Keeping Them Coming Back

In our ever-changing world, I believe that retaining old clients should be the priority over attracting new ones—after all, your regular two-, four- and six-week customers are what will increase your revenue. If you’re finding that your salon has poor client retention and attraction numbers, consider reviewing your marketing strategy. Whether your initiatives are outdated or you’re trying to market your salon on a limited budget, there’s always room for improvement.

To effectively market your business, you need to develop your brand—it goes beyond just creating a tagline or a logo (though both will be needed). A well-communicated brand connects with your clients and expresses who you are, what you stand for and what you can deliver.

Start by asking yourself what your mission is and why you offer the services you do. Consider how clients could benefit from your competitors’ services over yours and what emotions and attributes you want associated with your business.

The best brand identities combine physical, emotional and logical elements into an exceptional product and customer experience that you value as much as your clients do. To establish this, you have to create a mission statement that’s an expressive, meaningful and powerful summary of who you are and what your salon is. Choose your words wisely and avoid empty phrases and general statements; be specific and highlight the core of what makes your business unique and invaluable.

The salons that succeed are the ones that have stayed true to their core values over time, created a welcoming environment and produced results that employees and clients are proud to be associated with—it’s the same reason why you’ve had the same hairdresser for years or visit the same coffee shop every morning.

For example, my mission encompasses many things, but the thing that never changes is the quality of our work—it is recognizable! I love when I’m at the veterinarian’s office and people make comments about how they always know which dogs are groomed by us.

Once you’ve settled on your mission, develop a logo that embodies it visually. You want it to be unique and exclusive to your brand. Compare your ideas against your competitors’ to avoid similarities and consider hiring a freelance designer to bring your vision to life.

Living your brand can only be done if you are the best version of yourself, as your attitude sets the tone in the salon. While having and maintaining an optimistic outlook seems like a simple idea, it’s not always easy. Sometimes there’s just so much negativity surrounding you and your business that it can start to take a toll. When you feel some pessimism coming on, stop and redirect your thoughts. The longer you focus on a problem and let it fester, the worse it gets.

Try generating uplifting visual aids—it could be a color, image or even a saying that makes you feel good. When you’re dealing with a problem client on the phone, look at your visuals and remind yourself that it’s always worth it in the end. I actually have pictures of my most appreciative clients sitting out. When they come in, they always make me feel good.

Don’t let fear dominate your attitude and don’t become stale in your knowledge. The best thing you can do is continue your education, read books, take a webinar, attend a trade show and watch how your successful peers grow and improve their quality of life.


Sending a Message

Marketing campaigns can come in many forms, whether it’s a newsletter, limited-time offer, promotional announcement or a simple reminder that keeps your business in the front of customers’ minds. With all of the new salon management software available, you can even market your salon by creating a text or email campaign. To shape those campaigns, fill out a profile for each client so you can identify an approach that will resonate with them. You can send out simple surveys or hold brief, in-store interviews.

Make sure you use your logo in and on every communication/marketing campaign you produce for the salon, whether that’s business cards, letter heads, emails, smocks, websites or Facebook pages.

Consider incorporating an informative blog into your online presence: salons with blogs typically receive more traffic than those without. Keep it up to date with compelling, original and relevant content to drive traffic and position your brand as an industry leader, but be aware that this might require hiring a freelancer or adding a marketing expert to your team.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media—people rely on these channels to research potential businesses. Most business owners opt for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but other platforms to consider include Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram.

If you don’t have the time to research and set up all six, Facebook is an easy—and free!—place to start. With 75 percent of users active daily, you have to be on top of your game. Facebook offers an option to take out customizable ads that allow you to specify your objective, audience, budget and placement.

To draw more traffic to your salon’s Facebook page, create a promotion that will generate interest. Through my salon’s holiday initiative, we gained 200 local followers and scheduled appointments from people who lived as far as an hour away. It was simple but meaningful: I ordered a backdrop of a winter scene and few props, then took a picture of every animal we groomed from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. I uploaded all the best pictures to our Facebook page and informed the owners when they picked up their pet. I handed them a bag of biscuits, a Christmas ornament and a slip of paper with a link to the image as I encouraged them to share, like and download it.


Increasing Online Presence

When it comes to the world of search engine optimization (SEO), I’m still very green. SEO is needed to figure out the language your target audience is using in their searches, so you can make your website search-engine friendly. The long and painstaking process is used to boost a website’s organic—or free—traffic. Improving SEO on your website is called on-page optimization and will influence everything else you do marketing-wise.

Depending on the amount of competition, it could be months before you see a noticeable difference. In the meantime, if a solicitor tells you they can quickly place you on the first page of Google in the free results, be cautious.

Make sure you help Google with the on-page optimization. From what I read, you will need to use a xml sitemap, set up Google Search Console and ensure there are no errors that would limit Google from including all the pages of your website in its index.

Off-page optimization shifts your focus outside of your website and onto link building or local references. The first step is understanding how your business address impacts where clients can find you. You must consider the city, region or county that your clients live in. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to target an area that’s too large, like a state, or an area that’s too narrow, like a small town. Make sure you have a good handle on all the other places outside of your website that clients might look for you—millions of people will start their search on Yelp or Facebook.

You’ll also want to ensure that your company has a fully optimized Google Business profile. This allows potential clients to easily learn more about your company and read reviews from other customers. Reviews are a key part of local rankings, and while most salons understand the importance of reviews, there are a few critical mistakes that are commonly made when trying to use reviews to boost your ranking.

Do not pay for reviews or aggressively solicit hundreds at a time. If you go from two reviews to 200 overnight, you risk having your entire account removed from local results or having all your reviews discounted. Additionally, most clients know that a salon with a perfect rating is too good to be true, so five-star reviews may not be as helpful as you think.

It’s key to monitor your reviews and go over your results regularly. Check in and see where your efforts have succeeded or fallen short; from there, develop new initiatives that will outperform your previous marketing attempts.

Don’t overlook the impact a mobile-friendly website can have. Your website has to look great and work on any device. Go beyond envisioning how it’d look on the standard desktop and picture it on an iPad or even a Smart TV.

It’s my understanding that a mobile-optimized website goes beyond smooth navigation—it factors into local search results. Some experts have gone as far as to say local SEO and mobile optimization are the most important factors you can have associated with your website.

That said, having a great website is a challenge. It doesn’t happen overnight, and when you’re grooming five to six days a week, it’s hard to get things done. Set realistic goals, timelines and budgets. After you innovate your marketing plan, stick to it. Your list of goals can measure your success as you check them off.

Remember to monitor your funds and keep your spending in check. If you need financial help to market your salon, you may need to seek funding from an outside source.

Make long-term commitments to each client and get your website optimized. It won’t happen overnight, but as your marketing strategies improve, your revenue will follow suit.  PB

Chris Pawlosky is a Certified Master Groomer, professional handler, breeder, grooming show judge and successful pet store and grooming shop owner (The Pet Connection) since 1985. For 20 years, she served as national training manager for Oster Professional Products, where she developed new initiative educational material to educate at schools and conventions all over the world. Pawlosky is currently working with Judy Hudson to produce the Grooming Professors—a service through which the two industry veterans share their many years of grooming, competing, dog show conditioning and handling with groomers across the country via Facebook and through an interactive website where visitors can access webcasts and videos about everything grooming related.