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Are your clients forsaking their regular salon visit for a swanky restaurant meal?

25 Feb 2016 by Lisa Conway

One thing we can rely on is change … and the hair and beauty industry is no exception. A big change over the last few years has been the decline of the regular salon visit. In years gone by, the “six-week regular” was a by-product of the fashion for neat, precise grooming. Today’s fashions are different; fewer women see the need for frequent salon visits. But, I ask you, is the demise of the lock-it-in six-week regular or a change in fashion your biggest challenge? I think not.

Today, I believe your burliest competitor isn’t another salon: its cafés and restaurants. Yes, people are choosing to spend their weekly discretionary funds eating out.

People are busy like never before and part of the reason they choose to part with their hard-earned dollars for a meal out, is that they’re time-poor.

For many people, having a meal at the right restaurant is a treat – a wonderful, personal experience. It not only saves time, it’s like a spirit-lifting tonic.

What if you could elevate your salon experience to that same level? The right clients would see value in the salon visit and would be happy to pay for the privilege.

So, where are we going wrong and what can we do? I believe, as an industry, we’ve somehow accepted that people tell us when they need us. It seems that getting the client back is a huge challenge. What if we reinvented our thinking around the client desiring more visits?

Salons that just style have been popping up all over the place. Blow-dry bars are collecting clients who want to be pampered but can’t make time for a full salon colour, cut and style session.

The real kicker? They’re getting their express hair service then heading straight out to dinner to show it off.

Being time poor is a huge challenge for people. Your salon is competing against an array of other opportunities for them to spoil themselves a little. In a traditional salon setting, the stylist often runs behind schedule and the standard blow-wave service can stretch out to an hour or more. That’s not inviting to any time poor person. If your customers could have the same service in a lot less time, you’d have a good chance of repeating it over and over again.

And, if that single salon do lasts them all week, they feel more far more confident, not to mention indulged, and they leave with a spring in their step and a great reason to come back for more. It’s a definite win.


Eating out means that people are nurtured with food and get to share time with family and friends. You don’t get much more loved-up than that. So, how do you compete? If your salon offers customers nothing more than a haircut, then you’re not even in the game. You need to offer a specialised and exclusive treat that’s absolutely indulgent.

Your clients need to leave your salon feeling beautiful, energised and (at least) a little more valued than when they arrived. Trust me, your clients need you, so sell yourself as a tonic, a pick me up, a feel-good space and the absolute value that you are.

Salons can be full of fantastic energy; they can buzz with vibrancy just like the funkiest café in town. Make it a pleasure for your customers to be among a group of happy, stylish and fashion-loving people.

If you, the salon owner, can sit in the chair and look at it from your clients’ point of view and say, “Yes, we add a lot of value to every client’s day” – then your business has a sound value proposition to market.

Solving each customer’s hair problems needs to be right up there to make it worth the money to pamper themselves. Instead of relationship advice and personal chit chat, focus on sharing styling tips, explaining the part moisture plays, what the hair game changers are. Give them something personal they can’t get from a celebrity chef or a barista. Elevate your service to high-value, expert and indulging.

Sharing helpful tips makes you the topic of conversation. So, when your clients do head off to meet their friends for dinner in the local cafés and restaurants, it’s you and your salon they’re talking about.

Make sure you have a strong refer-a-friend program, to make it easy for your loyal clients to share the love, and for you to reap the rewards.

How often do you suggest a new product or style to your clients? Simply saying, “let me look after your hair” is appealing. Why not suggest they spoil themselves by coming in to see you more often than they do? Paint that picture of the fabulous value you offer and how beautiful they’ll feel after each visit.

client and hairdresser

Most salons have plenty of clients on their databases they just need to promote what a great salon experience does for one’s self esteem and get them in again in three weeks, just to be spoilt.

If a client saw you every three weeks and had a treatment and a blow-wave in between their normal visits, how incredibly would that change the way they not only feel about themselves, but the way they talk about you? And, if several (or more) clients saw you every three weeks, it would change the way your accountant talks about you, too!

Think of it like this: We can all cook at home, yes? But we eat out because they do it better, faster and it’s a treat. We can do our hair at home, yes? But we have it done in a salon because they do it better, faster and it’s a treat.

Your challenge for tomorrow is to promote yourself and your salon as a spirit-lifting, soul-nurturing treat, not simply a time-consuming necessity.

Start thinking of yourself as the awesome tonic that you are.

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