Creating a Referral Program for Your Salon That Really Works


Word-of-mouth is a business’ best friend. Why? Because it’s perfectly targeted and incredibly trustworthy. A potential client is going to be much more excited about a raving review from a close friend than they will be about an ad they scroll past online.

Of course, some clients might be more motivated to spread the word if they were offered a little incentive. This is where referral programs come into play. Referrals are everywhere, but they’re especially effective in health and beauty, because new clients want to be sure they’re putting their trust into the hands of someone they know is worthy. 

Whether you’re looking to implement your first referral program, or you’d simply like to make a few improvements to your current system, salon owner and industry expert Stacey Coronado has a few tips and tricks for creating a referral program that really works.  

We introduced you to Stacy in our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed her previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Stacey is the owner of the incredibly successful Aveda Lifestyle Salon, 20 Volume. She attributes her success to her paperless business modeland her passion for the industry. She is also the Education Director of her very own New Talent Academy for training new stylists, and at 20 Volume she has mastered a referral program that helps her newbies begin to build their clientele fresh out of training. With expert industry insight, Stacey is excited to share her best advice for building a successful referral program. 


Back to Basics

Referral programs are just that, programs that invite referrals. Many of you might remember the three R’s we learned back in beauty school—referrals, rebooking and retail. While they can be often overlooked, sometimes the fundamentals are the most important. Your program doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate to be successful. 

Referral programs, at their most basic level, aim to encourage satisfied clients to share their salon experience with friends, family, and anyone else interested in our services. Our goal as salon owners is to attract new guests, and the best way to advertise our talent is with our previous work.


Referrals Are All About Reciprocity

While referrals are mostly about recommendations for the sake of attracting new clients, there needs to be incentive for both parties, giving and receiving, in order for it to be truly successful. 

Referrals are all about reciprocity and creating a two-way exchange of value. A referral program that rewards the sender of the referral as well as the receiver, or potential client is going to produce the best results. At 20 Volume, Stacey’s team hands out referral cards that offer potential clients twenty dollars toward their new services. When those cards are redeemed the original client, the one who gave out the referral, is then rewarded with a gift voucher for $25 toward any products of their choice. This system encourages customers to spread the word about their services, and it gives additional incentive for new clients coming in.

Quick Tip: Traceability is key when it comes to referrals. If you decide to implement a referral program in your salon, you need to make sure you have a way to keep track of the referrals as they go out. Keeping a spreadsheet of client emails makes it easy to trace those referrals as they come in. This way you can assure that you’re rewarding the right guests for their recommendations.


Get Your Stylists On Board

The number one thing to be sure of when attempting to implement a referral program in your salon is to make sure that your team is committed. At 20 Volume, a lot of the responsibility falls on the stylists who fill out the referral cards for their customers at the end of their visit.  

Stacey has found that having her stylists fill out the cards for her clients is the most effective way to go about it. This way her clients leave the salon with cards that are ready-to-go and Stacey can be sure that no mistakes are being made in the process. Stacey requires her stylists to hand out a minimum of 25 referral cards a month and they are responsible for uploading the details into the database. This way, when referrals begin making their way back into the salon, receptionists can easily look up the client who gave out the recommendation in order to send them their reward.

With your salon team on board, your referral program will quite literally speak for itself. Referrals are a great way to attract new clients, and they reward your most loyal clients for their recommendations—boosting overall retention rates. It’s a win-win! 

To learn more about Stacey Coronado and the many things that20 Volumehas in the works for 2019, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 145. If you’d like to read up on her incredibly innovative, paperless business model check out our previous blog post, “A Game Changing Remodel: Go Beyond Going Paperless” or listen to podcast episode 131

Emily Kelly