The same marketing techniques and business practices that have successfully lured women to your salon can be easily adapted to attract male clients. The key is to lay a foundation that supports long-term client care and has him feeling comfortably taken care of.
Drive down any commercial street and you will likely see a sign for a salon or spa. Lucky you! Nail care and other body care services have become so commonplace that many look at them as maintenance rather than a splurge.
But competition is stiffening, so why not concentrate on largely untapped markets? Adjust your strategies to include men. Strengthen your current systems to retain the clients you currently have while indulging him in new services.
Open your doors in a vibrant area of the city. Chanel Mathis of Naya Spa Sanctuary (formerly known as Ohm Spa Sanctuary) in Newport News, Va., chose a busy area in a recently redeveloped city center. This enticed local businessmen to drop into the spa. The city center is a mixed-use area that supports high-end condos, office buildings, dining, and upscale shopping.
Concentrate advertising and public relations efforts in areas where potential clients congregate, like sporting events and professional development groups. Local business-to-business newsletters and radio stations are also good vehicles to reach your target consumers. Take care to include pictures of men, women, and teens enjoying treatments in your publicity materials.
Volunteer to give a talk at a local organization. Rotary, Kiwanis, churches, synagogues, and after-hours business groups regularly have speakers who give a short talk and take questions. These events are a nice place to be seen and start to build credibility. Keep it light and informational to position yourself as an expert, rather than a salesperson.
Set up a booth at a wedding planning event, just make sure you take care of the needs of the groomsmen. Men often feel left out at these events. Offer free mini hand massages and a nail buff to keep them occupied while the bride-to-be peruses the kiosks. This will give you the chance to chat up your services and let them see how good it feels to be taken care of.
Grow your own clients by getting involved in local school sporting events. Rhonda Kubik of The Purple Pinkie in Ford City, Pa., loves to talk about the high school football players the salon adopts each season. This encourages school spirit and encourages the players, their families, and girlfriends to visit the salon.
Take one day out of every quarter to visit every business within walking distance. Say hello, renew friendships, and leave a stack of business cards or service menus. Let the local businessmen know about upcoming men’s night out socials/specials the salon is having.
Send out press releases on a regular basis to let the public know what’s going on. Supporting your local charity? Offering free paraffin dips at the local pub’s Sunday event? Giving grooming tips at a “dress for success” event? They are all great reasons to send press releases to your local papers. Most papers will even give you the guidelines to write them.
Even the busiest salons must maintain visibility. Visibility includes any means by which a salon can remind the community at large that the salon is open and vital. Sooner or later a client moves away and there will be a space to fill.
You can take some clues from salons that have jumped into the male market with both feet. Full-service salons like American Male, a franchise with locations around the country, rely on men to fill their appointment books and have succeeded in a big way. They have developed standards of presentation that not only make men feel comfortable, they make them feel like they are missing out if they don’t experience the services. Gender-friendly colors minus the froufrou of yesterday’s beauty parlor entice them to settle in and get comfy.
Developing a set of treatment protocols will help cement service consistency from tech to tech and location to location. Whether you have two technicians or 20, Kubik recommends writing out the guidelines so every employee knows exactly what each service includes. New clients who love the service can enjoy it again and again.
Develop continuity in your advertising and public relations materials. A look that is uniquely you becomes somewhat of a signature for your message. Let the public see it again and again. The more they see your message, the more likely they will contact you when they desire services.
Make a deal with yourself to consistently send thank you notes, remember important dates, and invest in improving your skills.
Have you ever noticed that when you go into your favorite national-chain coffee house it smells exactly like the one at home? When it comes to consistency, the major chains have led the way. What if our clients felt the same level of comfort every time they stepped through our doors? Good energy and great customer service begin with consistency.
To attract more men, add a section on the menu just for him. Many salons and spas such as Naya Spa Sanctuary have added services with names like Hand Detail or Foot Detail instead of manicure or pedicure.
Keep a technician on call for high demand times. When you are booked to capacity, you won’t have to turn away new clients.
