The art of converting inquiries in dollars
The art of CONVERTING Inquiries in DOLLARS
Written by Paul Carbis who is regarded as one of Australia's leading beauty industry trainers.
He is a specialist in salon management and retail selling and can help your salon with all areas of staff training.
I received a distressing phone call recently. One of my clients was upset, because the advertisements she had paid me to write were not working. She reported that they had booked only a handful of customers from the advertisements and that she didn't feel that she had received value for her expenditure. Well naturally I was concerned and arranged to immediately go out to her salon and rectify the problem.
On arrival of the salon, the owner was busy with a client and so I sat and waited while a young therapist cleaned, entered data on to the computer, and answered phone calls. In fact, the phone fairly rang off the hook and the therapist spent most of her time answering inquiries. I sat and listened the various conversations and it immediately become apparent that the problem wasn't the advertising at all. You see, the callers were responding to the advertisement, but the young therapist had no idea how to convert these inquiries into bookings.
Unfortunately this is a far more common problem than just this isolated case. We are all so used to speaking on a telephone that we take it for granted that everyone knows how to use the phone correctly. In fact, the role of receptionist is an area that requires some very specific training if your salon is serious about converting a high percentage of inquiries into bookings. Here are a few easy to implement ideas from my own salon reception-training course to get you started.
What people ask and why?
If I recorded many of the inquiries that come into the average Australian salon three basic questions would dominate most conversations. They are
How much is?
For example: do you offer facials in your salon? Can you fit me in for facial today? How much is that?
Now the reason people ask these questions is that they are the least committal questions they can ask. At any given point they are free to simply say thank you and hang up.
And this is where the problem begins. Many therapists answer the questions quite literally. Yes we do. Yes we can and That's $70.00. This point many of these potential clients hang up and turn the page of newspaper or yellow pages and ask the same series of questions to the next salon in their local area. Armed with no other factors than price and availability to compare salons they make their decision.
Now I would be horrified if a potential customer chose my opposition rather than me simply because they were a few dollars cheaper! However, this is exactly what was happening in the salon I visited. Despite their superior services and salon exclusive product range the inquirers were only given price as a comparison and therefore chose the cheapest salon in town.
Use effective body language
Body language can be heard over the phone. You can hear it in a person's voice if they are smiling when they answer the phone. It's true! Try placing a small mirror on the wall just near the phone and get everyone who answers to smile into the mirror before they speak. Not a corny half-hearted grin, but a real smile that shows teeth. The people who call you will hear the difference, especially if they just heard Yes we do, yes we con and its $70.00 for the third time.
A willing to please attitude
Being enthusiastic is a vital ingredient to capturing a person's attention. Eagerness to help and a keenness to explain more then simply answering the basic three questions immediately gives the inquirer a positive first impression of customer service professionalism, and friendliness. It also allows the receptionist the opportunity to add more information to the conversation because the caller is more inclined to be interested. So now a good receptionist will be able to explain your points of difference, your special offers, your pricing structures, how experienced your staff are, the awards your salon has won, the most popular treatments, etc.
Probe for their needs
People come into the beauty salon for many different reasons. Some want time out in an environment where they can completely relax, some went treatment for a specific skin problem. Yet others just want to look and feel terrific. By asking why they are requesting a specific service and listening carefully to their answer on experienced therapist can respond to the caller's specific wants and needs. For example, an inquiry is made for a facial and the receptionist gleans that the major concern is fine lines around the eyes. Now the response can be specifically about your rehydrating collagen and elastin facial treatments with a special eye masque and protective moisturiser, rather then the relaxing facial treatment with a scalp and foot message as added extras.
Paint a Picture
Adjectives are describing words, words that bring to life services that may otherwise sound fairly ordinary. A Classic Facial can also be described as A wonderfully rehydrating end rejuvenating anti-ageing facial. A foot massage can sound fantastic as a to die for foot massage. Even a lash tint can make someone's eyes sparkle as an eye enhancing lash tint. Get into the habit of whetting your client's appetite's by making your services sound impressive. Professional receptionists practice these phrases until they become second nature. It's the difference between looking at a client's skin and offering a full diagnostic skin analysis. Try making a list of your most popular services and then placing one or more adjectives in front of it at your next staff meeting. Place the best phrases by the phone. Use the same principle on your written advertising, price menus and newsletters as well; it will be just as effective.
Points of difference
What makes you different to your competitors? Is it the free skin analysis before every facial treatment, enabling your staff to create the perfect masque end treatment regime for their individual skin requirements? Or perhaps the convenient off street parking available. Maybe it is the exclusive brand of cosmetics you recommend and use. It could be the free lash tint, foot and scalp massage you offer with every facial this month. Whatever it is, make sure that it is mentioned so that the inquirer is choosing your salon rather than just selecting the cheapest alternative.
Know your stuff
Who ever works on reception must have a very sound knowledge of all salon services, what is involved in the treatment and what products are used. Being able to answer any inquiry immediately and accurately instills confidence in the caller and creates the image of well-trained, experienced professionals. Knowing treatment procedures, prices and special offers off by heart can prove to be a great advantage when you are trying desperately to give the very best first impression to every new inquirer.
All the some rules apply just as well for walk-in inquiries as they do for phone queries. In fact, in many ways this scenario is easier, where you con take advantage of printed material such as posters, price lists, fliers and newsletters. Try offering a tour of the salon or demonstrating the products you use.
In most of the salons I work with, price is neither why their customers chose them nor why they continue to use their services. All of these salons spend hard-earned dollars on various forms of advertising. This advertising is only as effective as the ability of the therapists working in the reception role to convert inquiries into bookings. As a simple test, try counting the number of incoming calls to your salon. Then compare this figure with the number of bookings you put into your book in the same week. It might just be that you feel you need to undertake some reception training!