1. Make sure your nails look beautiful. You should be your own best advertisement. If you have a specialty (pink-and-whites, nail art) wear it on your own nails.

2. Look professional. No one’s saying you should wear a suit — but wear clean, pressed, tailored comfortable clothes. Dress to the salon’s image.
3. Develop an elevator speech. This is your 30 second intro, explaining who you are, what you do, where you work, and one interesting fact potential clients will remember you by.

4. Create a recognizable brand. Have a logo professionally designed and use it on everything.
5. Get to a mentor. Find an experienced tech (maybe in your salon) who can show you the ropes. Find help for specific questions online. Educational books, CDs, and DVDs are also available: one to try is Building a Nail Department, available for $39 at (use promo code "Jill").
6. Watch your language. “Colorful” language is best left out of the salon. Never gossip about clients.
7. Get business cards. Order professional cards that include the salon name, address, phone number, website, and your name and title. Put a referral offer on the back.
8. Be on time. If you’re running late, call or text the client, if possible, apologize, and offer a small complimentary service (like a paraffin dip) if a client must wait.
9. Set professional, financial, and personal goals. Write them down, set time aside weekly to complete them, then cross them off your list.
10. Track your progress. Create a digital spreadsheet or physical notebook with your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals. Set aside time each day to keep on top of it. Try Michael Cole’s Jump Journal, available at

Next page: Get the Word Out


11. Shamelessly self-promote. Join a local networking group and do a demo at one of the meetings. Key chains, pens, or nail files with your salon name on them make great gifts.
12. Always carry your business cards. Don’t leave home without them.
13. No marketing works as well as one-on-one contact. Advertising gets your name out there, but most clients come to the salon through personal invitation and referrals.
14. Start with family and friends. Give free pedicures, gel polish manicures, and full sets to your family and friends: they will market for you, and they will be honest with you about your work and how it can be improved.

15. Have a website. If you don’t know where to start, ask a friend who has some web design experience. Make sure to include your bio, salon address, hours of operation, service descriptions and pricing, and salon and service photos. Also get a free professional Facebook page and post promotions, specials, and last-minute openings. You can even offer online scheduling though the Schedulicity Facebook app.
16. Stop in at all the businesses near your salon. Introduce yourself and offer a special price to the employees. Drop off gift bags with salon info and samples.
17. Work together. Barter services with other stylists in your salon. Help to promote each other and keep business in your salon.
18. Give a free full set and business cards to people in the public eye. In exchange they should give out your card whenever someone comments on their nails. Good candidates for this arrangement are flight attendants, bank tellers, realtors, and jewelry or makeup counter salespeople.
19. Start an e-newsletter. Use this to announce your latest services and offer promotional discounts. and are two popular choices.
20. Leave an extra tip for the waitress. Along with the cash tip, leave a gift certificate for $10 or $20 toward services with you. Include an expiration date of no more than 60 days out. Leave a couple for the server/bartender to hand out.
21. Do some wedding prep. Get friendly with bridal salons, photographers, flower shops, and wedding planners for referrals. Also, rent a booth at a bridal show to reach new clients.
22. Branch out. If your salon doesn’t do hair, trade business cards with hair salons that don’t do nails.
23. Make gift certificates available online. Work with your web designer or on this convenient service for clients.
24.  Use your retail items wisely. Put stickers with the salon name and phone number on all retail items. Personalize retail bags with the salon name.

25. Get involved in your community. Local charities, sporting programs, and local government and school events, directories, and brochures offer great exposure — often in exchange for a small donation.
26. Set up a referral arrangement. Contact neighboring businesses to see if they will give their customers your card.
27. Promote, promote, promote. Step out of your salon to promote your business. Hand out flyers and consider paid advertising online or elsewhere.

