It’s first thing Monday morning and your star stylist pops their head around your door.

“Can I have a word please? Now.” And your heart sinks. You know what’s coming next.

8 marketing steps to stop your stylist walking off with your clients

When a stylist hands in their notice the key is to move quickly to retain your clients with these 8 trust-building salon marketing steps.

1. Contact the departing stylist’s clients – immediately

Your very first move is to get in touch with the stylist’s clients and recommend another member of your salon team.

Far better your clients hear the news from you than from the departing stylist or rumours ‘on the street’.

I think a personal phone call is your best approach. It gives you the opportunity to re-book them with another stylist and shows clients you care about them. This salon telephone tip works well for re-booking clients.

A text is too short and impersonal and may well offend them. It can look like you can’t be bothered.

The important thing is to do it as soon as you can.

I’d then follow up with a personalised letter or email to anyone who you haven’t already re-booked with another stylist. A letter may sound old-fashioned but it’s most likely to get read and make an impact.

2. What to say about the stylist leaving

First, acknowledge the loss in a positive way. This reassures your clients and shows your hair salon in the best light.

Something along the lines of… “Jane is a lovely girl and we wish her well”.

Then keep the salon marketing message simple. Focus on the client and the benefits to them.

Do not talk about why the stylist is leaving or what they might be saying about your business. Instead, emphasise all the fabulous things about your hairdressing salon – awards won, new team members, latest training courses attended, your outstanding customer service or your recent salon refit.

3. A stylist leaving is no excuse for idle salon gossip

Don’t let your team gossip with their clients about the situation – no matter what your former employee is doing or saying. You don’t want to sink to their level.

Give your team the help and tools they need so they can focus on the positive and the future. Remember that the stylist leaving may be their best friend and they may be feeling upset and have split loyalties.

Also make sure they understand what behaviour/attitude is expected from them when they’re with salon clients.

4. A salon script to ensure clients stay

Your reception team is your front line when a stylist leaves. Make sure you brief them fully as soon as possible.

When clients phone to re-book with “Jane” your receptionist needs to have a well-rehearsed response at their finger tips. Help your team by preparing a rough script – it will give them confidence when dealing with potentially grumpy clients who feel a little let down.

5. Tempt salon clients to stay

Accept that your clients are going to be bombarded with enticing discounts from the stylist’s new hair salon.

This is not a time to be tight-fisted.

It is worth offering clients an attractive promotional price and added value for their next visit. It costs you next to nothing to throw in an in-salon hair treatment on top of your discount. Just think how much it will cost to find a new client if this one walks round the corner.

Be persistent. What have you got to lose? If they don’t re-book after a phone call and letter then send another gentle reminder.

It takes time and energy to keep a client when a stylist leaves. But remember – it takes 7 times more money and effort to get a new salon client than it does to retain an existing one.

6. Keep an eye on your salon social media

Check your salon Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts regularly for bitchy or derogatory posts from ex-employees. If any appear deal with them swiftly and offline.

7. Talk more

Increase the frequency of your communications with them. Use Facebook, a follow-up personal email, increase your e-marketing frequency or pop a card through the post.

Nurture them. Rebuild trust. Above all don’t give up on them.

8. Even if they leave your salon…

If clients follow the stylist don’t despair or just forget about them.

They may not receive that ‘wow’ experience at the new salon so you want to remain at the front of their minds.

How? Leave them on your database so they continue to receive your e-newsletters. Include them on your lapsed client mail-outs.

You never know they may soon be back.