May is Salon Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! This means that in addition to our usual posts with tips on connecting with customers, marketing strategy, and growing your business, we’ll be sharing insights specifically for local salon professionals. If that includes you, it’s time to polish up on these proven promotion techniques. If not, don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing our usual resources that can help you effectively market your local business. And keep your eyes peeled, your industry might be the one we feature next month!
Perhaps no other salon faces off against a more daunting foe than tanning salons do with seasonality. And unlike other specializations in the industry, tanning businesses can
already be at a disadvantage when it comes to customer retention due to the typically solitary nature of the services. You and your staff have only a short window of interaction at the beginning and end of clients’ traditional tanning appointments in order to make an impression on them and foster the relationship. For these reasons (and many many more), it is even more essential for salon owners to put together a comprehensive communications strategy for their tanning business that makes effective use of email and SMS marketing efforts. On average, more than half of your new customers will not return, but these winning campaigns will help nurture fickle new clients by keeping your salon top-of-mind, so that you can get the most value out of this large customer base.
Send appointment reminders via email and text messages
When taking appointments, either over the phone or online, be sure to request your clients’ email addresses and cell phone numbers so that you can send them appointment reminders. This will help drastically cut down on missed appointments. Clients are more likely to read all the text messages they receive, and most are read within 3 minutes of receiving. It’s no wonder that one study found that text reminders cut down their missed appointments by nearly 50%. Try using both, or a combination of a reminder email the day before and a text message sent an hour before, so no matter how busy your client’s day gets, or if they have an unexpected issue that pops up, they can keep track of their tanning appointment and either make it on time or call to cancel ahead of time, when necessary.
Segment your lists so you can target new customers by providing them with basic tips or any preparation they should do prior to their appointment. This could be their first experience ever tanning at a salon, so why not include a few suggestions of what to do (or not to do) beforehand? Whether reminding them to shower and exfoliate prior to their session, or advising they start with a smaller time increment and work their way up, it’s mutually beneficial to have them be prepared and expectations set ahead of time. You want them to look their best, so that they’ll keep coming back! This is a great way to show you’re invested in getting them great results!
Send “Thank You” follow-ups after an appointment
Similarly, you should always have a strategy for following up with clients after an appointment that you can easily replicate. You want them to feel like an insider or that they’re a part of your tanning family, so that they’ll be faithful to your business. Try sending a hand-written thank-you note after a first visit. This requires extra effort, but can be a nice way to set your salon apart from the crowd.
If this isn’t sustainable, send a “thank you” text with a tip for post-tanning. Identify 3-5 top “tips” and have them printed on your business/appointment cards and give to them to customers after their appointment. Since they provide value to your customer in the form of an easy reference guide, they’ll be more likely to hold onto them and think of your salon. It will also help reinforce these best practices when they receive the text tip, and will help them keep their tan in top form, which again is a win-win for you both.
Check in soon after their appointment and request feedback on their experience
Follow up a few days to a week after with an email to see how their tan is holding up and include another tip to stay top of mind. The purpose at this point isn’t to try to resell to your customers, but rather to keep your business on their mind and show off your dedication to customer satisfaction. You can ask them for feedback, or send a brief survey that asks them to rate a range of various components of their visit, from staff friendliness to bed cleanliness. Surveys can seem a little impersonal, so it might be better to stick with a genuine request, especially in the beginning. Try asking what can be improved or if they would be likely to return.
Most importantly, be sure to respond to each of the responses you receive. This can give you a rare opportunity to respond to clients who had a negative experience. If you are able to find a resolution then you might be able to save a customer that would have otherwise been lost, and even circumvent a negative review being posted on Yelp, social media or other review sites. This will also help you to segment your lists, so you can target your happy customers in other campaigns that help drive more positive reviews, and referrals. Signpost does this automatically, by identifying and keeping track of your salon’s biggest advocates and sending them the right messages at the right time to drive ratings, reviews, referrals and repeat business.
Create a loyalty program that will set you up for promotional email/SMS success
Creating a loyalty program for your tanning salon is important. It doesn’t need to be complicated, even a standard “punchcard” system can work well when executed correctly. Or, you can define a program where different beds, length of time etc., each have various point values assigned to them. No matter how you choose to construct your program, make sure you can easily leverage it for great email and SMS marketing success.
“Artificial advancement” has also been successful in loyalty program retention over time. You can send out an email to all your previous customers who aren’t current members of your loyalty program, explaining that their last visit will also count as a “punch”, essentially getting double points and getting “credit” for the appointment that would normally not have counted.
