by Marissa Porcaro, PBA Director of Marketing and Communications

When people think about the “client experience” in the service industry, many will go to images of smiling receptionists offering beverages to waiting clients, upbeat and enthusiastic employees, and a clean, friendly and inviting environment; all resulting in happy, loyal clients. While all of this is critical to getting your client experience dialed in, there is a lot more to it than just putting a smile on your clients’ faces.

One of the more unspoken factors is the overall message your salon sends to your clients: those your clients subconsciously notice from the moment they walk in, and what gets relayed to friends and family. Making sure your employees look professional, ensuring your clients interaction is seamless from beginning to end, and showing that everyone is passionate and dedicated to the professionalism of the industry are a few foundational items to build your overall salon experience from.

First Impressions Leave Lasting Imprint

Everyone knows that the beauty industry has a high volume of incredibly creative people who like to express their individuality. While there are clients who appreciate those who express their creativity through their physical appearance, there are many out there who do not. Take cues from your clientele to decide if there should be a limit as to what is acceptable in the workplace. There is a fine line between looking put-together versus looking way too over-the-top. The goal is to make clients feel comfortable and confident in your staff’s expertise and talent, not to feel out of place or concerned because of the way an employee presents themself. The overall look and atmosphere of a salon is not just the wall color and furnishings, but the people and attitudes within it. Your focus should be creating a harmonious flow within your salon while respecting the individuals within it.

One way to accomplish this is to implement a dress code. This typically scares employees, but I’m not talking about everyone wearing the same exact shirt and all looking the same. Set clear standards of the types of clothing that are acceptable, such as no spaghetti straps, no shorts, etc. if that’s in line with your overall salon appearance. Choose a color scheme, or several if possible, that compliments your decor and branding. There are many ways to keep your salon an inspirational and creative space. For example, you can set a color scheme of blue and teal one month and if an employee doesn’t own anything in blue or teal, they can wear solid neutrals like white, black or gray and accessorize with blue or teal jewelry, belt, scarf, shoes, or anything they desire.

Exceeding Expectations

No one wants to feel like going to the salon is a chore. Having a cumbersome and difficult scheduling process, long wait times or uncaring staff can be a surefire way to guarantee your clients will start searching for a new salon. As a business owner, you need to be on top of every aspect of your salon/spa without needing to micromanage your staff.

Take advantage of your salon’s marketing software. Many programs out there today offer easy ways to connect with clients to schedule appointments via text, email, social media or there’s still the direct phone call – we can’t forget about. Your clients have busy lives, so reaching out to them every four to six weeks to set up an appointment leaves little room for them to forget to schedule with you. In addition, be sure your staff is well trained on your scheduling system so there will be little wait time when clients are calling in if your front desk staff is unavailable for some reason. If your stylists fill their own schedules, set a standard for the maximum amount of time allowable for them to return the phone call; keeping a professional standard is crucial.

As far as your overall staff is concerned, positive attitudes and timely attendance are imperative to making clients’ experience positive and inviting. If a client walks in and isn’t greeted immediately and politely, or they have to wait a half hour because their stylist overslept or took too long with another client, it can leave a negative impression of your establishment. Clients can be demanding, but make sure your team is keeping up with your expectations and clients don’t feel neglected at your business. Positive, attentive staff makes for happy, loyal clients.

Professional Dedication

Every salon has its own unique look and feel, but the element that should be consistent among all of them is the level of industry professionalism and dedication to providing superior service to clients. By attending cosmetology school and becoming a licensed professional, members of the beauty industry take an unspoken vow to provide services to the public in a safe, inviting and professional manner. As a licensed professional, you represent the beauty industry and should be proud to do so. Let your clients know what it means to you to be licensed and why it should be important to them as well. When your clients know how much pride you take in your profession, it adds a level of comfort and security that they know they are being taken care of by a true professional.

Don’t be afraid to have this conversation with clients as they sit in your chair. The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) supports licensed professionals in the fight against unlicensed individuals putting the public’s health at risk and encourages technicians to spread the word about what it truly means to be a professional. PBA has two campaigns spreading across the industry to help with these messages.

The “I Am A Professional. I Am Licensed.” movement spreads the word that licensed professionals protect the health and safety of their clients and promote accountability across the industry. The goal is to make the general public aware of the importance of cosmetology regulations and licensing and spread awareness of the dangers of using an unlicensed individual, who put the public’s health and safety at risk. Beauty professionals go through hundreds of hours of education and training just to be able to start their careers and educating clients on this can help uphold the integrity of the industry. Join the movement at probeauty.org/iam and get your free window cling to proudly display at your station, and talking points to get the conversation started with your clients. PBA’s “Take the Pledge” campaign encourages licensed professionals to pledge to uphold the highest ethical integrity in the industry by following PBA’s Code of Ethical Practices and Best Business Practices. Learn more about PBA’s Codes at probeauty.org/pledge.

No matter the age, gender or ethnicity of your clients, being consistent with these practices in your business will help keep up your professional focus. Setting acceptable boundaries for your employees’ appearance, cultivating knowledge and positive attitudes with staff, and promoting the professional pride of the industry are solid ways to not only impress clients, but to send the message that your salon takes what you do seriously and knows how to have a good time doing it.

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 or call 800.468.2274 (480.281.0424) for more information.