Prebook Starts at the Beginning of the Service

January 14, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 4 Comments

There is no question how prebooking can dramatically improve your productivity rate, first and existing client retention rates, frequency of client visit, and overall service and retail revenues.

However, there is a question as to why so many salons and spas struggle to achieve the prebook rates they are capable of.

The reasons are simple and rather basic:

  • Prebook systems are poorly defined leaving prebook to chance.
  • Service providers and front desk staff are insufficiently trained, coached and monitored.
  • Service providers and front desk staff are not working seamlessly to ensure that every client receives prebook guidance and executes the prebook at checkout. FACT: Prebooking is a team sport.
  • Many service providers regard prebooking with the same indifference as retail. To them, prebooking is “selling” and they want nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, the majority of salons and spas regard prebooking as something that’s done at the end of the client service.

FACT 1: Prebook is a system that begins at the start of a client service visit and concludes at checkout.

FACT 2: A prebook system is, and has always been, a defining element of delivering a professional salon/spa service experience.

Here are my No-Compromise Leadership strategies to implement a consistent and effective start-to-finish prebook system:

  • Redesign your customer service system and experience: Your customer service experience is best described as your salon/spa’s promise to your customers. It should be a list of clearly defined steps detailing what clients will experience from the moment they enter your salon/spa until they leave. This absolutely must include scripting on what clients are told throughout the service. KEY: The very first mention of prebooking must occur during the consultation. It should sound like, “The maintenance cycle for the service(s) you are receiving today is every [ weeks ].” This sets up the prebook recommendation at the conclusion of the service and at checkout.
  • Relaunch and Skill Certify: Any vital new initiative must be properly launched in order to emphasize its importance and for all employees to understand the “why/what/how” of the new prebook initiative. The launch must address the “professional” factor (see next bullet) and illustrate the impact prebook has on productivity rate, client retention and increasing frequency of visit. KEY: After the launch, skill certification training is a non-negotiable for all service providers — especially front desk/guest services employees. All employees should be comfortable recommending maintenance cycles and prebooking clients before they leave.
  • Professional” means being in control of the experience: Too often, a salon/spa service goes like this: Check the client in. Deliver the service. Check the client out. Yes, there can be some guidance and friendly conversation from a highly skilled service provider, but too much is missing that short changes the “professional” experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a client’s first visit or one of many, it is the responsibility of the professional service provider to advise and coach each client to maintain the services received. That’s why advising the client on the maintenance cycle at the beginning and again at the end of the service is critical. KEY: Being in control sounds like, “We need to see you again on or about [date].” Not being in control sounds like, “When would you like to schedule your next appointment?” Professionalism crashes and burns if no attempt at prebook is made.
  • Front Desk/Guest Services accountability: Service providers can give clients maintenance cycle and prebook recommendations all day long, but prebook rate numbers will not budge without front desk/guest services accountability. KEY: Accountability means advising first-time clients that their service provider will be recommending the right maintenance cycle before, during and at the conclusion of their service. It also means taking the professionally recommended prebook and scheduling the client’s next visit, or even better, the next two or three visits.
  • Make “Prebook” a Critical Number: The purpose of making Prebook a Critical Number is to keep it in the spotlight so everyone pays attention to it. KEY: At daily huddles, the previous day’s prebook rate must be shared and where the company’s overall prebook rate is for the month in relation to goal. Front desk/guest services must be monitoring each day’s prebook rate to prevent slipping. Most importantly, achieving the highest prebook rate possible require teamwork.
  • The beauty of prebook: Of all the critical numbers there are to track in a salon/spa, prebook rate gains can be immediate and dramatic. We’ve seen Strategies coaching clients double their prebook rate in a matter of days. KEY: For such gains to happen, the leader must lead, systems must be designed, the staff trained, and everyone held accountable.

Here’s my challenge to you: The optimum maintenance cycle for each and every service must be woven into your company’s daily language and interaction with clients.

Any client going to checkout without a recommended prebook date for front desk to schedule is a blatant breakdown of professional standards.

An over-dependence on online booking systems means surrendering control over the customer experience and professional guidance. Yes, online booking is a client convenience, but it is not a replacement for what must happen before a client walks out the door of your salon/spa.

Do all of the above and watch not just your prebook rate, but all of your critical numbers improve.

Categories: Information Flow

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  1. This was great! I was wondering if you have some generic scripts that you use for front desk as well as service providers that can be shared. It would be so helpful!

    Thank you!

    1. Switch to Millennium… it tracks all of Strategies critical numbers easily! We took our prebooks from 7% (2015) to 62% (current average)… with the ultimate goal of 75%. Thanks Neil!

  2. In your section, “The Beauty of Prebook”, you mention, being held accountable. Please give me some examples of being held accountable. Thank You


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