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How to create a salon referral program (ideas & examples)

A referral program can help get new customers through the door at your salon or spa while rewarding your most dedicated clients.

How to create a salon referral program (ideas & examples)
Emily Holzer
By Emily Holzer

Content Marketing Manager

Your most loyal customers can also become your fiercest growth asset with a salon or spa referral program. Let’s unpack how a referral program can help support your business and explore a step-by-step guide to getting started.

What is a salon referral program?

A salon referral program is a growth marketing approach that rewards existing clients for bringing new business into your salon or spa. This method is praised for its effectiveness and accessibility for small businesses over other marketing channels. It is helpful to understand why referral programs can be a good idea for salons and spas:

  • Reaching clients in your area: Service businesses flourish when they find support among local customers. As data protection and security become more widespread, it can be impossible to ensure your geo-targeted paid ads are actually reaching customers in your area. Word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients are guaranteed to reach local audiences.

  • Trustworthy and reliable: 93% of customers suggest referrals are more trustworthy than advertisements. A first-hand recommendation from a friend, colleague, or family member can resonate with customers more easily than any other marketing or advertising avenue.

  • Only pay for what you get: Unlike paid online advertising, your business only needs to pay for referrals when they successfully bring you new revenue.

  • Stay in control: Referral programs let you make the rules. Customize every detail of your program without ever having to deal with a 3rd party marketing tool.

A step-by-step guide to creating a salon referral program

1: Choose your referral rewards

What is a referral worth to your business? This question is at the heart of all salon referral programs. You must first decide how to reward customers who bring in new clients. For example, salons might offer a free $10 gift card or a small service discount for every new referral.

2: Iron out the details of your program

Referral programs require a few considerations beyond just the rewards. Some details include:

  • Who qualifies for the referral program? Will it be limited to clients in your membership program?

  • How long will it take to deliver rewards?

  • Will your salon or spa have a limit on how much clients can earn through the referral program?

  • Do referred clients need to meet a minimum to qualify for rewards?

Be as clear as possible in writing out the terms and conditions to protect your business. Try to anticipate any possible loopholes, questions, or problems to ensure your program launches without trouble. Once you gather these thoughts, make them available to customers — both in-store and online.

3: Add the referral field to your intake form

How will customers let you know they have a referral? If you use an integrated intake form during the booking process, you can simply customize your form to request referral information.

With an advanced booking management tool (like Mangomint), you can also customize your scheduling flow to collect relevant referral information. After you collect this information, our software will let you store it in the client’s profile. If a customer indicates they were referred by a friend or family member, you can complete the referral and distribute rewards at the time of the appointment.

4: Train your staff on referrals

Your staff will play a key role in keeping your referral programing moving, so it is vital to ensure they are up for the task. You can offer a script for staff to use when customers book over the phone or in person — such as, “Before we finalize your appointment, can you tell me more about how you found [Your Salon Name]?” This best practice can be helpful in nurturing salon growth even before you launch your referral program. You should also make sure your staff knows how to follow up with referrals gathered in your online booking platform.

5: Set up a management plan

How frequently do you check in on referrals and distribute rewards? Some might manage this program at every appointment. Others might choose to check in weekly or monthly to ensure this program gets the dedicated attention it deserves. Having a management plan prepared can help ensure referrals never slip through the cracks. It is also helpful to walk through these steps within your salon or spa software interface to make sure you are ready once the referrals start coming in.

6: Market your new program

Next, start spreading the word about your new referral program. Consider advertising this program on your website, in your salon, and with an email newsletter. However, word of mouth will still be your most important tool here. Be sure to share the details of your program with every client who walks through your doors.

7: Get your staff in on the fun

You can motivate your team to bring in new customers by creating a referral program that extends to staff. Even if it is just a small bonus for every new customer they bring in, this is an easy way to keep your team motivated and engaged.

8: Start growing your business with referrals

Now, you are ready to get started! Tailoring the program to your business and clients might take some trial and error. The more you actively push your referral program, the more quickly it will gain traction. Once it gets moving, you can watch your program take shape, make any necessary adjustments, and monitor its impact on your business.

How to track referrals in Mangomint

Mangomint's platform will track the text you save in the "Referred by" section of the client profile. As such, it is helpful to be intentional about how you choose to store and track this information.

To add client referral information:

  • First, click your new client's name under Mangomint's "Clients" tab.

  • Then, click the edit button (shaped like a pencil) near their name and image.

  • Under "Additional Details," you will see the "Referred by" field.

  • Add a referral type (such as "Client," "Staff," or "Social Media"). You can decide which referral categories you would like to track — just be sure to use consistent labels to keep this metric easy to follow.

  • Next, add specific referral details — such as the name of your referring client, staff member, or specific social media channel. For example, this might look like, "Referred by: Client - [existing client's name here]" or "Referred by: Social media - Instagram."

  • Don't forget to click "Save" before exiting the client profile.

Track your referrals by searching for a referral type or a specific client's name:

  • In the "Clients" tab, click "Options" in the upper right-hand corner.

  • Scroll down until you see the "Referred by" section.

  • Enter the referral metric you would like to track.

  • You can also adjust the "Had first appointment" filter to view only referrals from a specific window of time.

  • Then, click the blue "Apply" button.

Now, you can view all of the relevant referral information related to that client or type. Don't forget to remove these filters once you are done tracking your referrals.

Other salon referral ideas

While a direct program is the most straightforward way to earn referrals, there are additional options salons and spas can take advantage of. Let’s explore a few other salon referral ideas.

Word of mouth and review referrals

If you are not in the position just yet to incentivize referrals, simply ask satisfied clients to leave a review or spread the word about your business. While it might not return as many results, you will often find your most satisfied clients happy to help your business thrive. Online reviews through Yelp or Google My Business will boost your search visibility. Additionally, when potential clients see 5-star reviews and positive first-hand anecdotes, they will be more likely to choose your salon or spa.

Gift card sales and promotions

When clients give gift cards to friends, family, teachers, and coworkers, it essentially gives a new customer a “free” trial to your business — without requiring any discounts or rewards from you. However, if you want to boost your sales, you can easily do so with gift card promotions. The Mangomint platform makes selling and promoting salon or spa gift cards seamless.

Partner with other local businesses

Take advantage of every opportunity to get your name out to potential customers in your area. Many coffee shops and community hubs will let local businesses display small signs or contact cards.

Sponsorship opportunities

Consider sponsoring a local sports league/team, a community event, or a small fundraiser. Much like an in-house referral program, this support will encourage local members of the community to book with your salon or spa.

Launch your salon referral program with Mangomint

Mangomint makes it easy to manage your salon or spa. Our comprehensive client management features help you track referrals and distribute rewards at the click of a button. These features work in sync with our staff management, online scheduling, and reporting capabilities — which are designed to meet the unique needs of salons and spas with 5+ providers. If you haven’t explored the Mangomint salon and spa software yet, book a live demo or a free trial to get started today!

Emily Holzer
Emily Holzer is a Content Marketing Manager at Mangomint. She has a master’s degree in English and a passion for helping salons, spas, and other local beauty businesses thrive. When she is not writing, you can find her playing chess or tending to her houseplants. Fun fact: Emily has donated 8 ponytails (so far) across 5 hair loss charities in the U.S.

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