The Salon’s Guide to Loyalty Programs: Ideas, Tips & Examples
September 16, 2019
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Any salon owner who means business should already have some form of customer retention plan in place – whether it's paper punch cards, invitations to exclusive beauty workshops and fashion tutorials, or simply providing excellent customer service!
With the impact that COVID-19 has had on hair salons, nail salons, beauty parlours, massage spas and other "hands-on" businesses, driving customer retention and building loyalty has never been more important!
As lockdown restrictions start to ease across the globe and businesses start to reopen, contactless loyalty solutions are increasingly in demand for salons, cafes, restaurants and many other types of businesses.
If there has ever been a time to go digital, it's now!
First, let’s take a look at your options for creating a salon loyalty program.
Loyalty Program Ideas for Salons
A loyalty app for your salon
Operating your loyalty program with a loyalty app is arguably the most convenient, simple and safe way to set up an effective digital loyalty program.
With Stamp Me, once you’ve registered your business on the app, customers simply download it, create an account and immediately can start earning stamps for each visit and/or purchase.
Another way to go about setting up a digital loyalty program for a salon would be to integrate it into your POS system.
This option requires a little more investment, as someone will need to come to your salon and install software, and make various adjustments to get the loyalty program set up. Customers would enter their names, phone numbers or membership ID’s into a tablet or other device during payment for their appointment.
Alternatively, the staff member can enter the customer’s details at the time of the transaction. Once the transaction is made, the customer’s points are accrued and their rewards are redeemed right there and then.
As with a loyalty app, the salon owner receives valuable data from every transaction: the time and date of the sale, how much the customer spent, what services they booked, and more… but more on that shortly!
Printed paper punch cards
Back in the day, paper punch cards were your only salon loyalty program option. You design a punch card, get a few hundred printed and leave them on the counter near your haircare products or in the beauty parlour waiting room. Customers pick one up, get a new square stamped every time they visit, and for example, after 9 appointments they get 1 free.
For decades, nearly every hair or nail salon, beauty parlour and day spa that adopted this wonderfully simple punch card system enjoyed a boost in sales.
However, in this new digital era of smartphones and a global pandemic, paper punch cards are no longer a convenient of safe loyalty program practice. Customers are now demanding contactless loyalty solutions.
There’s also the environmental factor – consumers are careful to give their business to companies that practise good Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Simply put, paper punch cards are officially old school. In an era where even wallets are starting to become a thing of the past as more and more people use their smartphones to pay for things, no one is carrying around paper or plastic loyalty cards anymore.
If you stick to this system, you’re going to find yourself pouring money into the design and printing of cards that are ultimately going to end up stuffed into glove compartments, lost in the bottom of people’s bedside drawers, and thrown in the rubbish.
Even your most loyal repeat customers are not going to get the most out of this form of loyalty program.
By digitalising your salon loyalty program, you make everything more convenient for both yourself and for your customers, which in turn means people are much more likely to engage.
1. Offer a personalised experience
If someone signs up to your loyalty program, they intend to come back to you for another haircut (or massage, or manicure/pedicure or whatever else). The same way that you want their repeat business, they want a local salon that makes them feel valued, appreciated and individual.
But how do you make every single customer who walks through your salon door feel this way when your business is dealing with dozens, maybe even hundreds of customers every day?
…With a well-structured customer loyalty program, that’s how!
Picture this scenario….
You’ve just shown a first-time customer a wonderful time in your salon – their hair looks amazing, you’ve just spent an hour chatting and getting to know each other, and they’re feeling relaxed and satisfied. You mention your salon’s customer loyalty app, and encourage them to sign up.
The moment this brand new customer downloads the app and registers their account, they receive an automated welcome email that addresses them by their first name and thanks them for their appointment today.
The email goes on to say that next time their hair needs a trim, some colouring or a complete makeover to suit their vibrant personality, swing by the salon and enjoy a free wax to go with their hair appointment.
They then receive them an SMS on their birthday offering a free haircare product of their choice, or send a Push Notification when they haven’t been in for an appointment for more than four months: “Hey, we miss seeing you around the salon. Enjoy 25% off your next cut when you book an appointment this week!”
I know what you’re thinking – this all sounds like a lot of work. But we promise it’s well worth it for the outstanding experience you provide your customer, and it really doesn’t take much effort as you’re executing this next point properly…
2. Use loyalty program data to your advantage
Remember when we told you to “go digital” earlier? Well, here’s why…
By taking your salon loyalty program to the digital level, you gain access to a whole bunch of valuable information that you just can’t get from paper or plastic.
For instance, every time a member of your loyalty program pays for their appointment at your salon, your loyalty program logs the date/time of the transaction and other valuable information that allows you to tailor your offers to each individual customer and appeal to their specific needs.
