4 incredibly easy hacks to get your business listed on Reserve with Google today!

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen technology penetrate into every aspect of the human life. Health, medicine, entertainment, beauty, and what not. There has been constant innovation in the way we do everything.

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Even business. The way we do business has changed drastically.

Today, we work on tablets/computers, get clients over the phone, market on the Internet, and use high-end equipments to give services.

In fact, now your customers can even book and pay for services directly from Google.

This happens through a new service launched earlier this year, called Reserve with Google (RwG).

Reserve with Google

It is a discovery platform that allows customers to search, book, and pay for services directly from Google, Google Maps, and a dedicated RwG website.

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Reserve with Google makes the booking process as easy as Click, Click, Book! for your customers.

From a business owner’s perspective, Reserve with Google is an awesome new tool that can help you grow your business by increasing its online visibility. This instantly expands your target segment without any investment.

Additionally, when your business appears amongst others in Google’s listings, it comes across as credible. This increases your odds of getting booked!

Rest assured, let’s just say that it’s a good time to run a small business in the US!


Before we talk about anything else, the primary requirement to get listed on Reserve with Google is to have an account with one of Google’s trusted scheduling partner (like Appointy). 

But if you have an account with a scheduling partner and are still not getting listed on Reserve with Google, then this post is for you!

We at Appointy have been an initial launch partner of Reserve with Google, and hence, are taking a shot at explaining some little things that might be keeping your business from getting listed on Reserve with Google.

Before we begin there are two important things to note here:

  • these are really basic things that businesses should do anyway to maintain a reputable image online. 
  • These criteria of getting listed are as observed and understood on the date of publishing this blog. Reserve with Google was still in its pilot phase until recently. They are constantly improving their listing algorithms and these criteria might change in the future. (I’ll try to update the blog regularly accordingly). 

Five little problems that might be keeping your business from getting listed on Reserve with Google (and their fixes):

1. You haven’t opted in for getting listed in your scheduling software

The option to get listed on Reserve with Google is available to all registered customers of RwG’s trusted scheduling partners (like Appointy). If you were not proactively informed by your online scheduling provider about the launch, chances are you might still not know what the Reserve with Google button on your sidebar does.

You can choose whether to get listed on Reserve with Google or not. In Appointy, this option appears as a Toggle button on a Pop-up card after clicking on the ‘Reserve with Google’ button in the main Toolbar.

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Note: We strongly recommend that you opt-in for getting listed on Reserve with Google in order to get new customers.


2. Your business isn’t registered on Google

Google listings started as a way for small businesses to bring in more customers by providing helpful information about their business. Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps.

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But Google only allows actual, real, and credible businesses with a physical location to get listed on its free listings. Hence, you’ll need to register your business address on Google Maps using Google My Business.

Your listing is verified after you enter the verification pin sent to your business address via physical mail. (Sometimes you may get lucky and receive an email/text with the same, making the whole process much faster.)

This prevents fake businesses from getting listed in order to avoid any inconvenience to customers.

How to do it?

  • Google My Business is a platform that allows businesses to easily add/edit their business information on the listings.
  • If you haven’t already, add or claim your business, then verify your business listing so it’s eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services. Your edits won’t appear live on Google until your listing is verified.

Note: While the original Google listing appears as a Google card with details of the business like, business hours, reviews, website, etc. With the launch of Reserve with Google, businesses will also have a direct ‘Book now’ tab in these listings. This button will redirect customers directly to your booking interface.

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3. Your business requires additional details before bookings

If your customers need to fill in a customized form/sheet before booking an appointment with you, then your business becomes ineligible to get listed on Reserve with Google (as of now).

For example, if you’re a pet service that requires customers to fill in their pet’s breed, health conditions, food preferences, etc., in order to prepare for the service beforehand.

Getting information like this is crucial for your business process and you obviously can’t stop asking your customers for this.

Does that mean you can never get listed on Reserve with Google? 

Not essentially.

While Google may start supporting this functionality in the future, there’s a minor work around that you can do until then:

Instead of asking for this information before or during the booking process, you can integrate a form in the email notification that is automatically sent to your customers after booking.

You can customise these email notifications easily in your online scheduling software. In Appointy, this option appears in the Customisation tab in Settings and can be edited with a click.

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4. You accept pre-payment for your services

Reserve with Google doesn’t support listing for businesses that require full/partial pre-payments for services. It is a book-and-pay platform where services can be booked and then paid for after the service. 

Hence, to get listed, you’ll need to disable pre-payment options in your scheduling software. In Appointy, this can be done from the Payment Options in the Settings tab.

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But before you decide to it, you need to think carefully whether disabling pre-payments is a good option for your business or not.

This is because pre-payments are known to significantly reduce no-shows and cancellations for businesses like salon, spas, fitness classes, etc. While on the other hand, for businesses such as pet services, consultants, etc., it might have not really have much effect.

 


Even after all these fixes, if you still don’t get listed on Reserve with Google, it might be because certain types of business are restricted from getting listed. These include: 

  • Mobile services:

    Door-to-door service providers (with or without a head office), like plumbers, carpet cleaning, delivery services, etc.

    It’s important to note here that if some services that you provide are mobile while some are not, (for example, a consultant who provides consultation both at his office and at his customers’ place), your business is still eligible to get listed on Reserve with Google (given that you’re eligible on all other criteria).

    Even if just one of your services fulfil all the criteria, then your business becomes eligible to get listed on Reserve with Google. 

  • HIPAA compliant businesses:

    Businesses that are needed to be compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Protocol And Accountability) protocols are ineligible to get listed on Reserve with Google.

    HIPAA Compliance is required for any service that deals with Protected Health Information (PHI). For example, doctors, physiotherapists, ultrasound centres, etc.)

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  • Business having variable or no service cost

    Businesses like consultants, or event planners often provide a free consultant call before they get on site. When they use an online scheduling software for scheduling these calls, the service costs is often nil. Hence, they become ineligible to get listed on Reserve with Google. Additionally, businesses with variable service costs are also ineligible to get listed. (for example, if you provide a service package in which individual services can be customised, and the price is then calculated according to them).


