How to quickly fill slots in your salon before (and after) a lockdown

Filling empty slots

They’re a thorn in the side that many hair and beauty specialists have gotten used to putting up with – yes, we mean lockdowns. Your county falls into tier 4 and presto, you’re forced to close your doors, which obviously isn’t going to benefit you in any way. However, there are a few creative tricks you can apply to attract clients before going into lockdown and once it has been lifted, in order not to get hit as hard financially. So, what can you do to minimize gaps in your calendar?

Keep clients updated

It’s a factor seemingly unrelated to getting more bookings before and after a lockdown, but surprisingly, it’s highly effective for just that. Updating clients on upcoming lockdowns and when they’re lifted is a great way of filling up those empty slots. By the time many of your customers learn of the impending closure, it’s already too late to book with their favourite business, obviously resorting in another week’s worth of regrowth and a missed opportunity for profit for you. Start with:

  • A reputable news source – update your clients on upcoming closures and when they’re lifted with the help of reputable news sources, like the gov.co.uk webpage.
  • Inform clients of your opening times – when is the last day you’re able to take bookings? When do you plan on reopening? Keeping clients informed is essential in order for you to get those empty slots filled!

Create a sense of urgency and anticipation

What’s the difference between the sentences, “Hi there, book your appointment with us before we go into lockdown”, and “Hi there, we’re going under lockdown for [# of days], book your visit before we close our doors, there are only a few slots left!”? Obviously, the latter creates a sense of urgency – your client has little time left to get treated, and if they miss out, well they’re going to be stuck with uneven regrowth, chipped nail art and missing lashes. Not sure how to word your communications to clients? How about something like this:

  • Hi [CLIENT], it’s [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR SALON] – did you hear? We’re going under the lockdown again, but you still have time to book with us. Follow the link to our online booking website and reserve your slot!
  • Another lockdown?! Sadly, yes, but [YOUR SALON] is still taking final bookings! We have just a few slots left – book a visit from our online booking page!
  • Hi [CLIENT], [YOUR NAME] here from [YOUR SALON] – we will be closing on [DATE] for the next lockdown, which means you have [DAYS] left to book your slot. Visit our booking page to reserve yours!

Tip: keen to try online booking for free? Grab your Versum account here!

Now, what about attracting clients to your salon’s reopening? This process also involves working on their emotions. Here, you need to create anticipation for your reopening, which should be done throughout the lockdown. While your business is closed, it is vital that you maintain regular communication with your customers, in order to fuel their anticipation. Regularly update them on your reopening date, keep them informed on slot availability and consider doing something fun, like a poll for what new service clients would like to see on your menu, or teaser content regarding a surprise gift you have for each client who’s booked on your reopening date.

Additionally, this also gives you the opportunity to turn regular, one-stop clients into loyal ones. How? Simple – take priority bookings, but only from customers who take part in your loyalty program. If you’re running Versum’s Loyalty Program, then have your clients join it and let them reap the benefits! Not only are they first in line for bookings, but they also get rewarded for purchases, leaving reviews of your business and recommending friends and family to your salon.

Last resort – provide offers

It’s not recommended that you use discounting or offers as viable, the first course of action tactics for filling empty slots or selling retail, as it often attracts discount-dependent clients known as bargain hunters. However, if the lockdown date is nearing and you’re set on filling empty appointment slots, then this should be considered. Now, throwing discounts ranging from 30% to 50% off each booking is in no way beneficial to you. It might look like you’re not losing as much profit, however, after adding up utility bills, restocking, rent and staff salaries, you’ll soon notice that every pound counts. Instead, try some of these options:

  • A free home-care kit: whether you provide hair or beauty services, a post-treatment kit can help maintain a look. Consider giving these to clients who book your last 10 slots before lockdown, as well as the first 10 clients who book with you for your reopening.
  • Gift vouchers: a voucher is a promise that your client will return to your business. By offering a -10% voucher to clients who fill the last 5 slots in your calendar, you not only encourage them to do so, but you can also expect them to be back sometime in the future in order to redeem it.
  • Something sweet: and when all else fails, treat your guests to a snack and a spot of tea! This will make your clients’ visits more enjoyable during this hectic time.

Method of communication

So, now that you have a game plan, it’s time to put it into action. But before you do so, there’s one more key component that cannot be left out – an effective method of communication. That’s right, you might have the perfect client-attracting strategy, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right channel of distribution. You’re certain that your strategy is going to rid your calendar of unfilled appointment slots before and after the lockdown, but here’s the problem – hair and beauty professionals stick to posting such information solely on social media. Why is this an issue? Unless you have a devout fanbase that constantly checks your social media pages, then your post isn’t going to reach the majority of your clients – especially if their feeds are overloaded with content from other pages.

The most effective option for messaging your clients is via SMS. Not only do text messages have a 98% open rate, but they can also be made for each individual client. But how do you send ALL of your clients a message, encouraging them to book your slots before and after you’ve reopened? Sure, you can do so by hand, or you can go with Versum’s bulk SMS messaging feature. This option allows you to send a bulk message at once, or schedule it for later. Best of all, it automatically enters the clients first and last name, making the text more personalised. This method not only has the best reach to your clients, it is also the most effective way to fill columns during these quieter times in your salon.

Filling your empty slots before and after a lockdown doesn’t just require sending a text message and calling it a day. You have to make clients aware of the fact that you’re going to be closed for some time, and encourage them to visit you once you’re back. And when push comes to shove, implement the right incentives that will get customers through your doors. And with every step of the way, Versum hair and beauty software will make communication with clients much easier. Keen to implement it into your work routine? Your free trial is just a click away – sign up for free for 14 days.

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