5 ways to get more referrals for your salon

Shaun Thornburgh
The Hair Boutique, UK
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This is a guest post by Shaun Thornburgh from Hair Boutique in the UK.

One of the best ways to grow your salon business is to implement a solid referral strategy. You can build up your client base and fill your days for weeks to come using the strategies I am going to cover for you here.

In this article I am going to share my five favourite strategies for generating referrals, plus the one thing you absolutely must do if you want to get referrals using Facebook and other social media platforms.

Before we go into the deeper stuff lets be clear on what we are talking about here. A referral is when a customer of yours recommends you and your services to someone else they know. This is a great way to build your business because your customers are doing the work for you.

A referral is when a customer of yours recommends you and your services to someone else they know.

So why are referrals so important to your business? The answer is because referrals are one of the cheapest ways to get new customers into your business quickly. You will have customers that come to see you on a regular basis, and by getting them to bring their friends into your business, you can build your business fast. Your customers are literally a walking, talking advert for you so getting them to recommend you is going to be one of the best things you can do for your business.

Another thing to consider with your marketing is trust. Trust is a big deal with marketing, because with a fresh advert, you could be asking a customer to come and try your services. With referrals you don’t have this problem because your customers already have an established trust with their friends. So recomendations remove this issue entirely for you.

Because the trust issue is removed, this makes it a lot easier to get a customer via a referral than it is to get a new customer. So it makes sense to concentrate your efforts on referrals.

But whilst referrals are great for your business, they rarely happen all by themselves; you have to make them happen. You will probably already have customers that are happy about the service they have received from you, but unless you make it simple and clear to your customers how and why they should refer you, then the chance of it happening is greatly reduced.

You need to put systems in place so that when your customer has an opportunity to refer a friend to you, they think about your salon and they make the referral happen. And that’s what we are going to talk about today.

The other great thing about referrals is that they are really easy to track. Like all of your advertising, you need to track what’s working so you can build on the methods that are working and fix what’s wrong with the methods that aren’t. This makes referrals such a great tool, and so much more effective than an advert in a magazine, for example.

Getting The Basics Right

So lets get back to basics for a second, because referrals happen when your customer wants to refer you. They won’t work if you’re not providing a sensational experience and a fantastic service to your clients, so it’s crucial to make sure you get this right because none of the strategies I am going to share with you will work if your customers aren’t feeling absolutely amazing at the point of leaving your salon.

Take a second to map out the customer journey through your salon.

  • Is your receptionist fully trained to look after each customer?
  • How are they greeted when they enter your salon?
  • Do you greet every customer by their name?
  • Are they offered a drink?
  • Have you prepared some recommendations for your customer in case they might want to try something new?
  • What is your consultation script like?
  • When the customer is in the chair do you talk about your self or do you take an interest in them? Note that the latter is the right answer!
  • Do you listen to their needs throughout the service?At the end of the service are you complementing their new look?
  • Do you make them feel amazing?

Sit down and map out your customers’ journey through your business and look for areas where you can make improvements. Remember when you go through this process that you want your customer to feel so amazing that they will want to shout about you to their friends.

There are 3 units to a customer journey, before, during, and after. When your client is in the salon this is the during unit, but what about before and after?

You can make existing customers feel really special here by sending them appointment reminders with preparation tips before they come in to see you and hair care tips after their visit. Taking the time to make your existing customers feel extra special is absolutely essential if you want to get referral customers.

Lifetime Customer Value

Another thing to think about when we are building up referral customers is the lifetime value. We aren’t just looking at one appointment for each referral. Your new customer will hopefully be so pleased with their service that they will be rebooking and staying with you for a long time.

Lets look at an example.

Your average client may stay with you for, let’s say 5 years. If they spend $100 every 6 weeks with a $25 product spend, that would make $5000 in total over 5 years.

Now these figures are simplified for the example of course, but have a look at your data and work out what your average customer lifetime value is. Once you know that figure, sit down and think, what could each new referral bring to your business, and hopefully you will realise how big an impact each customer can have on your business.

Once you know what the lifetime customer value is it will transform the way you think about what each new customer is worth to your business.

Gift Bag

The first strategy I want to share with you is the gift bag or gift box. This is all about making the customer experience that extra bit special, which is crucial if you want to get your customer to refer their friends to you. What you can do is get a glossy paper bag or a gift box with a ribbon on – basically something that looks like a gift that we can give to the customer at the end of their session.

In the box, you can put vouchers from local shops, some product samples from your suppliers, and of course a few “refer a friend” vouchers.

Here’s the crucial part; the voucher must have a deadline for the person being referred to get in touch with you. And you need to explain this to you customer. Take the time to explain to the customer what you have given them, and ask them if they can refer their friends.

The conversation may go something like this:

“So I really hope you are happy with your appointment today, I hope you don’t mind me saying but personally i think you look a incredible!”

“Because we like to look after our customers I have made you a little present. Inside you’ll find some vouchers for a few local shops you will like, some samples from our suppliers and some gift vouchers that you can give to your friends.”

“I just want to let you know that your friend would need to get in touch with us within 7 days so please don’t forget to give them to someone you think could really benefit this.”

The reason you need impose the deadline is that you want your customer to take action with the vouchers whilst they are feeling incredible about their hair. Explaining this to your customer is really important.

