70% of your first-time clients never return, if you have an average salon or spa. Dun dun dun.

These clients were attracted to your salon for some reason, so to lose 70% of them after their first experience with your business, it’s quite bad.
Not only for your confidence, but also for your bank account.

How much does a typical client spend at your salon per year? Maybe $1000?

So if 7 out of 10 first-timers never return, for every $3000 you do make, you’re losing $7000.

If your appointment book is full anyway, then it *might* be okay. (But in that case, haven’t you thought about expansion?)

But if you’d rather have that $7000 in your pocket, then discover my top 5 retention tips:

Step zero: Identify the weakest link

First I want you to identify the service that has the weakest retention rate. If you use a salon software, it should be easy to find it out.

Have a closer look at these poor performing services to see what you should do about them:

Should you update their protocols?

Should you use different products?

Or should you discontinue offering them because they’re not really in line with your brand?

The best retention strategy is to provide a great experience that starts from the client’s first contact with your business (most likely this is the booking procedure) until she leaves and steps out the door.

1. Communicate, don’t just assume

I guess no one questions the importance of providing a great experience because unhappy clients never come back.
When a client is unhappy with the service, there are usually 2 reasons:

1. Unmet expectations

Dear Client books a treatment but has a different expectation in her mind or has a totally different need. For example, she prefers a strong massage but books an aromatherapy massage and then complains (or keeps it to herself but never comes back).

2. Lack of communication/ miscommunication

Always make sure the client is happy with the service! And it’s too late to ask at the end of the treatment if they were happy with the service.

You might know that I’m a fanatic spa-goer (is that even a word?!) and wherever I travel, I like to try new spas. Do you know how many times I was asked at the end of the treatment if I was happy with the service?

Erm, maybe if the therapist had spent a bit more time on my back AND the room hadn’t been freezing, the yes, I would’ve been blissful.

My point is: make sure that the client knows that you care and it’s okay for her to say if she’s uncomfortable with anything.

For example, during a massage, ask (or have your staff members ask) them if they’re happy with the light, music and temperature.

How about the pressure?

Would you like me to focus on any area?

Having said that, do ask about their experience at the end of the treatment as well. Some people might tell you what was wrong. But the majority won’t tell you in your face.

That’s why a follow up is crucial. Let’s see how to do the follow up.

2. The client journal + follow up

For first-timers especially, the money is in the follow up.

Trust me! If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you’ll stand out of the salon and spa crowd.

But how to go the extra mile?

The good:
Send them an email or call them the day after their treatment and ask them how they feel.

The best:
Keep a client journal and add notes next to each client you have.

Things to note down:
• for massage/bodywork clients: any pains, any areas to avoid, type of pressure, favorite oil, type of music
• for facial clients: any skin concerns
• for hair styling clients: their new hair style and/or color
• for all clients: anything that you discussed that could be important, such as life events (anniversary, birthdays etc.), upcoming trips, children etc. -these are great small talk topics on their next visit!

When you call or email the client, refer back to these notes.

If they had back pain, ask about their back!
If they got a new hair style, ask them if they like it!
If they had a facial before an event, ask about their skin and the event!
And if you discover that they weren’t happy with their experience? You should have a plan for this situation.

In my spa, we offer a complimentary treatment with a different therapist. They may not take us up on this offer, but I bet they remember us fondly, rather than “that spa that ripped me off with a bad service”.

Obviously you don’t have to call a regular client after each visit, but you can contact them if they had a more serious concern than they usually have, such a particularly sore back, or if they had a new service.

3. Bundle ‘em, baby!

Did you know that the more types of service a client experiences in your salon or spa, the more likely she will come back?

When I first learned about the average come back rates, I was shocked:
If an (existing) client visits you for only 1 type of service, the retention rate is 50%.

With 2 types of service, it’s 75%.
With 3 types of service, it’s 85%.
With 4 types of service….


it’s 95%… 95%!!!

So for those of you full service salon/spa owners and managers, what’s the lesson to be learnt here?

If you have a client who always comes for, say, a facial, next time ask her if she would like to get a quick file& polish after her facial. If she’s happy with the service, she may become a regular nail client as well, moving her up on the loyalty ladder.

4. Long term visibility: newsletter + social media

Your business should be visible to your clients on the long term.
Ideally, you should come up in their inbox or newsfeed every week.
Some people say that’s too frequent, but the thing is that these days when people have 1000+ unread emails in their inboxes and dozens of social media notifications, it’s hard to gain visibility. So the more often you attempt to be seen, the chances are higher that they will actually see you.

The 2 best ways to keep in touch with clients are:

1. newsletter
Just make sure you have their permission to email them.

2. social media
Depending on your target market, Instagram and Facebook are the best social media platforms for spas and salons.

5. Never, ever take them for granted

Repeat after me: The service can never deteriorate!

Not even after their 100th treatment!

You cannot skip the hand massage while her mask is on her face, you cannot forget about offering her something to drink and you absolutely cannot make her feel taken for granted (if you’ve been married for 5+ years, you know what I’m talking about… :)).

Not a hint of that unimportant feeling!

Because guess what?

Some other business will treat her as a VIP and you’ll never see her again.

Yes, I know it’s harsh, I know it’s tough love, and I’m sorry. But…that’s the truth.

Many businesses offer perks only for first time clients. Why not offer something for your existing clients as well? How about a loyalty card, a holiday gift or a special deal only for them?

BONUS: To friend or not to friend?

Friending a client on Facebook is a powerful way to keep in touch. Period. You come up in their newsfeed more frequently and your relationship is taken to the next level.

I know, I know…not every salon owner, therapist and stylist wants to/is allowed to friend their clients. It might not even be in line with your brand.
If you do go ahead, just make sure that whatever you post on your timeline is appropriate OR add your clients to a separate list in your FB account so they don’t see your crazy party animal side on a Saturday night *wink-wink*!

If you enjoyed this post, please sign up to my weekly newsletter so you can receive weekly tips and inspiration.