It’s easy to stay content with servicing the same familiar clients day-in and day-out. But, by making your salon a more welcoming place for a diverse clientele, you could open the doors to new opportunities for your business.

“By defining yourself as a salon who knows how to treat all walks of life, your ability to grow a full business by referrals from existing clients goes through the roof!” says Heather Goodwin, a nail tech and certified success coach. “If ‘Susy’ knew she could buy a gift certificate, for example, for her sister, niece, hubby, mother, and grandmother because you make it clear you treat each one of those groups, she’s more likely to do so.”

We talked to several experts in the industry about what works when trying to capture and retain a variety of client segments. Our experts included Goodwin, the certified success coach; Bonnie Canavino, president of Spa Specifics Inc.; Jll Glikbarg, CEO of Lush Life Nail Bar; Cynthia Batt, owner of Spargo; Millie Haynam, owner of Natural Beauty Salon & Spa; and Susan Tierney, CEO of Seventeen Studio Spa Salon.

And, remember, you don’t necessarily have to target all segments at once. “I believe you should have a target market and offer special events to these other groups. As an example, while we cater to the mostly 35 to 55 soccer mom, young professional executives, and early baby boomers, there are occasions where we have prom specials, teen skin care night, men’s night and the like,” says Haynam. “Then, for follow-up visits these clients scatter into our regular book so as not to upset the dynamics of the salon’s atmosphere too much.” Also, use your judgment — and knowledge of your locale and abilities — to decide which segments you should target first.

“The decision to target the segments is easy, but it’s hard to decide which one,” says Canavino. “A little homework needs to be done. Researching the community and current clientele is first. Looking for the most popular and least popular services and the age group and sex of the clients can point to the potential segment marketing success. Once this is done the wheel does not have to be re-invented, just maintain the discipline to stay on course.”

WhoPowerful PromotionsService SuggestionsPerfect Promotions

What Makes Them Unique:
Today’s teens are technology savvy and appreciate those who can keep up with their fast-paced and interactive lifestyle. Teens are trendy and are heavily influenced by their peers. They are open to trying new things.

WEB SAVVY: Reach teens through the power of the World Wide Web by e-mailing them your promotional material. “Teens are always on the Internet, and that’s the best way to reach them,” says Tierney of Seventeen Studio Spa Salon. “We have more than 8,000 subscribers in our Club 17 database, and our website receives more than 500,000 page views a month.” Also consider offering website appointment booking and self check-in and check-out at a kiosk in your salon.

GO WHERE THE TEENS ARE: Advertise in magazines that target teenagers. Place coupons in high school newspapers during prom season. Advertise during the pre-show at a local movie theater.

PARTY IT UP: Teens love to hang out in packs, so offer party packages to cater to this instinct. “Offer mother and teen service programs and parties, like teas or coming out,” suggests Canavino of Spa Specifics.

USE PEER PRESSURE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: “Teens are very influenced by their peers, more so than any other group,” says Haynam of Natural Beauty Salon. “Once you are known as ‘the’ place for nails or skin you don’t have to advertise much to that market.”

BE ARTFUL: Play to teens’ open-mindedness by offering a wide assortment of nail art options.

MIND THEIR AGE: Offer services like acne facials to treat teens’ common issues such as problem skin.

SEASONAL OFFERINGS: Stay trendy by offering limited prom night or back-to-school themed services.

TREND-SETTERS: Sell the latest in funky, bright nail polishes, like blues, greens, and silvers.

BEAUTY TO GO: Sell products for teens to take on Spring Break or their senior trips— like travel size files, buffers, travelsize lotions, and scrubs.

ACCESSORIZE: Offer lip glosses to match polishes, or toe rings, earrings, and flip flops to complete a look.

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Young Professionals

What Makes Them Unique:
Young professionals live to work and work to live. They have clear expectations of what they’re looking for and enjoy things to be completed quickly. They also want to know you are continuing your education, using quality products and offering cutting edge treatments.

TELL A FRIEND: Young professionals spend a lot of time around other young professionals — at work, at the gym, at the bar — so starting a referral program is a great way to increase this clientele in your salon. Also, take advantage of online referral services that allow users to comment on your salon, such as

REACH OUT TO LOCAL BUSINESSES: Sell your salon as a great place for bosses to take their staffs to celebrate work-related victories. “We send out a professional letter to area businesses about our ‘Spacentive’ program,” Haynam says. “Managers can design a rewards event for their staff.” Also, offer discounts to business owners who want to buy gift certificates for their employees.

