Expand Your Business with Extensions
The idea of adding extensions to your service menu can be overwhelming. Training staff, adding inventory, marketing to guests—it’s a lot of work for a niche clientele.
But according to Tim Belcher, owner of three Whole Salon and Spa locations in Tampa, Florida, the clientele may not be as niche as you think.
Belcher has found many of his clients aren’t looking for extra length or fashion colors in extensions. They hit a certain age and find it difficult to maintain a solid perimeter line—they want help with thinning hair problems.
“We first realized this when our front desk person, who was a little over 40, grabbed her two front pieces and said, ‘Don’t cut this, it doesn’t grow,’” he says. “So I suggested putting a couple extensions up front.”
However, the word “extensions” doesn’t initially sound like a solution to a hair problem for many clients.
“When a woman hears ‘extensions,’ she thinks, ‘Who am I? Kim Kardashian? I can’t afford $1,700 for this service,” Belcher says.
So he came up with an extension service that’s affordable and that is a real solution for many of his clients’ hair challenges.
A Product and Service for Any Client
Belcher, who is in his 30th year of business, first added bonded/single fusion extensions to his menu 10 to 12 years ago. But a couple of years ago, he switched over to VoMor™, a taped extension made of real hair.
“When VoMor™ came out, that’s when everything changed for me,” he says. “It’s unique because it’s an in-house inventory.”
With other companies, Belcher found the process of extensions to be baffling—“You identify the ideal guest, then had to order the hair and schedule her to come back a week later. This made no sense to me,” he says.
“Now, we regularly offer extensions as an upgrade to our services on the spot.”
To introduce their clients to the service in a non-intimidating way, the salon first identified the guests they were going to market to, then created a script on how to present the service.
“We learned how to show the options beyond thickening products to a client who had repeatedly had issues,” he says.
Next, Belcher asked his stylists to look back on their books from recent months and highlight anyone who would be a good candidate for extensions. Those clients were sent a gift card inviting them to have $50 off their first VoMor™ service.
“Women called up to get the service without even asking what it was,” Belcher says. “We never said the word ‘extensions’ until they came in and their stylist could do a consultation.”
During the consultation, stylists listened to the client’s complaints about her hair. Whether she needs more volume, or the hair collapses in humidity or she has certain spots that don’t grow out, the extensions can be used to combat the problem.
“As soon as they talk about wanting thicker hair or choose a photo from the portfolio with thicker hair, we talk about extensions,” Belcher says.
“We even pull hair that matches their color and leave it on the hairdresser’s station when they know a potential client is coming in,” he says. “We tell them, ‘We’re using extensions to combat that problem now.’”
Then the stylist shows the client a portfolio of women their age with similar issues and how extensions enhance the hair.
“They even take the hair out of the box and hand it to the client or clip it in her hair so she can feel it and see how much is in the box,” Belcher says. “There’s immediately a flood of questions. The box of VoMor™ prompts a professional, appropriate conversation rather than the ‘what we did on the weekend’ conversation,” he adds.
And due to the dramatic results, extension clients have been the best referring guests Belcher has ever had.
“It’s beyond a new color—it’s new hair. It’s more youthful and easier for the client to do,” he says. “It’s accomplishing what they wanted their hair to do, and for us, it’s created a better guest. These clients buy retail and always pre-book their appointments.”
Priced Within Reach
Adding six extensions (a box of VoMor™ contains six) is a 15-minute add-on at Belcher’s salons for around $200, depending on the level of the stylist. The maintenance is every eight weeks, and since the client already has the hair, is a service price of around $75.
“That service price includes taking out six extensions and putting them back in,” Belcher says. “It’s typically done when they are coming in for a color service. The extensions are removed, which takes about 15 minutes. Then after the color has processed, the client is shampooed and blown out, and the extensions go back in.”
The client can wash and style her hair, as well as do anything else she normally would with the extensions in.
“For around $200, I’m now offering extensions to 40 percent of my clientele,” Belcher says.
“I’ve seen my extension business go from two to three people per month to 50 people per month, and my whole world has changed.”
Marketed as a $200 upgrade, Belcher says this price is nothing to women with fine or thinning hair. “It’s devastating for them and money is no object,” he says.
A Profit Center
Before using VoMor™, an average extension client would spend around $1,600 for a first-time visit.
“With this new service, that number is now $300—much more affordable,” says Belcher.
“When we took all our extension services last year, with half the people buying one box of extensions (six), the other half getting two boxes (12), we did $100,000 in extension services in 2015, which was four to five percent of our total revenue—that’s significant,” he says.
“Nothing else has come near that in the past 20 years,” he says. “It’s our second year of VoMor™ extensions but the first year with the new positioning of an upgrade service. We were more traditionally just adding length and volume prior to that.”
Belcher says the pricing for the VoMor™ extensions is simple and straight-forward for both clients and guests.
“The hair itself is presented on the ticket as a retail item,” he says. “A box of 12-inch hair retails for $160. Then the service is typically $50-$60 depending on the stylist, which brings the total to $210-$220.”
For maintenance, Belcher charges 1.5 times the service, a $75 re-taping fee, which is always an add-on/upgrade.
The extension upgrade has also helped Belcher increase his retail revenue. He finds guests, who may ignore their stylists’ advice when it comes to caring for their real hair, will do anything to protect their extensions.
“If they use the products we recommend and come back when we tell them to, the extensions typically last for eight weeks and three uses before having to buy new hair.”
And when clients try new products, their excitement over the Aveda brand grows. Belcher has found the extension service is re-energizing the brand, and not just because of product usage; it’s also due to the state of the client’s hair.
“If there’s one phrase that encapsulates what the Aveda guest is looking for, it’s healthy, shiny hair,” he says. “As we get older and hair thins and dulls, we need to put everything we can towards building that hair.”