Category: Wellness

Seven ways to fill your schedule

By Chris Parker

If your appointment schedule is full for the next three years and you have no plans to expand to more branches or more stations in your salon and you are happy with your current turnover then the following information will not be that useful to you.

However, if you still have space in your appointment book that you would like to fill then perhaps some of these tips may come in handy.

Book their next appointment before they leave

This practice is nothing new but very often is not used. When a client walks out make sure it is with some sort of retention plan in place. Try and not ask a closed end question like “Would you like to book your next appointment?” to which a client can simply answer no and close down the discussion. Rather ask “When would you like to book your next appointment for?” If the client says they will get hold of you when ready then ask if its ok for you to send them a follow up reminder, just keep the door open.

Remind them of their appointments

A client who does not show up for their appointment means empty slots that will be harder to fill on the day. Two SMS notifications should go out, one when their appointment is first made that confirms the fact that you have in fact scheduled them and secondly a reminder the day before. Ideally this should be automated so that its not up to staff members to remember to do it.

Work harder to find an opening

If you are fully booked don’t let the conversation end there. If it’s a new client then work hard to make a plan because the cost of acquiring new clients is very high and may be worth your while to offer an incentive to come at a different time. If it is a regular client then work just as hard to make a plan as regulars are your bread and butter throughout the year. Encourage staff members to check a clients profile while they are on the phone to give them a sense that they know the client and make them feel important to the salon. If you are anticipating a busy time ahead and perhaps a lot of tourists then a good practise would be to send out an SMS to your regulars to encourage them to book early to avoid disappointment during busy times.

Find out what their goals are

The consultation with your clients is the focus area here. Finding out what their desired outcomes and goals are regarding their hair implies a journey rather than a once off stop. A journey implies future visits and the question “What are we doing today?” starts to feel a little bit out of place because it has no greater context and it’s almost like you are surprised they came back to see you for another haircut.

Flag first time visitors

Take special note of first time visitors. These are your most expensive to acquire and so you want to make especially sure that they come back again. All of the other points in this article are especially true for first time visitors and you want to get some sort of sense of how many first time visitors you are retaining.

Give them a chance to complain

I recall getting my car serviced recently. When I collected the car I asked the service advisor if all the headlight bulbs had been checked as I recalled that one was faulty. He advised that it is a standard check and that they were all fine. I asked him to double check as I was sure there was a problem. A technician from the workshop re-assured him that the bulbs had been checked and were all fine. However, we all went over to my car to check and it was confirmed that there was actually a problem with one of my bulbs. The concern for me was, if such a simple problem had been overlooked what else had they missed. Nevertheless the service advisor was very apologetic and advised me they would order the bulb and call me to bring the car back when the bulb arrived. I left without kicking up much of a fuss.

A few days later I received a machine generated follow up SMS to find out if I was happy with the service received. At that point, when I was not face to face with the service advisor I felt the need to say something, and I did. I then received a follow up call to further understand my dissatisfaction and take further measures.

Now, the point here is that they found out about two things, one the fact that poor service had been offered, which they could address internally and two,  that I was actually an unhappy client even though I didn’t say anything at first.

It takes very little to get a follow up SMS going out to your clients each day and in most cases your clients will not respond to them if they were happy. However, if they were unhappy it gives them a safe way to complain and gives you an opportunity to save a client. 25 cents for an SMS versus the cost of losing a client..? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

And one more thing … if a client complains then give them something as an incentive to come back. Start with a “sorry” but finish with something enticing like a freebie or a discount of some sort. Nothing tells them you actually mean it like when you put your money where your mouth is.

Contact them if they don’t come back

Follow up with clients who do not come back to your salon. Your methods should be slightly different for different types of clients. For example, in one process you want to know of any of your top spending clients who have not come back and then follow with them with one particular message. Then, in another process you want to know which of your first-time visitors have not been back and then follow with a different message. Then for the general population of your clients who have not been back you may follow up with a more generic bulk message.


