Tech-to-Tech: Building Your Clientele

by Holly Schippers | April 15, 2011

Getting started in the nail business can be intimidating. What prices do you charge? Are your services good enough? Can you survive on salon income? So many questions race through your mind. Once you get started, what happens when you switch salons or the salon itself changes locations? Do you offer discounted services, place an ad in the paper, have a mini meltdown?

I have been facing both challenges recently — starting back into the salon after a five-year hiatus, and then after a few months the salon has now moved to a neighborhood location with no “window traffic.” To start, I have a hard time giving away my services. With fuel at astronomical prices, a 30-mile drive one-way to the salon, quality professional products, and high day care costs, discounting my time does not seem sensible.

How do you draw in a few new people without offering them discounts just for stepping in the door? Put some thought into what you want them to come in for. What is your favorite service to perform? I’m sure you will all be shocked that my favorite thing to do is polish — whether it is traditional polish or gel polish. With that in mind, that service should be the focus of my plan.

Next, if you don’t want to discount your base service, what can you offer to give them an incentive to come in? Are there any add-ons to your favorite service that will not increase your product cost so much that you are losing money? For me the answer was an upgrade from a “Shellac” (which includes cuticle work, shaping, and Shellac) to a “Super Shellac” (which includes nail art and is $5 higher on my menu).

This accomplishes a couple of things — the client can still get a “deal” (or $5 savings) if she doesn’t want the nail art, and she has been exposed to an add-on service that is my trademark. AND, I’m not losing money by cutting into my base service price. How do you get the word out about the special? I have some postcards announcing the move and the special offer for current salon clients, and then I’m going to have my favorite current clients pass along some postcards to their friends. Facebook is another option; I’m just getting the salon FB page rolling so a contest amongst salon clientele to build my following is also in my plan.

When you’ve needed to build your clientele — whether you’re just starting out, starting over, moving salons, or the salon itself is moving, what has been successful for you? We can all learn from each other and maybe even mix and match ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing your creative marketing minds at work!

— Holly

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