It’s the conversation you never want to have with your top stylist, but unfortunately sometimes even the best partnerships have to come to an end and you need to be ready to cope with keeping clients when a stylist leaves your salon.
It’s important that you move quickly when you hear that a member of staff is leaving, and we’ve put together 5 steps for you to take:
1. Contact the stylist’s clients right away
As soon as a stylist has handed in their notice, you need to speak to their existing clients straight away – it’s better for your clients to hear this news directly from you than “on the street”, and it gives you a chance to recommend another stylist to them. If you cannot contact them on the phone, then a letter or an email is also a good way to get in touch, and also as a follow up to a phone conversation for those who haven’t rebooked with another stylist.
What’s important at this stage is to keep things professional, and contacting a client directly as soon as you can is the best approach. A few of their clients may already know about their departure, especially if they are leaving to go into business by themselves, but that doesn’t mean that you have already lost their custom.
2. What to say about the stylist’s departure
It goes without saying that you need to acknowledge the loss in a positive way and keep the message simple – the client doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of the stylist’s decision, just that they are still going to be in great hands at your salon.
Reassure your clients by saying that that unfortunately their stylist is moving to another role elsewhere, and whilst you will be sad to lose them that you wish them the best of luck. Then focus the attention immediately back onto the client and encourage them to rebook with an alternative member of staff.
Don’t be drawn into any discussions about why the stylist is leaving or what a client may have heard about your salon, instead focus on the positives – new members of the team, recent awards won, your recent salon improvements, training courses that staff may have attended – anything that will keep their interest with you and not with the stylist.
Make sure all members of staff know what to say, draw up a mini script if necessary to help tackle difficult clients on the phone.
3. Don’t let the gossip get out of control
It’s human nature to want to chat about changes such as these in the workplace, and your other members of staff will undoubtedly have an opinion on what has happened, but don’t let them talk about it on the shop floor or in a client-facing environment.
As with your clients, don’t bad mouth the departing stylist in front of the other members of the team. They may still have close friends that work there and have split loyalties over the situation, and it makes you look unprofessional at a time when staff need to feel reassured that personal matters are kept that way in the workplace.
Explain the positives that can be drawn from the departure, for example can a junior stylist be promoted? But most importantly make sure that they are clear on what attitude and behaviour is expected of them when they are dealing with clients, your business and its reputation is in their hands.
4. Tempt the clients to stay
It’s realistic to expect that clients will be bombarded by offers from the stylist’s new salon, particularly if it is a new business, and so you need to be prepared for this on your end too. There’s a good chance that the stylist’s best clients are already aware of their departure if they have been trying to poach them before they left – it might be unprofessional but it certainly happens – so you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
There’s a lot of apprehension over giving out too many discounts to clients in the salon, but when a stylist leaves you need to pull out all the stops to keep the client; it’s not a time to be tight-fisted. It’s worth offering them not just a generous discount on their next visit, an additional treatment such as a free file and polish or hair treatment free of charge on their next visit too. It will cost you next to nothing to add on these services, and just remember how much it costs to get a new client in the first place!
5. Social media
If a member of staff has left under any unhappy circumstances then it’s really important to keep a tighter reign over social media channels for the following few weeks. If they know the passwords then change them right away, but also make sure that nothing derogatory is being posted about your salon online.
Now is also a good time to ramp up your marketing and shout about your salon and what new training your existing staff members have received on your social media channels, as well as anything else you have achieved as a business recently, because you never know whether their clients will see it too! You might get a few new clients out of it too!
If a client does temporarily leave to follow the stylist to their new salon then don’t see it as a permanent severance – one unhappy experience there and they could be back! Keep them on your database and occasionally mail them with offers and discounts to try and win them back! If you don’t get any response back then put them on your lapsed client lists – don’t give up on them completely!
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