The beauty industry is a highly competitive segment with very limited profit margins, separate from the actual wages earned by hair stylists, color experts, nail techs, and other support staff.
In 2012, a study conducted by the financial firm Sageworks reported an average of 7.7 percent profit margins for most salons in the United States. The research firm IBISWorld predicts that U.S. beauty salon revenue will grow 3.3 percent annually through 2017, to $49.3 billion, but profit growth will be generated primarily by sales of personal care products.
With this in mind, salon owners need to be savvy about marketing investments, and should seek ways to enhance their online and offline reputation, with the final goal in mind of having increased upward price elasticity. In short, your goal is to be so coveted that you will be able to offer your services menu at a higher price and still be booked at 100 percent for at least three to four weeks ahead.
When it comes to enhancing your online and offline reputation, word of mouth remains king. Whether your most loyal customers are spreading the word with their friends, or are taking advantage of technology and social platforms, the results are quite similar. With your salon in the spotlight, you will see an increase in demand and, consequently, added flexibility in adjusting your fees to reflect your popularity.
Beauty services are among the very few brick and mortar businesses where pricing structure can be adjusted in direct correlation to demand and popularity. In fact, some hair professionals with a solid reputation are known to bring home upwards of $400 for a haircut. Now that we have touched on the two main avenues to increase revenue, product, and improved services, let’s take a look at ways you can improve your online reputation in order to maximize the lead generation and overall revenue for a hair salon or beauty services provider.
Up the Ante by Offering Innovative Services
The best and busiest salons are known for their ability to innovate and embrace new technologies by offering their customers a variety of options to improve the color and texture of their hair. Stay on top of the latest trends by attending industry tradeshows and receiving relevant training. Armed with new knowledge and new products, make it a point to inform your customers of your newly acquired skills as well as the availability of enhanced services that can complete their beauty experience.
There are multiple approaches that will let you bank on innovation, from assuming green practices to making your beauty salon a one-stop shop, with services such as lash extensions and skin treatments. If customers feel like they are walking out of your shop transformed, then they are far more likely to brag about the services they received online and offline.
Be a Special Occasion Provider
In reviewing a large sample of highly positive reviews associated with the beauty and salon industry, we could not help but notice a trend: special occasions trigger increased loyalty. Make it a point to offer services for weddings and other special events.
By virtue of having a more personal and meaningful relationship with a customer, you stand a greater chance of securing a highly rated review as well as word-of-mouth recommendations. Make sure that special-occasion services are treated with utmost care, commitment, and punctuality. Whenever possible, secure permission from the customer to include highlights about the event on your own site as well as Facebook page.
Offer Packages That Include Products or Provide Memberships
By packaging your products and services and creating membership-based engagement, you increase the dollar amount per transaction, solidify repeat business opportunities, boost value perception, and improve recall when customers use your products at home. Salons that offer packages designed to pass along discounted prices perform better revenue wise, and often secure better reviews than salons without packaged options.
Provide Social or Offline Referral Incentives
Expand your online and offline social networks by asking your customers to provide referrals and endorsements through word-of-mouth or via social sites such as Facebook. Incentivize this type of engagement by providing referral incentives to your customers and advocates as well as the person he or she referred to your salon.
Through referral programs, you are able to amplify your visibility and gain two-way access to your customers and their friends through social media and other channels. Networked customers are far more likely to rave about a service than those that perceive themselves isolated from the community of users.
Enhance Your Review Site Profiles & Social Profiles to Include Both Products & Services
One of the most important moves you will ever make is to ensure you are in control of your business page on all relevant review sites, and that you have taken the time to update the content to reflect the depth and breadth of your offering. Along with product lines and brands, which, on their own, have the potential of bringing customers through your doors, include services and pricing guides.
Oftentimes, potential customers are deterred even when you have great reviews because they lack a price-point reference to help them decide if your salon is within their budgetary capacity.
Host Events Aimed at Collecting Enhanced Multimedia
Beauty is a visual experience, and having multimedia-rich review site profiles will help boost your online reputation and lead generation. Consider hosting special events focused on beauty, and make it a point to capture extraordinary images of real people in your community to add to your social profiles or review site galleries.
Engage with Your Reviewers, Both Good and Bad
Make it a point to engage with your reviewers, with the goal of building community, expressing gratitude, and righting wrongs by providing clarification or remedy. Timely review responses not only speak to the reviewer but also to future potential customers that will use your response to assess your commitment to customer service as well as knowledge and expertise.
Mid-Process Checks Might Just Save Your Online Reputation
One of the best ways to prevent negative reviews before they happen is to foster a culture of communication, and establish standard mid-process checks to ensure your work is in line with the expectations of your client. A mid-process check will allow you to change the direction of the service and ensure you have a satisfied client walking out the door.
Be Personal and Personable: Keep Data-Rich Customer Cards
There are many reasons you need to have a systematic approach to getting to know your clients. Better knowledge of your clients’ preferences will allow you to perfect and align your service offering based on the data you have collected about your clients.
A secondary benefit of keeping customer cards is having the ability to capture emails, social profiles, and other ways to connect with your clients that are conducive to referrals, reviews, and amplification of your brand message.
Encourage Social Shares of Makeover Before-and-After Pics
One of the best ways to promote your salon on review sites as well as social profiles is by creating before-and-after albums. Consider taking a few additional minutes to enhance the look of your client by providing a complimentary mini makeup session, and take pictures of their hair before and after the services. Obtain their permission to share, or ask them to share with a tag to your Twitter or Facebook.
Additionally, if your salon provides services in a tourist-heavy destination, then consider asking your guests to include their before-and-after shots when requesting reviews.
Track Your Online Reputation and Use Insights to Perfect Your Processes
Manage your reputation before a neglected reputation manages you out of business. Learn to listen to the voice of your customers by implementing monitoring policies of the most popular review sites for beauty-service providers. Understand what drives positive and negative feedback, and shape your products, services, and promotional campaigns around what your customers truly like and enjoy. If you are not yet monitoring your online reviews, you can request a demo of ReviewTrackers today.