HOW TO STAY FULLY BOOKED DURING TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES
Have the tides suddenly shifted in your PMU practice? Are you noticing that your schedule isn’t as booked as it once was? Have your clients suddenly gone MIA?
If you are a permanent makeup artist going through a slow cycle in your business, you are not alone. Call it a sign of these uncertain economic times, call it “too much competition” or perhaps it’s the planetary weight of Saturn fighting against the gravitational pull on the Earth. Whatever it is, don’t fret! There can be a number of reasons why your schedule has suddenly come to a standstill.
A lack of confirmed clients can be stressful, no doubt! When we feel stress, we often lose clarity on how to take purposeful and useful action to resolve our problem. The good news is that there is always a solution to problems like this, and the answer lies in creating a strategy to retain and nurture your EXISTING clients rather than to focus your energy on reaching out to new ones. Keep reading to gather some insightful tips that can impact your PMU business.
NURTURE EXISTING CLIENTS
Growing your business and generating daily sales isn’t about acquiring new clients, but rather, it is about nurturing and stewarding the clients who have already availed themselves of your services and turning them into repeat business. The great thing about a client-nurture business model is that you do not need thousands of clients in your database to achieve six figures in your business. You can run a successful, profitable business with just a few hundred clients in your database.
Acquiring a new client can cost you five times more than retaining an existing one. In addition, lead generation and lead follow-up take a lot more time from your bandwidth than keeping up with existing relationships. The name of the game is to work smarter, not harder. Therefore, your business should focus on solidifying your existing client base who already love and trust you. Don’t get me wrong, obtaining new clients is an important way to drive growth in your business, but establishing a framework for a successful client retention-system trumps new sales tenfold. In my opinion, content creation geared towards new client acquisition should only take about 20% of your time. The remaining 80% should be spent on creating programs, content, and systems to nurture your customer base. The objective is to set yourself apart from the competition by maximizing your time. This can be achieved by creating a strategic plan that makes your clients feel appreciated and valued. The more you can maximize and leverage your existing relationships, the more revenue you can bring into your business during these trying times. In fact, data shows that increasing your client retention by just 5% can expand your profits anywhere from 20%-90%, and the first step is to create a framework on how you will cultivate your existing contact list.
YOUR CLIENTS HAVE VALUE
Your business’s average customer lifetime value (CLV) is an important metric to become acquainted with because that information is a way that you can measure how valuable a single client is to your business. CLV is a way to measure the total revenue generated by a single client throughout the lifespan of your relationship with them. The way to obtain this number is by multiplying your customers' average value of sale by the number of transactions they’ve made with your business. Then multiply that figure by the client-retention time frame. This will give you the lifetime value (LTV) of your client. Once you obtain that figure, multiply it by the profit margin you’ve made after the LTV and it will finally give you the customer lifetime value metric. Many scheduling software programs, like Vagaro or Square, can calculate this information for you and save you the math-time!
As a business coach, one of my jobs is to audit the frameworks of my clients and search for the weak links in their systems. If they are experiencing some type of problem in their business, such as low client retention, there is obviously a weak link; This is an area that so many permanent makeup business owners are oblivious to, in my experience. This is because their focus is typically on new client acquisition rather than client retention strategies. Competing with social media algorithms can take a toll on the PMU business owner because it takes a great deal of time and energy, and if you do not have an effective follow-up strategy in place for cold and warm leads, your social media efforts will not be effective. This is the case for so many PMU business owners right now. Whether you are a seasoned artist of 20 years or a new business owner, we ride this wave together. So, let’s talk about a simple strategy that so many of us overlook. Rather than focus on creating TikTok videos and Instagram reels, let’s go back to basics and offer homage to the foundational clients who helped build your business from inception.
There are so many cogs and components that go into sustaining a profitable PMU business-machine. If you are experiencing a lull in bookings, the solution does not come in a box of bandaids for a quick fix. I can, however, tell you with great certainty that the one thing all humans crave and respond to well, regardless of their social or economic status in life, is the simple human act of being valued and loved.
The name of the game for client retention is a strategy I call CLIENT LOVE because it involves perpetual check-ins with your existing community of clients and prospects. Bottom line, sending out exclusive, weekly email blasts to your clients (and prospects) with information that will educate, empower, and enlighten them is the secret sauce to client retention.