A full appointment book is not the only way to generate revenue but it plays a large roll and very often we have more control over this than we think. Some of the requirements can be automated with technology but others rely on the efforts of your staff members. Therefore it is critical that your staff are trained on what is required of them in order to play a deliberate roll in your salons successful retention of clients.

Guidelines for effective email campaigns

Email was first introduced in the 70’s and by the 90’s it revolutionized the way we communicated with one another, it opened doors that postal mail could never have accomplished in reaching the masses instantly.  Then the SMS appeared, this enabled us to send shorter messages to each other via mobile phones, this made email seem a bit archaic coupled with the explosion of social media to our everyday life.   Approximately 40 odd years later, however, email has been given new life and has prevailed as the best way to communicate effectively with intended recipients.

Email’s resurgence continues to revolutionize the way we communicate with each other in a smarter and more effective ways; it is mobile friendly (stats show that around 65% of all mails are first opened on a mobile device), it delivers rich content with the likes of graphics, icons, buttons and very importantly it can track the engagement of readers tell us how many people have received, opened and clicked on the emails and even what they have clicked within the emails. All of these factors combined is why in 2016 email is noted as the most effective marketing tool available.

Have you adapted?

Now, considering that email is a far cry from what it used to be it begs the question, have you adapted to capitalise on the new way of managing email campaigns or are you still emailing in the same way as you have always done?

Here are some pointers to take into account when sending out emails to your clients:

1.      Create mobile friendly emails (responsive)

Before you start ensure that your emails are built using a mobile friendly platform. The majority of readers are now reading email on their mobile phones and therefore your emails need to be easy to read on a phone. Responsive emails simply means that the size of the email will automatically be altered to the device the email is being viewed on – small and readable if opened on a mobile device, normal size if opened on a computer, also. Creating one big image as your mailer with all the text within the image is a bad idea as you will have to zoom in and scroll around the page to view the entire message. The more “html” the better.

2.      Have a very clear purpose

Establishing the purpose and objectives of the email campaign you are about to embark on will keep you focussed on what is important as you create content for your mailer and sure that it flows logically in a top down manner.

As part of this process try and stick to just one clear message per email campaign. Just because you now have a very powerful way to share content with your readers doesn’t mean you should do it all in one email. In this process think about what you want to say to your clients and what you want them to do in response. This way of working also makes it easier to measure the success of your campaign.

3.     Use catchy subject lines

Your subject line will determine whether or not the reader continues reading.  It must be catchy yet also have great integrity, ie if the reader does open the email then the content of the email must directly relate to the subject line (it must deliver on its promise). This will further re-enforce the message you are trying to get across as well as increase the chances of the reader opening emails from you in the future.

For catchy subject lines try using the headline approach as our Newspapers and Magazines have taught us (relevant, short & catchy), it’s been capturing readers since the beginning of time – so make it short and catchy – “Summer is Here – Time for a Change”.
Or, try using a question – as recent studies show that subject lines phrased as a question perform better than using statements in the subject line – “Need a Beauty Boost?”
Or, if your email campaign is targeting by a specific location – incorporating the location reference into the subject line could also add a touch of relevance – “Special Offers at our Sandton Spa.”

4.     Keep your message as concise as possible

Stats also show that readers generally only spend 15 seconds scanning an email – therefore we have to catch their attention from the get go.  Capturing our audience will determine the success rate of the campaign. A good combination for this is a good image that tells your story, then a brief write up that further elaborates on the image – all of which must be consistent with your subject line. The less you can say to get your message across the better.

Put the most important information first as people have stopped reading longwinded text therefore let the content expand or flow from the subject line.  Also note that you can add more value by providing access to exclusive content. Remember that email marketing success is to get credibility from the first email so readers look forward to the next email campaign, rather than delete upon receipt because we didn’t get it right the first time.

