With more than a dozen salons opening in the UK each week, the competition can be fierce when it comes to getting new customers through your doors. Your salon’s success depends not only on its technical skills and creativity but also your ability to reach (and retain) these customers.

Whether it’s Google, Facebook or word of mouth, there are plenty of ways to discover a new salon. So we surveyed 1,800 US consumers to learn exactly how they do it. (We also asked consumers why they would decide to try a salon and then recommend it to their friends.)

Here’s what we found:

Personal recommendations and online reviews rule.

When it comes to finding a new salon, personal recommendations are key. Nearly two-thirds of people said they are most likely to ask friends and family for a recommendation, and a personal recommendation is important to some degree for 92 percent of people surveyed.

The second-most preferred method of finding a salon is through online reviews posted by customers. Interestingly, nearly half of the people surveyed said they trust other customers’ reviews more than they trust reviews written by professionals.

The content of those reviews is important, too. Seventy-seven percent of people said it’s very or extremely important that a reliable review includes specific details about the products or services someone has purchased.

When you are looking for a salon to try, which of the following are you likely to seek out?

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Reviews aren’t from where you’d think.

The biggest group of consumers (28 percent) said that Google Reviews is their favourite source for online reviews.

Google Reviews are built into the online discovery process, which could explain this preference. Whenever consumers perform a search on Google, they see Google Reviews. If a consumer wants to find the best ladies’ salon in the city, for example, and googles it, the first thing that comes up at the top of the results page is a list of local salons with star ratings from customers.

After Google Reviews, the next favourite online review sites are Facebook and Yelp. And consumers are checking these online platforms regularly for recommendations — over 20 percent reported looking up reviews on a website or app a few times per week, while almost a quarter reported checking a few times per month.

About how often — if ever — do you look up reviews on a website or app?

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Facebook is the favourite social media platform for finding salons.

Almost 75 percent of consumers said Facebook is their favourite social platform to find salons. Behind Facebook is Instagram, then Snapchat and Twitter.

Additionally, 50 percent of people overall have become interested in a salon after seeing a picture someone posted on Facebook or Instagram — this goes up even higher for younger generations like millennials and Xennials.

People use social media proactively to discover salons.

Consumers aren’t just scrolling through social media and coming across salons. Some are proactively asking their networks for recommendations (Facebook even has a special feature for this now). A third of people have posted to social media to ask for a salon recommendation.

Here’s how to put this data into action at your own salon, to ensure you’ll have new customers coming through the door.

Get Started with Square Appointments.

Scheduling software that brings in more business.

Ramp up online reviews.

Consumers trust their peers, so online reviews are important to drawing in new customers. The more reviews available, the more information potential clients have about your business, your products and your services.

To ensure a strong presence, stay active on review sites like TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp. Respond to reviews, whether they’re positive or negative. It’s important to let customers know they are heard, and that you genuinely appreciate them taking the time to sing your praises or show you how to improve.

Request feedback.

How are you doing? When customers know that you take their feedback seriously, they know you care. Set out written feedback cards, or implement a POS that requests feedback from your customers. You might also ask your employees to informally let you know of any feedback that customers have.

The happier your customers are, and the more responsive you are to feedback, the more likely you are to have customers singing your praises to their friends and family.

Have a solid social media presence.

Building your brand on social media is an important aspect of marketing, especially when it comes to hair styling and beauty. Create a strong presence online, and ensure that you (and/or your employees) update it regularly – try before and after looks of your customers, or just a perfectly curated image of the new haircare products you get in.

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