Few types of businesses can get away without doing any form of marketing, especially small businesses with a limited catchment area and lots of competition. To be successful, a hair salon needs to attract new clients and retain a base of regular return visitors. Standing out from the competition, unless you’re the only salon in town, is hard work. If you can find a unique selling point, you may pull ahead of your competitors.

Finding that unique selling point isn’t easy because there are only so many ways you can deliver hair services. What you might consider, however, are ways to keep customers happy and make your salon inviting so they want to keep coming back, ways that go beyond the quality and standard of haircuts and styles you provide.

One such “add-on” service that offers positive marketing and promotes customer satisfaction and retention is serving alcohol during customer appointments. Traditionally, hair salons have offered hot and soft beverages but thanks to a change in California law, customers may now enjoy an alcoholic drink during their shampoo and cut. 

What Does the Law Say?

Adopted into state law as of January 1st, 2017, there is no requirement for hair salons, barbershops, spas and similar establishments in California to hold a liquor license in order to serve alcohol. 

There are limitations though. The salon must not be located in a limited zone and the alcohol must only be wine or beer. The drinks must be offered free of charge and a glass of wine must measure no more than 6oz and a glass of beer no more than 12oz. If the salon wishes to serve other alcohol (hard cider, liquor and spirits etc.), the relevant licenses must be obtained. 

How Does Free Alcohol Help Your Marketing Effort?

Even if you can land a great deal with a local liquor supplier, plying customers with complementary drinks is going to add to your overheads. You might be able to cover the costs with an increase in salon prices but it is still going to be difficult to be able to see a monetary return on your freebies. Instead, the benefits will mostly be intangible and will contribute to overall salon success. 

The benefits are:

  • Alcohol adds an element of fun to appointments and staves off boredom

For some, the amount of time needed to be spent at the hair salon is a bit of a chore. Anything that can help to pass the time is going to be welcomed. The appointment becomes a social event.

  • The social aspect encourages a community vibe 

Complementary drinks help your staff build relationships with customers and customers with each other. They reinforce positive relationships and encourage pleasant memories of salon visits which should result in return visits.

  • Free drinks can be a diversionary tactic

Probably the most frustrating part of any visit to the salon is the waiting or any delay. A customer who can enjoy a drink while they read their magazine or browse on their phone is going to be more placated than someone left to twiddle their thumbs.

  • It’s a message that can be passed on

A customer who has partaken of a drink and is also pleased with their new hairstyle is likely to make comment on it to their friends. That means it might be a message that is passed word of mouth or more likely, a snap of the salon and the customer with a drink in hand will find its way onto social media. Word of mouth marketing is still very powerful as having your salon appear on Instagram or Snapchat. 

If complementary drinks are going to be part of your customer proposition, be sure to include it in your marketing and advertising literature. Don’t have too limited a choice of drinks (but don’t try to please everyone’s individual tastes) and remember to have hot and cold beverages available for those who don’t want alcohol.