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Loyalty & Referral Programs

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

About the author:

LeeAnn Miley is a salon owner based in Hastings, Nebraska, and the President and Executive Director of The Sovereign Stylist. Her personal experiences led her to advocate and educate stylists on proper worker classification. LeeAnn’s blogs are typically focused on tax compliance, worker classification, and general business practices. LeeAnn believes that laws and business are powerful entities when one has knowledge of them and has dedicated herself to spreading such knowledge to the industry she loves.

Going into business for yourself, whether a studio or as a booth renter, is overwhelming in the beginning. There’s inventory, pricing, stocking, taxes, and promoting all while impressing from behind the chair. Something you are probably forgetting is implementing a killer loyalty or referral program. It’s okay, get yourself established first, create some routine in your business, then when you are ready to expand your marketing efforts go ahead and create a program that fits you.

What is the difference between a loyalty and referral program? Well, loyalty programs reward clients for staying “loyal” to you and not straying. This is usually based on some sort of points system. Referral programs bring in new clients via word of mouth from your current clients and in turn reward them for referring you to their friends & family.


Loyalty and referral programs can come in all different forms, here are a few ideas:


1. Pre-Booking Discount- This is the easiest way to get your customers to start pre-booking. The discount you offer is entirely up to you and so is how you are letting your clients know.


Instead of posting a sign about your pre-booking discount or posting about it on social media, tell your clients that you are only making this offer to VIP clients right before they were leaving. Not only would it make them feel special but they will want to take advantage of an offer that is ONLY available to certain people! Exceptional customer service is always about making the client in front of you feel special.



2. Service Packages/Bundles: Inner Circle, VIP programs, or mine was called “The Cool Kids Club,” can be set up in literally a million different ways! Use this to really pinpoint your ideal customer.


If you are wanting to target women in their mid 20’s to 30’s that socialize often and are moving up in their careers, offering a blow dry package that highlights them not having to worry about doing their hair for events. Throw in a conditioning treatment to make them feel even more intrigued.


Looking to bring in more loyal men? Package together a quarterly haircut package that includes however many haircuts you want them in for (4 haircuts x 3-4 weeks – 10% = price of the package). Create a package that will be a savings for them but also make you more money because they are coming in more often. You won’t feel like you are “losing money”!



3. Point Rewards Systems: This one is fun because it includes ways that your customer will also be building your online presence for you!!


Having a strong online presence is SO IMPORTANT these days and if it is not a focus for you as you are trying to up-level your salon business then you need to take this as your sign and start evaluating where you are focusing your efforts!


Focusing on building your Facebook page, offer a point or 2 for someone checking in when they are in for their next haircut. Offer points for using your hashtag on their selfies, or tagging the salon in their posts! You can offer birthday points, retail bonus points when they purchase products. All of these examples are ways your customers can earn points that you benefit from in more ways than money!


I had a ton of success using a points loyalty system. The majority of my clients consisted of a large circle of friends & family members, I would say 75% of my clientele knows each other rather well. Implementing a points system brought out a competitive side of my clients. So much that I considered hanging up a leader board at my station.

LeeAnn Tip: Keep track of your clients points under their profile in your salon booking app.

4. Stamp Cards: If you are looking for a super straightforward and easy approach to a customer loyalty program, Stamp cards are JUST THAT! They may not have as many bells and whistles to them but that is sometimes all your business needs!


This approach also gives your customers something physical to hold onto which a lot of people like. They can physically see the points they have earned and how far away they are to earning the rewards.

LeeAnn Tip: If your not trying to add another expense or need to keep track of cards, there are actually apps now that you can use that will help you keep track and super easy to use! A great FREE app you can look into is “Stamp Me” you can find it in the app store on your phone.


5. Customer Referral Programs:

If you want your customers to refer to their friends, family or coworkers, offering them a reward for that action is entirely up to you with what you offer. I have seen a lot of salons offer a $20 ticket to customers for the new clients and the referring client. I have seen if you refer me 3, 4, 5, however many you want, I will give you a free haircut or 50% off your next haircut.

LeeAnn Tip: Be sure that you are actually seeing the customer before you are giving the discount. So in order for that person to be considered a point for them they have to have already come in and paid for their appointment. It would suck to have appointments on the books and to give something away only to have those people end up cancelling.

All of these are a great way of getting your clients to not only feel like their business is appreciated by you but it also helps you get your clients to come in more consistently, spend money with you over other retail options and start talking to their friends more about the great hairstylist they have and why they should also be seeing you!


Remember, your business is unique to you and your goals so what works for one person may not work for another! What one person is lit up by and excited about might not excite you. You have to do what you feel passionate about.


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