Everyone is Accountable for Salon & Spa Customer Loyalty

May 15, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Everyone is accountable for customer loyalty.



Yes, customer loyalty begins with leadership and that’s where the problem can begin.

Leaders are notorious for going on those infamous rampages when a customer quits the salon/spa or when customer retention rates go critical. The no-compromise question to ask is, “Where is the accountability and how far down in the salon/spa does that accountability go?” Playing the blame game is a compromise and totally unacceptable.

The no-compromise leader places accountability for customer loyalty in the hands of every company employee.

It cannot be any other way.

For this level of accountability to exist, employees need to understand just how accountable they are. What I’m talking about here is a team-based business culture.

In a team-based business culture, ALL employees feel the pain of a lost customer. They feel the pain when a customer has a problem that could have been avoided.... Read More

“Happiness” Is No Discounts for Prebooking

May 6, 2022 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

A Strategies coaching client recently asked, “Do you recommend offering a discount to encourage clients to prebook their next appointment?”

The short answer is, that you do what you have to do to retain clients.

However, offering a discount to book a second visit, or any subsequent visit, should be viewed more as an occasional marketing effort than an ongoing practice.

IMPORTANT: Do not get into the habit of discounting second or pre-booked visits.

Offering discounts for clients to pre-book is giving money away. Once you start, it can be hard to stop.

FACT: Offering clients a discount to prebook appointments is an expensive shortcut that avoids implementing a systemized and managed prebook system.

At Strategies, we teach “The Happiness System.” It is designed as a professional closing procedure for all salon/spa services. RELATED: Access our free Happiness System Cheat Sheet and mini Video Lesson here.... Read More

Rethinking Salon & Spa Client Loyalty

March 18, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 3 Comments

The dilemma for salons/spas is that they suffer both the loss of revenue and client loyalty when a busy service provider leaves.

The salon/spa industry is known for its notorious employee turnover rate. It is also ground zero for the business wrecking ball known as a “walkout.”

Owners hire stylists, estheticians, massage therapists and other service providers with the expectation that they should “build” themselves.

The thinking is that the more service providers fill their columns on the appointment book, the busier and more successful the salon/spa becomes.

The overriding question all owners must answer is — Are you growing individuals or growing your company?

THE ACID TEST: Look at all those client names on all those columns on the appointment book and ask yourself, “Are these clients loyal to my company, or are they loyal to the names at the top of the columns?”

FACT 1: If you’re growing individuals, be prepared to lose clients, revenue and cash flow.... Read More

10 Characteristics of a Great Salon/Spa Guest Care Team

February 25, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

FACT: Delivering consistently extraordinary customer experiences in a salon/spa is the result of the seamless integration of the “hands that do work” and the “minds that care for guests.”

At first, they were called “receptionists.” They answered the phones, booked appointments, greeted clients and checked them out.

As salons and spas evolved into more sophisticated businesses, they were upgraded to “coordinators” because it became obvious how the right individual(s) at the front desk can influence the overall productivity of the entire team.

Today, “guest care” has become the catch-all term to describe the front-line team of employees that are responsible for executing a multitude of systems that include:

  • Mastering the company’s point-of-sale software system
  • Supporting company service and retail goals
  • Drive productivity and client retention rates
  • Manage the appointment book for efficiency
  • Effectively, patiently and flawlessly handle the phone
  • Sell and close retail sales
  • Prebook appointments
  • Anticipate and respond to customer needs
  • Ensure that everyone is on schedule
  • Represent the image and brand of the salon/spa

There is no question that it takes the right individual to successfully fulfill a guest care position at today’s salon/spa.... Read More

What’s the Best Date Range for Tracking Salon/Spa Client Retention?

November 12, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

When it comes to tracking first-time and existing client retention rates, one rule does not fit all business models.

Today, the beauty industry landscape is a complex mixture of salons, spas, blow-dry salons, curly hair salons, medical spas, skin care, massage, nails, lash, hair replacement, waxing and other industry business models.

The longstanding approach to tracking first-time and existing client retention of examining one month and the number and percentage of return client visits within 90 days of that month, requires some modification based on the business model.

Frank Zito, from Ten Friends Blow Dry & Style House in Hinsdale, IL, posted the following question on our Facebook discussion group, Strategies Salon Spa Business Idea Exchange.

Why is the recommended date range 90 days? Is that just a “how it’s always been” kind of a thing? We are a blow dry salon that doesn’t do haircuts and color. I feel like 90 days may be more full-service salon/spa specific. What is the risk of using a 30-day or 60-day return period?... Read More

What Client Retention Rates Say About Your Salon or Spa

November 5, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

It doesn’t matter how busy, big or beautiful your salon/spa is, if you want to know just how good your business is, take a hard look at your client retention rates.

FACT: Client retention rate tells the truth about the quality and consistency of the technical skills and customer service experiences your salon/spa delivers.

First-Time Client Retention Rate: The number and percentage of first-time clients serviced in one month that return within 90 days.

  • The conversion rate of first-time clients to a second vision is the true acid test on the level of quality your salon/spa delivers.
  • First-time client retention rate shows the number and percent of clients added to your existing client data base.

Existing Client Retention Rate: The number and percentage of existing clients serviced in one month that return within 90 days.

  • Existing client retention rate shows the number and percent of existing clients that return within 90 days.
  • The number and percent that DO NOT return is your company’s client attrition rate.
  • KEY: If your first-time retention rate is not adding enough clients to offset attrition, it’s a major red flag that needs a solution.

Here are my SEVEN No-Compromise Leadership reality checks on Client Retention Rates:... Read More

Pre-Book is Salon & Spa Gold

May 7, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

On a busy day, take up a position near your front desk. Listen to the checkout dialog between clients and guest services. Observe for 30 full minutes. Process what you see and hear.

Answer these questions:

  • How many service clients did you observe walking out without a commitment to return?
  • What does this say about your salon/spa’s systems, consistency and accountability?
  • What are you going to do about it?

Client frequency of visit (number of client visits per year) and client retention (first visit and existing) are powerful critical numbers.

  • If your salon/spa’s overall frequency of visit increases by just one, its impact on productivity rate and annual revenues can be profound.
  • Higher first-time and existing retention rates are a prime indicator that your team is delivering quality services and those extraordinary customer service experiences.

FACT: Productivity rate, client retention rate and higher frequency of visit are Outcomes. (An outcome is the end result of specific functions and activities.) The key Driver for these Outcomes is your Pre-Book Rate.... Read More

How to Eliminate No-shows in Your Salon or Spa

October 17, 2016 | By Bruce Hourigan | 2 Comments

How to Eliminate No-shows in Your Salon or Spa

Guest contributor: Stan Bialecki, Strategies Director of Business Development … and salon owner

Has this ever happened in your salon or spa?

You’re excited about this Saturday…

A quick check of the appointment book on Friday night shows an amazing 87% booked. You sleep well assured that Saturday is going to be a great day.

The team arrives and they are excited for a busy Saturday. Then at 7:30am, things start to fall apart…

The first two clients don’t show up for their appointments.... Read More

Client Situations: Own Them Before They Own You

October 3, 2016 | By Bruce Hourigan | No Comments

Client Situations: Own Them Before They Own You

By Stan Bialecki, Guest Monday Morning Wake-Up Contributor

Has this ever happened in your salon or spa?

A client states that she’s not happy with her service or experience at your salon/spa. The service provider tells the client, “I gave you what you asked for … live with it for a few days … see if you like it.”

At checkout, a guest care team member completely dismisses the client’s concerns.

They think they handled the situation well.

That is…

…until the bad online review pops up twenty minutes after the client leaves your business.

Poorly addressing client situations happens far too often in our industry. It’s one of the reasons why the industry’s average first-time client retention rate continues to hover around a disconcerting thirty percent.... Read More

12 Crucial Facts about First-Time Client Retention

July 25, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

salon spa first-time client retention

DEFINITION – First-Time Client Retention Rate: The percentage of first-time clients that return for a second visit within a specified period of time, usually ninety days.

Converting first-time clients into repeating loyal customers is the undisputed growth driver for salons and spas. In fact, it’s the undisputed growth driver for all businesses.