Next page: Master Your Etiquette


28. Make a good first impression. Greet clients as they walk in the door. Make sure they see a clean, organized salon.
29. Be prepared. Always be ready before the client walks in.
30. Keep the music down. Unless it’s part of your salon theme, don’t have a TV or radio dominating the salon atmosphere.
31. Don’t speak poorly of other salons or techs. You can listen and empathize, but don’t add your own criticism.
32. Stay off the phone. Take care of clients who call, but keep the personal calls and texts for personal time.
33. Act as if every client is your only client. Give her your full attention.
34. Offer the client a drink. Tea, water, coffee, and juice are great options.
35. Find out your clients’ nail history. Offer services that best suit their lifestyle.

36. Keep your door open. An open door and a “Walk-ins Welcome” sign is very inviting. Be at the salon even when you don’t have scheduled clients.
37. Offer more than the price. When you receive a price inquiry, sell the service. Say, “For a pink-and-white full set, we charge $50, and that includes...”
38. Keep your personal life personal. It’s OK to answer questions when asked, but steer the conversation away from you.
39. Watch your words. Instead of saying, “No, that won’t work,” say, “That appointment has been taken.” Then offer an alternative.
40. Offer standing appointments. If a client can’t do a standing appointment, make sure to at least book her next appointment.

41. Confirm appointments 48 hours before the appointment time. This way if your client reschedules, you still have time to fill the opening.
42. Be reliable. Especially when you are building new client relationships, you need to let them know they can depend on you.

Next page: Make the Salon a Welcoming Place


43. Keep it neat. Make sure your table is clean and the client sees that you disinfect your implements.
44. Make your table an oasis. Products should smell, feel, and look good.

45. Be unique. Come up with unique signature services (like a Mojito Manicure) that your clients can’t get anywhere else.
46. Encourage them to test products. Display “try me” bottles of retail products on your table.
47. Use convenience technology. Offer online booking so clients can book appointments at all hours. Look for smart phone scheduling apps. Also allow clients to text their appointment requests to you.
48. Don’t ignore the other half. Create services that invite men into the salon.
49. Show them what you have to offer. Keep retail displays organized and well-stocked.
50. Put a white board near the salon entrance. Update it daily with the services and times you’re available.
51. Schedule clients back to back. That way they’ll see other people in your chair.
52. Decorate your front window. Promote services with attention-getting window displays.
53.  Pay attention to the details. Notice special needs and subtly try to make a client’s visit easier.

Next page: Have a Bonding Experience


54. Offer only what they can handle. If you give away full sets, make sure the person’s lifestyle can accommodate fill appointments.
55. Educate your clients. During the first appointment, tell clients what steps you are taking in each service and why. Let them see how serious you are about nail care and helping them maintain beautiful, healthy nails.
56. Develop a client recovery system. Think of a way to recapture clients you haven’t seen for a while. Set aside time and send them a note with an offer to get them back in with you.

57. Enlist the team. Get the receptionist, owner, and employees on board to create a unique, consistent salon atmosphere.
58. Give a “commitment card” to every new client. This is a small card that lists your commitment to the client on one side, and her commitment to you and her nails on the other.
59. Be available. When you are building your clientele, it’s important to be at the salon during hours that are convenient to the client.
60. Send cards to your clients. At the holidays, on their birthdays, and for referrals, send cards thanking them for their loyalty. If you want to, include a coupon for a discounted service.

61. Say thanks. Send thank-you notes to new clients to show your appreciation for their business.
62. New client call backs. Call  new clients within a few days, inquire about their service, ask for feedback, thank them for coming in, and tell them you look forward to seeing them again soon.

Next page: Keep Learning


63. Educate yourself. Read trade magazines, attend trade shows, and take continuing education.
64. Take copious notes. Keep client cards to help you track allergies, nail issues, and contact information. Write down colors they like so you can remember next time.

65. Show off. Display your education certificates, plaques, trophies, and press coverage in visible areas.

66. Niche marketing. Figure out what you’re best at (enhancements, Minx nail coatings, pedicures, etc.) and create a name for yourself in your area for this type of service.
67. Know about diseases and disorders of the natural nail. Be able to give advice on treatment, and know where to refer clients for help. Have a list of specialists who you trust — dermatologists, podiatrists, etc.