The number one absolutely extraordinary business advantage of salons and spas is that you have each client’s undivided, one-on-one, attention for 30 minutes to an hour or more.
The number two absolutely extraordinary business advantage of salons and spas is that almost all of your primary services need to be maintained with regularly scheduled appointments — especially haircut and color services.
The number three absolutely extraordinary business advantage of salons and spas is that when you combine the two previous advantages, pre-booking a client’s future maintenance appointments is about as natural a process as it gets.
Take all three of these absolutely extraordinary business advantages and there is no acceptable reason for a salon or spa’s pre-book rate to be less than 70%. The exceptions are resort, destination and highly seasonal locations.
FACT: Pre-booking is the number one driver of overall salon/spa productivity rates, first-time and existing client retention rates.
If pre-booking future appointments is such a natural process, why do so many salons and spas struggle with it?
To answer this question, here are my seven No-Compromise Leadership, kick pre-book butt strategies, to drive your productivity and client retention rates:
1. Reset your pre-book expectations: Here is the Strategies Pre-Book Success Scale. Where does your salon/spa pre-book rate fall? Where do you want to be?
- Below 40% … Not even trying
- 40% – 50% … Minimal effort. It’s “okay” not to pre-book
- 50% – 60% … Good. Proof your team can do it. So do it
- 60% – 70% … Very good but inconsistent and not dialed in
- 70% – 80% … Excellent. Systems are working
- 80% – 90% … Consistency achieved. A team of pre-book rock stars
- 90%+ … No-Compromise Culture achieved
2. Hold newbies to the same pre-book standards: Just because a service provider is new with little experience, it doesn’t mean his or her pre-book rate should be something like 30%. That’s building in and accepting mediocrity. There is no reason why a little preparation, scripting and coaching can’t create a consistent “end of service” dialog with a client that includes next steps, optimum maintenance schedule and retail recommendation. Anything less is a compromise.
3. Link service providers to checkout: At salons and spas, pre-book and retail sales is a TEAM SPORT. Service provider prescribed maintenance schedule and retail recommendations must be handed off to guest services staff at checkout. That’s where the next phase of scripting takes place. The following question must be banned from your company, “Would you like to book your next appointment?” It should be replaced with, “The services you received today should be done again on or about [date]. Would this day and time work for you?” The key is to approach pre-book as a given. Your dentist books your next checkup in six months. Do the same. Anything less is a compromise.
4. Educate clients on your process: Educate every client, especially first-time clients, on your pre-booking process and its importance for proper maintenance. During the consultation, tell the client that you will be prescribing and scheduling the next three visits at the conclusion of today’s service(s). It’s a simple process of informing the client what is going to happen — then making it happen. It’s the system that creates high pre-book rates, not luck. Of course, the client always has the option to decline. NOTE: If any employee views this system as “being pushy,” he or she doesn’t understand what a service business is. That’s why anything less is a compromise.
5. Pre-book at daily huddles and on scoreboards: Creating and maintaining focus and urgency on pre-book consistency isn’t a one meeting event. As stated, driving your company’s pre-book is a team sport. That means announcing yesterday’s pre-book rate and the month’s running average at every team huddle every day. Those same pre-book rates should be included on your company’s monthly/daily scoreboard. There is a shared sense of team pride in achieving and maintaining pre-book rates above 75%. Anything less is a compromise.
6. Online booking is backup — not front line: The wonders of computer technology and the Internet made online booking a staple of every salon/spa software system. Yes, it’s a convenience for clients. Yes, it’s a fantastic feeling to see appointments being made during non-business hours. But online booking can never and should never take the place of pre-booking future services before a client walks out the door. When a salon/spa gets too comfortable and dependent with online booking, pre-book rates drop. The last thing you want your online booking system to do is allow your team to become lackadaisical when it comes to pre-booking. THE RULE: Pre-book onsite first — online booking second. Anything less is a compromise.
7. Pre-book is about leadership, systems, teamwork and culture: Pre-book thrives on systems to achieve consistency and predictability. Systems thrive on Leadership, teamwork and the culture that emerges. Leadership that sounds like, “You’ve got to get your pre-book rate up,” is not leadership. It’s wishful thinking. There’s something markedly different in a salon/spa with a pre-book rate above 75%. There’s a higher sense of shared purpose, structure and discipline. It’s interesting that the very “structure and discipline” that so many salon/spa employees dislike and resist, produces the most extraordinary outcomes and success. That’s why pre-book is about leadership, systems, teamwork and culture. Anything less is a compromise.
Here’s my challenge to you: There’s nothing magical or mysterious about achieving impressive company-wide pre-book rates. It’s simply a leadership decision and commitment to implement the necessary systems that will take your company to a much better place. I challenge you to accept and embrace this pre-book challenge.
Doing so will simultaneously improve your productivity rate and client retention rates. That’s when I’ll challenge you to improve your cash-flow management skills to create predictable profit and cash reserve.
It all begins with a leadership decision. Anything less is a compromise.