Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 55. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, this show is a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, roundups of our most recent salon owners marketing tips & tricks, all the latest in and around Phorest and what upcoming webinars you can join. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.
Phorest FM Episode 55
At any time of the year, there’s probably nothing more frustrating than clients booking appointments in the salon only to never turn up. Coming up to Christmas, however, no-shows are the last thing you need. December is stressful enough as is – having to cover costs and gaps in the agenda is not fun for anyone. Today on the show, Killian and Zoe invite industry expert Helen Devenney to discuss the different options salon owners when facing no-shows and how to keep on par with your customer service standards at the busiest time of the year.
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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM Podcast Episode 55. I’m Killian Vigna.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer.
Killian Vigna: Following on from last week’s countdown to Christmas, we discussed the issues with no-shows and how to effectively manage your salon over the festive madness.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: As always, we top off the show with our upcoming Phorest Academy Webinars.
Killian Vigna: This podcast is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off. Now, let’s get into the show. Good morning Zoe.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, how are you?
Killian Vigna: I’m good now. So we kicked it off last week with the countdown to Christmas. We had Chris Brannen on. And now today we have another Phorest staff member. We have Helen from the training team.
Helen Devenney: Hello!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Is this your first time on the show? I can’t remember.
Helen Devenney: No. I was on before, we were talking about staff meetings and managers together-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh, yes. That must have been six months ago, easy.
Helen Devenney: Yeah-
Killian Vigna: Ah, this is going back.
Helen Devenney: Early days.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Miss us?
Helen Devenney: Yeah!
Killian Vigna: So yeah, the reason we decided to bring Helen in, for anyone that has listened to the previous show, where Helen has spent a couple of years working in the salon industry before coming over to Phorest. And we were just trying to think of a topic this week and we were like, “Oh, what will we discuss this week?” because we’ve covered a lot of Christmas stuff. And then we were directed to a post that came up on, what was it, Facebook or Instagram, which-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: I believe it was Instagram.
Killian Vigna: Instagram. And it was about no-shows.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: But it was actually shaming people.
Killian Vigna: Well, it was shaming people and to be fair, you’re running a business, so you can see how you would get frustrated and stuff like that. But, basically, it called two people out that agreed to a book in last night, and still didn’t turn up this morning.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I think the full names were there as well, which, that I personally don’t agree with.
Killian Vigna: Well yeah, I mean, I know it can be frustrating and it’s emotional. But at the same time, you’re trying to run a business and when it’s Christmas, like December, your book is essentially full.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Of course, yeah.
Killian Vigna: So you’re refusing people away and the guys who you have committed a booking to are turning around and going, “Well, actually, I just won’t bother turning up.” We get that people are busy and stuff like that. So that’s why we decided, well, let’s bring Helen in and kinda see her point of view and I suppose you’d have experienced stuff like this before, so-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Probably first hand as well.
Helen Devenney: Yeah. There’s probably… at Christmas time, it’s so mental in salons. They’re doing absolutely everything they can to accommodate people. People start booking Christmas appointments in September. So, I guess the earlier they get people in, grand. You can understand maybe coming weeks up they’ve forgotten the time and things like that. And maybe wanna reschedule it. But literally, everybody wants to get in and get their Christmas stuff done. And there is nothing probably more frustrating on any normal day when people don’t turn up or cancel or anything like that. But Christmas time, when you have a long list of clients waiting on that, it’s just not like on as such, because you’ve built up such a good client base and when you can’t accommodate people in, it’s very frustrating. Not even for the business owner. It’s so frustrating for the staff member because they’re kind of just left with their gap in their day. And its-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: ‘Cause I mean, at least if they had a heads up, they could probably get someone in on the waiting list or anything like that.
Helen Devenney: Yeah. Yeah. And then salons… apart from having the ability to try different things like that, there’s only so much really that they can do. Even myself. I’ve been messaged twice this week to confirm an appointment. So that’s just what salons are up against and there are people who don’t take any disregard to whether they don’t turn up or don’t even let you know. So it’s just, salons kind of want to do away with that, shall we say.
Killian Vigna: Did you ever notice if it was kind of, would most of the no-shows be your own actual loyal clients or would they be kinda guys who’ve just booked in ’cause they couldn’t get anywhere else? Or even coming from likes of Groupon or Treatwell?
Helen Devenney: It’s probably… You can never say that none of your regular clients would not turn up. It’s a busy period for anybody and I suppose when you think about it, if someone has made that appointment two months ago, sometimes there are genuine things that they just forget. They forget the time, they don’t read the message properly, they think it’s the week after. It’s not. So there’s always genuine things, I think if it was somebody who’s been in business with you a long time, they’re so apologetic because they know how hard it is for them to get in and they know that you probably have somebody there waiting. You’ll probably notice the difference between how they act as to somebody who, as you said, is coming from Groupon or is just making the appointment anywhere. Whereas they’re not answering the phone, they have no intention of ringing you afterwards, they’re not trying to rebook back in anything like that. So there is… It’s not uncommon that you wouldn’t see regular people, but it’s how they deal with it is you can really tell the difference between what kind of ways they kinda handle it.
