Did you know the majority of people (84%) trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from family and friends? It's true. Not to mention, 97% use online media when researching products or services in their local area.

Bottom line: Your salon's online reputation matters.

No doubt, you already know this. The question is, how can you get more positive reviews? And how do you manage the bad ones? We've got you covered in our latest installment of beauty salon marketing tips.

1. First, make sure you claim your business listing on popular review sites like Yelp and Google My Business.

We can pretty much guarantee people are already talking online about your business. So the first step in managing your reviews is claiming existing business listings for your salon.

Doing so is beneficial for a couple reasons. First, you'll have control over basic information, such as salon hours and contact info. Second, you'll be able to respond to and manage reviews, an important component when building credibility and trust with clients and prospective clients.

Here's how to claim (or add) your business listing to popular review sites:

If you only have time to focus on one or two sites, choose Google My Business and Yelp. Like it or not, Google is the king of search. If someone googles "salons near me," Google automatically serves up salons based on the person's location—along with the relevant Google My Business pages. The more robust your page is (with images, info, and—yes—reviews), the more likely it will catch the searcher's eye. And as for Yelp, it has quickly become the go-to for real customer reviews, particularly in the beauty service industry.

Yvette Jaimes, owner of Yvette J Salon Spa & Training Specialties in Tempe, Arizona, says, "Getting a Google or Yelp review is as important as getting a rebooking client. It is a way to get graded on your daily hard work."

2. Ask for reviews.

We know asking for reviews can be hard for some folks. But you'll find that customers are usually very eager to give you a shout-out. What they need is direction.

  • Have a stack of glossy postcards that you (or your receptionist) hands out to satisfied guests on their way out. The postcard can be simple: "We hope you enjoyed your visit. If you did, consider leaving us a review on one of the following sites."
  • If you use any sort of salon management software that offers review functionality, turn it on. Some software will send clients links via text asking for them to post a review.
  • Make sure you include signage around the salon. Again, think highly visual pieces with a clear message: “Love our salon? Let the world know! We welcome your reviews on places like Yelp, Google, and more!"

Shari Tackert is a licensed esthetician and owner of Skincare by Shari in Brenham, Texas. When it comes to getting more reviews, she does a spin on our first bullet above. "Every new client receives a 'New Client Goody Bag' filled with policy info, sample products, rack card with listing of services, coupon for their next service, and many other goodies," Shari explains. "I also include specific instructions on how to leave a positive review. I print it on a brightly colored piece of paper so it doesn’t get overlooked. I include directions for Facebook reviews and Google reviews."

Yvette Jaimes echoes Shari's advice. "It is important to have signs up, put it on your consultation card, and your after-care information. I tell my clients the best gratitude I receive from you would be a google review. I also ask, 'Have you ever given a google review?' If the answer is no, I help them with step-by-step instructions. Many of my mature clients need help figuring it out."

If you're feeling shy about asking clients for reviews, Ju'Dale Anderson, a licensed cosmetologist who's worked in a variety of salon settings, has a great suggestion: Focus on people who are clearly thrilled with your services.

She explains, "Sometimes you'll have a client who mentions nothing but joy and praises about the service. Maybe they're purchasing from you again or they simply just wanted to let someone at your salon/business know that they were pleased . . . Moments like that are a perfect opportunity to say, 'Hey, I’m so glad that you enjoyed your service! Would you be willing to write a review sharing your experience?'"

Keep in mind that soliciting reviews needs to be a regular task that all employees participate in. If you need to motivate employees, consider implementing salon staff incentives to get team members in the habit of regularly asking clients for reviews.

3. Always respond thoughtfully to reviews—both positive and negative.

Simply asking for reviews isn't enough. In the era of social media, people expect businesses to engage and have "conversations" with customers online. Customers want and need to feel seen and heard.

How to respond to great reviews

If someone leaves a positive review, acknowledge it by responding directly to the review or by using the "like" function (if available) on the review. Give a heartfelt thank you to them for taking the time to leave a review.

