Running a Successful Salon Front Desk

Whether it is in person or on the phone it is the client’s first point of contact with the salon; a bad experience here and it might put the client off booking their appointment.

First impression of the salon

The first area of the salon they walk into will be the front desk so it must give a good impression. Everything should be clean and tidy giving them confidence in your standards. It should be like stepping away from the outside world in a lovely serene environment so they feel they can really relax here.

Welcoming the clients

The first person who greets the client should be friendly, welcoming and polite making the client feel at ease and comfortable. So many times I've heard complaints from clients about other salons making them feel intimidated when they walk in. They often say they are being looked down on by the staff or as if they are a complete inconvenience to the staff, who would much rather be reading their magazine/filing their nails/chatting to another member of staff.

Needless to say they don't book appointments with these salons! The person on the front desk should give their full attention to the client; it's not professional at all to be doing something un-work related when the clients walk in, such as reading or on a personal call. The front desk staff must also be very knowledgeable; if someone is making enquiries it will be frustrating for them to get through to someone who can’t answer their questions or misinforms them.

If the client has arrived for an appointment them make them feel welcome by taking their coat, offering them a drink, showing them where to sit etc. Always double check their appointment with them when they arrive in case of any mix ups so this can be sorted out straight away. A basic client record can also be created at the front desk and possibly a medical consultation to check for any contra indications.

Retail area

A well-presented retail area is also a great idea for the front desk at the salon. It should be clear the products are for sale, any products locked in a cupboard or in a 'fancy display' might scare clients off looking at them. It's best if the client can pick the products up and look at them, demos are great too so they can touch and smell them and if they are clearly priced this helps too.

Booking appointments

Most appointments will be made over the phone so the staff should have an excellent telephone manner. Take details from the clients; always take a contact number in case you need to get hold of them before the appointment or to contact them if they don't come in. A contact number or e mail address is great for sending out confirmations or reminders of appointments. Always repeat the treatment, time and date back to the client once the appointment has been made to check neither of you has misheard anything or got crossed wires.

If a client can't get through by phone it might be a little frustrating for them. If you're quite a large salon or spa you will probably have front desk staff manning the phones at all times. However smaller salons aren't always able to employ front desk staff or receptionists as there isn't enough work for them to justify the salary. Duties are then shared between therapists.

Sometimes all of the therapists will be busy. If you have a junior, training them on reception is really handy. If not, make sure you have an answerphone so clients have an opportunity to leave a message. Make sure you always respond to messages left! You can also pay for a messaging service where if you can't answer the phone it will be diverted to an 'E Receptionist' who will take a brief message from a client and then pass it on to you. This is great as the client gets to speak to a real person. You may offer online booking which combats the problem for some clients with not being able to get through; some people will find this much more convenient than calling up.

You will need a good booking system in place. Some people prefer a good old fashioned appointment book or diary whilst some opt for the booking software that is available and book appointments on the computer; this is completely up to you. Whatever system you choose make sure everyone who books appointments is well trained. If it's a pencil system ensure that they know the short terms for the treatments, how long to book out, who does what treatments and how to avoid double bookings.

Of course if you are using booking software all of this can be set up automatically but everyone needs to be trained on how to use the software properly so that they know what they're doing!

Record keeping

A good record keepin system should be in place so that the client's treatment history, recommendations, contra indications etc can be looked up easily. A procedure for patch testing should also be in place and these should be recorded on the client's record cards.

Deposits and Cancellations

You may want to set up a deposit or cancellation charge policy too. Some salons take deposits to secure appointments or request pre payments where as some will have a cancellation policy with charges applying if clients miss appointments. Whatever you decide to set up, the policy should be clearly written within your price list and on the website.
If you get everything right at the front desk this will attract new clients and keep clients coming back. All too often we focus only on the treatments and the therapists (which is of course the main part of the service) but don’t forget that the whole service that the client receives is also important. Don’t neglect your front desk, if you do then your clients will neglect you!

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