If you do have a lot to say on a particular matter then add this to the blog page on your website and put a link for the reader to “read more” on your web site. This allows the reader to easily scan your mail for topics that interest them and then focus in on that particular part of the email. It also helps drive traffic through to your website, which gives you further opportunities to engage with them.

5.      Include a clear call to action

A call to action is an instruction to the reader to provoke an immediate response by clicking a button and engaging in whatever the required action is.  Preferably only use one call to action per email and make it easy to see.  Examples of Call to Action buttons are – Book Now; Contact Us; Find Out More; Click here to Enter.

Provide incentives for readers to respond to the call to action.  Readers love getting offers, discounts etc.  Competitions is another sure way to entice the reader to participate using the call to action button and thereby assist in increasing your email open rate.

6.      Identify yourself clearly

This may seem very obvious, however, it is surprising how overlooked this very simple requirement is.  This is a simple matter of making sure the from address and reply address are correct as well as your business name being used. This will help the reader to trust the mail before they open it. Ensure that you have your own domain name rather than using free email accounts like Google for your business. The domain name is what you get when you set up your web site address, ie You will then be able to use “yourdomain” for your emails.

7.      Segment your recipient list

When sending emails you want to try and reach the people who are most likely to open the mails as well as respond to your call to action. Sending emails to your entire database is not always the best way to do that. In many instances it is better to target segments of your database based on things like gender, purchase history, loyalty status etc. This will also help connect the content to the reader more effectively and be more meaningful for them.

8.      Analyse reader engagement

Not only is Email Campaign the No.1 digital marketing channel, it is also the top source of data for analytics as the data generated from the tracking stats enables us to get results quickly to determine the success rate of our campaign as well as the relevant stats to assist us in other marketing outlets.

Data from stats include – how many of your mails are opened on a mobile device, total number of emails sent, total number of emails delivered, the breakdown on opened mail on Mobile, Desktop & Web, what the click rate from and more.

Its not enough to just have the stats though. Each time you do an email campaign you should be smarter than the last time. In order to do so you actually need to learn from the analytics and change your behaviour accordingly.


Email has changed and so must you if you wish to remain competitive. Therefore create mobile friendly emails, have a clear objective for each campaign, create subject lines that grab the reader’s attention, have clear concise messages consistent with your subject line and objective, store bulky content on your website with links to read more, segment your database in order to target specific recipients and finally have a clear call to action. Most importantly be ready to respond. It would be a shame to run a successful email campaign only to drop the ball when readers respond.

Email Vs SMS

What a co-incidence – I’m sitting at my coffee shop of choice just about to start writing this article on the difference between SMS and Email and I receive an SMS notifying me that ABSA Insurance phone lines are down due to the storm in Gauteng yesterday.

Now, Im aware that there is some irony in the fact that there has probably been an increase in insurance claims (and therefore attempted phone calls) due to the storm and the fact that the insurance lines are down due to the storm, but the fact that I have just received this SMS highlights for me the need to be clear of when, how and why different communication methods are used.

In the “old days” I’m sure the questions facing business owners when it came to sending communications would have been things like, do I fax or do I phone or do I send a letter via the post office. These days, however, the question is more “Do I Email or SMS, or do I communicate via Social Media?” For this exercise I’m not really going to discuss much detail (if any) about social media because I really want to take a look at SMS and Email messaging, which although they have been around for quite some time, still seem to be quite prevalent despite the competition from social media.

What’s the difference?


Probably the most obvious difference between SMS and Email is the content. With SMS messaging you are limited to text only and a limited number of characters, ie 160 characters per SMS. Now you might argue that it is now possible to type messages longer than 160 characters and our smart phones intelligently handle these as one message but the truth is that you are being billed for two messages if you use more than 160 characters.

With Email on the other hand your content can be very rich, ie images, longer messages, different fonts and layouts etc.