Killian Vigna: And how did you deal with, I suppose, with no-shows?
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Did you have a policy in place in the salon?
Helen Devenney: It’s very hard to enforce a policy like that unless you’re taking pre-payment, booking deposits, or you have some kind of charge facility like our online bookings. So, I guess for salons there’s so many times you can tell people that, but whether they really take it on board is… You’re kind of just hoping that they do. We didn’t really have a policy but we, I suppose, we were maybe a bit selective with our cancellation list, because if there were people that we knew that were close by and things like that, long-standing clients, we tried to get them in. As opposed to people who we didn’t know and who were just trying to get in for the sake of getting in.
This time last year though, I remember having new salons coming and using Phorest and they thought: “We’re only going to take our bookings, by online booking.” They were getting bookings at like 7 in the morning on Christmas Eve. One year that they had 3 or 4 people not turn up… When they’re going into work early again, they want to be in bed too. And they were saying, “We’ll only book our appointments by online booking,” because the salon is secure then, if they don’t turn up, at least they can charge them, which probably is a bit hard this time of the year. It’s expensive, but-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: But at the same time, I mean, we had Alan Stewart from Rainbow Room International, he was saying he was doing that. Jenny Lawson from Mimosa Beauty was saying it’s a mutual respect thing. And obviously, if there’s some sort of extreme situation, she’d be understanding and everything. But if it’s just not turning up for the sake of not turning up, it’s just charged.
Killian Vigna: There’s no value in something that’s free. If people keep giving you… It’s like when you keep giving someone free content and stuff like that, I suppose you get used to it. So if you’re like “Oh, yeah, no, you can book over the phone,” or something like that, you’re not doing a deposit charge or something, there’s no commitment there. Where even if you wanted to go to an event and the ticket was two euro, because you’ve paid that 2 euro, you feel like, well actually, I’ve contributed something to it, so I’m going to be locked into it now. If it was a free registration, you’re just not going to turn up ’cause you haven’t lost anything. So it’d be good to have a deposit system in place. It doesn’t even need to be much. It’s just enough to say, we’ve gotcha, I suppose.
Helen Devenney: Yeah, you’d be surprised, some places will ask you for like half the booking deposit. They might say full prepay a couple of days before. But if you are… If a salon wants to take a deposit, even just to cover a small amount of their cost. It doesn’t have to be the full 60, 70, 80 euro. But some of the cost and what they need to keep the salon running. You’d be surprised at how many people start to take it over the phone at this time of the year. ‘Cause it is just insane.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: So apart from that, of course, that is a huge challenge but there’s also the problem of trying to keep that standard of service at that busy time. Is there any tips, first hand, that you could provide, perhaps?
Helen Devenney: Well I suppose when you, throughout the year you’re building the standard of your business and you don’t want that to slip, just because you have extra bookings. Obviously there’s certain things at Christmas time, everyone’s coming in to buy vouchers. So, depending on how you package your vouchers. When anybody has five or ten minutes, that’s all you do, is prep your vouchers. We used to have god knows how many bags of vouchers underneath the reception desk. And just have things prepped, ready to go so that your not fumbling around, trying to do it. Designate somebody who’s… That’s their job to clean up certain things when they get a free chance.
Even a lot of… We actually, one of the girls I worked with, her sister actually came in for a couple of days just to help out like that with front of house stuff. I’m sure everybody knows someone whose in around that kind of student and that can help out doing minor things in the background, which normal staff can kind of focus on their work, their standard, their clients, because you don’t want just having extra people to kind of slip, that someone then has just a genuine bad experience when they have good experiences all the other times. So as much as keeping on top of all the background stuff, getting in extra staff anytime you have a minute. Even sometimes coming in a half an hour early or staying a half an hour late just to get all that prep done, it takes all the added extra pressure off the normal staff members.
Killian Vigna: I like what you were just saying now, you’re coming into Christmas period, the amount of students are finishing their exams and stuff now. I mean, it’s tough enough for them to get a job working in a shop or somewhere like that, just for a short couple of weeks. You throw them a few bob, let them stick their earphones in their ears. They’re not actually working for anyone, they’re just kind of moving around your salon, cleaning up, sweeping, even setting up gift bags. Even driving tea so you’re not… How do I say this without saying that it’s child labor or something. But we’re not saying bring in another professional to take on that’s going to cost you a salary. It’s just a kid that’s doing nothing else now. I say kid, like 16 years and up!
Helen Devenney: Even like people that are training at a hair college, beauty college. That’s what they’re aspiring to do after college and things like that. That looks good when you’re trying to go down that avenue as such, whether it’s hair, beauty, holistics, nails, anything. Even just a couple of days here and there kind of stands out to other people. A lot of colleges will look for your commitment for that and it’s handy that you’re kind of getting the good part of it. You’re getting the extra hands on.