Based on all these criteria, if you find your business is eligible but isn’t listed on Reserve with Google yet, then:

  • check with your scheduling partner again. It might be possible that it isn’t one of Google’s trusted scheduling partners.
  • If it’s not, try Appointy. It is a powerful, and fully functional online scheduling software and also one of Google’s trusted scheduling partners.
  • If you’re an Appointy customer already, shoot us an email at contact@appointy.com.

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Save or Sack? A small business owner’s ultimate guide to firing an employee

Firing someone is one task that even HR professionals and Managers (who train for stuff like this for years) find hard to do.

On top of that, if you’re the owner of a small business (like a salon, spa, or fitness centre), with everything inside the walls under your command, firing a staff member (or learning how to do it right) often ends up last on your To-do list.

In order to resolve this challenge for you, I borrowed the handbook method that large organisations use and replicated it for small businesses.

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The Handbook method

The Handbook method is employed in situations where business owners are unable to perform a task on their own and need other people to perform it exactly like them. This happens frequently in large organisations.

In order to maintain the quality of work, someone who’s good at the task puts together all their wisdom in the form of a guideline and hands it over to their subordinates. These people can then just look at these guidelines and learn what they need to do in no time.


But I’m not an expert at firing people. Honestly, all my day, I just try not to get fired myself.

But I know how to do my research.

And I like to play around with words too.

So for this blog, I looked for every little trick out there about the correct way to fire a staff member and crafted a little handbook for you. The guidelines, dos and don’ts, common questions, paperwork, and how to break the news to everyone else. All in context of small businesses.

Ready to begin?


 

1. Understand if you really need to fire the employee

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First, you need to decide if it’s in your business’s best interest to fire the employee. This is important because for most small businesses, the employee turnover is high. If you keep firing half-decent employees, you might end up investing all your time in hiring and maintaining a stable team.

But this doesn’t mean that you need to keep cutting some slack to an employee who’s not performing well.

  • All I’m suggesting is that before taking the final decision, think twice about the person’s skill set and consider if they may shine at some other job role. In most small businesses, reassignments can be done easily. It also saves a lot of money when you tally the costs of hiring and training your staff.
  • Also, sometimes, the person might not know that they’re doing something wrong. (mostly they do). If you think this is the case, sit them down privately and give them some candid feedback on their work. Don’t just criticise the person, but try to guide them about how they can improve. They might take it positively and improve their work so you don’t need to fire them anymore. Or if things still don’t get better, it’ll help you make a decision. It’s a win-win!

 

2. Take a decision

It’s a hard decision. There’s no doubt in that.

In small businesses, it’s usually the owner who recruits and trains an employee. It might be possible that you are personally invested in the growth of your staff, and would want to give them another chance.

But you need to do what’s right for your business. Even if it means that you need to put your business’s best interest above your personal interest.


3. …And then stick to it

After you break the news, the employee that you’re firing might break down, or the rest of your staff might not support your decision, or you might start doubting your decision yourself.

All of this may or may not happen, but be prepared to stay firm and hold your ground. Backtracking may just raise a question on the credibility of your word, and sometimes, even your ability to run the business.

You obviously don’t want that, do you?

Hence, it’s crucial that once you take a decision, you stick to it. The most practical way to make this possible (except an iron-clad will) is having reasons to back up your decisions. 

If your decision is based upon careful thought and, possibly numbers that show that the employee isn’t making profits for the business, it’ll help you in justifying your decision to yourself, and to other people, if need be.


4. Don’t delay it

It’s a natural human instinct. We keep delaying the things we don’t like to do.

Eating those broccolis in the salad, or washing the plates sitting in the sink.

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But this shouldn’t be the case with letting someone go. Just like I said before, most employees are aware of their performance, and know that they might get fired. If you take too long to break the information to them, it might mislead them into thinking that their job is safe, or you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt, or you’re okay that at least they’re trying hard.

This is just going to throw them off guard when you finally tell them, thus further provoking them.

On your part, procrastinating is just going to increase your anxiety and build up more pressure to do it right. This may lead to you losing your calm at the final moment and forgetting everything you ever read about the dos and don’ts.

Think long and hard before making the decision. But once you decide, try and do it as soon as possible.


5. Before the meeting…

  • Plan the entire thing. That’s the only trick to getting it right. Things that you’ll need to plan about include:
    • Location: Hold the meeting in a private room, somewhere you can talk without being hindered. Preferably, someplace you can leave once the conversation is over. This will give the employee a chance to process the information on his own.
    • Time: Try to talk to the employee after work hours, or call them early to the workplace. This will help you talk without interruptions from other staff and customers. Also, the employee won’t have to walk out of the room visibly upset only to meet the questioning glances of their colleagues. This will also prevent any outburst they might have in front of your customers.
    • Make a list of reasons why the employee is being terminated. This will help you answer any question, and give feedback about their performance. But keep it in mind not to reveal this information until specifically asked to. Even then, mention the points subtly so that it doesn’t feel like badgering.
    • Work reassignment: In order to enable a smooth transition, ask the employee to hand over all their work details to a fellow colleague. Choose someone prior to the meeting for this and explain them the situation. Make sure every task that the employee was involved in is properly explained and handed over to an existing staff member. This may include things like re-assignment of next week’s bookings, or customer notes.
    • Paperwork: Check your accounts and see if the person has any dues that need clearing. If possible, calculate the net pay due and carry the paycheque with you to the meeting. Also, carry any documents that need to be presented to the employee before leaving (like a non-compete agreement).