Instant Delivery

A major difference between email and SMS is the fact that SMS is instant and pops up on your phone screen almost immediately, whereas email is usually downloaded either via your computer or via your phone periodically. Although it is possible to change the settings of your phone to alert you when you receive a new email this setting is often turned off by users because they prefer to not use their cell phone network to download mails due to the cost and would rather wait until they are on a wireless network at home or work to do so.


Although it is possible to track how many messages were delivered for an SMS batch, Email has far greater reporting capabilities due to the fact that you can use tools like Google Analytics. The Email is very much like a web page and you are able to tell how recipients engage with your email, ie how many were delivered, how many opened the emails, how many clicked on links, the locations of the recipients who interacted with your emails and so on.


Cost is always a factor and most of us are used to the idea that you have to pay for SMS but the idea that you may have to pay for email is sometimes a foreign idea because of the fact that you don’t pay for the individual emails that you send out each day for personal and business reasons through your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

However, for bulk business emailing, there is usually a cost involved for delivering the message. This is because a bulk emailing company is required between you and the recipient to manage delivery of content and the providing of stats and for this they charge a fee. If you send through your ISP you won’t incur any other costs but you will encounter other problems (see SPAM) and you won’t get any stats of who opened and interacted with your messages.

Therefore, there is cost for both bulk SMS and bulk Email but the cost for SMS is usually higher – usually because of the fact that the cell phone network companies themselves charge a minimum fee for delivery and these are marked up by the third party SMS providers. (Note that you cannot under normal circumstances deliver your bulk SMS messages directly through your own cell phone network company).

Another potential cost worth mentioning is the design of the message itself. Because you cannot change the layout of an SMS message there will be no cost involved in creating the message content itself. However, Emails often require the help of a design agency, because of the fact that they are basically web pages that are being sent to your clients. Some providers offer you templates as part of their services but if you want something that is unique to you and meets all of your brand requirements then you will most likely end up paying someone to assist you with the design.

SPAM (Junk Mail)

In order to prevent SPAM being sent through their servers your ISP (ie the company that you have your email account with) will generally not allow you to send bulk emails through your normal business account and can even blacklist you for doing so and can block your email account for a period of time as a consequence.

Therefore you would need to use a bulk emailing service that is set up for sending large volumes of emails and there is usually a cost for this, but as already mentioned above there are many other benefits, ie the delivery and engagement stats.

SMS works in much the same way, ie you will set up an account with a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) and you will send your bulk SMS messages through them and there will be a cost involved.

You will generally find a lot more SPAM in Email than you will in SMS and perhaps this is self regulated due to the costs involved in sending SMS messages as well as the fact that through email you can advertise a lot more or disguise a scam more effectively.

When to use what?

Transactional vs Bulk

The first step in deciding which medium to use is to first understand the nature of the communication. Identifying whether your messages are transactional or bulk is part the process.

Transactional messages are usually in response to an event (ie a booking confirmation, loyalty notification etc). Transactional messages are usually sent on an individual basis as events (transactions occur) and are more informational than promotional. Hence, recipients tend to be far more tolerant of them by virtue of the fact that they must have recently engaged with your business.

Bulk Messaging for Information Purposes

Bulk messaging can be used for both promotions and for information. For example, you may need to advise your entire database that your trading hours during the festive season have changed, or you may need to advise them that there is a problem with your telephone lines and that if they need to call your salon then they need to use an alternative number.

Bulk Messaging for Promotions

Bulk messaging for promotions is usually where you invite the most colourful responses from your clients – language of the likes that you will not find anywhere near a Concise Oxford English Dictionary – and it is here where you need to be most careful (see the section below on “Whats your story?”).

Urgency VS Content

Keeping in mind all of the above – choosing between SMS and Email will most commonly be determined by the nature of the content and the urgency of the message.

If it is urgent, then it should be via an SMS. The recipients will get their notification immediately and the chances of them actually viewing the message are greater via SMS.

If the message can wait and has more content then it should be via Email.

