Does your receptionist make money for your salon business?
They should do.
And if they don’t, then keep reading. In this post I show you how to transform your front-of-house from a cost centre to a profit centre.
Is your salon receptionist making your till ring?
It often surprises me that so many salon owners think of receptionists as a luxury. Something they’d like to afford but can’t seem to justify.
Your receptionist is a fee-earner just like the rest of your team. They just earn money for you in less obvious and more subtle ways.
The trick is to:
- Recruit the right person.
- Understand where reception can generate revenue for your business.
- Put effective systems and checklists in place to maximise this.
- Train your salon receptionists.
- Target and measure their business performance.
- Appraise and review their results in the same way as other team members.
(In this post I talk about a salon receptionist, but all these ideas apply to aesthetic clinics, barbers and spas too.)
Recruit the right receptionist
Too many wannabe receptionists think of their role as the traditional “meet and greet”. If you employ someone with this attitude and view of front-of house it’s unlikely they will pay their way.
Be focused right from the start on getting the right type of person. You get what you ask (advertise) for, so ensure it’s obvious in your recruitment advert that selling your salon’s services and products is pivotal to their role.
In your advert and throughout the recruitment process:
- Tell candidates exactly what the role involves to remove any preconceptions they have.
- Sell your salon as a business offering a career path.
- Recruit for attitude and train for skill.
How to make your salon reception self-funding
Let’s move onto the next marketing steps on the list:
- Understand the areas where reception can generate revenue for your business.
- Put effective simple systems and checklists in place to maximise this.
- Train your receptionists.
Here are 4 areas where your front desk can earn its keep, plus systems to implement to ensure it happens:
1. Is your receptionist giving your profit away?
Implement this tip and it could save you thousands.
Take a quick look at your appointment book. Count how many 15 minute gaps between hair or beauty appointments you have on any day. If you’ve just four 15 minute gaps over the day that’s one hour (60 minutes) of lost salon revenue that day.
That’s a significant amount of revenue your business is missing out on – let’s do the maths.
- 1 lost hour per day x 6 days a week = 6 lost salon hours per week
- 6 hours a week x 52 weeks = 312 hours a year (equivalent to 39 working days)
Now let’s calculate how much money your salon is losing in these 39 days…
In that hour you could do an extra hair or beauty treatment for at say £40. So…
- £40 x 1 hour per day = £40 extra salon turnover per day
- £40 x 6 days a week = £240 extra salon turnover per week
- £240 x 52 weeks = £12,480 extra salon turnover
£12,480 lost salon turnover per year – all for some 15 minute gaps.
Now you need to train your salon receptionist to look out for and avoid these costly 15 minute gaps:
- Don’t let the client dictate exact appointment times (unless it’s absolutely essential to getting the booking). If a client asks for 11.00am they will usually accept 10.45am, if this is what reception offer.
- Have fixed times for treatments/services which the team must adhere to (unless there is a very good reason). Empower your receptionist to insist on these with the team and to look out for your team ‘building’ breathing spaces in for themselves on busy salon days.
Whilst it may be sensible to allow a 15 minute catch up at some point in the day, I suggest you keep an eye on this. A break for a quick smoke, or just to give themselves an easier day, is costing you, the business owner, a hefty chunk of profit each year.
If your receptionist only manages to reduce those irksome 15 minute gaps by 50% each month they will still have freed up valuable appointment time you can fill with paying clients.
Extra profit for no extra cost.
2. A receptionist’s job is to sell your salon services
There are plenty of people out there who dislike selling. That’s fine. Just don’t employ them as a receptionist.
A receptionist’s role involves selling. So recruit someone who loves selling.
Once they are employed put systems, training and targets in place to ensure they are your frontline salesperson.
There are 3 selling scenarios where your salon receptionist can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line:
2.1. Hook new clients
2.2. Nail that rebooking
2.3. Skyrocket retail sales
2.1. Hook new salon clients with your front-of-house skills
You’ve heard it a thousand times.
But it’s true.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Whether on the phone or in salon your receptionist heads up your new sales marketing. Get it wrong here and you probably lose the sale.
Think you can’t justify the expense of a dedicated salon receptionist?
What impression is it creating with team members bobbing back and forth from their client to answer the phone? And what message does it give to their client? You are paying us, but you are not very important to us.
Ask yourself can you afford not to employ a receptionist?
Use my online new client calculator to work out how much money you lose when a potential new hair or beauty client goes to the competition because your front desk didn’t impress them.
If you own or manage a salon group or have multiple locations I’ve seen a dedicated call-centre work well to ease the burden on busy receptionists and allow them to sell the salon and its services.
2.2. Nail that rebooking as they leave your salon
If your team are frantic, in a dash and running late they won’t be bothered to ask for that crucial rebooking.
But a dedicated receptionist can.
It’s their job.
Your lapsed client rate will fall noticeably, and your turnover will increase significantly.
2.3. Give targets to receptionists to skyrocket retail sales
What percentage of your clients buys a retail product during their visit?
50% or more?
Or is it more like 10% for your hair and beauty business?
Selling retail to 50% of your clients is not impossible. I know many salons and aesthetic clinics who achieve this. Just think what a lift it would have on your business profits to achieve retail sales of this level.