6. Dos and Don’ts of the meeting

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  • Start off the meeting by explaining the objective. This sets an honest tone for the conversation. If you don’t do this at the start, the employee will be caught off guard as you break the news in the middle of the conversation.
  • Also establish that your decision is final and irreversible. This won’t mislead the employee into thinking that they can say/do anything to save their job. They might do it anyway, but at least this way, you’ll have made your stance clear.
  • Make it short and to the point. Don’t get caught up in emotions.
  • If asked, give them feedback, and talk about their future prospects. This will help them move on, preventing any bad blood between both parties.
  • Talking about bad blood, it’s obvious for the one getting fired to disagree with you. They might even try to provoke you. But getting into an argument is just going to make things worse for you. If something like this happens, keep you calm, wish them good luck and end the conversation.
  • In case of a request for a LOR, answer cautiously. You might think what harm can writing a simple LOR with a few praises can do to your business. But think again. Writing things that aren’t true in a LOR can degrade your image as a business owner in front of your peers from the community. While writing a LOR doesn’t do any harm, make sure to only write things that are true.

7. Informing your staff and clients

A termination often leaves other employees worried for their own jobs.

While it does make a statement and compels existing staff members to perform better, it’s also an opportunity to show professionalism and integrity.

Never discuss the matter with a staff. When enquired about, don’t lie about their absence. Just politely reply that the employee has been terminated (preferably in a way that shows the topic isn’t up for discussion). This way, your remaining staff will see that you respect the people you employ, and just in case they ever get fired, you won’t let them become the gossip of the week .

Follow a similar approach with your clients. Apologise to them for any inconvenience caused due to re-assignment, and encourage them to try and work with a different staff.


As perfectly summed up by the successful salon blog, when performed correctly, a firing involves tact, style, and superb communication skill.

It requires a delicate balance of sympathy, empathy, and firm resolve. It’s also one of the most important business skill you’ll learn as a small business owner.

In this blog, I’ve tried to compile some important tips involved in learning this skill. Is there any thing that you do differently? Do you know something that works better? Tell us in the comments below! 🙂

 

 

The 3 simple secrets of making more money from your salon/beauty business: Part 2

Note: This blog is Part 2 of a 2-part series: The 3 simple secrets of making more money from your salon/beauty business

In Part A: Increasing your revenue, we talked about what are the three core ways to make more money in your salon, business metrics that are used to measure this, and how to boost these numbers.

Further in this blog:

Part B: Taking care of your expenses talks about two simple business metrics, how they can help track your business growth, and how to deduce them.

Part C: Making sure you don’t run out of money talks about cash flow in the salon business, what it means, why maintaining a steady cash flow is important, and how to pump up your cash flow.

……

Part B: Managing your expenses

This part involves looking at the your monthly expenses and finding out whether they match up the industry standard to make your business profitable or not.

This is important because numerous times salon owners are unaware of little-yet-crucial facts like what is the optimum price setting, or how much an employee is supposed to work in order to stay productive for the business.

Below are the three metrics to monitor your expenses and make sure your business is, and stays profitable.

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1. Net Profits or Profitability

Net Profits are calculated by deducting the total expenses from total sales. Net profits can be calculated as:

Net Profits = Net sales – Net expenses

Net profit margin is the percent revenue left after deducting total expenses from total sales. This reveals the amount of profit that you can extract from your total sales. It is calculated as:

Net profit margin = [Net profits/Net sales]*100%

If the net sales generated at the end of the month in your salon is $8000, and your expenses are somewhere around $7000 (rent, salary, taxes, etc.).

That means, your net profit is $1000 per month.

And, you net profit margin is 12.5% per month.

Or, 12.5% of your sales is converted to profit.

When we need to compare salons of any size or scale for profitability, percentage net profit margin gives an accurate number. Even if the actual figures for total sales and expenses differ, you can easily compare net profit margin percentage and understand which business is more profitable.


  • Industry Standard

As far as the industry standard is considered, there’s no magic number for salon profitability. Profits in the industry range from 4%-18%. But for a medium-tier salon, anything close to 8%-9% is considered a decent number.


  • Tips to increase Profitability

  1. One obvious way to increase profitability is by increasing the revenue. There are three core ways to make money with your current setup. These are further elaborated in the previous part of this post, Part A: Making more money.
  2. Increase your prices: This is pretty straightforward. Every time a client comes in, and pay a little more for your services, it means more net profits.
  3. Put up a live deal offer for walk-ins during no shows: No shows suck. In order to engage the idle staff, put out a live deal offer board to attract walk-ins.
  4. By reducing your costs: Another way to increase your net profits is by cutting some of your expenses. You can do this by:
    • Investing in a scheduling software instead of paying for a receptionist. The software provides numerous additional features that are beyond the work of a receptionist, in a fraction of the salary cost.
    • Being energy efficient: Turn off high energy consuming equipments when not in use. Involve your team in this too. Encourage and educate them about the importance of energy saving and seek their support.

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2. Revenue Per Employee

Revenue per employee is the total revenue generated divided by total number of hours.

This is a very crucial metrics to understand how efficiently you’re utilising your employees to make your salon profitable. A high revenue per employee suggests that you’re operating efficiently. While a low revenue per employee suggests that you can find ways to squeeze more sales from your employees.

  • Industry standard

For most businesses to be profitable, an employee should be generating a revenue worth 2-3x his salary.

But that again depends on various factors like overheads, location of the salon, and the type of establishment that your salon is.

For ex: Consider a salon in a very expensive area of the town. For this salon, the rent and other overheads will be higher compared to its competitor in a relatively cheaper neighbourhood. Hence, in order for the salon to be profitable, its stylists might have to generate a revenue worth 3-3.5x their salary.

While the other salon might be able to break even at just 1.5-2x its stylists’ salaries.

 

Tips on increasing revenue per employee

  • Cash incentives to staff for achieving targets: This might sound counter-productive at first, but think about it;

Imagine an offer to reward an employee with $250 per month for completion of an additional 20 services throughout the month.

If the average service cost at your salon is $35, then the additional revenue generated will be $700.

Your net benefit will be $450. That’s a whopping 180% return on investment.

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  • Increase your prices: Increasing prices not only helps in boosting your profits, but also increases the revenue per employee. Increased prices mean increased sales, and with the same number of employees, it means an increased revenue per employee.
  • Fill up lean times by sending out deals and discounts. During cancelled appointments, and no-shows, don’t let your staff sit idle. Send out deals in targeted texts/emails with you salon scheduling software, and fill up empty time slots in advance.
  • Avoid no shows by sending timely notifications to your customers in order to improve productivity. This is another feature that you can find in your booking software.