Killian Vigna: You could even maybe reward them. If they’re planning on getting done up for Christmas you could say, “Listen, do a couple of hours here and we’ll do your hair,” or something like that. And even after half hour and hour of work.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Is there anything that you need to know just before closing off for the holidays?
Helen Devenney: I suppose some of the things that you can do to get yourself prepped for January is possibly re-record your voicemail. Tell your clients that you’re going to be closed for this amount of time. If you have an online booking facility, say we’re not here, we’re off enjoying our time off. ‘Cause it is the only probably time of the year that people in salons really get to switch off for a couple of days and relax. So advise you clients that you’re closed for that time. You can still book online. We’ll be back on this day. I know some salons open maybe for a couple of hours on some days, just any last minute kind of gifts or anything they haven’t gotten. And then make sure that you have everybody confirmed for the New Year’s kind of appointments, because you might have a couple of days off and people like that trying to cancel. So maybe confirm all of them before you leave on Christmas Eve. I know some businesses have machines and stuff like that might be on timers, make sure to switch them off.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s a lot to think of when you think about it. You start dissecting everything.
Helen Devenney: That used to be a big one we used to forget was to switch off certain machines that you have on timers or certain things like if you’re going to be gone for a couple of days do you have any rubbish that you need to leave out that’s not been picked up until just after Christmas. So they’re kind of the things that aren’t straight forward that people don’t think about. And then I suppose just kind of get yourself … kind of… clients, try and get them maybe booked in for January, because you kind of know it’s gonna be a little bit quieter. Almost getting prepped for a quieter time of the year. Kind of stepping away from it for a bit.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I suppose if there is some sort of gap in your calendar, at least in January, take that time to rethink your business strategy for the year to come and use that time, because after that it’s just, you’re back on it and it’s never gonna stop, you know?
Helen Devenney: Yeah. Once you hit mid-January… You kind of start to move into February, everyone’s been paid after Christmas. You’ve got Valentine’s Day coming up. It’s probably not too long thinking about it coming into Easter. People start to then, like that, come in to the holiday season again. So, we get a lot of people I know coming back, retraining and starting marketing. Having to think about what they can do differently. Whether it’s retraining and skills or retraining and, as you said strategy. That’s probably your perfect time to really go and do all those things, because the other times of the year, you don’t really… You might have a day here and there, but you don’t have a block time to really set aside that time to…
Killian Vigna: Yeah. ‘Cause even though you’re only closing your salon for what two or three days, it might only feel like… It’s actually the longest period of the year that you have off, isn’t it?
Helen Devenney: Yeah. Some salons reopen on the 27th, 28th, but a lot of salons will probably take a good, I would say four days off. And that’s the only time of the year that hairdressers, beauticians, anybody get off. Apart from your normal kind of annual leave. That’s the only time that all of you are off at the same time and completely probably switch off from everything. And that’s not to say that, you know-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Or hopefully switch off.
Helen Devenney: Yeah. Or that’s not to say that you’re not going home and then on the 26th friends and family want you to do their bits while you’re not at work. So you never really fully switch off.
Killian Vigna: Well yeah. That pretty much summarizes it for, I suppose, that Christmas madness, anyway. Like we said, we only wanted to cover where you stand on that… with no-shows and cancellations. How can you keep yourself covered. Like Helen was saying, if you do offer a service like online booking, you are entitled to charge them for that no-show, aren’t you?
Helen Devenney: Yep. They agree to it, so you can charge them up to the full amount that they have left to pay, so, you know, it’s a busy year, obviously, especially with heating bills and things like that, so you can cover yourselves for the cost that you can.
Killian Vigna: And as long as that’s made clear with the client, there should be no concerns, because if they really want that appointment-
Zoe Belisle-Springer: They’ll turn up.
Killian Vigna: Yeah, they’re not thinking I’m going to block book this and maybe turn up. It’s I need this done now, so yes, I’m willing to pay to hold appointment now. Or the whole treatment now. So, Helen, thanks very much for that.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Cheers. Yeah.
Killian Vigna: Cheers.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: And so if we move onto the Phorest Academy Webinars we’re going to keep this episode short and sweet. Well first of all, we have the Salon Owner’s Summit coming up real soon on January 8th. So, that’s sold out. There’s a waiting list available if you go on our Facebook page into the event, the ticket section will get you straight to the waiting list. So you can go on there and then our next Phorest Academy Webinars are actually in January as well, so the first one will be ‘How to Motivate Your Team’ with Valarie Delforge. And she’s also giving a talk at the Salon Owner’s Summit, so as usual, you book in, save your spot on Facebook or if you go onto the Phorest blog you can find that webinar as well. The other one that we have coming up in Jan would be the Instagram Masterclass, but we’ll talk about it more in depth in the next few weeks.
Killian Vigna: Cool. Yeah, so that’s from us, from Episode 55 and thanks for tuning in!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Thanks for tuning in. Next week will be our last episode of the year and then we’ll catch you on the flip side in 2018!
Killian Vigna: All the best.
Thanks for reading!