Think of your PMU business like a bountiful lush garden. It needs to be fertilized, tended to, watered, and loved for it to flourish. In my professional opinion, as the daughter of immigrants who themselves became business-owners, and as a business owner myself of more than 3 decades, client retention outweighs client acquisition because the business owner does not have to work so hard to sustain the machine! The heavy lifting has already been done! Once you become a steward of your business and manage your client base by staying in constant contact, whilst adding a great deal of value to them, the probability that the client will stay aboard and continue to do business with you, increases significantly.
The issue for many PMU business owners is that they become seduced by the solitary need to constantly attract new prospects through social media. They want to follow the lead of what their competitors are doing. They become convinced that the only way to grow their business is to constantly generate new social content to a cold audience in an effort to obtain new leads, which may or may not lead to conversions. Don’t get me wrong, social media should absolutely be a part of your new-client acquisition strategy. Taking advantage of the various social channels available to us is an important way to position yourself as an expert in your arena; it’s a powerful way to gain know, like, and trust from the cold audience you are attempting to grab the attention of. However, channeling the majority of your energy into a weekly client love email system, and creating content geared specifically towards educating and enlightening your existing audience will create more impact in your business.
DO IT OLD SCHOOL
In my years mentoring and coaching beauty professionals, I've consulted with dozens of seasoned artists that do not have a consistent email marketing plan in place! Many artists fail to subscribe to email blast software (like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or HubSpot) because they believe that this form of communication is antiquated.
In my experience, business owners typically rely on social media or advertising to attract new clients; these are indeed powerful ways to expand a business. However, the action that can create a true impact in your business is strategic, weekly email communication.
In addition to your active clients and prospects, you should have a strategy in place that targets dormant clients that you have not seen in a while and would like to offer something exclusive for them. The most effective way to do all that is through weekly email marketing. Unlike social media, where the landscape and algorithms are constantly changing, not to mention the risk of getting your account hacked, email communication is an effective form of reliable communication, and has stood the test of time.
The key is in the nuance of your messaging. The goal is to stay in constant contact with your tribe, in an effort to stay top-of-mind and remain within the client's radar. In other words, there’s so much noise and competition out there, so as a business owner you need to think about ways to remain relevant to your clients and prospects. Our customers lead busy lives. They balance careers, they have families and value their downtime. Therefore, when drafting a weekly email message, the goal is to entice the reader to the point where they do not unsubscribe from your email list. For example, if you send out nothing more than weekly messages announcing your appointment openings, then you are not offering your community an incentive to remain invested in your communication!
The key is to create a message that will educate and inspire them first, and then mention the opening in your schedule afterwards.
The goal should be to educate, empower, and entertain your community with topics and information that echoes your brand. In other words: If you own an SMP business, sending out information pertaining to hair-growth solutions or skin-care tips would make sense for you to share and is most likely something your community would be interested in learning about.
Conduct a survey and learn about the type of information and topics that your community wants to know about, then create a plan on how you will deliver this information to them in a weekly email. Perhaps one week you curate a list of your 3 favorite podcasts about skin care, and another week you include your own top 5 tips on your favorite hair growth protocols of 2022, then offer a coupon for 20% off of your stock of related products.
Think about it, your clients avail themselves of a PMU beautifying service that you offer. Therefore, they would also be interested in learning about other related topics that complement the service you provide to them. It's about leaving them educated and empowered so that they'll always refer to you as that go to expert. That is how you will remain on their radar.
In addition to adding informative value, you should also be offering client-only specials and incentives. Offering specials on services that they can only learn about from your email communication makes these messages special for them because these messages will now hold power! The client now has the opportunity to receive a future bonus or incentive that can only be taken advantage of as a result of your email communication blasts.
Here are some examples of email content that will help you stay connected with your digital client community:
A link to a podcast or YouTube video that you found helpful or informative.
A link to a powerful article or blog post that you found helpful or informative.
A client-only 24-hour Flash Sale message. This will give the client or prospect an opportunity to take advantage of a discount that you're offering. I always suggest extending client-only flash sales to their family and friends as well, which offers you the opportunity to grow your client base.
The point I am trying to make is: Create an incentive for your clients and prospects to entice them to click on your weekly emails, and never unsubscribe. This is how you will remain relevant in their busy world.
If the majority of your email messages are catered to them and offer information that will educate, entertain and inspire them, and then occasionally announce a client-only sale or special, you will always remain relevant in their eyes.
Rose Prieto, CPCP
SPCP Director, Marketing Chair