……

Part C: Making sure you have enough money

Do you know that up to 80 percent of all new small businesses fail within 18 months?

And more than half of them fail because of not having enough cash reserves.

The key to this problem is Cash flow. Your end of the year Profit and Loss sheet has nothing to do with this. The point is having enough cash to sustain you expenses on a month by month basis.

Let’s dig in some more.

Cash flow is the movement of money in and out of your salon every month.

The inflow of cash is via channels such as payments for services, retail sales, or gift certificates. (Ah! the good times).

While, cash flows out when spent in salaries, inventory, rent, taxes, employee training, marketing efforts, etc. (Meh!)

Two important points to note in reference of cash flow:

  • Don’t confuse the term ‘cash’ here with the routine use of the term. The ‘cash’ in cash flow can mean both physical money in hand, and the money in your bank account.
  • Credits and loans don’t add up in the inflow of cash. Only money in the pocket counts. For example, the payment amount that clients owe you (if any), doesn’t add up in the cash in flow for that month. It only adds up when you actually receive the payments.

Why monitoring cash flow is important?

  • Because expenses are to be paid in lumps but earnings occur distributed over time.

At the beginning of the month, you know you’ll earn enough through the next 30 days to pay all your dues and sustain your business. But that’s the point. The earnings will come in over 30 days. On the other hand, most expenses (rent, salaries, etc.) are required to be paid in lumps.

Hence, it’s crucial that you have a cash reserve to sustain your next month’s worth of expenses. It can only happen via regularly monitoring your cash flow.

  • It helps you plan your expenses.

What if you need to buy a new manicure chair? Or invest in an attendance system for the salon? How do you know in if you have enough money to spend a little extra while sustaining your business?

Cash flow sheet shows how much money you have left, and your expenses for the past month. This information helps you understand whether you can afford a new expense that month or not.

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  • How to pump up your cash flow?

    Cash flow management is a simple concept. You need to take as long as possible to pay your bills and collect earnings as soon as possible.

In other words, the debtor days, or how quickly cash is collected by you need to be less. And, the creditor days, or how late you’re paying your dues need to be more.

A few ways to do this are:

  1. Gift certificates: Gift certificates are great. They’re basically money paid in advance for a particular service.
  2. Try to push dates for paying rent, or your staff’s salaries. This increases your creditor days and gives a window for cash to pile up before you need to spend it.
  3. Don’t stock up on inventory. Since it has to be pre-paid for, it decreases your creditor days. Instead, replenish every month. You may also try buying from the same vendors to get the products at negotiated prices.
  4. Accept full/partial pre-payments for your service, if you allow customers to book online. This helps in getting a partial/full payment in advance, and also reduces no shows.

Running your own business requires you to take care of different things, to be at multiple places, and to learn something new everyday.

Back in the day, it was never meant to be a one-person task. But today, with the Internet, and cloud-based services expanding everyday, anyone who aspires to run their own business can.

There are business solutions for marketing, staff management, online scheduling, pre-payments, and what not. A few minutes worth of Google search will tell you the enormous number of salon software out there. But you need to choose one that fits both your needs, and your budget.


Appointy is an online scheduling software that is trusted by 5000+ salon owners across the world. It provides a complete solution for all your business needs. Equipped to serve salons of every scope and size, Appointy comes with a free plan too!

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Request a demo today. Or try Appointy right now!

The 3 simple secrets of making more money from your salon/beauty business

Admit it. Most business owners wouldn’t say no to making more money from their current setup.

But only a few are aware of (or pay much heed to) the basic business mechanics of running a salon. With numerous guides available on the Internet, and advice from fellow business-owners, you could easily get confused about what to do in order to earn more from your business.

Should you…

Focus on getting new customers through the door?

Or getting existing customers to come back more often?

Or knowing if you’re earning enough?

Or start selling more retail products?

How do you know what’s right?

……

In order to know what’s right, it’s important to understand the three basic fundamentals of running a profitable salon business:

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  1. Increasing your revenue

  2. Taking care of your expenses

  3. Making sure you don’t run out of money

Based on these three fundamentals, this blog is divided into three parts where,

Part A: Increasing your revenue talks about three core ways that can help you make more money from your business. It further defines three business metrics that quantify these growth channels and elaborates on them.

Part B: Taking care of your expenses talks about two simple business metrics, how they can help track your business growth, how to deduce them, and what are the industry standards for them.

Part C: Making sure you don’t run out of money talks about cash flow in the salon business, what it means, and why maintaining a steady cash flow is important?
The first section is covered in this post, and the remaining sections are continued in the next post. You can find its link at the bottom or visit it from here.

……

Part A: Increasing your revenue

First things first. Understanding what’s right for your business

Different businesses have different needs. Before deciding to venture into finding new customers, or increasing your prices, you need to understand what’s going to work best for your business. There are two major factors at play:

  • Employee and resource utilisation percentage, Or how busy your employees ( like stylists) and resources (like manicure chairs) are. This will affect your decision about which channel to opt in order to earn more.

Consider this,

What if your employees are already working full time, and all your appointment slots are full. Launching a marketing strategy to get new customers doesn’t really make sense for this scenario, does it?
Instead, you might want to focus more on retaining your customers, increasing your service prices, or hiring more staff members.
This is actually an example of a business that doesn’t need new customers in its current state.

You can calculate Employee Utilisation Percentage by,

Utilisation Percentage = [Average hours worked by the employee/Available hours]*100%

There’s no fixed standard for staff utilisation levels in the salon/beauty standard. But according to an overall industry standard, 80% utilisation is the magic number for most service industries. It roughly translates into a 40 hour work-week with 32 hours logged in for providing services.

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  • Another factor is your business type.

Take the case of a bridal salon. While client retention may be a sure shot growth hack for other salons, the same trick won’t work for them. It’s the kind of business that (most) people visit just once.


