I am naturally a pretty quiet person who doesn’t like to talk much. But after doing nails for a year, I realize that talking to clients is a must during services if you want them to come back. I don’t know what to say besides asking questions basic questions like, “How are you?” and “Do you have any children?” How do I get conversation going and not sit in awkward silence?
If you’re dealing with a new customer or someone you haven’t seen in a while, you can ask, “What brings you here today?” or “Do you have a special event?” More often than not, customers like to chat about what is going on in their lives and will ask you questions. You can answer them, but try and bring the conversation back to them. Still, over time, it’s hard not to develop close relationships with some of your customers and they will end up knowing a lot about you and your family. Funny events are good to chat about, but customers don’t want to hear about our personal gripes (kids, family, money, etc.).
My most important piece of advice is to read your audience. If, during a pedicure, someone is reading or just sitting there with her eyes closed, she clearly doesn’t want to chat. I have a coworker who is kind of oblivious to this, which is frustrating. I personally don’t want to chat when I have a service done. If you feel it’s an awkward silence, ask a question that can’t be answered with a yes or no early in the service. “How was your week at work?” “What are your big plans for the weekend?” Usually that’ll get them going. Good luck! And be careful what you wish for — I wish half of my clients would sit in silence!
— Lori Bourgeois, At Last...Salon & Day Spa, Brunswick, Maine
Have a business question? Email it to Judy.Lessin[at]bobit.com.