Illustration by Lucie Crovatto

Illustration by Lucie Crovatto

1. Be welcoming.

Don’t let your clients feel ignored: If the configuration of your salon allows, greet each client that enters the door. Give them a warm smile and a friendly attitude, and offer them water or coffee while they wait. If your set-up means you don't see your clients as soon as they enter, make sure your salon has a policy that all clients are greeted upon their arrival by someone so that you know your clients are being taken care of.

2. Offer refreshments.

Even if it’s a pitcher of ice water and lemon slices set up in the waiting area, clients appreciate the gesture as well as the deed itself. Coffee, tea, lemonade, and iced tea are other perennial favorites. Cookies or snacks are another great treat to make your clients feel taken care of.

3. Make their first appointment memorable.

Client retention starts at the first visit, so ensure that your first-time client gets the attention that she needs. After gathering her basic information, take a few minutes to talk to her about the condition of her hands and nails, the type of service she’s chosen and the end results she visualizes, and her lifestyle (occupation, hobbies, etc.). Share with her your observations and recommendations, and at the end of the service provide a complimentary home-care kit (which you can price into the service) along with instructions on how to use it.

4. Let clients make the service their own.

Clients love a personalized touch. Offer customized exfoliants or lotions using essential oils, or provide a menu of add-on services to help your client have exactly the experience she wants.

5. Give clients 110% of your attention.

Refuse all phone calls, ignore other conversations, and refrain from participating in salon banter. Don't let outside stress distract you from your client. Giving the client your full attention and providing a listening ear if she needs it will help her feel like she’s truly important at your salon.

6. Focus on the massage.

Rather than simply offering longer massages, try stepping up your skills to perform better massages. Research techniques such as reflexology, or consider bartering some one-on-one training time with a massage therapist and have her demonstrate her favorite techniques on you.

7. Thank them.

When’s the last time you got something in the mail that wasn’t an advertisement, a sales pitch, or a bill? For most it’s a rare event, indeed. Try sending periodic thank you notes to regular clients. Offer them a complimentary paraffin treatment or other special offer for their continued patronage.

8. Warm them up.

Wrap clients’ hands in heated mitts before starting the service on cold days, or cover their hands with a lotion or treatment and cover them with heated towels. Try placing heating pads under towels in winter, offering hot stone treatments, or pampering the feet with heated booties.

9. Consult with them.

Whether your client is new or a regular, check in with her to see if she’s had any problems with her nails, what length and shape she wants this time, and if she’s taking any new medications or taking up any new hobbies. You should also take this opportunity to make her aware of any problems you observe as well as any new services or products the salon offers that may interest her.

10. Value your clients’ time.

It can be easy to lose track of time: Services can take longer than expected, and late clients can affect your entire schedule. Show clients you respect their time by being ready promptly at their appointment time and by working efficiently. Consider giving late clients an abbreviated service or asking them to reschedule.

11. Connect with your clients.

Remembering personal details about your clients is a great way to make them feel more loved and appreciated. Even if you have to consult your notes, ask about the people and situations your client mentioned at her last appointment. Be sure to remember birthdays and other important dates in your clients’ lives.

12. Educate, recommend, and support.

Particularly with new clients, talk them through the different steps of the service, explaining what you’re doing and why, the products you use and what they help you achieve, and how she can maintain the service at home. Never push clients toward a different service, but always let them know when you offer something they might benefit from, be it a product or service.

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