Be flexible enough to investigate treatment options/products that encourage men to use your services. Robin Gibbons, a business consultant for Creative Nail Design, recommends products such as the RawEarth line for a spa-style pedicure with a scent the guys will love.
Many guys like to unwind with a glass of wine or an ice cold beer. In some states, you can accommodate them. Naya Spa Sanctuary is one of a growing number of spas in Virginia that is taking advantage of a new alcoholic beverage license that allows a salon to serve complimentary alcohol with a service. This is just one more reason for him and his friends to stop in for a manicure or pedicure after work.
Be willing to make areas of the salon a little more private. The trend in spas is semi-privacy, either by using sweeping sheer curtains, tables, dividers, or individual rooms.
Systems are great. They help us accomplish tasks more efficiently. But be flexible enough to let systems evolve as trends in the industry change.
Post a copy of that great certificate you received at your last training. Professional nail companies are developing non-gender-specific certificates that promote discussions of newly honed skills. Before you know it, your clients will be bragging about you to their friends.
Take up blogging. More and more potential clients are reading blogs in an effort to glean personal care tips. The Grooming Lounge, a Washington D.C. staple, has forged a bond with men through an online blog that investigates some interesting and embarrassing personal care issues. If a guy is on the shy side, he can look over services and products before he makes an appointment. Blogging also increases your chances the major search engines will pull up your salon’s web page in search results — putting you in front of more potential clients.
Do what you say. If you send out a monthly newsletter, make sure it goes out on time every month. Just can’t seem to get it out on time? Go for quarterly. The point is, if it hits mailboxes late, it makes the salon look undependable. Plan your newsletters several issues ahead to avoid scrambling for items at the last minute. A newsletter should be 90% usable information and 10% advertising.
Be able to explain your sanitation and disinfection practices. This is one of the easiest areas to compete in. Let clients know you use the best disinfection or sterilization processes available (if you don’t — upgrade) and be willing to share the specific steps you take to protect them. Clients love to brag about how clean their salon is.
Clients love to feel like the people taking care of their needs are in the know. Read on for ways to build credibility in subtle but powerful ways.
Be ready and organized when your client arrives. Maisie Dunbar, the owner of M&M Nails & Wellness Center in Silver Spring, Md., recommends stocking all needed supplies at the beginning of each day so you are well prepared. Fumbling for a clean file just looks unprofessional. Demonstrate your competency through your actions.
Be on time. Many men and women would love to come in for a lunchtime “power manicure,” if only they could count on the technician running on time. Business relationships depend on respect. Advertise on-time services.
Focus on the client. Turn off your cell (or turn it to vibrate) and let the receptionist or assistant take your calls while you are with a client. If you must take a call, make it brief. Clients are not just looking for a great manicure or pedicure. They are looking for someone to listen and pay attention to them.
Be reliably upbeat and positive. Take an interest in the things that interest your client. You don’t have to be a sports nut to carry on a conversation with the men who visit the salon. Ask open-ended questions and he’ll likely fill in the blanks for you. You may just learn more than you ever wanted to know about golf, football, or even wine.
The beauty industry is made up of some of the most reliable people. Your clients can count on you to be there every Tuesday at three o’clock for their weekly manicure. And they rely on you for much, much more.
It feels great to go into a business where the staff knows you. Simple things like knowing there is a cup of coffee waiting, or an unbiased ear to listen to a rant, make all the difference. Balance your efforts between cultivating, supporting, and rewarding clients. Take time to develop the relationships necessary to sustain your business for the long haul. It takes far less effort to keep a client than to find a new one. And, after all, current clients are your best source of new clients.
~ Erin Snyder Dixon is a nail technician, salon owner, and author, based in Newport News, Va.
See Point of View: Target Niche Clientele? (NAILS Magazine, December, 2007) for opinions about targeting a particular clientele, and Does Your Salon Need Man-Scaping? (NAILS Magazine, April, 2007) has great ideas for making your salon more man-friendly.