Salon Marketing with Schedulicity
by CurlStylist on Thursday, November 17, 2011
There are hair stylists, and there are hair stylists. Tiffany Taylor specializes in management of the sort of hair that can ruin the effect of wearing a skimpy bathing suit, not to mention the effect of removing one. In industry lingo, Ms. Taylor is an “esthetician,” running her own two-person “waxing studio,” called ME Beauty, in Rochester, Mich.
Ms. Taylor once worked in her grandmother’s hair salon and went on to work as a freelance esthetician out of other salons and at clients’ homes. This year, Ms. Taylor opened her own place, hired an employee and set out to build her customer base. Word of mouth was all it took in her grandmother’s day, but Ms. Taylor wanted to take a more modern salon marketing approach by connecting with potential customers through Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, and by running Groupon promotions.
But Ms. Taylor ran into some hitches. She was having trouble converting customer interest into actual appointments. She gave out the studio’s phone number, but she and her employee weren’t always free to handle calls, and using an outside reception service was expensive. She tried some online scheduling services, but customers found them too much trouble to use. Meanwhile, Ms. Taylor’s social media marketing left her baffled about which efforts on which networks were yielding the best returns. And finally, she worried that Groupon promotions would result in a flurry of heavily discounted appointments all in the same week, wreaking havoc with cash flow. “I went to a marketing seminar where they said Groupon will crush your business by inundating you with customers who aren’t paying much,” said Ms. Taylor. “I was afraid of it.”
The concerns about scheduling, social networks and Groupon left Ms. Taylor thinking she had three separate salon marketing problems, but that was before she sent out a tweet asking if anyone knew of a good online scheduling solution. She got a tweet back from a manager at a company called Schedulicity suggesting that its service could help — and in more ways than one. Schedulicity’s specialty, as it turns out, is integrating online scheduling with social-network promotional campaigns. Appointy and Genbook are two similar services, offering roughly comparable features at roughly comparable prices.
For just $19 a month, Ms. Taylor runs all her campaigns with Schedulicity, allowing her to send out e-mail blasts, Facebook posts and tweets for each new promotion. The e-mail blasts can be limited to a specific subset of clients, which she defines by adding tags to her clients’ contact data. Hence, for example, a “teacher appreciation month” e-mail blast, offering a discount on a waxing and a free apple-scented candle.
Every e-mail note, post or tweet goes out with a Schedulicity appointment-making URL that’s unique to each medium and each promotion. That allows Ms. Taylor to call up a report detailing which service brought in which appointments — so far, Facebook is beating out Twitter and e-mail. About a third of her appointments are still coming in by phone, and she enters those into Schedulicity manually, but she has cut down on them by putting up a mobile Web site that does a better job of funneling cellphone customers to Schedulicity.
As for Groupon, Schedulicity offered Ms. Taylor a way to lower her risk of using the promotion, which brings in customers by offering a steep discount. She can specify the maximum number of Groupon customers who can book appointments on any given day — Ms. Taylor limits it to five — and since Groupon customers get a specific Schedulicity URL for booking, Schedulicity can direct all customers beyond that maximum to try a different day. “That means I can still have room every day to see clients who pay full price,” she said. She has sold 110 Groupon deals so far, offering a two-for-the-price-of-one bikini waxing.
Ms. Taylor reports that her bookings have nearly quadrupled in the several months she has been using Schedulicity, to an average of more than 30 a week. That has left her with just one more salon marketing problem: last-minute cancellations that result in open, hard-to-fill slots, waxing not being much of a walk-in business. But Schedulicity ended up providing a solution here, too, through a “pop-up offer” that lets Ms. Taylor send a discount deal over all of her marketing channels the minute someone cancels.
“I usually offer a ‘female Brazilian’ for $68,” she said. That’s 15 percent off a very thorough waxing. And yes, “male Brazilians” are popular, too. If you want to learn more about all this — perhaps a bit more than you’ll wish you had — you can visit Ms. Taylor’s candid FAQ page.
Schedulicity even helps her fine-tune her appointment schedule on the fly. The service sends her a text message and e-mail listing the details of the next appointment, and if she is finishing with her current customer ahead of time, she can just click on the next customer’s phone number and try to get him or her to come in early, so she has no down time. If she’s running late, she can call customers to alert them that they can take their time getting there.
And as a small bonus, Schedulicity provides Ms. Taylor with a little nighttime music. It turns out some people make the decision in the wee hours of the morning to book a waxing, and so Ms. Taylor’s cellphone often buzzes in the middle of the night with notification of a new appointment — something that doesn’t bother Ms. Taylor at all:
“I hear that and think, ‘Ha! It’s going to be another busy day.’”