The Hair Boutique opened their Exeter (UK) salon in 2014 and have used Timely from day one. From humble beginnings, The Hair Boutique have seen their stations grow from four to fifteen in 2019. How did they do it? With their love for hairdressing, marketing smarts and a little bit of Timely magic.

How SMS and Email Marketing helped UK Salon ‘The Hair Boutique’ Flourish!

Like freshly bleached hair and toner, Nicky and Shaun Thornbrugh are the perfect combo

With Shaun’s background in Marketing and IT, and Nicky’s 20 plus years of hairdressing experience, The Hair Boutique was destined for success when they took a leap and  bought an empty salon in Exeter. Their skill sets were a match made in salon heaven and Shaun “felt there was a huge opportunity to use the online space to generate new clients.”

So that’s exactly what they did.

The Hair Boutique’s powerful marketing techniques

Shaun and Nicky have a wonderful mantra that they apply to everything they do in the salon: ‘Feel Amazing’.

“We want everyone who comes into contact with us to feel amazing; staff, clients and suppliers. We want to make a difference, to make the world a better place. If you don’t stand for something you stand for nothing, so you have to be about something. Our tagline ‘feel amazing’ is very important to us.”

It’s about finding your market and knowing how to target them

Situated near The University of Exeter, there are a lot of students in the area and The Hair Boutique works hard to attract and retain them. Students often have disposable incomes and are willing to spend on themselves – Shaun estimates that 30-40% of their client base are University and college students. “We use Facebook ads to target students at certain times of the year with tailored images and messages.”

Automated Marketing helps the client and the salon

If you don’t know what ‘Automated Marketing’ is, Automated Marketing refers to software and/or features that automatically send SMS messages or Emails for you, so you don’t have to do it manually, saving you a lot of time. Automated Marketing is typically used for very important repetitive tasks like SMS reminders, rebooking reminders, ‘we miss you’ messages etc.

The Hair Boutique understands the importance of delivering an exceptional client experience at every touch. “I think the main thing is getting the client excited about the appointment, so we send them an automated email to welcome them to The Hair Boutique and tell them to bring in trending or celebrity photos to their appointment.” Shaun suggested this method as it changes the mindset of the client and gets them excited about their upcoming appointment, rather than the common message “if you don’t attend we will charge you.”

Taking advantage of SMS marketing is a valuable and inexpensive tool for retention.

“Timely’s automated messaging capability is great. We send a client reminder text 24 hours before an appointment and if they haven’t already rebooked, a 6-week rebooking reminder.”

It doesn’t stop there, The Hair Boutique has also set up a “‘£10 we miss you voucher’ if we haven’t heard from them in 12 weeks”. There is a lot of reasoning behind that 12-week text, Shaun says “If they haven’t been in for 12 weeks we offer the voucher. If someone hasn’t been in for 8 weeks, chances are they’ve gone somewhere else and that salon may have not done a great job, so we send that text with the voucher to get them back into us.”

“We also use automated text messages and Mailchimp after all appointments with tips on hair care, and maintaining a style or colour.”

Reminder emails and texts work a treat but they noticed that they’d still occasionally get ‘no-shows’, so they introduced deposits for colour work. The £50 deposit is taken at the time of the consultation when the legally required patch test is done. Interestingly, the deposit also helps them sell more product. Shaun often hears his staff say “it makes it cheaper on the day”, which is a great way of framing a compulsory deposit.



Always listen to your clients and staff

Shaun also mentions that selling products to new clients is a priority to the salon, “We really focus on retention, people who buy retail tend to come back, so we focus on retail.” Shaun’s insight doesn’t stop there, from the feedback they get from new clients, they know that potential clients follow them online for a while before booking with them. This intel encouraged The Hair Boutique to be very active on their social media; consistently posting photos of clients, especially before and after photos.

The Hair Boutique place a lot of importance on internal communication; having regular team meetings to share ideas and gain insights on the staff and client needs. They also have an internal newsletter, which all staff can contribute too.

Shaun also incentivises high performing stylists with holidays “We run internal competitions and the winners get flight vouchers.” – A great tip for retaining staff!

Choose the right software

“The main things that sold me on Timely was the MailChimp integration. It was very quick to get landing pages and follow-ups set up, plus the user interface was easy to use.” Shaun was sold but “Nicky was against software, she used pencil and paper all her career and was dead against it.” For Shaun that was absolutely terrifying. Coming from an IT background he knew that using pencil and paper would cost them hours in admin, so he fought hard for it. “When we started using it, Nicky saw how much time it saved, so she loved it. In hairdressing a lot of people miss appointments, so when people came in and said they’d got the reminder text and the reminder email, she recognised it saved a headache.”

“The integrations make Timely incredibly powerful, we use Mailchimp every day and we’ve just set up Xero. Xero’s API connections with banks is saving us time each week.”

Get Timely and Xero in your business

When you’re growing a salon, you’re all hands on deck and The Hair Boutique appreciates being able to book in clients at any time of the day, making sure the salon gets the appointment every time. “Being cloud-based is handy for quick replies, even once we’ve left the salon a quick reply is important as it gives us the best chance of them booking with us instead of another salon. I’ve booked people in really late at night and the clients have been amazed to get a reply so quickly.” Being able to grow your business while you’re at home is one thing, growing your business while you’re not in the country is extraordinary.

“I’ve even used Timely while on holiday, I’ve actually booked in a consultation while on a gondola in Venice. Literally on a gondola.”

As well as taking bookings online and over the phone, all the staff have the Timely app on their phones, so stylists can book their friends and clients in on their phones – adding extra appointments into the calendar each month!

Don’t be afraid to try new things in your salon

With absolutely no experience with hair, Shaun isn’t working on the floor. “It’s been nice to work on the business without being so hands on. Having a birds eye view, I’ve really enjoyed coming into it fresh with ideas from other industries.”

Shaun and Nicky’s latest brainchild has been the addition of beauty services to the hair salon. “We wanted to compliment what we were doing with hair, so we do a little bit of beauty, just quick treatments. We do eyelashes which are very popular, eyebrow shaping and tinting and we’ll bring in a nail area soon.” They’ve received really positive feedback from adding beauty services to the hair salon as they’ve made their salon a ‘one stop shop’ for their clients. They won’t go fully into beauty though, “A bustling hair salon isn’t the best place for a relaxing treatment”, so they’ll be leaving the relaxing hot stone massages to the day spas for now.

The impressive numbers of the The Hair Boutique

We’d like to thank Shaun and Nicky for telling us a bit about The Hair Boutique’s success. Taking a leap of faith and starting your own business can be daunting. At Timely we’re super proud of every one of our customers and love supporting them to reach (and exceed) their dreams. Read more about how Timely’s Automated Marketing software can help grow your business.