Vary the way you say thank you. In other words, not all of your responses should sound alike. Try referencing something specific that the reviewer said. For example: "Clara, we're psyched you like your new color! It was so much fun working with you." Or: "Yay, Heather! We're so glad you love your French manicure. Have fun at your sister’s wedding!"

Taking the time to sound authentic will absolutely pay off.

How to respond to negative reviews

First, keep in mind that it's perfectly normal—and even expected—for businesses to have the occasional poor review. Nothing in life is perfect. In fact, savvy consumers might be suspicious if a business only has dozens of glowing five-star reviews.

Second, you should acknowledge negative reviews. Just avoid sounding defensive. Neutral phrases will make you look thoughtful and diplomatic. For example: "We appreciate all customer feedback, even when it's hard to hear." Then, what you say after that diplomatic line will depend on the substance of the review itself:

  • If the review doesn't read overly negative (perhaps it's a 2-star or 3-star review), add something like, "We're going to discuss what you brought up in your review and try to do better moving forward. We hope you'll give us another chance."
  • If the review lists legitimate gripes or complaints, the salon owner/manager should respond and say something like, "Ugh. I'm so sorry you had this experience. I'd like to learn more and see if there's something we can do to make it up to you. Please call me directly at . . ." (Then, provide a real phone number.)
  • Never argue with someone online, even if they're in the wrong. It will not end well for you, and it will be a bad look for your salon. People do evaluate a business based on how the owner and staff respond to negative reviews. And don’t worry: consumers are good at reading between the lines. They'll be able to tell if the reviewer is being unfair or unusually harsh.

All that said, you don't need to tolerate reviews that are offensive, toxic, or threatening.

You still shouldn't engage the reviewer. But what you can do is flag the review. Most platforms have a way for you to dispute reviews. Only use this option for actual trolls. Irate customers should be allowed to vent. As uncomfortable as it will be to see a particularly harsh review about your business, simply acknowledge it, learn from it if you can, and move on.

Speaking of learning from bad reviews . . . keep in mind that not all critical reviews are "negative."

Some criticism will absolutely be valid—and worth discussing internally with your staff and potentially making changes as a result.

This is especially true if you keep hearing the same criticism repeatedly. Don't merely say, "Thanks for the feedback." Do something about the issue! For example, if people say they like your salon, but the online scheduler is hard to use, perhaps it's time to look at new software that will be more user friendly.

Yvette Jaimes from Yvette J Salon Spa & Training Specialties offers similar advice. "Never be afraid to ask for feedback," she says. "Whether it is good or bad, you learn from it, and it helps you get better at handling different situations.

4. Promote positive reviews.

Don't be shy about sharing positive reviews across different marketing channels. Some ideas to consider:

  • Add a review plugin to your site and feature reviews on your home page. (Check out more beauty salon website ideas here.)
  • Sprinkle positive reviews throughout other highly-trafficked pages, such as Services and Contact.
  • On individual team bio pages, add a couple of five-star reviews that call out that particular team member by name.
  • Do a shout-out on social media on places like Facebook and Instagram. "Another happy client raved about Tanya!" Then, include a quote from the review. (Check out more Instagram marketing tips here.)
  • Use reviews in your marketing collateral, such as brochures, direct mailers, print ads, and online ads.

5. Don't overlook social media.

People will tag your salon and/or leave reviews on places like Facebook and IG. Approach these reviews the same way you would on more formal review sites: Respond thoughtfully. Don't get defensive. Let people vent, as needed. Learn from the reviews.

Shari Tackert from Skincare by Shari says she'll sometimes hop on social media to request reviews. "Every once in a while, I’ll post on my social media that I’m looking for some more reviews, and my clients happily oblige."

And remember, the antidote to a bad review is more good reviews.

An occasional bad review is a part of doing business. Don't sweat 'em too much. Instead, follow the beauty salon marketing tips we described above. Good reviews always counteract the bad. Wishing you much luck!

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