Once you’ve looked into all your business variables, and decided what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be ready to pick a channel to increase your revenue.
In salon business, everything around making more money rounds up to these three core ways:

  1. Getting existing customers to come back
  2. Getting new customers
  3. Earning more from each customer

The basic equation goes something like this:

[(Existing customers coming back + New customers)]* (More money from each customer) = Happy salon owner! 😍

Let’s dig in some more!


1. Getting existing customers to come back

Your existing customers are your most valuable assets. They’ve already been to your business once, there’s a certain level of trust, and chances are they’re probably already thinking of booking an appointment with you.
In fact, according to a recent fact by BIAKelsey, 61% of SMBs report that more than half their revenue comes from repeat customers.

Business metrics to measure this: Repeat Customer Percentage

  • Repeat Customer Percentage is the number of repeat customers that you get in a month as a percentage of total paying customers you receive in that month.
  • It gives a measure of how many of your existing customers re-visited your salon in a particular month.
  • Repeat customers are people who have visited your salon at least twice. While total paying customers are people who have visited your salon once or more.
  • You can calculate Repeat Customer Percentage as:

Repeat Customer Percentage = [Repeat customers in the month/Total paying customers in the month] * 100%

Numerous salons report an 80% repeat customer percentage.

Tips for increasing Repeat Customer Percentage

  • Provide a good service experience. The most crucial aspect of getting your customers to come back is providing high-quality service in the first place. To achieve this, you need to clearly understand your customers’ needs and provide a distraction-free, focussed service experience to your client.
  • Don’t wait for your customers to come back to you. You need to invite them over regularly by sending emails and texts. To increase your chances of success, tailor the email/text according to any personal information that you might have about their preferences. Like a particular shade of hair colour, or a special product that’s back in stock.

Tailoring personalised emails manually can be a tiresome task, but there are numerous tech-solutions that can help you do this. Online scheduling software give you an option to collect and save information about customers in the form of notes. You and your stylists can make quick notes right after providing a service and use them while drafting emails to send your customers.

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  • Additionally, use referral discounts, and loyalty programs also help in bringing back repeat customers more often.
  • Stay connected to customers by creating a dedicated Facebook page for your salon. Keep adding more customers to it and post regular updates so that you’re always in your customers’ field of sight.
  • Create convenience. Customers need to be able to know when you’re free. No one wants to walk into a salon and wait in a long queue. Neither do they want to wait for you to pick up the phone in order to make an appointment. Give your customers an option to schedule their appointment online prior to their visit, and any time they want.

2. Getting new customers

If you think your appointment book isn’t full, and staff utilisation levels are low, you should definitely try getting more customers coming in.

Business metrics to measure this: Net New Customers

Net New Customers is the number of new customers as a percentage of total customers received in a month. It’s a measure of how many new customers are visiting you every month. If there’s anything new that you’re trying, like starting a marketing campaign, or a referral program, monitoring this metrics becomes crucial to determine how well your strategy is working and which one’s working better for your business.

You can calculate Net New Revenue by:

Net New Revenue = Number of new customers in the month/Total paying customers in the month

How to increase Net New Customers?

  • Getting more customers through the door requires an increase in the visibility of your salon among the right kind of audience, or your target audience. One brilliant new way to do this is by getting listed on Reserve with Google. It a search-and-book platform by Google that allows your customers to search and book your services directly from Google search, Google maps, and a dedicated website.

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  • You can also increase your online bookings by integrating a ‘Book Now’ button to your website and your Facebook page.
  • By using salon marketing tactics like selling gift certificates, creating deals and discounts, and social promotion.
  • Try running an affiliate program with local businesses that your target customers might be visiting. For ex: bridal salons can make the local wedding planners their affiliates, or a popular bridal clothing store.
  • Referral programs are another great way of getting new customers by leveraging your existing customers’ loyalty. For example: you can reward any customer who refers your salon to a new customer by giving them both a $10-$15 discount on their next service.

3. Earning more from each customer

This particular method requires a little more effort than the first one but gives whopping returns. You can earn more from each customer either by cross-selling, up-selling, or increasing the average service price.
Most of the effort that goes into the process at this stage is in the analysis that is required to either recreate your pricing, or training employees to communicate better and with tact.

Business metrics to measure this: Average Revenue Per User [ARPU]

  • Average Revenue Per User is the sum of revenue generated from all users divided by the total number of customers that you received in a month.
  • It gives a measure of how much money a single customer makes for your business.

You can calculate Average Revenue Per User by:

Average revenue per employee = Total Revenue/ Total customers

How to increase ARPU?

  • Cross-selling refers to the art of selling an additional service to a customer. For example: pitching someone to get a pedicure while getting a manicure is cross-selling.
  • Up-selling, on the other hand, is the art of convincing the customer to purchase a comparable high-end service. For example: pitching someone to get a full length blow-dry instead of a partial blow-dry.
  • Increasing your service pricing. Most salons dread raising their pricing due to the fear of losing their customer base. But in reality, only a slight increase ($5-10) can change yearly numbers by a great deal without losing you any customers.
  • Another, and very important channel to increase ARPU is by retail sales. Customers have a tendency to look upto their stylists for recommendations about their hair/skin. This can usually be leveraged to recommend and sell retail products to them. In fact, the industry standard says that 20% of your total sales should be via retail.

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All these three metrics, and how they help in increasing your revenue are related as:

[Repeat Customer Percentage ⬆️ + Net New Revenue ⬆️] * [Average Revenue Per User ⬆️] = More money 💲

……

This was Part 1 of the 2-part series, The 3 simple secrets of making more from your existing salon/beauty business. The remaining two sections of the blog talk about:

  1. Managing your expenses: Two simple business metrics, how they can help track your business growth, and how to deduce them.
  2. Making sure you don’t run out of money: Cash flow in the salon business, what it means, and why maintaining a steady cash flow is important?

    Click here to go to Part 2 and understand the rest of the equation to start making more money from your salon/beauty business today.  