REMEMBER ALL THEIR ROLES: In addition to starting their careers, many young professionals also are starting families. To retain this clientele, Lush Life Nail Bar offers stroller parking and Mommy Mondays, where a child care provider is available at the salon one day a week.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENSE: Young professionals are looking for fast, efficient services. Lush Life Nail Bar even lists approximate times of service on its menu. “Time is the major currency,” says Glikbarg. “We set expectations and let the clients know. And we buffer the estimated times to include dry time.”

CRUNCH IT: Offer services specifically designed for a lunch or as hold-over services in between longer services. Offer combined services, like manis and pedis done at the same time.

MAKE THEM FEEL AT HOME: While they’re off the clock, give young professionals a place to vent. Arrange your manicure area as a bar with bar stools, and arrange your pedicure thrones in a circle or square.

HASSLE-FREE HOME CARE: Sell all-in-products and quick-dry nail strengtheners to make clients’ home maintenance a breeze.

HAVE POLISH, WILL TRAVEL: Offer trendy travel bags for clients to take along on business trips, and keeps skin youthful and healthy.

THINK AHEAD: Retail preventative products, such as SPF-boasting lotions, to keep young professionals skin youthful and healthy.

COLOR ME PRETTY: Sell young professionals pale pink polishes to color their fingers, and more fun colors for their toes.

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Baby Boomers

What Makes Them Unique:
A wealthy group, baby boomers look for comfort and for someone who will take time to pamper them. They gravitate to businesses where they can share life and family. They like to talk.

EDUCATE: Host anti-aging educational events in your salon, and market them heavily to reach this client segment.

DOCTOR, DOCTOR: Start a referral program with a local doctor, like a podiatrist, in which he agrees to refer clients to you and vice versa.

OVER-50 NIGHT: Many retail stores offer baby boomers discounts one night a week. Consider a one-night-per-week discount program for your salon.

ALL THINGS ANTI-AGING: Offer services that use anti-aging products, and consider incorporating exotic teas, comfortable surroundings, and soft jazz music in the background.

WORD CHOICE: Sell your services with words like “classic,” “signature,” and “refining.”

MASSAGE IT AWAY: Offer extended massage options to stimulate circulation and keep this client set’s bodies feeling youthful.

ANTI-AGING: Focus on products featuring anti-aging qualities, like those that decrease age spots.

KEEP IT CLASSIC: Offer polishes and other products that complement French nail design. Classic red polishes are also a good choice.

THE HOME SPA: Sell products that allow baby boomers to feel pampered at home, such as batteryrun brushes for cleaning skin, exotic stones for exfoliation, handmade soaps, skin masks, and spa robes.

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What Makes Them Unique:
Men are creatures of habit and loyalty. They like simplicity and straight language. Men will listen to you as a professional. While some men are beginning to feel more comfortable in the salon, there are still plenty who have their doubts.

SHARE THE WEALTH: Offer incentives to female clients to send you the men in their lives — spouses, fathers, brothers, uncles, etc.

IT’S YOUR DAY: Be aggressive with your Father’s Day promotions or do a men’s night once a month on a slow day of the week.

SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE: “Part of our sales pitch is: ‘You need to dress the part. You’re a fancy guy, but imagine you’re pushing a contract across the table, and your nails look like you just spent all weekend in the garden,’” says Batt of SparGo. “It’s about the power suit and the power hands.”

RENAME IT. Take the edge off the girliness by creating a separate service menu for men with services like the “man-i-cure,” the “tune up,” and “men’s grooming.”

NO GIRLS ALLOWED: Offer men a separate section of the salon where they can avoid the smell of acrylic nails and hair dyes. Keep this section nail polish-free, except for a bottle of clear.

WAX ON, WAX OFF: Market back waxes as a sexy way to keep this clientele’s girlfriends/wives happy. Add toe waxing to your men’s pedicure service.

SECURE WITH THEIR MASCULINITY: For men who want color, carry matte polishes. And for some guys (rocker-types), sell blacks, silvers, and golds for them to apply on their toes.

HEAVY DUTY: Sell nail clippers, shaving supplies, and other at-home implements, especially heavy duty clippers for thick toenails.

AT-HOME REGIMEN: Offer treatment products like athlete’s foot treatments and anti-fungal products.

STAY IN SHAPE: Sell men tools to maintain clean, good-looking nails, such as cuticle oil or matte strengtheners and buffers.

Originally published in NAILS Magazine, October, 2006.

KEYWORDS: Building your clientele, building your business, clientele building, marketing to teens, marketing to mature clients, marketing to men, services for teens, services for men, niche markets, expanding your clientele base

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