The concept of pre-booking isn’t new, in beauty school, we learned about the importance of having a client commit to their next appointment before leaving the door. Most schools even tracked your pre-booking average. The hair industry in the last decade has shifted in more ways than one and, in some ways, that has affected the art or prebooking.
Between booth rental salons with no core receptionists booking appointments, to online booking apps, and most recently the on again off again nature of a pandemic, looking to the future has taken a back seat to focus on your chair at the present. However, we all know that a killer career in the hair industry is a combination of skill, personality and business know-how, and the #1 rule of growing your business is securing repeat bookings. Here are a few tips for helping your clients plan for their next appointment.
Know your client
By the end of your appointment, you should have a pretty decent idea of who your client is. Things like whether they are a student versus working professional or a stay at home parent will play a role in their availability and their ability to plan ahead. For clients who are nervous about committing to a future time, let them know that it’s more of a placeholder because you don't want to get to the 12-week mark and not have anything available for them. Let them know they can always reschedule (as long as they adhere to your cancellation policy).
Use your calendar
Take this figuratively and literally. Beyond looking at what you have available you can use things like major holidays, season changes, and planned future time off for yourself as reasons to encourage a prebook. “The holidays get super crazy, let's pre-book your early fall and early winter appointments now so you get the days and times that work best for you.”
Give them an idea
Most clients do not actually know what a regular maintenance schedule looks like, they may just wait until they look in the mirror, dislike their hair, and give you a call. Try giving your clients a basic blueprint of when most services get an ‘update’. Not only does this help with prebooking, but it also helps give realistic expectations. For some clients, these time frames vary so after a few visits you can really nail down their pre-booking needs.
It's not for everyone
Remember, it’s ok if certain clients don't pre-book. The reality is pre-booking intimidates some clients for a variety of reasons. For those clients, send them home with a general pre-booking date card to set the proper expectations and let them know how fast you usually book out. For example, if your clients usually have to reserve a Saturday three weeks ahead, but weekdays can be booked only a week in advance...let them know that.
Now close your eyes and visualize this with me. You open your appointment book and you know exactly who is booked for the next three months. You know exactly when you are working, what to order, and how much you will be making (more or less). Open your eyes. Doesn’t that sound dreamy?
Average Pre-booking Times
Bang Trim: 3-6 weeks
Shorter Length Haircuts: 4-6 weeks
Longer Length Haircuts: 8-12 weeks
Solid Color Retouch (gray coverage): 3-6 weeks
Solid Color Retouch: 5-8 weeks
Toners: 4-10 weeks (*this greatly depends on home care)
Traditional Highlights: 8-12 weeks
Hand-Painted Color: 12 weeks +
Face-Framing Highlights: 6-8 weeks
Perms: 3-6 months
Keratin Treatments: 2-6 months
Extensions: 3-8 weeks
*All times vary based on home care, growth speed, and desired look.
Written by: Nicoletta