Marketing & Promotions

The Art of Self-Promotion

With the holiday season upon us, it may be hard to remember a time when your client roster didn’t look like Santa’s “Nice” list. But every so often business gets slow even for the best of you. Here nail techs and salon owners tell us how they hustle to rustle up new business.

When I have a slow period, it gives me a chance to call clients I haven’t seen in a while and offer them an incentive, such as a free paraffin dip with any service. I also send out postcards or e-mails letting clients know of the open space. If I have a last-minute cancellation, I will quickly send out an e-mail letting clients know of the opening and the first one to call gets the appointment. On the occasion that I can’t get an opening filled, I will use the time to clean or make phone calls

Darlene Sammons

Creative Concepts Salon

Chattanooga, Tenn.

I have been in business for 15 years and traditionally the slower times of the year are October and the first two weeks of November. Although I take advantage of the slower pace to prepare for the

holidays (spruce up my work space, take a short vacation, and anything else I don’t have much time for the rest of the year). I do advertise in the newspaper with special offers. I talk up natural nail manicures. Gardening season is over about that time so I advertise ‘busyhand makeovers.’Also, because the cold weather is coming I advertise healthy foot services called ‘pedi-cares.’

Pat Semb

Meadow Green Nail Center


I can remember when I would panic because I had openings. I’ve been a nail tech for almost five years and I have been blessed with the most amazing clients. I rarely have openings for a new client, but when I do a client always seems to have a friend who has a friend who wants to get in to see me. I’ve found the best way to drum up business is to always be accommodating, honest, and caring to the clients you already have. They’re the best way to spread the word about you.

Patti Fleenor

Patti’s Place

Hesperia, Calif.

 The way I see it is if you are not booked up from the time you start until the time you leave, you can use some new clients. I try to get involved with the community and attract media coverage by

means of my community involvement. I believe the best way to drum up business is to perform good work on your current clientele and word will get out over time.

Michelle Smith

Hair & Nail Creations

Raleigh, N.C.

First of all, if business is slow, askyourself why. Did it become slow becauseof a loss of many clients? If so,what did you do to run them off or failto keep them? If you were doing your jobright and making everyone happy, therewill never be a slow time as they will betelling their friends and checkers at thegrocery store or anyone they run intowho does their nails. If you have a cleanshop, obey your state board regulations,do an awesome job on nails, are accessible,and work with a smile on your facebusiness will not be slow. Do all thesethings and take the money you saved onnewspaper, TV, radio ads, and fliers andtake yourself on a cruise to the VirginIslands if your clients will let you out oftheir sight for a week.

Ruthie Osorio

Nail Boutique

Merced, Calif.

 When I have some major spots to fill I use the famous ‘buy one, get one free’ promotion. The catch is that the free service has to go to the client’s friend. I offer the same deal to the new client so they refer their friends. The secret is to limit the deal to a short period of time — about two weeks.

Diana Bonn

Colours Day Spa

Muncie, Ind.

It is inevitable that some clients will leave, so I have a ‘summer special’ running that I advertise on a sandwich board on my sidewalk. I had a colorful flag outside for some time, but it was not until I put my daughter’s college flag on the pole that it seemed to attract more people. I am not embarrassed to say that when there are lulls in the day, I love it!

Lynnette Madden

Salon 29 at Main

East Greenville, Pa.

 I use my three plan — refer three andone is on me. That means that the clientcan have a free design or one of the referralsis free, so it works like a gift fromthe client to them. This way I get at leasttwo more paying clients in my chair,and they are likely to return.

Angela Green

Anointed Hands Salon

Kansas City,Mo.

I’m glad for the breather even though I feel guilty when I’m not working. If I do get a couple of cancellations I go through my waiting list and call clients, then I’ll hit up my coworkers or anyone

in the salon to see if they want a service. If, after trying my best to fill the gap, I still don’t have any takers then I’ll use my down time to run errands, clean and organize, or go home early if it is my last appointment,which is a rare treat!

Jill Wright

Angel’s Salon

Bowling Green, Ky.

 When it gets slow I create new, decadent services to offer for a limited time and heavily advertise in the newspaper, on a billboard, and in the salon.Some services that I’ve created are the Hot Cider and Apple Butter Pedicure; Margarita Mondays, which includes a margarita to sip on during a margarita-themed mani or pedi; Get Stoned in the City service package, which includes a hot stone manicure and pedicure; Chocolate Addiction Pedicure complete with a chocolate frappuccino and chocolate truffles; and my favorite — Girls’ Night Out, which means the salon stays open until midnight and includes a package of three services for a great price. For all these services I go all out decorating the salon in each theme and serving refreshments.

Heather Rhoades

Bella Salon

North Wilkesboro, N.C.

 When things got slow in the salon I used to enjoy the break for a day, but then I hit the bricks! I would visit all the local stores and hot spots and leave my business cards and an offer for a free paraffin dip. Your business card and your own nails are your best promotions.

Kim Flohe

formerly of 5th Avenue Hair Salon

Indialantic, Fla.

 When things get slow I offer incentives for referrals from my regulars that benefit both them and the new client. Usually I offer $5 off for both the old client and the new client, but the new client has to be new — not just someone who hasn’t been to see me in a while. This promotion has worked for me for 12 years now and I swear by it.

Another promotion that works is offering a discount to students in high school and college. I advertise this promotion in the school newspapers. I enjoy doing business with students because they are willing to experiment with new styles and trends. My last sure-fire pinch-hit advertising

ploy is the old-fashioned sandwich board sign placed on the sidewalk where passing traffic can see it. Just make sure it stands out from any other signs around it.

Maggie Franklin

Laughing Lady Salon

Visalia, Calif.

When business is slow, I promote in-home spa parties — they’re a hit (and very profitable). The idea came from a client who wanted to host a spa party at home. After she got a head count, we put together a spa team of three nail techs, two massage therapists, and one esthetician. We put together a schedule of treatments and each woman brought a food dish and her favorite drink. Now that group has a spa party every month, hosted at a different member’s home each time. They reserve our time in advance and pay us to come, then each client pays for her own services. It has become popular in our area and we are the only salon that I know of that does it right now. Once other clients see pictures of the events and hear gossip about the fun they call to see when we’re available to jump on the bandwagon. It is really fun and is an excellent opportunity to network with other professional women while making good money and keeping the passion for what we love to do.

Ronieka Page-Howell

Flawless Nail Spa

Indianapolis, Ind.

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