Every Nail Professional dreams of the perfect client who books multiple appointments, buys new products and recommends your salon to everyone they meet. Indeed, these repeat clients are the golden ticket for a nail salon, as they save the business time and money. According to Business 2 Community, bringing in a new customer is six times more expensive than retaining one, while repeat customers are 14 times more likely to splurge on your products. And when repeat clients are happy with their service, 73 percent of them will share the good word with others.

With a salon loyalty program in place, these dream clients could be coming your way. Aside from making your clientele feel appreciated, loyalty programs are proven to boost your bottom line and help you retain existing customers. Here’s a guide to crafting one that works for your salon.

What’s a Loyalty Program?

A loyalty program can be anything you offer customers in exchange for their continued patronage and/or referrals. You can reward them with whatever your client base will most appreciate, which could be discounted services, add-on treatments, merchandise or any combination of these. You can reward customers after they’ve accumulated a certain amount of points (usually associated with the type of service they received), once they reach a certain status (three manicures per month, for example), after they’ve visited your salon a certain number of times or when they’ve spent a specific amount.

In each of these cases, the customer earns discounts or merch while you retain loyal customers who are more likely to bring in others. Everyone wins.

Building the Plan

So which type of program is right for your salon? To start, take some time to identify what your clients value most. Are they cost-conscious? Do they like to shop your salon’s nail care offerings? Would they prefer an extended service with luxurious add-ons? Studying your clientele and their needs is the first — and most important — step in building a loyalty program because it enables you to provide the most enticing reward for repeat business. Send out an anonymous survey to your clients, or ask them what they need most out of their service as you’re working on their nails. A little information can go a long way.

After you’ve got a good handle on what your clients value most (cost, products, services, etc.), it’s time to set a budget for the program. Investing a small percentage of the salon’s profit into rewards will no doubt pay off in the long run, but you don’t want to spend too much and set a bad precedent for the future. Balancing your books is key.

Finally, set some achievable goals for the loyalty program, and be sure to set a time frame for those goals as well. You might say, for example, that you want to boost repeat clientele to 60 percent within the first six months of running the loyalty program. Whether you focus on budget, clientele or both, make sure your goals are reasonable, actionable and achievable.

Then, think about how your customers will earn rewards, considering these options:

1. Acquiring Points

Clients can earn points based on the level of service they book. For example, they might earn 10 points for a regular manicure or pedicure, 20 for a gel manicure and 30 for a spa pedicure. You can keep track of their points via your client database and reward them with merchandise or extended service offerings when they’ve reached a certain amount.

2. VIP Status

Who doesn’t want to be a VIP? Your clients earn this status by visiting your salon a certain amount of times per month, and you reward those who qualify with special service boosters, freebies and more. Being part of a VIP club encourages clients to keep coming back for more.

3. The Punch Card

Plain, simple and effective, a punch card is a standard way to encourage repeat business. The client gets their card stamped or punched at every visit. When the card is full, they get something fabulous — and another punch card to keep building loyalty.

As you roll out your loyalty program, be sure to keep precise and organized records so you can easily measure the success of the program and adjust as needed. You’ll know it’s working when your clients keep coming back and your brand identity seems stronger than ever.

Making It Yours

The most important thing about creating a loyalty program is to have fun with it! Call your VIPs something playful that aligns with your salon’s name and branding. Design your punch card to match your salon’s decor and energy. Create unique services and service add-ons that can only be enjoyed as rewards. This will make your loyalty program even more unique and will strengthen your salon’s brand affinity that much more. Give them something they can only get from you.

Once you’ve built your unique salon loyalty program, spread the word and start rewarding! You and your clients will both be happier for it.