These are worrying times for all businesses and salons are feeling it as bad, if not worse, than anyone else. With salons being forced to close their doors for a good few weeks yet, there is zero income coming in. Time to start thinking creatively.
Generate cash before lockdown is lifted
You can generate cash on every booking made, not just appointments you’ve completed, by using online deposits. Businesses that take deposits or require prepayment for their services when they reopen are going to be in a much better position to survive the post-COVID restrictions than the businesses that aren’t.
Leverage that client relationship
Hairdressers have a special relationship with their clients and I believe that this can be capitalised on. That sounds a bit mercenary, I know, but I don;t mean it to. What I mean is that your clients will want to help you, and you should give them that opportunity. If clients realise that paying a deposit a couple of weeks or even a month in advance will help ensure your business survival, I feel sure that thy will happily do so.
Have you seen the state of some people’s hair?
Demand for your services will be through the roof once lockdown is over, so don’t worry about people paying in advance. If you can give them the competitive edge by offering priority booking for those paying a deposit or better, full payment, then you’ll be filling up those columns in no time. The first thing most people will be doing is booking appointments for their much needed services, and they’ll be happy to pay a deposit to secure their booking.
Bearing in mind that there are certainly going to be social distancing restrictions in place in your salon after lockdown, not having to wait around to pay after the appointment will definitely be a good idea. This would potentially allow you to take full payment in advance. And nobody wants to handle cash that’s been handed around goodness knows how many people, anyway.
Navigating client roadblocks
During my research for this article, two concerns kept popping up, and both are very valid: The first is “What if the salon goes bust? What will happen to the money I paid you?” This is a big concern, and remember that your clients might not exactly be rolling in the green at the moment either so will be naturally cautious. You need to get out in front of this and assure the clients that (a) your business is financially stable and that the support that the government has given you has ensured that you’ll be able to weather the storm. And of course, as payment is being made online by credit card, the payment is completely protected under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
The other concern is “How can we book an appointment if we don’t know when lockdown will be eased?” It’s true that we don’t know exactly when lockdown restrictions applicable to salons will be lifted but we can make a decent guess. My feeling is that it’ll be either 18th or 25th May or maybe 1st June. If you’re out by a week then you just need to move the calendar up or down a week. And obviously assure your clients that if the appointment isn’t able to take place for X months, then a full refund will be given.
Sweeten the deal
If there’s still resistance, you can always use the tried and tested discount or something for nothing routes. Maybe offer a 20% discount if payment in full is made in advance or give a free product up to a certain value with every online booking.
I appreciate that this goes against my normal recommendation of having faith in the value of your service and therefore do not offer discounts. But we are in a New Normal right now and all bets are off. This is about survival, not profit. And to survive, you might just need cash now rather than profit later.
Great plan. How do we do it?
For this to work you need two things: an online booking system and online payment capabilities. There are loads of online booking systems available but the salon specific one we like is www.gettimely.com which is available from £15 per month, per user. You can load up your appointment types, stylists, time estimates etc, and most importantly, cost. And obviously, you want to enable client log-in so that they can book their appointment without you needing to get involved.
Once you have this in place, you can then link it to your existing payment gateway or, if you don’t have one, set up a new online system. Again, there are loads of options on the market, but we like Stripe as a pretty solid all-rounder.
Communicating to your clients
Once you’ve got everything in place, you need to get the word out. You should have email addresses or mobile numbers for all of your clients, so a well worded message can let clients know when your business will reopen and include your online booking link so clients can book ahead for when you’re back up and running.
A well-timed social media campaign is also extremely important. Now, more than ever, people are using Instagram and Facebook to get their information. A strong social media presence is essential for any forward thinking salon. Encourage your clients to share your pages as well so that as many people can see what your plans are.
completed, by using online deposits. Businesses that take deposits or require prepayment for their services when they reopen are going to be in a much better position to survive the post-COVID restrictions than the businesses that aren’t.
Worried that clients won’t book and pay in advance? Demand for your services will be through the roof once lockdown is over! The first thing most people will be doing is booking appointments for their much needed services, and they’ll be happy to pay a deposit to secure their booking. In fact, clients love the experience, because at the end of their appointment they can leave without having to wait around to pay – it’s like Uber for your salon!
With high demand and smart communication of policies to reassure clients that their deposits can be shifted to a new booking and even refunded if the appointment can’t go ahead within X months, your calendar and your bank account will be full.