Don’t Hope for Customer Reviews, Request Them
by Marissa Porcaro, PBA Director of Marketing and Communications
Not so long ago, a salon owner or stylist’s primary means of attracting new business was through physical advertising, walk-ins from the neighborhood and client referrals by word of mouth. The big issues with these is that there are no guarantees prospective clients would see or hear your advertisements, have a friend or co-worker who visits your salon or that they would physically pass by and notice your salon. While gaining clients through these methods is still viable and can work, the majority of people looking for a new salon these days start with an online search; the make-or-break part of this for your salon can be the number of positive reviews, or lack thereof. With today’s shift to online searches and social media, salons need to begin requesting or reminding clients about reviewing their salon to stay truly competitive in expanding their client base.
Subtlety Is Key When Asking More Than Once
Asking clients to review your salon can seem like a burden. You’ve already essentially asked them for their business and they paid you for it, so asking for something else may be the last thing on your and your stylists’ minds. In today’s competitive market though, getting positive reviews is a must. Paul Tate, CEO of Shortcuts Smarter Business Technology said in an article featured on SalonToday.com, “If you never ask your clients for online reviews and don’t even run regular surveys, it tells them a few things: you don’t care, you don’t have the time or the inkling to improve your service or you aren’t confident about receiving feedback in the first place. All poor messages to convey to your clients.”
There are many ways to subtly ask and gently remind clients to submit a review. While just asking them face-to-face is the most direct method, this can seem robotic after a while and become frustrating for clients who have already reviewed your salon or are tired of being asked.
Follow Up With A “Thank You”
As a salon owner, you want to know what clients think of your salon, staff and their service experience. Even if you run a booth rental setup, it may be appropriate to follow up with clients if you provide marketing for the salon and the stylists are operating under your salon name. Following up with all clients allows you to know if any stylists or employees aren’t meeting meet your professional standards. Most clients have email and cell phones these days, so depending on their contact preferences it’s very easy to follow up with a “thank you” message. Make it personal by stating which stylist they saw and what service they had done. If it doesn’t seem like a generic mass email, they will be more likely to read it. Use the opportunity to add in a little message about reviewing the salon and their experience and include a link to make leaving that positive feedback one click away.
If you have clients that prefer not to receive any electronic communications from you, there’s always the tried-and-true postcard or phone call. Many of the salon marketing software programs out there can help you with this and personalize the message on the card. Keeping in touch with your salon’s clients lets them know you truly appreciate their business can potentially help raise incoming reviews.
Most salons still hand out appointment cards to clients when they schedule their next appointment in advance at your salon. They are going to have that card in their possession for the next 4-8 weeks and may keep it in a visible place so they don’t forget. Including a line of text on the appointment date side reminding them to review their service either on your website, yelp, Google or any other review site you prefer is a great way to ask without seeming demanding.
As we move further and further to a completely digital world many businesses are doing away with as much paper as possible. Some even offer tablets or have a computer terminal for waiting clients. In a salon scenario, this can be great to keep clients occupied by loading magazines and books on it as well as provide info about your salon, stylists, nail techs, a list of services and specials, and don’t forget a photo gallery of cuts and styles for inspiration. You can use this to your advantage when asking for reviews.
If you use tablets, while a client’s hair is processing offer them a tablet for something to read and ask your stylists to say, “I would really appreciate it if you would take a minute to give a review on the salon or your service today.” With tablet in hand, they can show clients where to do so right on the spot. If your salon is set up where all clients pay at the reception desk, while their payment is processing, your receptionist can ask them to give a quick review.
Bribery Is Not the Answer
Whatever you do, don’t become desperate and offer discounts and incentives in exchange for a review. Potential clients are persuaded by genuine comments and can tell the difference between someone leaving a review because they want to and a half-hearted statement because they feel they had to. In addition, salons that do go this route run into disgruntled clients when you don’t offer a discount the next time or it was offered to their friend but not to them because their stylist forgot to mention it.
While there are exceptions to this, the average person is more likely to leave reviews after they have had a bad experience. There are many people out there that never even think to leave a review after a great appointment, so a subtle reminder here and there will go great lengths to build up your collection of positive reviews. If you have a strong staff and company culture you shouldn’t have to worry about negative reviews coming in. If you’re doing all the right things, you can take comfort in knowing when a potential client is searching for an amazing salon online, your positive and sincere reviews will help you gain new business and shine out from the rest.
About the Author
Marissa Porcaro is the Director of Marketing and Communications 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 for more information.