We all want to be busier and make more money, and while doing great nails plays an important role in reaching this goal, it is not enough. Building your book requires hard work, consistency — and asking the right questions to get clients to prebook. Don’t worry, you can still talk about the weather, or what you’re watching on Netflix, but you’ll want to squeeze a few of these questions into the conversation from here on out.
1. Are you normally (off/off early/free) on this (day/at this time)? You want to know your client’s schedule. This will allow you to position yourself more easily as a permanent fixture in her weekly or monthly routine. If the client isn’t responsive, following up with any of the other questions here will help to shift gears while still keeping the focus of the conversation on the prebook.
2. How often do you try to get your nails done professionally? What we’re looking for here are the habits of our client. How often do they usually come into the salon or spa to maintain their look? This gives us a time frame when setting future appointments. It helps us to suggest a plan that works with their habits and/or increases the frequency of their visits. The earlier we have this conversation in the service, the more natural it becomes to revisit the topic in closing. One of the keys to successful prebooking is confidence and authority in our recommendation. This does not translate well when we wait until the very end of a service to have this conversation. It may come across scripted and desperate.
3. What are your goals with your nails? We want to know what the client has planned in terms of her nail health and look, and if the answer is nothing, we want to know what we can plan for her. Giving the client something to look forward to and be excited about keeps the relationship interesting. This is a conversation that needs to continue to happen at every milestone in a client’s evolution. We don’t want complacency to set in. Like any relationship, when we become complacent, other options may start to look more attractive.
4. Did this (day/time) work for you? Well did it? Because if it didn’t let’s choose a time and dedicate it to you. This signals that the client’s time is valued and important. So important, that you’re willing to designate a time specifically for them. No squeezing, no wait lists, no rushed jobs.
5. I’ve been getting busy lately. Let’s make sure you get the time that works best for you. This is one of my favorite conversations to have. Whether it’s true or not in the current moment, having this conversation consistently will make it true soon enough. It puts our services in demand in the eyes of the client. Scarcity increases the value of our work. People will want to make sure they get their time with us. You get bonus points for prebooking their future reservation in or around the time of another block of appointments.
6. (Insert holiday or event) is coming up soon! Let’s make sure you get your next reservation planned. This conversation can be a follow up to the previous one as most people are busy for the holidays. Also be sure to listen intently for special events coming up in your client’s calendar. Weddings, vacations, and reunions are all great opportunities for prebooking. Position yourself as a solution to a problem. Your client will want to look her best for the occasion. She will most certainly have a lot on her plate. Take the responsibility of having to do her nails off her shoulders. Offer to prebook right before the big day. Sweeten the offer by planning something different. “Let’s try a gel-polish or a bolder color.” Giving our clients something to be excited about increases the likelihood they’ll take you up on the offer. And if you’re consistent it may become a regular thing.
It’s important to keep in mind not everyone will bite. Some people really do have crazy schedules that don’t allow for prebooking. Condition yourself to accept the occasional “no thank you” and “I just don’t know my schedule” as a part of the job. Every no gets you a step closer to a yes. And every yes makes you a busier and happier nail technician.
Christian Gaytan is an educator for Paul Mitchell Advanced Education and a MiladyPro contributor. MiladyPro (www.miladypro.com) is a premier destination for ongoing professional beauty education offering the latest trends, techniques, and business skills for salon and spa professionals.