Client reviews. Not to speak for everyone — okay, actually to speak for everyone — but we dread them.

It’s no secret that people will take the time to write a bad Yelp review (or Google or Facebook review) much more often than a good one. But reviews are also one of the best ways to get people to schedule an appointment (or book a class) with your salon or studio. They carry a lot of weight for consumers, which means that the more good reviews you have, the busier your business will be. 

The good news is that there are some savvy ways to not only improve your ratings (five stars or bust!) but also turn client reviews into a genius marketing tool for your hair salon, day spa, fitness studio, or any small business really. 

Here’s our best advice for putting your best face forward all over the web, from your social media channels to Yelp and Google to your own site. Think of client and customer reviews as one of the least expensive marketing tools you’ve got in your arsenal — you just need to know where to find the best ones. 

In this article:

How to Get Better Reviews — And Use Them to Book More Clients

Step 1: Ask for Reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook to Increase Traffic to Your Site  

One of the most common issues we see with businesses that use us for appointment scheduling for their salons or spas or to run and schedule fitness classes is that they’d rather avoid the whole review site thing entirely. We get it. Even one bad review can ruin your week, but unfortunately, avoidance isn’t the answer.  

If you’re a service-based small business and don’t have a Yelp profile, get one right now. Chances are, though, that you do have one—it just doesn’t have as many positive reviews as you’d like. 

Businesses that have the strongest Yelp, Google, and Facebook profiles most likely did some work to get there. Here’s a quick explainer on how to ask clients for reviews to build up your ratings on the three most common platforms. 

How to Book More Clients Through Yelp Reviews 

Yelp is definitely the front-runner in terms of review sites, so start here. If you want to increase the number of reviews on your Yelp profile, you need to speak up. 

Tell your regulars that you would really benefit from a few positive reviews on Yelp and ask if they would spend five minutes giving you a write-up. They obviously love your work—whether that’s haircuts or tattoos—because they keep coming back. Most of us just feel awkward about asking. 

Beyond that, you can also encourage new clients to write a review by offering them a discount on their next session, class, or service. Ask them to let you know that they wrote one when they come in for their next appointment. Or make it even easier. If you use Schedulicity, you can set up a custom discount code such as YELPHELP and apply it every time someone takes you up on the offer. 

How to Deal with a Bad Review on Yelp

But what if you have bad reviews on Yelp? 

You need to respond to them. Do everything in your power to remedy the situation with the unhappy reviewer but also to make it clear to outside readers that this was an isolated incident. While you can’t control every negative review, voicing your alternative perspective (and giving context) is a great way to come back from the situation. Just make sure to keep it empathetic, friendly, and supportive. After all, potential new clients are going to read your response, too, and they want to see that you can keep your cool.  

How to Book More Clients through Google Reviews 

Here’s the thing: We pay the most attention to Yelp because it’s sort of the…Kleenex to tissue paper of the service industry. But if people are Googling “hair salon near me”, they’re going to see your Google listing long before they reach your Yelp page. You can’t afford to sleep on it. 

To get more Google reviews, use the same advice we gave for Yelp. (Once you’ve added a couple dozen reviews on Yelp, switch to asking people for Google reviews, then switch back, etc.).

A couple of important side notes on your Google profile: 

  • Make sure your hours are listed accurately and are consistent on both platforms! When clients do read your Google reviews and decide to book with you, they need to know what days you’re open. Too often Yelp and Google profiles have conflicting information.
  • Also, make sure you have a clear “Book Now” button on your website, so that they can easily click-through your Google listing to make an appointment (fun fact: Book Now buttons are built into our appointment scheduling software). 

How to Book More Clients through Facebook Reviews 

Last but not least: Facebook reviews. These are truly the underdogs of the customer and client feedback world, but the fact remains that many people do use Facebook to find salons, spas, and studios. Plus, 78% of people ages 30-49 have FB profiles and 75% of people who use Facebook make at least $75,000 per year in income, which makes them prime candidates for regular hair appointments, fitness class packages, and the like (ahem, expendable income.)  

Our best advice for getting better Facebook reviews: 

  • Worry less about asking for them (keep the focus on Yelp and Google!), but do make sure you respond to every comment, message, or negative piece of feedback on your profile page. 
  • Make it easy for users to find the link to your salon’s website or your Schedulicity business profile—if you’d rather. That way you can better control the narrative by showing them the best version of your business. 

Step 2: Create an Automated Follow-Up Email Requesting a Review 

Now that you’ve got your general review strategy on lock, there are several ways to up the ante on your online ratings. One great strategy is to make review reminders an automated part of your booking process. 

You can do this by adding a link to any emails you send to clients — especially follow-up emails directly after their appointments (right after they’ve left feeling like their best self with a new haircut!). 

Schedulicity’s premium plan includes our Automated Marketing tools, which let you customize and automate the thank-you emails that go out after a completed appointment. That’s the ideal place to include links to either your Yelp, Google, or Facebook profiles (or all three!).

Step 3: Ask People to Tag You in Their Instagram Posts

While Yelp still reigns supreme, consider Instagram a new(-ish) review frontier. One main perk? The platform does a much better job with visuals, including evidence of your stellar work.

If you offer services that people love to show off—new haircuts or fades, that tattoo they’ve always wanted, Twiggy-esque tinted lashes—don’t be afraid to ask clients to tag your business in their Instagram posts. 

Another hack worth trying: Post any Before & After photos of clients to your Instagram stories rather than (or as well as) your feed, and make sure to tag them in your posts. This makes it easy for them to repost in their own feed, which instantly gets you in front of their followers. 

(Friendly reminder: You can add an Instagram feed to your Schedulicity business profile so that anyone who finds you through our consumer Marketplace can quickly see your best work! It’s yet another opportunity to show off a little without much effort.)

Step 4: Add a Testimonials Page to Your Site

If you have a site that’s easy to update (we’re looking at you Squarespace), you should definitely add a testimonials page to it. You can curate your favorite reviews from various places including Yelp or manually request reviews from favorite clients, and—if you’re particularly web savvy or have a developer to help you—even add a feed of your recently tagged Instagram posts. 

Step 5: Encourage Word-of-Mouth Reviews with Referral Discounts  

If you’re reading this, there’s a high probability that you run a service-based business. So this next sentence shouldn’t come as a surprise: Word-of-mouth is still essential when it comes to drumming up more clients. 

That’s why you should offer a robust referral program for current clients. Doing so means they’re incentivized to recommend you to friends, family, colleagues, their neighborhood barista — you get the point. 

If you’re a Schedulicity user, you can create a custom referral discount that you can apply at checkout for their next appointment. (It’s even easier if you’ve set up Schedulicity Pay to take advantage of our built-in payment processing. If you haven’t yet, you can add it to your appointment scheduling account in just a few minutes.) 

Try offering 10% off or even a free add-on service, and see what happens. Everybody loves a hookup. And we’d all rather go to our friend’s favorite spot than go digging through reviews on Yelp anyway.