What’s your story?

Because of the damage that can be done in sending unsolicited messages to your clients you need to do as much as you can within your own power to get their permission to communicate with them via SMS and Email.

This starts at the very beginning – you need to sell them the reason why you want their cell numbers and email addresses and they need to buy into it.

For example, if you say to them that on their birthday they get a free service then they will be more likely to give you their details and allow you to communicate with them. Also, if you say to them that you always send SMS appointment reminders or notifications that a free loyalty service has been awarded then they are more likely to respond positively.

All too often you hear receptionists saying that clients do not want to give out their details and you can’t expect receptionists to force clients to do so.

Opt Outs (Unsubscribes)

Depending on how you deliver your bulk messaging will affect how you manage your opt outs, ie clients who do not want to receive any further messages from you.

Your database should have separate options for SMS and Email opt outs in case the client wishes to receive SMS notifications but not Email.

Keep in mind that your source database should be kept up to date with clients that have opted out in case you choose to use a different email / sms provider as the new provider will not have the opt out list that the old provider has and you may end up sending messages again to your unsubscribed clients.

Price It Right 2

Chris Parker – SAHJ

I recall the time shortly before asking my wife to marry me, I started shopping around for a wedding ring. I knew nothing about diamonds, I thought 1 carat was small – after all its only 1, how much smaller can you get? Believing that 1 carat was the lowest number you could get I thought I would probably need something bigger – maybe 2 or 3 carats (for those of you who have bought diamond rings bigger than 1 carat please stop reading here).

I walked into a jeweller and asked for some pricing for a 1 carat diamond ring – just to get a benchmark or starting point. Well, I had to quickly recalibrate as I learned my starting point was in the region of R60000. The thought that went through my mind was that either I am not going to be able to get married or I would need to be able to motivate why diamonds were not actually a girl’s best friend.

So the hunting began, along with the research about how diamonds are valued by the 4C’s (Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat), so you might get a larger diamond but the clarity or colour may be of lesser quality and so the value would be less. I had to find the right balance of all of the above so that my fiancé to be would not start crying for all the wrong reasons when I finally went down on one knee to ask her to marry me.

The more I shopped, the smaller the diamond became and the lesser the quality. Until I came across a couple who owned a jeweller business, which was not in a shopping mall but rather in the business district in Cape Town. They found me a diamond that I was happy with and we finalised our design for the band and they provided me with my diamond certificate and I was good to go.

Their pricing was much better than those on the “high streets” or should I say shopping malls but a nagging feeling in the back of my mind eventually compelled me to ask them how their prices could be so competitive. Straight away they advised me that they did not have to pay the high rentals of their competitors, which allowed them to compete much more on price. Their labour and material cost for making the ring was also very good and I found out from my wife that immediately after our engagement she had the ring valued at a different jeweller. I never told her how much I paid for the ring but the value she was given by the jeweller she took it to was about 3 times the price I had paid for it. By the way, she loved the ring … and still does. Mission accomplished.


So, looking at the above story it seems that the major factor that influenced the price of the ring for this jeweller was the cost of their overheads. This being attributed primarily to rent and perhaps the labour cost of their jeweller that made the band.

As a client I was concerned about price, however, I still wanted a good quality product as I didn’t not want to get a substandard product for such an important life occasion.

I was happy to “shop around” until I found the right deal, which was a combination of price and quality.

Some of the things I had to forego included the convenience of an easy to locate jeweller in a shopping mall and the prestige of having a “brand name” associated with my purchase. I know some folk who would not be happy putting in the hard yards to try and find the right jeweller for the same reasons because they may not be as price sensitive. On the other hand I know some that would not choose a diamond at all, or they would be happy for an alternative or much smaller option because they are very price sensitive.

So, when it comes to pricing products and services in the salon what can we learn from this. I believe that pricing in the salon will be a combination of cost-plus pricing and competitor based pricing within the context of your brand positioning.

Cost Plus Pricing

Cost plus pricing is when you determine your selling price based on the costs linked to the products and services you sell. This method, although not the only factor, is probably the biggest consideration for at least setting your base price for services.

For retail products you should have roughly the same selling price as other salons for the same items because the supplier generally has a recommended selling price. However, your costs may vary based on your particular deal with the supplier in question. If you have bigger spending power or you are a good negotiator you may be able to obtain the stock at better prices and therefore, even though you have the same selling price you have a greater profit margin.

For services you would need to account for the professional stock you use to provide the service, the commission you have to pay to a stylist for performing the service and perhaps other peripheral costs if you shampoo the clients hair (cost and labour) involved, which you may recover by means of some sort of “docket fee”.  You may even look at including things like overheads (rent etc) although this can be a little trickier on an item for item basis. Once you have your associated costs you would then determine how much you would need to charge in order to make a profit. Once you have arrived at a price you will need to determine if it is still worthwhile to offer the service.

Competitor Based Pricing

Once you worked out your costs for supplying services then you will need to consider your competitors pricing. If your competitors are able to provide the same service that you are at a better price, then you will need to consider either dropping your prices or alternatively you will need to differentiate yourself in some way so that your clients will be happy to pay more for your service – add value in some way.

The reason that your competitor may be able to supply it at a lower price may be due to a number of factors. For example, they may have been able to negotiate a better rental than you or the products they use may be cheaper or they are able to obtain them at better prices or maybe they don’t add as much value in terms of the experience (refreshments, satellite tv, head massage etc).

If your competitor is selling the same service at a much lower price then perhaps they themselves are selling the service as a loss leader or they are positioning themselves as a “value for money” brand rather than a premium brand. They would then most likely be appealing to different clientele than what you would be and perhaps you should not worry about those salons, but rather compare yourself with other premium or value for money brands depending on how you are positioned in the market.


The goal of your business is always to make a profit. In overly simplified terms you want to sell as many products and services as you can at the highest price and lowest cost possible, ie you want to maximise all the good stuff (volumes and margins). However, you may at times be under pressure from the market, your clients and rising costs that will always seem to try and drive your prices down. By doing the exercise of working out all associated costs, being clear on your positioning in the market place and being even clearer on your real competitors are you will be in a better position to compete. All of the above must translate into perceived value in the eyes of your clients, it therefore goes without saying that the more you understand what your clients value the better positioned you will be to provide that value.

Price It Right 3

Chris Parker – SAHJ

In this third article on pricing we wrap things up. In the previous two articles we asked the question of how it is sustainable for some salons to have such cheap pricing, especially for services that have high costs associated with them. This question raised the bigger question on how to go about pricing your products and services as a strategy.

In order to answer these questions we identified that pricing, rather than gut feel, can be quite a scientific process and that many theoretical pricing methods and factors could be taken into consideration when deciding on pricing. In the context of a hair salon we identified “cost-plus pricing” and “competitor based pricing” as probably the two most influential methods used by most because of the fact that we need to cover costs before we can start making a profit and also our pricing needs to be competitive in the market place so that clients would perceive fair value for the products and services they were buying from the salon.

We also looked at how you might “position” yourself in the salon market and whether you were a value for money (budget) brand focusing on more price-sensitive clients or whether you would position yourself as a premium brand, where clients are not as price sensitive and you were able to justify your higher prices by the perceived higher quality / value of your products and services.

We also took note of the fact that hair salons sell both services and retail products and that with retail there was less room for pricing variation apart from stocking brands that may be less or more expensive than other brands.

In ending the series I would like to highlight some different theoretical pricing strategies that can be put into practise for varying reasons and at different times and stages of your business lifecycle.

Penetration pricing

Penetration pricing is when a business sets a low price in order to increase sales and gain market share. This may only be for a short time and then once the goal of increasing sales and/or market share has been achieved then the prices may be increased.

This is commonly used when a new business is opened. For example, a new business might run a 25% off special on some or all of its products and services in order to make themselves known to the market. Once the have sufficient clients gained they will then start adjusting prices back to normal.

Therefore, if you are opening a first salon or expanding by opening more branches then you may consider running a special price on various items for the first few weeks.

I think the idea behind some of the group couponing companies that offered amazing deals to their database of clients was explained as a way to penetrate the market. However, for businesses that made use of these services they found that they didn’t actually win the clients because the clients just followed the group discount supplier to the next deal at another business.

Bundle Pricing

Bundled pricing is when a business groups together more than one product and/or service and offers a better price or gives one away for free. An example might be a buy one get one free or buy one service and get a product at a reduced rate.

Bundled pricing can be very useful when it comes to special occasions like mother’s day or Valentine’s Day special. If you salon offers things like nail services then you could bundle a hair service with a nail service. Alternatively you could bundle together related stock items in to gift hampers and sell them at a better rate than if you were to sell them separately.

You may also bundle items that are paid for upfront but redeemed over a period of time. For example, pay for 10 haircuts or blow dry’s upfront and redeem them over time and receive a discount for doing so. This kind of bundling could be likened to loyalty because (like loyalty) you are rewarding repeat visits, however, in bundle pricing you are rewarding the loyalty upfront because the client is essentially pre-paying for their future services and you are rewarding them for doing so.

Psychological Pricing

Psychologic pricing is when the seller sets the price to play on how the buyer thinks about the price. For example, charging R299 instead of R300. We all know that this is the oldest trick but it enables the client to say they bought something for under R300, rather than R300. Somehow this does affect our psychology towards pricing.

Premium Pricing

Premium pricing is set to reflect the exclusiveness of the service or product. The idea is that a client would not easily be able to find the equivalent quality at a lower price and would be willing to pay the higher price because of its perceived exclusivity.

In retail this may be a particular brand that not many other salons stock and is of a very high quality. For services I think this is already happening as mentioned in my previous article by the fact that you get different pricing within the same salon depending on who the stylist is. If a stylist is perceived to be more of a “premium” brand because of awards they have won, celebrities they have worked on, or simply because of their skill or popularity then you may be able to charge a premium for their services.

Loss Leader

A loss leader is an item that is sold at or below cost in order to attract clients so that they can purchase other items at their normal prices. This is similar in a way to penetration pricing, which leads with lower priced items to gain market share.


As you can see there are many different pricing strategies (even more than mentioned in these articles) and it may be very confusing to figure out where to start. I think that if you stick to the basics and get those right then you will be able to start to “play” with some of the other strategies available to you. This implies the obvious, have a set price list. Ensure that you have factored in all the direct costs related to those prices and and keep looking at those costs so that you know your margins in case they are affected by things like supplier price increases. Increase your prices to keep up with inflation. Use price increases as a opportunities for promotions with your clients, ie by now and beat the price increase. Be sure of who you are in the market place, ie how you are positioned as a brand so that you do not panic simply because another salon has cheaper pricing. There are only two things that influence your turnover performance and those are the number of feet through the door and the spend per visit. If you are going to charge less you will need to increase feet through the door. If you are going to charge more then you will need to convince clients your services and products are worth it. Finding the balance between feet through the door and spend per visit is the key and once you have a good balance benchmark it and monitor it over time to keep yourself on track.

Are you engaged?

In this month’s article I would like to ask the question “Are you engaged with your clients?” I think that many salon owners will feel a lot of pressure to be sending out regular emails to clients telling them of news, specials and other information that they hope will lead the clients to return and spend more money with them.

On one hand you will have salons that spend a lot of money paying designers to build beautifully professional emails and on the other hand you may find the salon owner, manager or receptionist creating a rather less appealing newsletter using word, power-point and clipart as their canvass and design tools. And then you will have those that just don’t do anything at all, they rely on face to face interaction when the clients are in the salon and use personality as their engagement mechanism.

