Raising Clients

I love teenage clients. Well, I traditionally have loved teenage clients. But the last two or three years now have increasingly highlighted the growing chasm between a 40-something Maggie and the 16- to 18-year-old girls from a generation that has less and less in common with me.

The girls are still sweet and fun and full of energy and enthusiasm for life, but more and more I'm realizing their very concept of the world around them is radically different than what I grew up with, including what they expect from a nail salon.

I'm finding more and more girls who have never done business in any industry where they are expected to make — and keep — appointments. And where are they supposed to learn those customs anyway? In a world of walk-in medical clinics, walk-in salons, and restaurants that don't even take reservations?

We used to learn about these things through our parents, throughout our lives. But fewer and fewer businesses require appointments these days. And at the same time, the businesses that do have policies rarely enforce them; for instance, when was the last time you saw someone with a non-service animal in a store that claims they don't allow animals?

People today simply don't expect the rules to apply to them and they sure as heck don't want any rules restricting the development of their delicate little snowflake's self-esteem. So kids today just aren't learning that some businesses have policies and that some of those businesses actually enforce their policies.

I know many of my colleagues will pipe up with "this is why I don't like teenage clients" claims, but you do realize that today's teenager is tomorrow's business woman, right? You can refuse to take clients under 18 or 21 or out-price them or whatever — but ultimately, the girls who are going to prom this year will be graduating from college and grad school, getting married, working for a living and landing in your target demographic ... and they still won't have any idea how to do business with you.

More and more clients are sick of cheap nails. More and more clients are starting to get the notion that maybe paying more for their nails will mean getting better nails. I'm seeing more young girls again — girls in high school who have their own jobs and their own money and are looking for a higher quality nail salon experience. They want a regular nail tech, not to gamble on whoever they get when they walk in to whatever salon is most convenient.

I find this promising. I think it looks good for the future of the industry. And I think it's important to welcome these young clients and reward their decisions to spend more money on a nail tech who expects them to show up for their appointments on time with the available funds to cover their services at the time they are provided. If we don't welcome them now and get them accustomed to following policies, they will only land in our chairs as adults who never learned to expect consequences ... and who have already begun raising the next generation of clients who won't know how to deal with rules either.

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