers are very Covid fearful. They are scared of contracting the virus, travelling into cities and towns, and mixing in close-contact environments. There’s little we can do about that, other than scream very loudly that we are doing all we can to be Covid-secure and highlighting (if we have the facilities) that we can offer one-on-one services in private areas.
A quick ring-round of clients you haven’t seen for a while or advising of what you can do to allay those fears – and posting relevant content on your social media – will undoubtedly help.
Having a hairdresser or therapist coming to the house is convenient for many people who have got used to having a take-out service now. But for luxury, escapism and facilities, nothing beats a salon or spa. Using our social media to highlight those key elements of a salon visit has never been more important.
Not everyone wants to lie on a couch in their bedroom or lean over their bath. Many people want to feel pampered, not only for the physical benefits but for their mental health and wellbeing. Maybe it’s time to remind them exactly how wonderful and soul-reviving a great trip to an expert really is. Some clients are going local due to price, not service, and it’s these customers who we can win back. Giving an experience, not just a service, is a call to action that wins every time.
4. Working from home
The reality is that many more people are working from home and simply aren’t in the vicinity of their previous go-to salon; a difficult one to address, but maybe an offer to tempt them back when they do have some down-time is the key. Making sure it’s personalised to them (a hand-written invite perhaps?) rather than doing a blanket promo is far more enticing.
People forget how great a professional visit can be so it’s our job to remind them just what benefits seeing an expert gives them and what a boost a salon visit is to their self-esteem. Teaming up with other great service providers to create a mini spa break with some shopping or hospitality involved is a great marketing tool.
Obviously, asking these searching questions must be done sensitively, but it really is the key to keeping our precious clients and encouraging them to visit more often. People shop on experience, so now more than ever we are at the mercy of our teams to deliver a top-notch customer service.
Making sure they help us discover our own in-salon client behaviours is not just great for the team but when they share them with us, the salon owner or manager, it means we can make a difference and tailor marketing and brand tone of voice to show we are really listening to them, and that makes more sense than ever.
Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London and a beauty ambassador for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF).