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How to attract salon customers at off-peak hours

Key take-aways

Even outstanding salons sometimes suffer from fluctuating foot traffic. Business booms during peak hours, then dwindles, making it difficult to keep hairdressers' chairs filled. But having a free Business Profile on Google can help bring in more prospective customers — even during off-peak hours.

Business listings can help you become highly discoverable online, stand out from the competition, and offer incentives for potential customers to schedule appointments in advance. Learn how to use your Business Profile on Google to drive more weekday business.

1. Add photos to stand out in search

2. Encourage reviews to attract more appointments

3. Target conversions with service menus and a booking button

4. Post special offers for off-peak appointments

5. Re-engage past customers by responding to reviews

6. Share how-to videos to expand your reach

The higher your star ratings and the more positive your reviews, the less inhibition potential salon-goers may feel about booking an appointment.

1. Add photos to stand out in search

Millions of potential customers search for salons every day, even during off-peak hours. You can improve your chances of being found at all times by claiming your Business Profile on Google – a free business listing from Google that helps you show up in online searches.

Visit your profile to fill out your business logo, description, open hours, contact information, short name and photos. Complete profiles are 29% more likely to attract purchases. The more effort you put in, the more you'll get out of your profile.

A London salon, for instance, can stand out from the competition by uploading only the most dazzling photos of its hairstyles as its profile and cover photos, and selecting high-quality interior photos. Potential customers may be more drawn to its profile, more likely to click, and more likely to visit. Potential customers who are truly impressed by the listing may also be more willing to book their appointment in advance, filling an off-peak spot.

Salon owners may also choose quirky, photo-led marketing tactics to generate images for their listing by offering a well-lit selfie station where happy customers can take their own photos. Every time users post their pictures online, they'll be helping the salon advertise, and owners can encourage people to upload their photos to its Business Profile right from their phone.

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2. Encourage reviews to attract more appointments

Today's shoppers look for reviews before buying, and when your Business Profile shows up in a search, they'll see a one-to-five star rating next to your name. These are Google reviews, and the stars that appear are the average of all your customer reviews, which any user can leave on your profile. Ratings and reviews influence people's decisions. The higher your star ratings and the more positive your reviews, the less inhibition potential salon-goers may feel about booking an appointment.

Earn more reviews and ratings by letting regular customers know that those reviews matter to your business. Ask the hairdressers working in your salon to remind people they can show appreciation by leaving a review on Google, and consider placing a note at reception to remind customers about reviews again as they pay. You can also generate a "write a review" link inviting customers to review you on Google and add it to your business website.

Business Categories

Business categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer. For example, if your primary category is "Pizza restaurant", Google may show your business in local search results to people who search for "Restaurants", "Italian restaurants" or "Pizza" in their area.

3. Target conversions with service menus and a booking button

If online visitors can't act on their impulse to book an appointment or view the services that your salon offers, they may abandon the profile and choose a competitor instead. Take a busy professional on their lunch break, for example; if they have just a few minutes to schedule a trim but can't find price information or book straight from Google Maps, they may run out of time and forget to return later on.

Google My Business offers the option to add service menus to your profile, which is helpful for providing prospective customers with the information they need while they're browsing. Service menus are free of charge and easy to set up, and they allow businesses to share a full list of the services they provide along with prices.

There are several ways you can customise the call-to-action button on your profile to make bookings easier, including:

  • Adding your phone number
  • Allowing visitors to text or message you
  • Adding a link to your website
  • Adding a Book Appointment button

Book Appointment buttons are the fastest of all contact options, and it's possible to add one to your business listing using a third-party booking provider (which may charge a fee for their service). Once set up, this button will connect the profile directly to your appointment booking system so that potential customers can schedule a date and time with just a few clicks or taps.

Local Results

Local results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their location. They're shown in a number of places across Maps and Search. For example, you'll probably see local results if you search for "Italian restaurant" from your mobile device. Google will try to show you the kind of nearby restaurant that you'd like to visit.

4. Post special offers for off-peak appointments

If your services always cost the same, potential customers will book appointments when it's most convenient for them — say, on a weekend morning. But if you change your pricing slightly so that off-peak visits are cheaper and peak visits more expensive, you may nudge prospective customers into visiting when seats are otherwise empty.

You can post off-peak discounts right on your Business Profile on Google and they will appear at the top of your listing for seven days. After seven days, posts will be shown in the Posts tab (which only appears on mobile), so it's good idea to update your offers frequently. Because you can post updates as often as you like, consider trying different discounts for periods of a few days to measure their impact — either in an increased number of off-peak appointments or in the number of click throughs from your profile. You can view this information and other insights from your dashboard. It’s worth noting that customers who follow your Business Profile will also be notified whenever you post a special offer, making it more likely for your existing customers to visit your salon during off-peak hours.

5. Re-engage past customers by responding to reviews

The easiest potential customers to attract to your salon during off-peak hours may be your happiest existing customers. They already value your salon and trust your hairdressers, and are more likely to take advantage of offers such as discounts for visiting at what are ordinarily slow times. They're also more likely to book appointments further in advance so they can be guaranteed a spot with their favourite stylist.

To increase brand loyalty and encourage repeat visits, respond to past customers' reviews directly from your profile. Thanking people publicly for their business shows new prospective customers that you care and are engaged, and it makes existing customers feel appreciated — and more likely to return.

6. Share how-to videos to expand your reach

Seven in 10 people say they often use YouTube to answer a question or solve a problem – everything from learning how to tie a bow tie to mastering the latest hair trends. Salon owners can expand their reach online by answering people's hair-related questions in YouTube videos and linking back to their Business Profile in the video's description text. You can also link to videos in your Business Profile posts, as long as they are less than 30 seconds in length.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to hire a marketing agency to create video content. You can use your smartphone and record clips from the front desk of your salon. What matters most is that your videos offer tips and tricks that are genuinely valuable to your potential customers. Visitors who enjoy a salon's videos may see the salon as more trustworthy and exciting to visit. If they then view your profile, the first thing they'll see are posts and discounts for visiting at non-peak hours.

Google My Business can help salon owners attract more potential customers during off-peak hours by making the salon easier to find and more attractive to book. To become more discoverable, select your photos carefully, add a booking button, post frequent deals, respond to reviews, and share your expertise with how-to videos.

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