Every salon owner knows that client retention and loyalty are key to success, especially since improving retention rates by only 5 percent can increase profits by 25 percent to 95 percent.
That’s why a salon loyalty program can be an excellent addition to your marketing efforts. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about salon loyalty programs — from their benefits, types, and examples to how to create one yourself.
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What is a loyalty program?
A loyalty program is a way for businesses to reward loyal clients. When used effectively, it can be a useful marketing method for encouraging more visits and purchases at your salon.
These programs offer special discounts, rewards, or benefits to returning clients with the goal of increasing client retention. They don’t require a large marketing budget to get up and running and are pretty low maintenance once launched.
Benefits of a salon loyalty program
The ultimate benefit of loyalty programs is repeat clients, since they’ll visit your business time and time again, rather than new clients who may only visit your salon a few times. These programs may also increase referrals and sales.
With a proper strategy, a rewards program can help you grow your business with the following benefits.
Repeat clients are the best kind of clients, and a loyalty program can help show them your appreciation. Making people feel valued and incentivized to return is a formula for A+ client retention.
A well-constructed loyalty program rewards current clients for referring their friends or family to your salon. Even if your program doesn’t reward referrals, your clients might still refer you simply because you have an awesome loyalty program they know others would appreciate, too!
Rewards programs not only help you retain the clients you have, but they can also increase how often those clients book you or increase their frequency of visit (FOV). Requiring a certain number of visits to earn a reward is an excellent way to improve this metric.
Decrease marketing costs
Since loyalty programs help retain clients while also increasing referrals and visits, you won’t have to spend as much on other expensive marketing tactics. You’ll get results without having to pull heavily from your marketing budget — or doing much work.
Types of salon rewards programs
There are different types of rewards programs for every kind of business and clientele, and finding the right one for your salon and client base can make a big difference in client retention. Here are some loyalty programs to consider for your salon.
Best for: Increasing frequency of visit
This type of loyalty program is probably the easiest to execute. You simply hand out punch cards that get stamped or punched for every appointment or purchase. Once the client has completely filled out the card, they receive a reward.
This program is best for simplicity and for encouraging a higher FOV. If you don’t want a system that’s too complicated, this might be the best fit for you.
Best for: Targeting specific services or products
With this system, clients earn points for certain actions or purchases, like booking a service or buying a product. Once a client racks up a predetermined number of points, they can redeem them for a reward or discount.
This program is great for targeting areas of your business where you want to increase sales, like a specific service or product.
Best for: Improving client retention
If you want to incentivize your points-based program even more, you can add tiers to it. For instance, you could have three tiers: silver, gold, and platinum. When a client earns a certain number of points, they move up to the next tier and receive better rewards.
Best for: Gaining new clients
This program specifically increases new business by rewarding current clients for referrals. For example, you could offer current clients a discount on their next service if they refer someone for a certain service, like a cut or color.
Best for: Upselling services
A VIP membership is when clients pay a subscription fee to be part of your loyalty program. This fee gives them access to exclusive benefits and discounts.
You may be thinking a paid loyalty program defeats the purpose of a rewards program, but a McKinsey survey found that members of paid programs are 60 percent more likely to spend more on the business after subscribing, compared to only a 30 percent increase with free loyalty programs.
Best for: Boosting brand awareness
This loyalty program idea aligns your business’s values with your clients’ values. With every purchase, you donate a portion of the revenue to a charity.
You could have one primary partner charity or allow clients to choose a new charity each month or quarter. This method makes clients feel good about giving money to your business and is also more likely to increase customer loyalty.
How to create a salon loyalty program
Now that you know the types of loyalty programs you could choose for your salon, follow these steps to build out your own program.
Poll loyal clients
Finding out what makes your current clients loyal is key to converting more. Ask your loyal clients what they would like to see in a rewards program and what you’re currently doing that makes them feel appreciated. Funnel this feedback into your program to retain more of your clients.
Identify your goals
The next step is figuring out what you want to achieve with your program. You know what your clients want and what kinds of programs exist. To choose a program, combine your clients’ wants with your desired results.
Some example goals could be:
- Improve client retention
- Boost FOV
- Increase referrals
- Sell more product
- Strengthen brand awareness
- Promote a specific service
Certain goals may work better with certain programs. For instance, if you want to boost FOV, you need to assign rewards to a certain number of visits. In this case, a punch card or points-based system would work best.
Do the math
Once you’ve decided on a program type and have begun visualizing what that will look like for your salon, you need to run the numbers. It’s important to make sure your program will produce a return on investment (ROI), which means making money from the program.
Make sure your discounts or rewards are reasonable for your budget and forecast potential earnings the program will bring in. Calculate how much money you’ll have to spend to get the program up and running and any initial promotional costs.
It’s OK to start small with your program. You want to start with something that’s manageable, and you can always expand the program later. Plus, you’ll know the best way to expand once you’ve had some time to gather insights on how the program is performing.
