“The wedding industry is a green business, meaning it’s rarely hit by economic downturns,” says Erica Carr, a San Francisco- and Maui-based makeup and hair artist who has created bridal looks for more than 1,000 weddings. “When brides are seeking vendors, especially beauty-related, they often ask friends or other hired vendors for a referral — and that should be you. The stakes are high; not only because all eyes will be trained on her and the bridal party, but also because the big day will create the photos she will treasure for the rest of her life.”

Erica Carr

Erica Carr

According to Carr, when brides-to-be shop for beauty service providers, they are thinking three things: Do they like me? Do they get me? Are they flexible? Putting them at ease begins with the basics.

“You may think that being welcomed into your salon is the first impression you give to a client, but it’s not,” she says. “The phone conversation or e-mail communication is crucial to setting the tone. The voice on the phone must be warm and welcoming, and the e-mail response helpful and courteous. Be sure to observe all the niceties when they arrive at the salon — take their coat and offer a beverage and comfortable chair.” The goal is to create happy longtime clients who will trust your professionalism and skills when the big day comes.

If you are chosen to beautify their hands and feet for the big event, Carr advises doing at least two practice sessions with the bride so she feels at ease. Confirm the day and time of the event, and ask if she wants to add services for the bridal party, moms, or flower girls. “Enter that day with positive energy and give her a little extra massage on her hands and feet,” she says. “After she leaves, be prepared to send her a thank you note, handwritten on your stationery or letterhead with five of your business cards. Write: ‘We look forward to seeing you after your honeymoon so we can hear about your spectacular day. Thank you for choosing us as part of your beauty team.’” It’s these details, she says, that lead to big dollars in the bank and a blossoming career.

If you’re interested in learning more about cultivating a bridal clientele, Carr offers educational workshops and webinars. For more information, visit www.ericacarrclasses.com.