Now, I do feel that a monthly or quarterly newsletter via email is very useful as it lets your clients know that your business is still in operation and you are ready for their business … even if they don’t open the email, just the fact that you sent it means that you are operational and are organised enough to be able to send them an email. I also believe in the positive engagement that takes place once the client is in the salon.

However, I believe that there are many other opportunities to engage with your clients in smaller and more frequent communications. I also feel that if they are done right they will be far more effective than an impersonal monthly newsletter or sales special.

SMS Booking Confirmations

Booking confirmations are more powerful than you might think. The most commonly used reason for sending booking confirmations is that they will prevent no-shows and thus save you money. This is true, and important. However, there is something else it does, which I believe has a deeper impact and therefore a longer lasting value. I believe that the client has a feeling of gratitude when they receive the sms reminder. On one hand it reminds them to not miss their appointment and the other hand it gives them enough opportunity to cancel and avoid the embarrassment of not showing up. It makes a small positive impression in their mind about your business and its these positive impressions that you want to create as often as possible and build upon. Talk to your software provider about automating this function so that it takes place at the same time each day and becomes part of your standard operating procedures.

SMS Birthday Wishes

Everybody loves to feel special on their birthdays and sending someone a birthday sms does just that, even if deep down inside they know it was a machine that sent it to them. These days it’s actually common for people to complain if they did not get their automated birthday sms.

However, what people love even more than a birthday wish is a birthday gift and if you are able to offer them something special on their birthday then the chances of them walking into your salon to spend some money with you are even better. How you capitalise on the situation thereafter is up to you. Again, talk to your software provider about automating this process to take place at the same time each day.

Loyalty Reward SMS Notification

If you are running a loyalty scheme in which you offer rewards then whenever a client is rewarded with something ensure that they immediately receive an SMS to notify them about it. Its no use having a loyalty scheme and hoping that clients never use their loyalty rewards. If it has been well thought out then it is better for them to redeem their rewards as the long term benefits are greater. Speak to your software provider about automating this notification so that staff members do not have to manage this process manually.

Unused Rewards SMS

Following on from the loyalty reward notification, you may wish to notify people that have rewards available but have not been back to the salon for a long time. On one hand it is common courtesy for you to let them know that they have unclaimed rewards and so the impression should be a positive one, as long as the reward value is worthwhile. Maybe only send a notification to clients who have rewards over a certain value so that they don’t roll their eyes when you send them an sms, which costs more to send than the rewards they have available.

Follow up (feedback) messages

One great way to engage your clients is to send them a follow up email or sms the day after they have been to your salon. The message should thank them for their visit so that they feel valued by you and that they get a sense that you want them to come back again.

Furthermore the message should welcome their feedback so that you can improve your service to them and give them the opportunity to complain if they need to complain. Its better for them to complain to you the day after their visit than to complain to their friends and families (or an online complaints forum) and never return to your salon.

Do I need to say it … talk to your software provider about automating this process so that it is something that always happens at your salon.

Clients that have not visited

All salons will have clients on their database that have not visited for a long time. An opportunity exists to send an email to these clients with the goal of either de-activating them from your database or getting them back in to the salon. I would do an exercise whereby you send them some sort of worthwhile offer in order to test whether they would consider coming back or not. If they respond positively it means that you have won back a client. If they respond by asking to be taken off the mailing list then at least you know your database is that much more accurate.

Talk to your software provider about conducting this exercise so that you ensure you send the message to the correct clients.


There are many ways apart from newsletters and specials to engage with your clients in order to continually shape a positive perception of your business. As you consider each of the above remember that once you start you must not stop. It must be something that is continued in your business for the long run. Also, start with one thing at time and ensure you get it up and running properly else you may bite off more than you can chew. Work with your software provider to automate as much as possible as this has the best chances of ensuring it is continued for the long run.

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