The right sales-orientated receptionist can achieve this for you. Your team start the recommendation process with a great client consultation, but frequently run out of time to close the sale at the end of the appointment. Train your front-of-house team to recommend retail and equip them with the product knowledge to seal the sale.
It doesn’t stop at retail products. Educate your receptionist to up-sell:
- Hair & beauty gift cards.
- Promotional offers.
- Aesthetic and beauty treatment courses.
A well-trained, savvy receptionist will up-sell your business, improve retail profits and ensure clients feel appreciated and taken care of.
3. Task reception with attracting new salon clients
Your receptionist is ideally placed to ensure clients recommend your salon. Referrals lead to more new clients, and more money in your till.
3.1. Encourage clients to give online reviews
Online reviews are marketing dynamite and a successful salon cannot afford to ignore them.
Yet clients frequently avoid online reviews and referrals as they are unsure of the technology. Yet a quick request from your receptionist for a review, together with a simple explanation of where to go and how to post a review will do the trick. Your receptionist is perfectly placed to do this. Interested in getting more online reviews for your salon? You’ll love this blog.
Talking of online reviews, I like and use SalonSpy. If you haven’t discovered it yet have a look, as it automatically prompts your clients with a text after their appointment asking for a review. If you use i-Salon or Salon Genius software it gets even better as it integrates with these seamlessly and for free.
3.2. Recommend every time
Is persuading your team to use Recommend a Friend cards an uphill battle?
A skilled receptionist will ensure clients understand the benefits and leave clutching a card.
3.3. Reward your salon receptionist for spreading the word
I often come across receptionists who believe “it isn’t my job to recommend” and leave referrals to the team. To me this is missing out on a golden salon marketing opportunity.
I believe in rewarding your receptionists for recommendations and reviews. Set up a bonus scheme with targets especially for them. They are after all in the unique position of chatting to every client who walks through your salon or spa door.
4. A receptionist reduces a leaky sales bucket
We’ve seen how you can ensure your front desk can sell your services and retail, but don’t overlook how a receptionist can plug that leaking bucket too.
4.1. Reduce no-shows
Amongst London based salons, the average number of no-shows each month is 21. With an average treatment value of £38.25 each salon loses 252 appointments every year which costs their business £9,639 pa.
*National Hairdressers’ Federation blog Phorest Software research
What could you do with an extra £9,639 this year?
It’s so easy to put a marketing system in place so your reception takes care of confirmatory text messages and phone calls reducing costly no-shows. And when there is a no-show you know a follow up call will be made immediately by your front desk.
4.2. Fill those empty salon gaps
- See a quiet period coming up? Put your receptionist to work to drum up business with existing clients. Set text, social and email marketing systems in place so reception can swing into action.
- Last minute gaps and cancellations cost you dearly. To keep the cash rolling in operate a manual stand-by system for last minute bookings managed by your front desk. Even partly automated late booking systems (using your salon software or specialist provider gappt) benefit from being manned by an experienced front-of-house.
4.3. Nip complaints in the bud
Ever been too busy to deal with a complaining client properly? Most of us have been there even if we’re too embarrassed to admit it.
Step forward your salon receptionist.
As the person most likely to catch for complaining clients, your receptionist’s manner and attitude often decide whether your client returns.
Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.
– Kate Zabriskie
Investing in customer service training, complaint handling and role play for your front desk team will improve client churn, loyalty and your turnover.
Use these salon business ideas as the basis for a front-of-house training session:
- Give receptionists confidence when handling disgruntled clients with these steps.
- Show them how body language is a powerful tool when dealing with unhappy clients.
- Skin tests can be a source of conflict. Here’s how to sell the benefits to the client.
4.4. Save money, protect your business and improve profits
A well-run reception is not just about making money for your hair or beauty business, it can save you a mint too.
- Effective stock-control (whether automated or not) is one way your receptionist can ease your cash flow and build strong relationships with your suppliers. In this blog I look at why it is so important to work with your suppliers to maximise the help and support you get from them.
- Cyber-security, or rather lack of it, can bring your business to its knees in hours and cost you a fortune in lost clients, reputation and sales. Does your receptionist deal with the email account or uses your salon management software? Then your business is vulnerable to cyber fraud and attack. This article covers the basics you need to know in plain English (not geek-speak).
Measure and monitor your salon reception
The last of the steps you need are:
- Measure your receptionist’s performance.
- Review their performance in the same way as other team members.
Last week I was talking to a GP client of mine who runs a successful aesthetic clinic. We were reviewing team performance and looking back over his team 1:1 meeting notes. I noticed there were none for his 3 receptionists.
He explained he only measured and reviewed his aesthetic team’s performance and it hadn’t occurred to him to include his front desk team.
He isn’t alone. Many business owners seem to have a blind spot when it comes to their receptionists’ performance.
Yes, there are more grey areas and precise measurement can be more tricky than a straightforward, “how many appointments/how much income taken” calculation. Yet many areas can be tracked on your salon software such as retail sales by reception, no-shows, rebooking rates, new client bookings taken by named individuals etc.
Interested in learning more about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and measuring your business performance? This blog post takes you through the main hair and beauty areas to assess monthly to keep your business on track.
I hope this post has highlighted how and where your salon reception team can make a significant impact on your business profitability and success. If you’ve found the ideas and tips useful why not join our free e-newsletter and have my latest blogs delivered straight to your inbox every fortnight?