Promote the program
Once you have the program, it’s time to promote it! Spread the news with marketing campaigns and word of mouth. Here are a few promotional ideas:
- Announce on social media
- Hand out a physical deliverable (punch card, flyer, QR code printout)
- Send an email to client contacts
- Create a web page for the program
- Print posters to display in your salon
Clients can’t sign up for your program unless they know about it. Make it a point to let the people in your chair know when they come in or at the time of booking.
You should regularly check in on the program’s performance to make sure it’s performing well. Are you making progress toward your goal?
Look at key metrics like:
- Number of referrals
- Total client count over time
- Average frequency of visit
- Average visit spend
- Product sales
Analyze your findings to see if your loyalty program has increased these metrics or helped you reach a specific goal. Adjust as needed based on your findings and any feedback you’ve received from clients.
Examples of loyalty programs for salons
Need some more salon loyalty program ideas? Here are some examples to model your own after.
#1. Birthday gifts
Who doesn’t want to feel special on their birthday? Gifting extra rewards to clients on their birthday is an easy way to show them your appreciation.
This reward can be bonus points, free sample products, or a discount on a specific service — 30 percent off a fresh cut or a free blowout is a fantastic way to celebrate a birthday!
#2. Social media engagement points
If you use a points-based system, an easy way to reward points is through social media engagement. Try rewarding actions like:
- Posting before and after pictures and tagging you on social media
- Following your social media accounts
- Sharing your posts on their story
- Tagging friends in the comments of your posts
- Checking in on Facebook during an appointment
- Using your salon hashtag
It’s a win-win: Your client gets points for simple social media interactions, and you get a marketing boost.
#3. Membership tiers
Tiered systems are ideal for making clients feel like they’re part of an exclusive club, but only if they’re set up with attainable levels and rewards worth earning. Check out this example tier structure:
- Silver level: Clients need to spend $100/year to qualify (or reach X points)
- Rewards: Birthday gift + exclusive discounts
- Gold level: Clients need to spend $500/year to qualify (or reach X points)
- Rewards: Silver rewards + deluxe samples with each appointment
- Platinum level: Clients need to spend $1,000/year to qualify (or reach X points)
- Rewards: Silver and Gold rewards + priority booking + 5 percent discount on every purchase
You can add more levels as you see fit, customize rewards for your salon’s offerings, and adjust spending qualifications to ensure you meet your ROI goals for the program.
#4. Unique member services
The more value you can provide with your rewards, the better. Bonus points can help you get an edge over your competitors. Here are a few ideas for unique rewards:
- House calls
- Deluxe samples
- Discounted add-on services (example: $10 brow wax with haircut)
Offering unique services with your salon membership (especially if it’s paid) is a fabulous way to take your program to the next level.
#5. Gift cards for referrals
A good loyalty program rewards your clients for referrals. An even better loyalty program rewards both the original client and the new client.
A great way to do this is to offer a gift card to your client if they refer you, as well as a gift card for the referral. This will effectively incentivize both parties and help you grow your clientele.
#6. No-purchase-required points
An easy way to turn off clients from signing up for your program is to make it feel like a money grab. Offering points for no-purchase-required actions helps avoid that scenario. A few ideas for nonmonetary actions to reward include:
- Signing up for the program
- Using online booking
- Pre-booking the next appointment
- Referring people to the salon
- Attending special events
- Engaging on social media
These points options let your clients support you without feeling pressured to spend money.
#7. Slow season rewards
Need to boost revenue during slow seasons? Offer extra rewards or discounts during that time!
Running a salon promotion like 15 percent off a service when clients book in January could increase bookings and even give a little nudge to the people who’ve been on the fence about making an appointment.
#8. Product sales
If you want to increase product sales, you can structure your loyalty program in a way that drives sales in that area. Here are a few ideas for moving product with your program:
- Offer an automatic discount for paid members
- Reward extra points on product purchases
- Hand out deluxe samples
These methods can introduce clients to new products or encourage repeat purchases. In any case, you’ll get them closer to making a purchase with this strategy.
#9. Different ways to redeem points
So your clients are earning points, but what can they redeem them for? Here are some ideas for how to translate points into rewards:
- Discounts on services
- Point = dollar amount to be used for services or product
- Points = donation amount to charity
- Certain number of points = free product
Figuring out what points will be redeemed for is where that initial client feedback comes in handy. Make sure the rewards are worthwhile for your unique client base.
#10. Service subscriptions
If you like the idea of offering a paid salon membership, here are a few ways you can execute it:
- 1 haircut for $X/month
- 3 haircuts for the family for $X/month
- 2 blowouts/styling services for $X/month
Pick services that are already popular at your salon and could be used often so that the subscription offers a lot of value to your client. Remember, you’re not giving anything away for free — it’s basically just a wholesale discount for those who frequently use your services.
#11. Higher-priced service trials
Another salon membership idea is to incorporate higher-priced services. You’re essentially upselling services to clients who already enjoy your salon but may not have tried some of your top-tier services.
Offering a trial or discount on these services to members is a low-stakes way for your clients to see if they like the service, and hopefully it will turn into a recurring purchase.
When done right, salon loyalty programs can help you drive bookings and retain clients. Try these ideas for building out your rewards program and watch your business grow. If you need more help, StyleSeat’s advertising services can also attract loyal clients to your salon.