by Elizabeth Fantetti, PBA Director of Membership and Association Programs

Are you spending too much time working in your salon rather than on running your salon? Operating a successful and profitable business is no easy task. Location, team members, culture and service prices are only a few variables that can make or break your profitability. Find a great location, hire passionate, friendly staff, create a comfortable and inspiring decor and give your clients the best bang for their buck, then you’re set, right? Well… not exactly.

While all this when done right sets a solid foundation for a successful salon, there are other considerations: Loyal clients, cross-selling, and keeping expenses down are a few big ticket items to reach the next level of success.

Keep Clients Coming Back

While you don’t want to be overly aggressive by spamming clients with countless advertisements, you don’t want them to forget about you either. There are many marketing websites and resources tailored to the needs of salons, just keep in mind how often and what to send to clients to get them to schedule an appointment. Tom Kuhn, founder of Qnity and the 2to10 Project, said in an interview with Salon Today that their studies have found that 70 percent of salon clients do not come back after the first visit and overall salon retention isn’t much better. But, there are ways to get clients to keep coming back:

Special Occasions

Think outside the box when it comes to showing your clients you truly appreciate their loyalty. When new clients come to your salon, take time to get to know them personally. Stylists can spend hours with a client during one appointment, ask your team to make note of life events mentioned in their conversations, like weddings, babies, graduations, or a new job or promotion.  A postcard to say hello or congratulations is a great way to show you care. Step it up with a discount on their next service to encourage an appointment sooner rather than later.

Incentives and Discounts

A rewards or loyalty system is a great way to retain customers. PBA member Rowena Yeager of Studio Wish explained to colleagues on PBA’s email networking forum that she offers clients a “My Wish” rewards program: a system where clients earn points through services, purchasing product, referring friends and by booking appointments in advance. These points can be redeemed on products and services and never expire.

Another great way to expand the variety of services clients come in for is to promote a special price for a different service each month to encourage them to try something new. There are a lot of people out there intrigued by services but don’t want to spend the money to try.

The Cross-Sell

Most clients wish their hair could look and feel the same way it does after they leave the salon every day. While they don’t have the years of education and practice under their belt, you can give them the tools and advice to get them on the right path.

Products and Tools

From hair and body products to styling tools, clients are more and more interested in having salon quality products at home. Keeping stock on hand of these products is essential and can be an easy cross-selling opportunity to clients already in the chair. Educating on proper use and technique is also a valuable service that clients can view as an added perk of going to your salon; not to mention the word-of-mouth free advertising you will get when your client receives compliments on how good their hair, skin or nails always look.

Brand Recognition

Salon owners have the painstaking task of coming up with a clever name and an exciting logo. Why not capitalize on this by offering products and wearable items customized with your name and/or logo? Online companies like CafePress.com and Zazzle.com allow businesses to set up a digital shop where your clients can purchase items like shirts, totes, mugs, etc. with your name or logo on it. The best part is that there is no cost to you and no stock to carry. If items are purchased, most sites handle the transaction, any returns or exchanges, and send you a royalty payment for the sales. Every person is a potential customer, so getting your brand out there on items people use every day is essentially free marketing!

Analyzing Your Expenses

There are always those mandatory operating expenses, but how often do you re-evaluate them? Vendor and supplier perks can vary day to day and tax laws, deductions and credits can change from year to year. Focus as much effort on reducing monthly expenses as you do on increasing your customer base for a sure-fire way to grow your salon responsibly.

Manufacturer, Distributor and Other Loyalty Programs

Take advantage of rewards or loyalty programs that manufacturers and distributors offer to salon owners for purchasing product. From accessories, samples, merchandising, tools and exclusive educational opportunities, many manufacturers offer rewards for supplying your salon with their product line.

Tax Deductions

Give yourself a reason to look forward to tax season! There are many tax deductions available for business owners, which can be easily overlooked. Be sure to consult your tax advisor or lawyer to make sure you qualify and learn the specifics regarding your potential deductions.

Here are just a few potential deductions:

EQUIPMENT UPGRADES: Section 179 allows business owners to write off new capital equipment purchased including some software. For 2013, the deduction limit is $500,000.

SALON SUPPLIES: You can deduct many of your regular operating expenses. To be deductible, the IRS states, “A business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.”

YOUR SALON SPACE: Don’t forget about the space you own or rent and all of the furniture in it! Salon chairs, stools, carts, trays, waiting area chairs, magazine subscriptions, rent and more.

ASSOCIATION DUES & EDUCATION: Are you a current Professional Beauty Association (PBA) member? If not, you should be! Not only can membership help advance your career through education and networking, annual dues and costs associated with attending industry tradeshows are all tax deductible.

Don’t stop there! How far you go to retain loyal clients and control expenses is up to you. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to revamp your business strategies, membership in the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) can help you take your business to the next level. Learn more about PBA membership at probeauty.org.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fantetti is the director of Membership and Association Programs for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). PBA advances the professional beauty industry by providing our members with education, charitable outreach, government advocacy, events and more. PBA is the largest organization of salon professionals with members representing salons and spas, distributors, manufacturers and beauty professionals/NCA. Visit probeauty.org or call 800.468.2274 (480.281.0424) for more information.