A new client, whether a walk-in or a referral, is a nugget of gold. So, how do you craft this nugget into a thing of beauty? How do you hold onto this 1st timer as a long-term jewel in your collection? Here are my top five tips for retaining clients for long term clientele building and financial success.
- Find and leverage your Unique Selling Proposition (“USP”) – Everyone can cut hair. At times it feels like everyone DOES cut hair. How can you stand out from the crowd? What makes your haircut and haircut experience truly unique? What will a client say about you to a friend after they leave? What will they remember? What will stand out? If all you have to offer is the exact same thing that every other hair cutter has to offer, you are over before you begin. If you have nothing unique to offer, you had better find some way to stand out. Commodity haircuts are cheap and plentiful. You will never build a decent business offering a commodity. Get a copy of the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Read it. Then read it again. Then get busy being unique.
- Suggest and recommend take-home hair care product. – Take home is about client retention. It has never really been about anything else. Product buyers like their hair more. People who like their hair more are happier. Happy clients stay. Happy clients send their friends. Two of the most important metrics of your business; rate of retention and referral rate, are intrinsically tied to take-home product sales. If you sell take-home products, you will keep and earn clients. If you don’t, you won’t.
- Ask for referrals – You need and want to get as busy as you can as fast as you can. You need and want the money, of course. More importantly clients like to patronize a busy professional. They want to go to you because everyone wants to go to you. The harder it is to get in with you, the more desirable you become. (And the busier you are, the sooner you can raise your prices!). Master the responsibility to ask for referrals and commit it to your haircut DNA. You will never want for clients ever again. Say three things to every client, every haircut, every time.
- “Thank you for the opportunity to cut your hair.”
- “I appreciate your business.”
- “If I give you two cards, will you send me two friends?”
- Rebook 80% of your traffic – Rebooking is the art of securing the client’s next appointment before they leave the shop today. It is a skill. It is an art form when done well. Rebooking is the single most important skill you will ever develop. If you can rebook 80% of your client traffic you will find yourself in the top 10% of all earners in the hair industry. Rebooking keeps clients coming back. Rebooking keeps clients coming back sooner. Rebooking is the most powerful weapon you have to fight appointment stretching. A six week interval client gets cut eight times per year. An eight week client gets cut six times. This is a 33% increase in annual revenue if you can hold the client to 6 weeks as opposed to gapping out to eight. Rebooking secures client retention and increases revenue. Why would you not commit to being a master rebooker?
- Deliver consistency – Show up on time and ready to work every day. Do not come in late. Do not leave early. Do not monkey with your schedule from week to week. Limit changes in your schedule to no more than twice per year. Develop a reputation for consistency, dependability and accountability. Treat all elements of your business as serious business. If you wear a white shirt and dark slacks, wear that every day. If you have purple hair and facial jewelry, own that. If someone else shows up every time they come in for a haircut they will find someone else to cut their hair. Generally speaking, clients like dependability and consistency, not surprises. Treat every haircut visit as a first visit. Consult completely every visit. “same as last time?” is NOT a consultation. Clients wander off when they feel bored with their hair. If they are bored with their hair, they are really bored with you.
Bonus tip – Track your numbers – To know your numbers is to grow your numbers. That which gets measured gets improved. There are a few basic business metrics you must be tracking. You must write these numbers down every day at the end of the day. Commit to tracking these simple business statistics and you will be amazed at how fast and how big these numbers will grow. Look to track the following statistics; all of which are important and lead to retaining more clients:
- Rate of occupancy
- Repeat request rate
- Average ticket
- Average take-home per ticket
- Rebook rate
Ivan is a 30-year haircutting veteran with a barber license, a cosmetology license and three Guinness World haircutting records. Ivan is also a certified personal fitness trainer specializing in working with beauty industry professionals on issues of health, wellness and long-term durability behind the chair. For more information and to get your copy of Ivan’s book Be A $100,000 Haircutter visit ivanzoot.com.