Imagine you are a marine biologist and you specialize in studying the behavior of great white sharks so that you can learn about them and ensure they are protected from extinction.

One part of your job might include tagging great whites so that you could monitor their movement patterns. Imagine going out on a boat one day to do some tagging. Think about how much work and cost would have already gone into getting ready for the task of actually doing the tagging. Apart from the cost of your education, the cost of the boat, the cost of the other members of your team, the cost the tagging equipment, the cost of the monitoring equipment and so on. Now, imagine you’re get out into the sea, you’ve locate one or more great whites, all the work has been done and at the last minute the person who is meant to place the tag on the shark simply chooses not to do it … and everyone packs up and goes home and hopes that somehow information about the sharks will magically become available. An absolutely ridiculous notion right? That would be absurd! All that money and effort only to walk away with nothing?

Some perspective
Okay, let’s put it another way. Imagine you are a hair salon owner. You’ve always dreamed of having your own salon and making it a success. You have invested energy finding the perfect location, you have invested hundreds of thousands of Rands into shop fitting and making your salon look as amazing as possible. You have gone through the tedious processes of hiring staff, setting up a price lists, purchasing computer equipment and software, stocking your shelves, advertising in magazines, local radio stations, even television, you have done everything you possibly can in order to get people through the door. Then, when they arrive you treat them as if you actually don’t care they exist. An absolutely ridiculous notion right? That would be absurd. All that money and effort only to walk away with nothing?

Well, if after all the effort of getting a new client to walk through the door and your staff do not capture their details onto your system it is as if they do not exist to your salon. Think I am being a little too dramatic? Put yourself in the shoes of your client. Visit a salon and then never go back. I would put money on it that 9 out of 10 salons will not care, well to be more accurate they will not ever know and hence it’s is just as bad as if they did not care and you would never hear from them again.

The message you are sending your clients
What is the message you are giving your clients when you do not capture their details on your system. The message is that “we do not really need you, you are not very important to us, we don’t really have anything worthwhile to offer you, we don’t want you to return, we have all the clients we need already and money is not important to us, we care more about counting our stock than we care about knowing our clients” and so on.

The funny thing is that salon staff are afraid of offending clients by asking them for their details, but in my opinion, it’s more offensive to clients to perpetually treat them like strangers. Do you not think that you can give a better client service if you actually keep record of what you say and do for your clients?

The critical touch point
The problem is quite easily solved, when a client calls in to make a booking simply ensure that your staff request and capture the clients name, surname and cell phone number. That’s NAME and SURNAME and CELL NUMBER. Having 120 John’s with no Surname on your database is not that helpful either, believe it or not.

However, if you do successfully capture these three every elusive bits of top secret information, then hey presto, you’ve tagged the shark. You can now track their behavior forevermore. Can I end my article at this point and getting back to my coffee? There’s not much more to it than this step. Any other information you get over and above the name, surname and cell phone is beneficial but in order for the very basic tracking of your clients and the ability to communicate with them you only need this.

What’s the point really?
I had a quick look at the client spend per visit of about 15 salons and for these 15 it is roughly R450 per visit (with a range of about R275-R650). Let’s say for arguments sake that each person visits a salon every 3 months, then over 1 year that is R1800 per person. Over 10 years that is R18000 per person. Imagine that husbands, wives, children or friends end up visiting the salon because of association to the original person then you could multiply that figure by 2, 3, 4 or more. This is a very rough illustration but gets the point across about the potential value of every client that visits your salon when you see them with a long term perspective.

Imagine Bruce Fordyce running the Comrades, arriving at the finish line ahead of the rest of the pack only to stop just before the line, turn around and walk off without crossing the line. Again, this would be ridiculous right?

Well, so it is with your your clients if you don’t capture their details. Every effort that is made in your business is with the express purpose of getting people through your door and keeping them coming back. Surely something as simple as adding their contact details to your system is not too difficult a task, considering all the other challenges you have faced to get where you are today.

The reason you do stock control is primarily so that you can manage and sell stock to your clients and keep them coming back. The reason you pay salaries is so that you can keep staff motivated to keep providing top service to your clients and keep clients spending money with you. The reason you write down appointments is so that staff don’t arrive at your salon on the day only to be turned away because they don’t have an appointment. The reason you send sms and email messages is so that you can communicate a message with your clients that gets them to come back. The reason that you introduce loyalty schemes is so that clients will keep coming back to you.

However, when you fail to even know their name you work against yourself and every other effort you have made in your business to be successful. You send a message that you really do not care and could not be bothered whether they come or go. Companies can spend millions trying to get their hands on client databases, whereas salons simply throw this valuable information into the garbage.