A few web facts that might surprise you:

> 95% of you access the Internet to research the nail business, including learning about new products and looking at manufacturer websites.

> 83% of you use the Internet to order products.

> 91% of you told us e-mail is a good way to reach you. So why do only 37% of you have salon websites?

Today, more than ever, your clients use the Internet as extensions of their everyday lives. Consumers go online to check reviews and read menus before going out to dinner. We make travel reservations online — after perusing countless websites until we find just the perfect place to stay (and reading the comments of other travelers). We buy everything from music to clothes to furniture online. We research everything from electronics to cars to colleges to future spouses online.

The same is true for your salon. I know the first thing I do when I’m traveling is type “Dallas nail salon” or “Boston nail lounge” into Google. Before I go to a salon (or anywhere else for that matter), I want to see where I’m going. I want to see what the salon looks like inside. I want to see the menu (and the prices) before I make an appointment. I want to know what your sanitation policy is and I want to know what products you use.

Many of your potential clients are just like me. And if you don’t have a solid online presence, you are missing out. Your site doesn’t have to be the be-all, end-all of web design, but it should be well-organized and include a few key essential items.

A few things I think every site should have:

> Contact information. The salon phone number with area code and the address of the salon should be easy to find from every page. Don’t make people work to find you. They might give up too easily.

> Pictures of your salon. Clients want to see where they are going. Video tours are even better.

> Service menu. Include prices and descriptions so clients know exactly what you offer and what you charge.

 > Sanitation policy. If I see a sanitation policy on the salon’s website, I know the salon puts a high level of importance on making sure the salon is clean.

 > Personalization. Pictures of you and your staff, along with the story about your salon, allow clients to get to know you before even walking in the door. Pictures of your work, especially if you specialize in enhancements or nail art, let clients see what you have to offer.

In this month’s issue, we’ve cobbled together our favorite elements from different salon sites to create “Franken-Web,” the ultimate salon website (page 102). Some of these things are considered “bells and whistles,” and they certainly got our attention. So whether you have a professionally designed website, a do-it-yourself salon blog, or even just a Facebook page with photos, specials, and deals, it’s high time you get online! Next year when we do our Big Book survey, I hope to see many more than 37% of you with salon websites. It’s simply a part of doing business in 2010.

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