By AHP Staff
When you first started your salon or barber shop, you most likely created a plan based on the key goals for your business. But how long has it been since you’ve looked at how your business is faring and if you’re meeting those goals? If it’s been more than a year, you’re overdue in reviewing those goals, and it’s time to take a fresh look to get your business in tip-top shape. Since both internal and external business functions have an impact on your success, let’s look at both.
Hairdressers and barbers know the importance of building a strong business brand. Everything you do should be part of that brand. It’s probably time to assess how you present yourself and your brand to your potential and current clients. It might not be what you want to hear, but having a strong and consistent online presence isn’t just important—it’s imperative. Consumer research indicates that as many as 85 percent of customers research a business online before they visit in person. Your online presence is not just your website; it’s your social media channels, review sites, and online listings. Every bit of information you provide online about your business becomes part of a public profile. You can use free tools that can give you an in-depth view of your online presence, such as Google Analytics and Website Grader.
Keep Your Website Fit.
The first place your clients are likely to look for more information about your salon and check out your hairstyling talents is your website. It can be your most powerful marketing tool. Because it can bring prospective clients in your door, you must take the time to keep the content, pictures of your hair artistry, and your service menu up to date. Clients won’t return to a stagnant website. Keep content fresh and enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by posting a blog 2–3 times a week. Beyond fresh content, we highly recommend that your website provides online booking. Clients love this convenience for booking last-minute appointments, no matter what time of day it is. If they have to wait until your salon is open to call for an appointment, they may go elsewhere.
Social Media Strength.
The first step in building social media strength is to know which social media sites your clients use the most often. If you don’t know, it’s time to ask! The most popular are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Since the hairstyling business is highly visual, your top three might be Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. However, well-educated women with high incomes are attracted to Pinterest, so you might include a strong presence there as well. The goal is to be active on the platforms your loyal clients use, and target postings to reach potential clients. Find the right mix for you.
You Only Have One Chance to Make a First Impression
First impressions are so important, and you only have a few seconds to make or break a relationship with a new client or impact the retention of loyal clients. Grab an honest friend and ask them to walk through your business as a guest would, beginning with the parking area. Ask them to see it as a first-time visitor would. Is there room for improvement in signage, lighting, and overall safety factors?
Guest Service Area.
Now ask your friend about her experience once she’s in the door. Let her walk through your physical space and note any improvements she sees that should be made. There may be chipped paint on a wall, dusty shelves, faded furnishings, or well-worn areas in your reception area. Ask her to pay special attention to guest bathrooms and the hair stations. It’s easy to overlook weak areas when you see them every day. The improvements can be simple. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint, new or recovered furniture, or a good cleaning will do the trick.
Rock the Retail.
Take a hard look at your retail area. When was the last time you updated the display? You should aim for a fresh look every month to entice regular clients to check it out every time they visit and use seasonal decorations to give the area a festive look. Remember, dust doesn’t sell, so make sure the area looks clean and inviting. Also look at items you may need to retire if they have been on the shelf for a long time without selling. Use that valuable space for items that having a better chance at increasing your retail profit.
Hairdressers and barbers are creative artists and may not relish the bookkeeping aspect of their business. But how else will you know if your business is in good financial health? The goal is to make sure you are on track and making a profit. If this is an area where you consider your business to be weak, it may be time to recruit a professional bookkeeper, accountant, and/or CPA.
If you employ the services of a professional bookkeeper or accountant, they can make sure you have a chart of accounts set up and have all the financial tools in place to process your data daily and make sure they are correctly coded in your bookkeeping program. They can also review your business’s profit-and-loss statements and other key numbers.
You may also want to consider using the service of a CPA, who has a different role. A CPA can prepare your annual state and federal income taxes, advise you whether your business should be set up as a corporation, a partnership, LLC, etc. They can set up any depreciation schedules necessary and advise you on tax issues.
If you own a salon or barber shop and you have employees, you can’t know everything that happens inside your business with each client. Having an objective appraisal from the client’s perspective can help you set benchmarks for service standards.
One way to evaluate the total experience your salon and employees provide is to hire a professional mystery shopper. The appraisal should include your online presence as well as an actual service. You can also recruit a friend, a colleague from another business, or someone your employees do not know. Ask them to evaluate the check-in process, the wait time, whether home-care recommendations were made, etc., and compensate them with a gift certificate for a complimentary service. It would be helpful for them to take notes and take pictures, then meet with them shortly afterward to review their findings.
Keep Your Business in Tip-Top Shape
Keeping your business in tip-top shape isn’t a “one and done” deal. Stay focused and consistent in evaluating these areas on a regular basis, and you’ll have a lean, mean, beauty machine!