Some brilliant advice to help you hire great staff for your salon!

A good team of professionals is fundamental to achieving your business goals…

…at whatever stage you may be with your salon business; just starting up, looking to expand, or trying to efficiently run your current setup.

Recruiting and retaining quality professionals is the most important managerial skill you’ll ever learn; whether you’re an artist trying to make it as a salon owner, or a business person testing the waters in the beauty industry.

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This blog focuses upon designing a recruitment process that helps you attract and choose high quality professionals for your salon. It includes thoughts and advice on:

  1. Is hiring really that important?
  2. How to attract good employees?
  3. How do you know someone’s the right choice?
  4. Things to keep in mind while designing a recruitment process

 

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Is hiring really that important?

We know you’re a busy salon owner. Reading about hiring is probably the last thing you want to do today. But let me tell you why you should do it anyway:

The industry has a 40% annual turnover.

Meaning you’ll need to recruit almost half of your team every year. Whether you like it or not, there’s a revolving door of stylists in the salon industry. And spending time on learning something that you need to do so often is actually an investment of time.

There’s a lot of competition out there

I recently heard a salon owner say that she soaks in all business information like sponge. People in the industry today are doing everything they can to get better at anything they can. Even if you don’t focus hard on recruiting the right team, the salon next door will.

Do you wanna fall behind?

It has everything to do with how much money you make

Your customers is where your revenues will come from. Whoever you hire is going to talk to and work with your customers. Someone who’s in direct contact with them need to be chosen carefully, or it might affect your numbers.

 

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How to attract good employees?

 

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You can hang up a “Help needed” sign in the evening and might get 12 people lined up the next morning.

But are they really the kind of people you need?

High quality professionals don’t come running at the first offer they get. They weigh their options, compare, and finally make an informed decision. So start thinking like them.

Give them what they actually want

And no, offering more money isn’t the answer. Commissions in the salon business are low. And people in the industry know the deal. So offer them something that they might value more.

  • Education

    The profession of a stylist or a cosmetologist is one that requires constant saw-sharpening. Professionals are always looking for better learning opportunities. So, promise them high-quality training, and good learning opportunities and watch the talent roll in.

  • Secondary Incentives

    Promise them a work-life balance. Give them a chance to perform in public and flaunt their skills. Allow them to assist you in organising and administrative matters.

    I know there’s always a possibility that all of this may empower them to leave and start a business of their own. But it’ll happen anyway. Sooner or later. There’s a fine line between promoting your staff and promoting your business. Strike the balance between the two and you should be fine.

Look in the right places

If you think putting a “Hiring now” tab on your website or a post on your Facebook page is enough, think again.

You might still get a lot of responses but you’ll end up rejecting most of them. Here are a few platforms where you can the word out and receive applications from quality professionals.

  • Local cosmetology schools

    Let them know you’re hiring. Find out if they’ll post your job description on their websites, blogs and social media pages, and in their email marketing newsletters. Ensure that they can send the communication to present and past students, especially if you’re searching for a stylist with years of experience.

  • Sign up as an employer on hiring sites

    This something that I’ve seen a lot of salon owners try on social media. Some popular ones are: Salon Employment, Behind the Chair, Salon Builder, Salon Gigs, All Salon Search, etc.

  • Ads in industry newsletters

    Put up ads in industry newspapers, online newsletters and stylists’ magazines. Stylists keep up with industry changes and trends by reading publications and websites. Consider your geographic location and place ads that will reach your target market.

  • Employee referrals

    Ask your current employees. Many stylists know others in the industry who may be unhappy at their place of work or who are recent graduates from beauty school and already have a loyal following.

 

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Choosing the right person

 

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Resumes and certifications matter. Certainly. But they’re just to figure out if a candidate is eligible for the job. They don’t tell you if the customers will like him, if he’ll click with your staff, or if he’ll be good at learning new things.

To determine these things, you need to look for the kind of person your candidate is. Here are the three most under-rated qualities to look out for in a potential employee.

The three most under-rated qualities of a good employee

1. A love for the profession

Hire someone who thinks that his profession is art. Someone who has a thirst for business knowledge like you do. Someone who believes in serving to make others look beautiful.

These are the best kind of people. They are happy, content, and generally have a good vibe. They can not only work with the rest of your team, but also inspire and get inspired by them.

2. The ability to understand people

You work in the beauty industry. Most of the time, your customers don’t know what they want but only that they want it. Even if they do, they’ll always struggle with explaining it to you. As a stylist or a cosmetologist, you need to have the ability to not only understand your customers but deliver something close to what they might want.

Having someone who understands what people want naturally can be a great employee. I agree, a part of it comes from practice, but sometimes people have a natural talent for it.

3. A general sense of upkeep

It’s the grooming industry that we’re talking about. Of course you’ve got to take care of your hair and makeup. Customers usually show inclination towards getting services from someone who has styled himself better than the others. It’s almost instinctive.

While it shouldn’t be a filter for candidate elimination, but the good ones mostly look stylish and are well-kept.

 

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Five tips to keep in mind while designing a hiring process

Now that you know where to put your ads and what kind of people to look for, I’ll wrap up this post by just mentioning five important tips you need to keep in mind while working out a hiring process for your business:

  • Have an elimination round

No matter how targeted your marketing is, a lot of redundant applications are bound to show up. Having a pre-examination of your applications helps to weed these out. Although, don’t spend too much time on it. In fact, if you can, ask someone else to do it for you and you can simply skim through the results later. Remember, it’s not a selection round but an elimination round.

  • Meet candidates personally

It’s your business. The person you hire is going to meet and greet your customers. It’s your salon’s image that’s at stake. Hence, it should definitely be you who interviews the person. I know you’re a busy salon owner, but you need to take out time for this. You can delegate any other thing, but doing this yourself is non-negotiable.

  • Make the interview conversational.

Interviews are meant to get to know the person. See what they look like, how they talk, and know their personalities. They are not the time to make decision about whether to hire the person or not. So keep the interview casual. Don’t try to be intimidating and put the person in a lot of pressure.

