New guests are a key component of every salon’s growth and success. As part of our In the Trenches webinar series, we sat down with Mary Cromeans of A Robert Cromeans Salon to discuss customer acquisition, branding, Covid-19 responses, and her advice from 25 years in the industry.

Together with Robert, her husband, Mary owns three salons: two in San Diego and one in Oklahoma City. She’s passionate about everything having to do with salons, and has a special interest in coloring techniques, as manifested by her exquisite pink hair.

After 25 years of working in salons, Mary has learned the importance of keeping up with the times and staying open to the technological developments that help businesses flourish in the hair industry. For Mary, tools and tactics that are new and different wind up making her salons better. The challenge is discovering what’s new and different, then putting those methods into practice.

→Watch Interview w/ Popular Salon Owner & Stylist Mary Cromeans ↓↓

Below are thirteen of the methods Mary’s salons use to acquire and keep new customers:

Guest Acquisition

In the conversation with Mary, Weave’s own Adam Smith asks her to list some of the ways A Robert Cromeans Salon brings in new guests. Mary says the salons most frequently employ word-of-mouth advertising, online reviews, and social media to find new customers. Each of these approaches requires some finesse and strategy to really attract new clients.

1.Word-of-mouth advertising

While salons could ask any of their guests for referrals, Mary thinks it’s most effective to approach those guests whose hair she loves doing. As a stylist, she hopes to discover more clients that have hair and attitude like her own favorites. Getting these types of new customers makes business more fun for both clients and employees.

When she has conversations about referrals, Mary tells her guests that she specifically wants to find customers like them. She asks them to send in friends and family that would benefit from the salon in the same way they already have. This demonstration of trust and affection has been bringing Mary new clients for the past 25 years.

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Online reviews

Although Mary’s salon has been shut down twice due to Covid-19 regulations, they’ve kept a steady stream of customers coming through their front doors. She attributes a significant part of this consistently to Yelp reviews. A Robert Cromeans Salon averages between 4.7 and 4.9 stars out of 5 on Yelp, but Mary believes the salon’s success with online reviews derives from their quality, not the star rating.

Her salon doesn’t just request reviews from guests, but asks them to share what made them decide to be loyal customers. By regularly asking guests to post their heartfelt opinions of the salon, Mary’s business keeps their online reviews current and informative. When guests describe the details of their experience at A Robert Cromeans Salon, they’re essentially giving away a smile to prospective customers.

2.Social media

Earlier in the interview, Mary mentions that she tries to get referrals from her favorite clients. When she posts on social media, she follows a similar format. For instance, on Instagram, Mary likes to share photographs of the type of hair she loves. This approach allows Mary’s passion to inform her social media presence and spread to potential customers.

Likewise, if she encounters a person whose hair interests her, Mary shoots a quick message and asks the person to contact the salon. This proactive, organic way of interacting with social media users builds the salon’s reputation while also letting Mary control the clientele that frequent her salon. She also uses hashtags to localize her posts and focus on connecting with people in San Diego and Oklahoma City.

3.Brand Image

A salon’s brand image involves a consumer’s perception of your brand, regardless of whether or not they plan to visit your business. Brand image includes your personality, voice, and positioning on the market. Mary Cromeans tries to promote and perfect her salon’s brand image on social media accounts and the salon’s website.

Before and after photos

Mary is careful to share both before and after photos when she’s posting on social media sites like Instagram. Because she’s enthusiastic about hair coloring techniques, Mary mostly builds a brand image revolving around colors on her account. She finds it’s important to show her clients’ faces in these pictures, even if they’re wearing a mask, since the work she and her stylists do inspires happiness in their eyes.

4.Website

While Mary’s social media accounts display some of her specialties, the website for her salon takes a broader approach. The design is meant to show that they have something to offer almost anyone in need of a new hair stylist, regardless of budget. The site portrays a brand image with five general areas of emphasis: hair type, texture, and length, as well as gender and ethnicity. Working in tandem with social media, the website supports Mary’s salon’s attempt to reach a wide audience.

Covid-19 Response

Small- and medium-sized businesses have dealt with the problem of broken appointments, along with temporary closures, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to A Robert Cromeans Salon’s high reputation, they’ve avoided some of these difficulties. However, there are a number of tools they’re still utilizing to make sure their employees and customers are safe, including their newest guests.

5.Cancellation policy

A Robert Cromeans Salon has always used a 24-hour cancellation policy, but been lenient with their enforcement. The policy states that day-of cancellations must pay 50% of their service fees and no-shows are required to pay 100%. Due to the constraints imposed by Covid-19 like the absence of double bookings, their salons are being more strict with this policy.

This slight adjustment is designed to only place guests who are serious about their appointments on the schedule. Mary emphasizes that new clients should take their first styling seriously because the stylists themselves want to be working and practicing their trade.

6.Emailing

Mary says her salon is sure to email new guests before their appointments with a detailed explanation of Covid-19 protocol. Email is perhaps the best format for sharing detailed information because it allows for easy consumption of long-form communication.

Unlike calls and some texts, emails can include pre-written templates, unique images, and CTA (Call to Action) buttons. During the pandemic, Mary’s salon has started asking customers to complete wellness forms prior to showing up for their first appointment.

7.Electronic forms

Electronic forms allow salons to gather and store information digitally, saving stylists and front office staff from having to scan forms and save mountains of files. A Robert Cromeans Salon now uses a wellness form it downloaded from Weave to screen customers before they ever step into their salons. The form has five short questions about the guest’s health, contact with sick family and friends, and recent travel.

Mary also has customers sign a liability waiver, keeping the salon free from unwanted litigation that could possibly arise from sick guests. Handling these forms electronically is quite easy when a salon’s communication system is unified.

8.Consolidated communication

Thanks to Weave, Mary and the rest of the stylists in her salon don’t have to bounce between devices or interfaces while communicating with customers. A combination of hardware and software tools, including VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones, business texting, and our Email Marketing tool, lets Mary’s salon take care of all their Covid-19 communication from one place.

9.Curbside waiting rooms

A final response to Covid-19 by Mary’s salon is the implementation of curbside waiting rooms. Using text messaging, Mary requests that new guests check in from the parking lot once they arrive at the salon. When a stylist is ready to receive them, the customers go straight back for their appointments, avoiding the lobby area altogether and promoting social distancing.

Advice for hairstylists and salon owners

At the close of their conversation, Adam asks Mary for any big picture advice she might have for stylists and owners looking to build their salon’s reputation, add customers, and become more profitable. Mary imparts three bits of wisdom for entrepreneurs in the salon industry.

11.Embrace opportunities

Mary has found success over the last 25 years by saying yes to opportunities. These opportunities tend to build on each other, and fear proves to be an obstacle for stylists looking to progress in their careers. In fact, if opportunities don’t present themselves, Mary encourages ambitious stylists to find their own opportunities.

12.Find the right people

Mary also believes that it’s best to search out people to learn from and work with. This piece of advice echoes her thoughts on discovering new guests. Mentors and peers with experience and common values not only push you to succeed as a stylist, they let you enjoy the ride.

13.Never give up

Although the conditions created by Covid-19 have made running a salon a little trickier, Mary Cromeans says the beauty industry is alive and thriving. More than ever, stylists and salon owners should be looking for new and different ways to get through, over, and around the problems in front of them. This attitude is pushing Mary’s three salons to greater levels of growth in the new normal.