A dependable customer base is the foundation for every successful business, and this is particularly true for hairdressers, says business development expert, Lee Perkins. Customers provide you with revenue, give you constructive feedback and tell other people about your business and what you sell – there’s nothing more powerful than a word of mouth recommendation.
Building a customer base takes time and effort – above all, it means paying attention to who your customers are and understanding what motivates them to use your salon and keep coming back.
Who, and where, are your customers?
The first step to building your customer base is knowing who your customers are and where to find them. Armed with this information, you can manage the relationships you have with customers more effectively to increase sales to existing customers and to acquire new ones.
Customer profiling: what you should know about your customers
Understanding your customers’ key characteristics will help you decide where, when and how to communicate with them. As a salon owner, you’re already likely to be clued-up about their age, location and gender – if not, every time you have a new customer ask them to fill out a short form at the beginning of their appointment to gather this intelligence and contact details.
Once you have contact details, gaining further useful information is much easier. Try to find out:
The websites your customers visit and any publications they read
Where else they shop for style items and whether they visit other salons for additional beauty treatments
What it is that your customers like about your salon
What frequent appointments they make
Who spends the most with you.
Customer profiles enable you to communicate with existing customers more effectively and target new customers more accurately. Getting this information could be a simple matter of picking up a telephone. Or it might require a more formal approach, such as running a survey in your e-newsletter. It depends on your communication channels.
Offer incentives for your customers who complete additional surveys, such as 10% off their next visit and ensure that you are using the most effective form of contact.
Once you have a more comprehensive set of information you will be able to separate them into groups that share similar characteristics, for example those who come for weekly blow-dries and those who have their hair regularly coloured, then think about the best way to target each group to build the business.
Why you should concentrate on your most profitable customers
Customer profiling will allow you to identify your most profitable customers. The general rule of thumb for most businesses is that 80% of sales come from just 20% of customers. It’s also widely said that it costs around five times as much to acquire new customers as it does to sell to existing ones. These customers also provide the foundation for growth, particularly as they’re more likely to recommend you to others. And knowing their characteristics makes it much easier to identify and target prospective customers who share the same characteristics – essentially gaining more of the customers you want to have.
Recording customer information
It’s important to record customer information systematically — and you’ll need to be aware of data protection rules when doing so. For example, you must store personal information securely and not share it with third parties without permission. You also need someone’s permission to contact them with promotional offers. Share ideas which add value and communicate on a more personal level but be careful not to over-bombard – nobody wants to irritate their existing customers.
Many people will advocate a purpose-built customer relationship management system to enable you to do this. But it’s likely that your existing accounting software already has the capability to store and analyse customer information.