Determining your target clientele is a key decision every salon owner makes. Is it a beneficial business decision to cater your salon to a particular niche? Three salon owners share their different opinions on this topic. Who does your salon consider its core clientele?
Bambi Montgomery, owner of Honey Child Spa & Salon/HIVE Salon & Spa in Chicago and Los Cabos, Mexico
I think it can be beneficial to target a niche clientele, but that’s not the route I’ve chosen to take with my salons. In my salons, I want to service everyone. I make it a point to hire an eclectic staff to attract an eclectic clientele. I’ve noticed clients will gravitate toward the salons they feel they have the most in common with. At HoneyChild, every client who visits has something she can identify with, be it a member of the staff or a photograph on the walls. It’s a beautiful thing to see all different types of women — different races, ages, status, etc. — under one roof laughing and sharing. At HIVE, I also strive to attract a diverse clientele, but simply because of the demographics in Los Cabos, the clientele isn’t as diverse as it is in Chicago. Still, I think that, for my salons at least, it’s a good thing to appeal to the widest possible client base.
Jill Wright, owner of Jill Wright Spa for Nails, Bowling Green, Ky.
In certain circumstances, I think it’s OK to target a niche market. My salon targets upwardly mobile professionals. You have to be careful about putting all your eggs in one basket though, especially when that basket isn’t stable. For example, some salons target the college crowd or the elderly, but unfortunately, college students move away and the elderly pass away. If you’re going to target a niche market, my philosophy is to go with the clients that have disposable income, because they’re the last ones to feel the economic squeeze and thereby the least likely to give up their nail services. Focusing on a niche clientele does make marketing my salon easier. I never advertise to the general public, am not listed in the phone book, and only take clients based on word-of-mouth referrals from my best clients. This helps me maintain my niche, and keeps clients and myself happy.
Krista Martin, owner of Metro for Men, Irvine, Calif.
I do believe it’s beneficial to target a niche clientele if a desired product or service isn’t already being offered to the wanted segment. We cater to the cultivated man who wants a high-quality service with style in a place all his own. By targeting a niche clientele, it enabled me as a business owner to stay focused on the task at hand. Among other things, this tight focus helped me develop the salon design, find the right location, decide on products and services, and deliver the right marketing message through the right medium. The targeted advertising/ marketing in particular was a huge advantage because it spread my advertising budget further and gave me a better return on investment than anticipated. There’s also the benefit of client loyalty. Metro for Men’s clients recognize the salon was made for them, and this keeps them coming back.
See Get Him In the Door & Keep Him Coming Back for More (NAILS Magazine, April, 2007) for marketing techniques to attract male clients.