It’s crucial to make each and every client who walks in your door feel special. There are little things you can do that make a big difference and ultimately keep your clients coming back for more.
Illustration by Lucie Crovatto
It all starts when your client enters the salon. “I always greet clients with a warm welcome,” says Melisa Bruce of Sugar Rays Studio in Hermosa Beach, Calif. Acknowledgment is an easy and instant way to begin a positive relationship or maintain an existing one. As Nancy Friedman, president and speaker of the Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, points out, you have the power to set the tone of an entire visit. “There’s a slight intimidation factor when it comes to salons and spas, because you are the expert,” says Friedman. Therefore, be careful to not react negatively to a client’s nails. “When there’s a negative don’t stress it,” she says. Instead, offer a client a product or a service that can repair damaged nails or skin.
After setting the proper tone and mood for the client’s visit, figure out exactly what she came for. “Did she come to relax or to make friends?,” asks Friedman. This is essential to find out in order to give your client the type of treatment she deserves. Friedman suggests telling her how long the service will take up front and then asking her directly if she would rather relax or care to chat. While it may seem polite to spout off some friendly questions to get to know your client (for example, “What do you do for a living?” “Do you live around here?” etc.) it could be counter-productive if a client just wants to relax and be left alone. “Relaxation can be seemingly unobtainable for many women and men. When they come for any service in a facility, they expect to find relaxation and some form of escape from daily life. I do my best to find personalized relaxation techniques for each client,” says Teddie Truex of Rivers Edge Day Spa in Albany, Ore. So before you offer that magazine or beverage, find out if your client in fact wants to sit and read, or if she would rather dish with you.
Another way to offer relaxation is by simply not speaking to other techs. “Focus on the customer,” advises Friedman. Even if your client just wants to sit and relax, talking to the tech next to you could disturb your client. Wait until your lunch break to chat with coworkers. “I had a home salon and recently moved to another location, but kept the same homey feel. I have a small salon space and my clients come two at a time by appointment and during that scheduled time it is all about my client. Clients feel like they can really relax and not be rushed. We have all experienced that feeling when the tech hasn’t finished your service and they are already counting the people coming in. I needed for my clients to feel as though all of my attention was on them at all times. Throw in a beverage, candy bar, their choice of music, and they feel like superstars or family. No rushing and no awkward ‘are you done yet?’ stares from waiting clients,” says Tia Lonesome of Plush Nailz in Lauderhill, Fla.
Attention to your customer’s needs doesn’t have to end when the service ends either. If you plan on following up with clients about their experience, run it by them first. Friedman suggests saying something like, “We like to follow up, how often do you want to be followed up with?” Then offer them options such as once a month, twice a month, etc. If a client turns into a returning customer who faithfully comes in for an appointment every two weeks, follow-up may not be needed, so it is always better to ask.
An easy way to turn new clients into regulars is to give them a small card on their first visit with a few basic questions. Friedman proposes asking about hobbies, their favorite color, and their birthdate to start. Have your client fill out the card and give it back to you to look over. If enough clients have a similar hobby, maybe subscribe to that type of magazine and keep it in the salon. Choose polish colors that you know your clientele favors. And definitely have fun when celebrating a birthday. “You can give them a birthday card that says, ‘Your nails grow prettier every year,’” suggests Friedman.
Catering to specific demographics such as male clients can definitely make them feel special. Friedman offers that you might want to separate male clients by creating their own space and atmosphere within the salon. She also recommends talking to male clients about their hobbies and interests so you can offer them items that will make them feel comfortable in the salon setting.
Even the occasional perk can help a client relax in style. “We have a champagne afternoon on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The clients can enjoy being pampered with a free glass of champagne,” says Kerrie Owen of Tantalize Salon in Kent, U.K. Other popular perks include rewards programs, free upgrades with certain services, referral programs, and discounts on retail purchases. Even showing off your handiwork on your own nails gives clients the opportunity to buy into what makes your services special and unique. Offering something small for free like a nice emery board is always appreciated.
While there are many options and examples of what you can do to make a client feel important, there are also some things you should not do that can help too. Friedman points out that you should never make a client guess at the cost of something, especially during an upsell. You also shouldn’t worry so much about competition. “You can read about what others do,” says Friedman, who is against the idea of going into competitor’s businesses. Instead, set your sights on small courtesies such as how you answer the phone, to give clients the best experience possible. In the end, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to offer clients an upscale visit. “I don’t think price is an issue,” argues Friedman. She points out that when she travels and needs a manicure she doesn’t question the price. All that matters is that her hands are handled well and the experience was positive. These basic considerations are what clients remember most, and what ultimately translate into a returning visit.
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