Here are my 12 No-Compromise Leadership crucial facts about first-time client retention (FTCR):

  1. FTCR is NOT about Request Rate: Request tracking is an old measurement system. It only measures “who asks for who” – not how many first-time clients return to the salon/spa for a second visit. FACT: Request rate measures if “a column on your appointment book” is building a following. At Strategies, we refer to “Request Rate” as a salon/spa’s “Walk-Out Factor.If you want to know how much damage will be inflicted on your business if a “column on your appointment book” leaves … track individual request rates. If you want a “team-based culture” … never track individual request rates.
  2. FTCR is teamwork driven: Growing a successful salon/spa isn’t about how busy certain individuals are, it’s about how your entire team works in concert to create the highest levels of customer satisfaction. No matter how technically excellent the service is, indifference, attitude, lack of professionalism, appearance and other factors by one or more employees can degrade FTCR. That first visit is your one shot at making a great impression.
  3. FTCR is the prime factor for pay raises: Strategies’ prime issue with commission is that it is compensation based entirely on an individual’s service revenue. If you keep feeding new clients to a service provider with a low FTCR … you’re paying that service provider commission on every new client that he or she fails to retain. On Team-Based Pay, the first critical number that measures performance is FTCR. Low retention … no raise. TBP puts your payroll dollars where the performance is.
  4. FTCR measures if your systems are working: You go to a fine restaurant. The meal was amazing, but the service was horrible and it took forever for your meal to come out. You don’t return. The systems in the kitchen were malfunctioning. The wait staff was short-handed. It’s exactly the same at a salon/spa. A new client’s hair or spa service may have been wonderful, but if the elements surrounding and supporting it were not … the client may be lost. FTCR is a measurement of how thorough your systems are designed and executed. You cannot achieve impressive first-time client retention rates if your systems are misfiring.
  5. FTCR is your salon/spa’s Quality Score: If your salon/spa’s FTCR is 40 percent, that means 60 percent of the first-time clients you fight hard to attract are not returning. You can “believe” all you want that your salon/spa delivers on its promise to the customer, but if half or more of all first-time clients do not return … you and your team are talking quality more than delivering it.
  6. FTCR tells you truth about your brand: Building on the fact that FTCR is your Quality Score, FTCR also tells you if your brand image is rock solid or cracked and breaking up. FTCR is a powerful indicator of brand strength because it measures your salon/spa’s ability to satisfy and WOW new clients that were attracted via marketing, reputation and word of mouth. Converting a first-time client to an existing/retained client is the ultimate brand acid test.
  7. FTCR doesn’t care who a client returns to: FTCR is about building a company … not building a column on the appointment book. If a first-time client returns to the original service provider … great. If a first-time client returns to different service provider … great. Owners need to communicate to every employee that when a client returns to the business … it ensures the sustainability of the business and the growth opportunities for all employees. The higher the FTCR … the higher the salon/spa’s productivity rate. The FTCR battle cry is, “The skills of the entire team are available to each and every client.”
  8. FTCR and pre-book rate are interdependent: There is a direct correlation between pre-book rate and FTCR. The higher your salon/spa’s pre-book rate, the higher the client satisfaction rate … the higher your first-time and existing client retention rate. Hair grows back. One facial doesn’t fix a skin issue. Failure for a service provider to communicate the maintenance cycle for a service is a failure of professionalism. Allowing clients to walk out of your business without engaging your pre-book system is simply squandering the client retention and frequency of visit opportunity.
  9. FTCR is NOT about that “third visit”: Where the heck did the … “A client is not retained until the third visit”…come from? Guess what? If a first-time client doesn’t return for a second – there is nothing to track or retain. The first visit is the acid test. Pass it with flying colors.
  10. FTCR measures consistency: Is your salon/spa’s service experience truly consistent? Consistency creates predictability. Delivering great service every time, across all columns on the appointment book requires systems, training, coaching, measuring, etc. The lower your FTCR, the more inconsistent the customer experience is. If your vision is to deliver world-class service experiences … consistency is a non-negotiable.
  11. FTCR reflects your culture: Culture is the collective thinking and behavior of your salon/spa. The tighter and more disciplined your culture – the higher your FTCR. The more committed your team is to delivering the extraordinary service – the higher your FTCR. Likewise, the more country club and unstructured your salon/spa is, the more it springs leaks in revenue opportunity and its ability to attract and retain first-time clients.
  12. FTCR defines your leadership ability: The previous eleven crucial facts about FTCR all require a level of leadership that may be uncomfortable for many owners. Leadership is about taking a company and its team to a better place. The more you develop your leadership skills … the more impressive your FTCR. No compromise.

Quiz time! Let’s see how you score: Use these twelve crucial FTCR facts to rate your salon/spa. For each fact, rank how your business rates on a scale of one to ten (ten being extraordinary). Be brutally honest. Have staff members rank the salon/spa too. If you score a 90 to 120, your company is pretty extraordinary. The lower that score goes … the more work you need to do.... Read More


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