This psychological motivation means people are more likely to finish something (whether a punchcard or tier of points) if the end is in sight and reasonable, so they’re more likely to set an appointment when they can receive 2 punches and already be 20% of the way to reward, instead of potentially 10%. Better yet, in the time and number of appointments it takes to earn a reward or free session, your business and staff has a longer opportunity to let your commitment to customer service win them over.
You can also offer extra points or punches for sharing images on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest and tagging the salon in it. Also, don’t forget to offer special rewards to those enrolled in your Email and SMS VIP programs, or roll them up into a loyalty program. This helps create a sense of exclusivity and positions inclusion in such a program as being a member of a community, increasing its desirability.
Send blasts to fill beds on slow days
If you’re having a slow day, try sending out an email or text message blast with a discount for any appointments (and experiment with walk-ins too) booked the same day. This can help give your business the push it needs to fill beds that day. Even a heavily-discounted rate is better than an empty bed!
If you recognize patterns of downtime, send emails advertising a special discount for any appointments booked during that window. For example, if you find a majority of your appointments are in the afternoon and evening with barely any ever between 9-11am, then you could create an “Early Bird Discount” that gives 25% off any appointments during that time. If you’re too apprehensive about missing out on revenue, instead offer to count towards a double stamp on their card or give double points.
Target various membership options to the right customers
Segment your customers based on the frequency of their appointments and target specific memberships to them. Most tanning salons have one “membership” option, which is not ideal for everyone. In addition to an unlimited package, try a hybrid model that offers 4 tans a month that carry over if not used and are around 10-15% less than if they were purchased as part of another package.
You can choose to make minimum periods for members as well as having it set up as an auto-pay subscription, which guarantees revenue month after month. Or, allow them to prepay the entire period (whether 3, 6 or 12 months) upfront for an even better discount. Make this option more desirable by offering a discount on products, a free birthday tan (and/or a “holiday gift tan” for a time that people are traditionally most in need of one). Give away free branded goggles, and offer to store them at the salon for your clients, so they don’t have to remember to bring them each time. These gestures may seem small, but appeal to your customers’ needs and attachment to your business.
Make it easy for customers to purchase gift cards
Do you hate missing out on easy business? Then make sure you make purchasing giftcards as easy as possible for anyone who visits your website. Don’t stop there, and offer multiple options for ordering and delivery. Allow them to decide whether they want a gift card sent to recipient, directly, or buying a code and having an electronic gift card sent to their email, which is great for last-minute shoppers.
Send out an email saying you offer these around major holidays, especially those that have to do with pampering (Mother’s Day, leading up to big vacation days like Memorial Day, the winter holidays, etc.).
Scavenger hunts and pop quizzes
Once a loyalty program is set ip, you have freedom to come up with good creative campaigns that can award “punches” or points as prizes. Whether it’s a pop quiz that asks them a trivia question or a question about trending current events, you can award a free stamp or discount to the first 5 customers to respond with the correct answer. Similarly, try this out with scavenger hunts where customers must take a photo in front of another business or community landmark, which reinforces your ties to the community you serve. It’s best to get creative and have fun with these, because it usually translates into more fun for everyone!
Send customers a profile on the technician that will be working with them
Create “profiles” or short bios for all your airbrush or other skilled technicians, so you can email them (or text a link to the page on your website where these profiles should also be live) more information about the professional who will be servicing them. A headshot along with some info on their training, tanning tips or philosophy as well as some of their hobbies outside of work can be an invaluable icebreaker.
In addition to helping clients feel more connected to your staff, it also helps calm any uncertainties they might have about the process. They’ll feel as though they’ve done their due diligence, and also provides them with easy talking points to discuss during the appointment, if they’d like. This is a valuable tool for relationship building.
Quick reminders on email and SMS best practices:
- Set expectations early on and stick to them: Tell them how often you plan on emailing/texting them and what types of emails and texts they should expect, i.e.
exclusive promotions and event invites, appointment reminders and more!
- Keep an eye on the details. Make sure emails are visually engaging and unless you’ve got a blog full of great tips, keep them light on copy. Short and sweet with one, clear call-to-action (CTA) button tend to perform the best for your bottom line. For texts, keep everything short.
- Create and test interesting subject lines to entice subscribers to open the emails.
- Use tracking links (like bitly) so you can keep track of clicks.
- Do not buy lists or add customers without permission.
- Offer an easy way for customers to unsubscribe, so they don’t report your emails as spam.
- Use these tips to build your email subscribers.
- Try these ideas for growing your SMS list.