The other great thing is that your customer is walking out of your salon with a present worth quite a lot of money when you think about the vouchers and samples, but this has actually cost you very little. The boxes we use cost less than 25p each.


Ask For Names

Strategy number number 2 is really simple – just ask for the names of 3 friends from each customer. Thats it! At the point of payment simply explain to your customer that you are trying to increase your client numbers and do they have 3 friends that they think would benefit from coming to see you.

Most people can easily think of 3 people and are usually happy to share their friends details with you, so just ask the question. All you need is the name and telephone number.

The great thing about this is when you call up the friend, you are now able to say that their friend had recommended that you call them and that they may be interested in coming in to see you. Mentioning the friend’s name is a great way to break down the trust barriers and get them in for an appointment with you. Imagine if tomorrow, you asked every customer for 3 names and telephone numbers as referrals. How many people you would have to call the next day? Honestly, this is an absolute killer strategy!

Social Media Reviews

Number 3 is about social media. Now this is not so much of a direct referral strategy, but it is going to get you referrals so I wanted to mention it here. This is very important because, like it or not, the internet and social media are here and your prospects will be far greater if you’re using it.

If someone is looking for a hairdresser in your area, they are going to look online and if they find you, they will want to see what other people are saying about you. I don’t know about you, but whenever I buy anything on Amazon, I always look at reviews!

The good news is reviews are really easy to get; all you have to do is ask the right way. Here’s a simple script you can use to email some of your best customers to ask them for a review.


I’m so happy that you’ve been such a great a client of mine, I would love your feedback on Facebook.

If you could give me your review on Facebook by the end of today I can send you a special thank you gift. It’s normally worth $10 but its my way of saying thank you for being such a great customer.

You can include some instructions in the review if you think your customers might need some assistance for example.

Step 1: Go to my page at www.facebook.com/……

Step 2: Scroll down to reviews etc

That’s all you need to say! Keep track of who leaves a review for you so you can follow up with your reward for the review. The deadline is really important here, remember people usually don’t take action unless they have to!

Reviews are really going to help you, so it’s worth taking a little time to do this. Google is very interested in reviews as well, you will rank higher in Google if you have better reviews.

Finally when a customer leaves you a review it appears on their Facebook timeline and the newsfeeds of their friends, so it’s a great way to get referrals too.

You can make this even more powerful if you ask the customer to do it whilst they are in the salon. Just use the same script about 15 minutes before you finish and offer them an incentive on their final bill if they can leave a review before they come to pay. This is a great way to get a client to take some action!

Referral Competition

So with this next strategy, we are going to run a competition. What we are going to do here is to ask our customers to refer as many people to our salon as they can. The winner of the competition gets a prize – maybe a bottle of champagne. Advertise and promote the competition in your salon, explain it at the point of sale, promote on all your social networks, and in your email your list.

The important part to this, like all marketing, is that you have a deadline. Lets say the deadline is the end of the month – again this gets people to take action.

The other reason we do this is so that we can post competition updates on Facebook, etc. For example, you can say that someone has just referred you 5 clients, or that someone else is currently in the lead, or you could remind people that there are only 5 days to go.

The great things about competitions is people get competitive, so doing updates like this throughout the month of the competition will really get people referring for you. We ran this competition earlier this year and we had some people get seriously competitive with a few customers in particular, really fighting for the prize!

Open evenings

Ok so my final referral strategy I want to talk to you about is open evenings. Open evenings are fantastic way for you to build your business quickly because your customers can bring their friends along to introduce them to your services and what you do.

You can use open evenings for education, like showing people how to style their hair, for example. You can bring in guest speakers that will be able to help your customers with whatever issues they are having. Maybe you could bring in a rep from your suppliers to talk about colour options.

Now that you have your customers in your salon and they are pumped up with energy and enthusiasm about your company and what you offer, it’s the perfect time to get them booked in.

If you are going to run events or open evenings I strongly advise you sell tickets to your event. You will need to make sure you are going to offer a lot of value on the evening to get interest, but selling tickets will ensure you don’t have people saying they are going to come and then not turning up on the night.

Events are a great way to get your customers to bring friends to your salon so they can see what you can do for them.

Selfie Competition

So I’ve given you my five favourite referral strategies… But I want to talk about this extra strategy because this really is the one thing you should be doing on social media, above anything else.

This is all about social media and will get you a ton of new customers if you take the time to do this right.

We ran this competition on Facebook recently and it worked so well for us. Here’s how it works:

When you finish your clients hair, tell them that, if they take a selfie before they leave, post it onto Facebook, and tag themselves at your salon, they will be entered into a competition. The person with the most likes and shares for their selfie wins and the winner of the competition was told at the end of the month.

All you have to do is make sure your customers take the photo in the salon and tag themselves before they leave. If you let them do it after they have left, the chances of it happening will be significantly reduced.

The secret to the overall strategy is not to advertise that you’re running a competition anywhere on Facebook, that way all their friends think they love the salon and their new haircut so much, they couldn’t resist a seflie!

We got so many likes and new customers through this one method.


So there you have 6 referral strategies you can try in your salon. Let me know how you get on; I would love to hear your thoughts.

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