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How to Create a Salon Referral Program

Salon referral program
As a salon owner, you’ve undoubtedly got a lot of different priorities competing for your time every day. And while the logistics of actually running your business—paying your bills, managing your staff, setting schedules, stocking retail, etc.—is naturally what often gets the most of your attention, it’s also important that you dedicate enough of your energy to other factors that impact the success of your business.

One such factor? Your salon’s marketing efforts.

We’ll be the first to tell you how important it is to build a solid marketing strategy for your salon that takes advantage of your website, social media, and other channels to bring in business. But we also understand that there’s only so much time in the day, and sometimes it’s nice to have something working in the background even when you aren’t actively focused on it. That’s why we recommend that all salons create a referral program that encourages your existing client base to feed you new business.

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Below, we take a look at what salon referral programs are, why they’re important, and how you can get started creating your own. 

What is a salon referral program?

A salon referral program is exactly what it sounds like: A program that rewards your existing client base whenever they refer new business to your salon. An easy way to think about it is as word-of-mouth marketing, wherein your customers are essentially acting as your brand ambassadors or sales team.

While the specifics of the referral program are completely up to you, most such programs reward the referrer with a discount off of a future service, treatment, or product. So in addition to driving new business your way, these programs also incentivize your existing clients to return more frequently.

Why You Need a Referral Program

Simply put, all salons should have a referral program in place for the simple fact that they are effective!

When a client leaves your salon looking happy, beautiful, and satisfied, she is essentially a walking billboard for your salon. And because she’s likely friends with other people who fit your description of an ideal client, she probably knows plenty of potential clients would also love your services. Why not give her a little incentive to send those people your way?

As a salon, your business is dependent on guests. Without guests, you won’t exist. A referral program keeps your appointment book filled with new guests (in the form of referrals) and recurring guests who are given an incentive to stay loyal.

It’s a win-win!

How to Create a Successful Salon Referral Program

Creating your first salon referral program honestly couldn’t be easier. Below are a few simple steps you can follow to get your program off the ground.

1. Delight your clients.

The first step in creating your referral program is to ensure that you’re delighting your clients each and every time they come in for an appointment. By making them look and feel beautiful, you can rest assured that they will sing your praises if given the opportunity.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that you start each appointment with a hair consultation so that you know exactly what goals your client is working toward. If she has unreasonable goals, or if you don’t know what her goals are, then it’s impossible to deliver upon them. A consultation gives you the opportunity to ask important questions while also educating her on the process and setting expectations.

2. Provide an incentive.

The next step is to actually provide an incentive for your client to make the referral. What this incentive looks like is completely up to you, but some ideas include:

  • A complementary haircut
  • A complimentary finishing style (such as a root smudge or gloss)
  • A discount off of a future service (10%-20% are common)
  • A gift bag full of complementary product

Whatever you settle on, my suggestion is that for every new client a guest sends you, they should receive something as a thank you. 

That being said, think small and don’t fall into the trap of giving away too much of your time and money. After all, you’re still a business! It doesn’t take much to give your clients an incentive to refer others, while also making them feel appreciated. 

3. Promote your referral program.

Finally, once everything is in place, you’ve got to actually promote your referral program if you want it to take off. The promotion has to be through YOU. After all, it’s your guest who has given you their loyalty, and you are thanking them for their business and asking them for a referral. It can’t come from anyone else. It has to be you.

So start by simply asking your guests if they would refer you to any of their friends. Explain the program and what the incentive is, and see how things go. Consider creating business cards that your guests can take and give to their friends. If you have a social media following, you can also promote there. The sky really is the limit!

Want to learn more great tips that can help you propel your business to the next level? Sign up for our Independent Business class on June 7, where SALT's Salon Business Coaches Ashley and Sarah will share all of their secrets! Download our Salon Policies Tipsheet below for some free knowledge bombs today.

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