Also, take two minutes after each interview to make notes about the person. Just mention the top 3-4 things you remember about the candidate after interview. It’ll help you make a decision later.

  • Always have the person do something practical.

Have the candidate perform a simple little task. This is the oldest trick in the book. When someone hires a programmer, they don’t ask them to write a complex code. They ask them to write the simplest one.

The logic is that asking them to do something easy will give you the opportunity to observe their technique. So don’t ask them to do a celebrity haircut. Just ask them to blow dry someone’s hair and see how they do it. If they do it wrong, you’ll have your answer.

  • Take references both before and after the interview

If the candidate and you have a mutual contact, always ask for that contact’s opinion on the person. This will help you have a neutral opinion from someone you know.

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And don’t just stop here. Remember, you’re creating a process. Something that you can use repeatedly and improve over time.

Once you recruit a great team, groom them properly, and build their trust so that they stay with you. They might have come in for the money and the incentives, but they’ll stay for loyalty.

Turn them into your brand ambassadors and during the next recruitment drive, you can show them off and inspire people with their stories.

Don’t just hire employees. Build a team. It’s another trait of a good business owner.

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…But more on that later. Right now, wrapping this post off. Let us know if you like any of this. Also, if you’ve anything that you think works better, do tell in the comments. 🙂

 

Happy fourth of July! 🎆

Travel, food, and entertainment take the spotlight on Independence day. For business owners, big and small,  it’s time to retire for a long weekend and be with friends and family.

This fourth of July, we are celebrating the fact that we bring people together with businesses from industries across the US on a daily basis.

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A hundred thousand businesses grow everyday with Appointy by giving their clients the freedom to choose when they want their services. With a significant presence in the American market, we would like to wish all our customers a very happy Fourth of July.

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We are hard at work so that as and when you get back from putting back the covers on your grill and bidding farewell to guests, you’ve no missed appointments or lost business. With Appointy, you’ll be able to return to your daily schedule, just like you left.

Just one more thing…

We know this isn’t really a gift-giving holiday, but we still have a little something for you.

For the past six months, our tech team has been busy in creating a new interface for Appointy that is faster, more intuitive, and looks fabulous. We’re in the final stage of development, and the update will be ready soon.

There’s a great story behind this update that we’re calling Appointy 9. Read it here!

As of now, just sit back and relax!

After all, it’s a time to take a break, be with family, enjoy barbecues, and get dazzled by fireworks.

Have a safe evening and a great Fourth of July.

🙂

 

Is there a good way to deal with a bad online review for your business? 😮

We all know that good customer reviews can take our business places. But just like everything else in this world, reviews also have a mean, devil-horned side: A negative review!

Whenever a negative review appears, you panic, you get angry, you try to not feel bad about it, but do you actually know how to deal with it?


*Interesting fact to set the background of the blog*

Do you know why some people choose your business while some don’t? Researchers from Harvard explained what’s at the back of their minds. I bet you won’t believe what they have to say!

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Your customer’s decision to pick or not pick you is influenced by these three things:

  • What they already know of your business.
  • What you tell them in ads and marketing.
  • What they learn from reviews.

It’s called the Influence Mix [New scientific term alert!] a situation where different factors balance each other’s effect. Think of it like this: If you’re wearing a fabulous dress to a party, it might be okay if you don’t have the perfect hair-do. The other guests might just miss your hair and still think that you look great! 

What does this mean for you?

While marketing your business and creating a brand value is important, having a good online reputation is equally important. So, even if you fall short on the other two factors, one way to easily make up for them is by having a lot of great online reviews about your business. 


1. Are reviews really that important? 🤔

Well, the stats from Moz say so:

  • They can get you business!

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  • They can take it from you too!

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I know what you’re thinking. Whooaaa! Are those numbers for real?

Absolutely. People will tell. They’ll tell others about their customer service experiences, both good and bad, with the bad news reaching more ears. It is famously known as the Multiplier Effect.

Americans say they tell an average of nine people about good experiences, and nearly twice as many (16 people) about poor ones — making every individual service interaction important for businesses. We might not be the ones to kiss and tell, but we’ll absolutely rant about a bad business.

  • Moreover, with the launch of Reserve with Google, an online search and book platform for services, reviews have become even more important. Customers can now search for a service and see business listings with their reviews and book a service right from Google search. Click here to learn more!

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But it’s okay. Getting a bad review isn’t the end of the world.

Don’t take it personally. Maybe the bad review was because the customer was simply having a bad day. Roger Gil, MAMFT, a behavioural scientist, suggests that one of the most common ways that stress in people manifests itself is displaced anger.

Or maybe your business wasn’t a good fit for the customer. In case it was, the bad review transforms into a very precious feedback. Learn from it and take it as constructive criticism. Try not to repeat the same mistake again. Customer satisfaction should be your preference.

2. The positives of a negative review 🌤

  • A negative review means not having a shining 5-star rating. But that’s actually a good thing. People don’t expect businesses to be perfect. They expect them to be real. And real things aren’t perfect!

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  • Businesses screw up. It happens. But when it happens, an interesting opportunity opens up: if you handle it well, you can actually build a stronger relationship with the customer than you had before.
  • Negative reviews evoke trust by making your business look more human. A few bad reviews among the good ones actually add a human element to your business. A bad review of your company is a little piece of honesty… and we all know what honesty leads to; Trust!

A few bad reviews in the mix are simply more realistic.

3. Addressing a negative review. The Absolute NOs. 🚫

  • Trying to take them down

Why? Because it seems a little, well, rude. Moreover, consider this: those who are savvy enough to write a Facebook review likely know of the myriad places where they can write a review online including your website, Twitter, and many others. If they wrote on the windows of your virtual storefront, you would quickly remove it. Your Facebook page is one of the windows of your virtual storefront. Apart from that, it’s actually unethical and illegal. Reputed platforms like Yelp are really sensitive about it.

