Running a salon is all about making the customers look and feel great, and nothing prettifies quite like the feeling of being totally relaxed and pampered. In the words of Roald Dahl: “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” I think he was talking about kind thoughts towards your fellow humans, but I’d say the same goes for the contentment that comes with a really good trip to the hairdressers.

So how do you make your customers feel like they’ve had a luxury salon experience without spending every penny you have on cashmere seat covers and an in-house harpist? Well, it’s surprising how effective a few small (and cheap!) additions can be. Here are five ways to make sunbeams shine out of your customers’ faces.

1. Good smells

Maybe it’s just me (hopefully not) but when I go to a really nice-smelling hairdressers, the memory stays with me. Maybe that’s weird, but I think when it comes to salons, appealing to the sense of smell is almost as important as being visually appealing. A fragrant environment is the first step to luxury.

But it’s important to think about what kind of atmosphere you’re trying to achieve and consider which smells will best complement that. One of the most memorable salons I’ve been to had a kind of cosy, tucked-away, back-of-a-witch’s-shop feel to it and part of how they achieved that was by burning incense sticks: you felt the air was almost heady, like you were being put into a trance. That sounds a bit weird, but it really worked for them, and I’ve always remembered it! Not everyone is looking to be hypnotised by tendrils of smoke though, so if your salon is aiming more for the ‘clean and serene’ vibe, maybe go for something fresher and lighter.

2. Little treats

Another memorable salon sticks in my memory for one very simple reason: chocolate. As someone who can generally be impressed with nothing more than a well-timed cup of tea, the surprise treat of chocolate has been known to promote a good day to a really good day in a flash. Why not try arranging your sweet treats artistically on your waiting area coffee table? Go for something with a shiny wrapper and make a glistening golden pyramid, or a Jenga tower of fudge.

Another idea is to go healthy and seasonal by offering customers fresh strawberries in summer, or a cool glass of lemon and lime water from an elegant glass jug. You could also keep a bottle of champagne in store for when a customer comes in on their birthday or to get ready for a special event.

3. Greenery

Plants are our friends in many ways, and it’s been shown that having plants and flowers around our indoor spaces is good for our mental health. It’s really easy to give your salon a lift by keeping lots of plants around the salon: big, green, leafy ones are the best, and ferns are particularly attractive, but if you’re looking for something easy to care for (and most importantly: hard to kill) go for succulents, like aloe vera. If you don’t want to add the upkeep of a house plant garden to your already packed schedule, fresh cut flowers will also add a touch of luxury, just be careful not to let them get wilty and dry or they’ll do the opposite.

4. Falling water

Did you know that falling water produces negative ions which have a number of benefits to our mental and physical health? That’s why we like going to waterfalls and being by the sea! Now I know what you’re thinking: Rebecca, how on earth do you expect me to get a cascading waterfall into the middle of my salon? Well, that’s a good question. You can often find miniature table top fountainettes at garden centres for pretty reasonable prices which could make an intriguing (and darn fancy) point of interest, as well as spreading those negatively charged ions around the room to make everyone feel good. A word of warning though: choose your indoor water feature carefully as, frankly, a lot of them are pretty naff.

5. Five-star service

When you think about five star hotels, restaurants, and spas, it isn’t just the quality of the food or the services that makes it so top notch: it’s the impeccable and faultless attention to detail in the way you are received and treated from the moment you walk through the door. Lucky for the rest of us, good manners, attentiveness, and amazing customer service are achievable on any budget, if you put your mind to it.

Think about the little things that elevate your customer experience from ‘fine’ to ‘rave to your friends about it’. Commit to thorough and regular training days with your staff to make sure they understand the importance of greeting every customer as soon as they come in, and of frequently checking in as they wait and during their treatments. Establish a protocol for customer service from start to finish so that the excellent experience is consistent: if one client is helped in and out of their smock, then they all should be.

6. Thank you

Now here’s a small thing that has a big impact. You say thank you to your customer as they leave, of course, but how about a follow up thank you by email – or better yet, text – the following day? The day after the appointment, when they’re still basking in the perfect hair glow, is the best time to thank them again for their custom and ask them to make another booking. With Appointedd’s CRM tools, you can set up these come-back messages to go out automatically, and direct the customer to book with you online, so you get repeat booking after repeat booking without ever having to lift a finger!

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Published on 5 May 2016