“Hi Sarah, we notice you haven’t been in for a while. Come and give your nails some love and we’ll give you 20% off!”
3. Make your salon loyalty program fun for your customers
The more fun you make your loyalty program, the easier it is for customers to engage with it – it’s as simple as that.
So why not gamify your salon loyalty program through interactive features like Scratch & Win offers, Shake & Reveal discounts and other fun side promotions to coincide with your standard rewards program?
Stamp Me provides merchants with a Scratch & Win function that allows you to offer special deals and discounts to every 1 in 5 players (or 1 in 3, or 1 in 10… the merchant has control over the probabilities). The customer simply runs their finger over their smartphone screen as if they are using an old scratchy card.
These small gamification techniques add a bit of fun and excitement to your program, and keep your customers hooked.
The Birthday Club is also a common feature, where salon loyalty program members receive a free or discounted product/service on their birthday.
These small gestures don’t go unnoticed among consumers, and are sure to help your salon stand out from the others.
4. Educate your staff so they can actively promote your new program
Your employees spend a lot of face-to-face time with your customers, and they usually get to chat quite a bit while they’re styling your customer’s hair, painting their nails, giving them a wax or applying acupuncture.
Unlike other customer service interactions, it’s extremely easy for hairstylists and beauty therapists to ask clients “are you a member of our loyalty program?” without it sounding forced or 'salesy'.
The more effort you put into training your staff on how the program works, how to promote it, what the benefits are and so on, the easier you’ll find it to convince customers to join your salon loyalty program.
You can even incentivise your employees with your own internal prizes and rewards – whoever signs up the most customers this month wins a free lunch, for example.
5. Promote your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) through your loyalty program
Consumers are increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, and choosing socially and environmentally aware brands that practise good corporate citizenship – especially among millennials.
The health, beauty and cosmetics industry often comes under particularly thorough scrutiny when it comes to environmental impact and animal rights issues. By integrating ethical and sustainable initiatives into your loyalty program, you can assure your customers that they are giving their business to a socially responsible brand.
For instance, MAC Cosmetics have been offering free lipstick to customers who return six MAC primary packaging containers to any MAC outlet for several years now – the program is a huge success.
Tenoverten is a nail salon with six locations across New York City, so you can imagine how many bottles of nail polish they must go through!
Rather than throw away their used nail polish bottles, Tenoverten sends all their empty bottles to a chemical recycling company called Chemwise, which recycles the plastic, glass and brushes from the bottles for other purposes. Chemwise even recycles the remaining nail polish left inside the bottles, using it to paint industrial equipment.
Not only does Tenoverten recycle all its used nail polish bottles, but the nail salon chain encourages customers to bring in any discarded nail polish bottles they have at home from any brand.
Any hair or nail salon could easily mimic this initiative through a loyalty program. Not only does it encourage customers to purchase all their nail polish from you (for example) in order to redeem their free item, but it also spreads awareness of your sustainable practices… everyone wins!
Here’s a handful of fantastic salon loyalty program examples for some inspiration…
Seven Hair & Body
This UK barbers shop wanted a way to reward customers so they kept coming back to them for their every grooming need. You can check out our full case study on Seven Hair & Body here.
Stefan Hair Fashions
Australian hair salon chain Stefan Hair Fashions introduced a remarkably simple loyalty program to great success: spend $100 and get $10 off your next appointment. Spend $200, and you get $20 off your next appointment. Spend $300… you can probably see where they’re going with this.
Herndon Nails & Spa
Of course, loyalty programs aren’t just for the chains. Herndon Nails & Spa is an independent salon in Virginia where customers can enjoy rewards for their loyalty via a points-based system.
Customers collect 20 points for every dollar spent in-store, and 1000 points equals $1 towards their beauty products and nail services. For an easy $10 off your appointment, simply refer a friend… not a bad deal! Cheaper appointment and a friend to chat to while you get your nails done!
International cosmetics brand e.l.f. (eyes, lips and face) implemented its Beauty Squad loyalty program a few years ago and enjoyed instant success, using “status” as an angle to target customers.
Beauty Squad members enjoy a signup reward, birthday rewards, VIP access to sales ahead of standard customers, and various other perks.
The options are limitless!
We hope this article has helped you to get your head around how you can create a successful loyalty program for your salon or beauty parlour, and have your customers lining up outside your salon for their next appointment!
While this guide will get you off to a good start, it’s important to remember that new trends and innovations in customer loyalty programs are always emerging. Those who have the most success with loyalty programs are the business owners who adapt them over time to stay relevant to their customers’ needs and wants.
Stamp Me is a straightforward and intuitive loyalty platform trusted by merchants globally. We've blended the classic "Buy X, Get Y" loyalty cards with a modern mobile app to elevate customer loyalty experiences.