Keeping the College Crowd Polished

Market your services to students and turn them into loyal clients. Read on for tips from salons who've successfully brought students in--and kept them coming back. From advertising in the school paper to participating in sorority events, there's more than one way to go about it.

Salon: Giacomo & Rondi Salon

Location: Boston

Owners: Giacomo and Rondi DiRedo

Attracts students from: Boston University, Emerson College, Northeastern University, Berkeley School of Music, Harvard

College tactics: “We’re in the heart of college country, so we see lots of students,” says Rondi DiRedo. In fact, when school is in session, about 75% of her clientele is college students.

The salon is full service, so DiRedo often creates packages for students. If a sorority dance is coming up, clients can head to the salon for hair, nail, and skin care services. The staff loves to help students with events, so much so that it’s not uncommon for a client to get all dolled up in the salon, outfit included. “It’s a lot of fun,” DiRedo admits.

Here, clients opt for natural nails and seem to shy away from acrylics. Summer months mean French manicures and pedicures and bright, funky colors. Wintertime is when darker polish colors make an appearance. Nail art is also popular, as are waxing services.

DiRedo advertises in school papers and offers specials on the salon’s website, but she doesn’t offer student discounts. “We don’t like to cut corners,” she says.

So far, she’s done a good job of attracting students. The secret seems to lie in keeping things fresh and new. In fact, she’s planning on installing flat screen televisions and she’s also redoing the pedicure area. She has even thought about installing a computer bar so students can work on their assignments while they wait. “If we get them as freshman they usually keep coming until they graduate,” she says. ■

Student Spending:

Facts and Figures

• Undergraduate students carry an average of three credit cards and have an average credit card debt of $2,327 in 2002

— a 15% decrease from the 2000 average.

• The average college freshman has two-and-a-half credit cards; by graduation they have almost tripled the number of cards they hold.

• Graduate students have an average credit card debt of $4,776 and hold an average of four cards each.

Source: Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service 


The Rules of Attraction

Lisa Starr, a business consultant with Preston Wynne Success Systems, lives in Swarthmore, Pa., a town that revolves around a college, and two small salons just happen to be in close proximity to the school. Here are a few things she suggests for building college student loyalty.

Make it convenient for them. Have hours that are convenient for students. Don’t just stay open evenings and weekends, but also late enough in the evening, especially in urban environments, suggests Starr. It’s not unusual for students to want to get a haircut or manicure at 10:30 p.m.

Allow walk-ins. That may mean scheduling your staff so that someone is available as much as possible. You might have to structure your compensation program so that you’re paying by the hour to insure that employees aren’t disappearing when they’re not previously booked with appointments.

Be the cool place in town. Your salon should be a place where college students would like to be. Have magazines they like to read, serve the beverages they like to drink, and have lots of snacks available. You can even have one or two Internet stations where they can surf the web while waiting for appointments or in between services.

Don’t be too pricey. Today’s students have a decent amount of discretionary income but they don’t spend a high percentage of it on beauty services.  Price products and services to sell.

Appeal to their senses. Carry product lines that appeal to them and help them achieve the looks that are current and desirable for them, says Starr.

• Reward them. Offer membership programs, such as frequent buyer cards, to reward them for their loyalty. Include incentives to try other services or departments, or to purchase products.

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