“if we allowed companies to pay to hide their bad reviews, our users would catch on pretty quickly and eventually stop using the site.  They would wonder why the highest rated mechanic was ripping them off.  Or why the five-star dentist routinely bungled their insurance.  Or why the top restaurant had horrible service and even worse food.”

-Laurence Wilson, Deputy General Counsel at Yelp

  •  Ignoring them

On SiteJabber, businesses that respond to reviews have an 86% higher rating compared to those that ignore them. Also, negative reviews on social media can go viral pretty fast. This means that companies have to get on board fast or risk the wrath of their unhappy customers’ complaints and criticisms going viral. 

  •  Being rude or impolite:

The ‘I’ll show you!’ approach. You feel the complaint in the negative review is unjustified or, for whatever reason, it makes you angry and you can’t help but respond with an angry or defensive comment. Hold back. Don’t do that. It will only worsen the condition. For obvious reasons, enraging an already angered customer is a bad idea. 


The Hairdresser’s Rant Fiasco

After paying £360 for hair extensions and a cut and blow dry, Janice Khoo was unhappy with the result and posted a complaint on the salon’s Facebook page.

What happened next left her lost for words as the hairdresser, Drew Carlton, replied with a torrent of abuse.

Later, Mrs Khoo was offered an apology and full refund from the salon owner.

Read more here.


  • Responding right away

Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and CEO of The Marketing Zen Group says this is a bad practice for one simple reason. Your immediate impulse is to return fire. Don’t do it. Back slowly away from the keyboard and collect your thoughts. Getting a negative review is a sensitive situation and has to be dealt with a lot of caution and strategy. There are more chances of getting things wrong if your customer thinks his review isn’t being acknowledged well.


4. Your step-by-step guide to addressing a negative review 📖

  • Keep yourself calm.

    Relax. Go back to the starting of this blog and remember why is it okay to get a negative review. Repeat. Don’t take it personally.

  • Don’t respond instantly.

    But be prompt. Plan your strategy. This probably sounds straightforward, but to avoid an emotional and less effective response, it’s helpful to create a plan before taking any action.

If possible, respond within 48 hours. When a business responds in this time frame and addresses the customer’s concerns, reviewers will often either delete their reviews or even bump you up to a 5-star rating if they are really happy with the outcome.

  • Reply publicly and professionally.

Show everyone your side of the story. You should respond publicly, whether on the review platform where your customer posted, or in a comment on their blog, or in response to their social media post. This will leave an impression on your other customers that you care. Also, highlight your opinion on the problem in the reply so that everyone can look at the review from a different perspective.

  • Apologise.

The customer might update their review. Sometimes all a customer needs to know to want to return to your place is that your business cares.


A Nail Lounge’s Apology Story 

Kréme de la Kréme Nail Lounge is the recipient of dozens of positive reviews on Yelp. Angela T., the business owner, takes the time out to thank Yelpers who put in these good words for her. Whenever a bad review comes along – like this one from a honeymooning reviewer – Angela T. responds, too, in a way that just shows how seriously she takes her customers’ comments and critiques.

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Here’s Angela’s reply:

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Be polite and don’t make excuses or defend. But that response should be an apology for how they feel, and a request for an opportunity to make things right. One of the examples of this as mentioned on the Groove blog,  is the way that Gary Vaynerchuk responds to nearly every negative review of his books on Amazon. Here’s a one-star review from a customer clearly unhappy about his purchase:

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And here’s Gary’s response (note the complete lack of defending himself or his book):

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  • Send a private message too.

    Many customers only want to communicate via private messages and will refuse to respond to you publicly, so it’s important to respond to them both privately and publicly. Your private message can elaborate on more details than you may want to discuss publicly, especially if your company deals with confidential information or services.


A Famous Walt Disney approach to handling bad reviews: H.E.A.R.D.

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This technique pioneered by the Walt Disney Company, a business that hosts 135 million people in their parks each year, many of them angry parents that have to answer to even angrier five-year-olds.

  • Hear: Let the customer tell their entire story without interruption. Sometimes, we just want someone to listen.
  • Empathise: Convey that you deeply understand how the customer feels. Use phrases like “I’d be frustrated, too.”
  • Apologise: As long as it’s sincere, you can’t apologise enough. Even if you didn’t do whatever made them upset, you can still genuinely be apologetic for the way your customer feels (e.g., I’m always sorry that a customer feels upset).
  • Resolve: Resolve the issue quickly, or make sure that your employees are empowered to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer: “what can I do to make this right?”
  • Diagnose: Get to the bottom of why the mistake occurred, without blaming anyone; focus on fixing the process so that it doesn’t happen.

    5. How to do damage control? 🔧

  • Drown the negative reviews in positive ones.

People at Groove believe in this approach. After a negative review is posted they immediately address the problem and work towards making their service better. This leads to more people writing better reviews for the business impressed by the good response. Every positive review will take the sting out of a negative one that you might have. Ten positive reviews and one negative review might give a customer pause, but with 100 positive reviews, even ten negative reviews aren’t such a big deal.

  • Leverage the power of other social media sites.

The idea is not to stop just at leveraging the power of just one social media site. Broaden your horizon from the site where the review was originally posted.


Cute Chef’s Awesome Youtube Idea

The chief of Seastar Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar, after getting a bad review is able to expand their reach and show not just Yelpers, but YouTubers too, just how much they value their customers’ comments and feedback.

Check it out by clicking the link below the screenshot

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Chef John Howie responds to Yelp reviews

By adding a video element to the responses, Seastar Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar is also able to humanise their brand and lend a face – a personality – that existing and prospecting customers can identify or at least engage with. Having the chef himself respond to the reviews, moreover, establishes the credibility and authority of the responses.


6. Conclusion

Being real is the key

People are not looking for perfection online. What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner. And that has a good impact on all your customers.

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Focus on the problem, not the result

Moreover, a negative review is nothing but an impact of the real problem. Rather than focussing on getting the review deleted or amended, take action to solve the underlying problem. This will help you deliver service that your customers will love.

☺️


Ever had such issues while handling negative reviews? Let us know in the comments below. We love a good talk.


References