Recruiting new customers is expensive. That's why Ron Provenzano, co-owner of $5.2-million Zano's Hair Design, in Naperville, Ill., finds it more profitable to recover lost customers.

Each day Provenzano prints a list of customers who have not visited the salon in four months. Employees call these previous clients to schedule an appointment. Dissatisfied customers are invited back for a complimentary cut and style and are also given a multiple-discount voucher to encourage return visits. "Customers are more likely to give you a second chance if they know you are concerned about them and will listen to them," Provenzano says. "If you get customers to come back more than once, they can be yours forever."

The call is worthwhile, even if the customer doesn't return. Zano's uses the call to find out why these people left and which salons they have switched to. "Calling is not always pleasant, but it's an opportunity to learn about what's happening in the business," says Provenzano. The lessons learned help to keep current customers satisfied. "Little extras--offering a cappuccino, giving a neck massage after a stressful day, or walking someone to his or her car under an umbrella when it's raining--make a difference," Provenzano says.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing