By Kelly Nemitz, The Hair Specialists, Hudson, Ohio
Let’s chat about having your salon fully booked. When I say booked, I mean 98% booked out four, six, eight, even 10-plus weeks at a time with zero openings. How do we handle this? Do you open your book for more? Do you hire more staff? What’s healthy and financially productive?
Start with figuring out your productivity rate. Productivity rate equals service hours sold divided by hours available for sale.
Example: If you sold 60 hours, which means you booked 60 hours’ worth of appointments for your clients and you have 100 hours available for the month, you have a 60% productivity rate.
To keep things in perspective, a healthy productivity rate is 85%. When you run higher than 85% you slowly become toxic. You mentally and physically get run down. You will have little time for yourself or your team. Lunches are nonexistent. Visiting the restroom is a challenge. And forget about answering your texts and returning telephone calls.
More importantly, your customer service and quality of work will slowly start to deteriorate. It’s not because you don’t care, or you are not trying your best. You simply can’t do it all. The absolute worst thing about having too high a productivity rate is you will not have time to take on new clients.
Hold on, did I just say no time for new clients?
Once upon a time, I thought being completely booked was an amazing thing, which it is. However, it brings new challenges to the business. It is normal for any business to constantly be gaining and losing clientele. As your clientele changes you can’t wait around to have enough room for it to drop to keep it growing. You need to be constantly making new connections.
Think about it. If you tell all your clients you are so busy you are not taking new ones, they won’t refer you. If you tell everyone on social media you are not taking new clients, you will be forgotten about. If you have new clients call and you tell them over the phone you are no longer accepting new clients, they will move on and find the next stylist who is available for them. For the icing on the cake, if you are spending money on marketing in any way and then are not taking on new clients, you are wasting your money.
We are here to grow and continue to make more are we not? If we don’t continue taking new clients while fully booked then we financially cap ourselves, burn ourselves out and end up working harder not smarter.
Here are some tips to help maintain your productivity rate, your clients and your sanity.
• Schedule off time on your schedule specifically for new client consultations only.
• Schedule off time to book services for new clients only.
• Schedule time for your lunch.
• Schedule downtime and catch-up time during the day.
• If you don’t do this already, consider changing your salon to a team-based salon where everyone helps everyone.
• If you are team-based, train new guests it’s OK to see anyone who is available in the salon. Explain your salon motto. It’s a foreign concept to truly be team-based.
• If you work by yourself, hire an assistant and train them to take over more generic services for you to gain more time in your schedule for the cut in’s, resets and consulting.
• You do not need to be removing hair, doing root touch-ups, shampooing, prepping hair, or blow-drying.
• Salon owners, schedule time you are working “in” your salon and time you are working “on” your salon.
• Focus only on your specialty work. You didn’t train to be a hair loss specialist to do regular hair.
• Unless it is an absolute emergency, and we know in hair replacement there are hair emergencies, then you only schedule clients in the allotted time you are supposed to be behind the chair.
• Work on saying, “I don’t have time that day, however so and so does.” Let’s get you booked with them.
So, how do we keep our existing clients happy while taking on new clients if we are already running at a high productivity rate?
• Strategically pre-book your existing clients. (Hint: Not every client you have is a good fit for you and may not necessarily fit your business, and it’s OK if they go to another stylist in your salon. It is also OK if some clients need to be fired and go to another salon).
• Give your clients the time they need from you. Yes, as your client they are more tolerant of things in the salon but do not take them for granted. When they are in your chair, they want your attention. Give it to them.
• Get creative and up your customer service game.
• Trained your customers to know that your salon is team-based and they can go to anyone. That way everyone is available to take them and it works with everyone’s schedule.
• If you work solo, hire an assistant or two and get them trained to be part of your team and explain to clients that you will all be working together to give them the best experience.
My team from the beginning was trained to be team-based. This was the best thing I could have ever done. We literally are all there for one another, always. The blessing is that it allows you and your team to always continue to grow, shift and change to be what you want. Don’t get burned out. Don’t overbook yourself. Don’t forget you always need to be taking on new clients.
There are millions of people who suffer from hair loss. They need our help and together we can create an entire team to help them.