November 2009

Lisa Kind - Editor

The Mane Objective | by Marco Pelusi


Word of Mouth Referrals

In today’s economy, we need to cherish each and every client who sits in our chair.

Offer a kind, warm greeting to each client who patronizes your salon. A simple "it’s good to see you" always goes a long way. I aim to treat every client as a celebrity.

Now more than ever, it’s within our current client base through which we may build and expand our business. It’s probably one of the strangest phrases that ever existed, but the phrase "word of mouth" is extremely powerful, especially in a sluggish economic time.

Don’t take any of your clients for granted, as they’re the ones who will refer you new ones. Utilize your existing clients to gain new business (the ones you like!).

Really, take a good, hard look at your client base. How many of your clients think you’re too busy to take on new referrals? This client perception is common amongst us hairdressers (and even salon owners) who have been around a while. Most of you who have been doing hair a long while have clients who simply think you’re too busy to take on more business.

You have to creatively come up with ways to invite them to send you their friends. Some referrals occur naturally, but you can put energy out there to speed up the process. Tell them you are expanding your hours. Tell them "if I could clone you, I would." Then, your biggest problem should be to decide how to thank the client for referring you (after the referral patronizes you).

The easiest way to thank a client after they’ve referred you someone is to offer him/her a complimentary hair care product. Or perhaps you may shave off a little bit of the cost of his/her next visit to you. If a particular client refers you several lucrative new clients, it’s worth a freebie. Just do it. It’s good to be generous with the right people. You’ll get it back in the long run. Loyal clients need to know that you appreciate them.

Another wonderful possibility is to offer your clients something "social" to encourage more referrals – if possible. This situation will of course depend upon space, availability and accessibility within your salon. A simple idea is to creatively book a new referral in tandem with the person who referred him/her and work with them at the same time.

You can offer them a light snack, or even offer to order them lunch or dinner. You can even build the price of the meal into a package for the two of them. It’s that old saying, "think outside the box." The idea here is to create an experience for your current and new client. If you can attach a positive emotion to the experience the client has at your salon, you will most certainly see them again. At the end of the day, for your long-term loyal clients, as well as the new ones, you have to make them feel good. It’s just about as simple as that.

We may be struggling with finances at this moment, but our beauty business is recession-proof, especially because of the strength of referrals. Eventually, each and every client has to cut or color his/her hair. Hair grows. It’s that simple.

If you do a good enough job for your clients, they won’t be able to replicate the service you perform, and they’ll need to come back. They may push back their appointments, but they’ll still return. They also will refer if encouraged to do so. It’s important to keep the faith and truly believe that. Don’t lose heart.

Marco Pelusi is globally recognized as a haircolor trainer and platform artist. Marco Pelusi Hair Studio, Inc. was named Best Hair Color in Los Angeles 2007 by KTTV Fox11’s “myfoxla Hot List” competition. Pelusi created the Marco Collagen Color Guard HairCare System, the collagen system developed for color and chemically treated hair. For more information, visit



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