You know the type. They’re the ones throwing the big party, or attending a company social, or bracing for a visit from the in-laws. Many of the clients visiting your table during the holidays are strangers to your salon and don’t plan on returning any time soon. While you’re glad for their business, wouldn’t you rather they become regulars? Learn to tap this resource to build your business throughout the year.
Who are you and what do you want?
Get to know the new clients who come into your salon during the holidays. “Learn to pinpoint the customers’ needs,” says Shari Finger, owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill. “Find out the reasons why clients visit you in the first place and why they don’t come back.”
Some holiday clients may not feel nail enhancements are feasible for them throughout the year due to their lifestyle, budget constraints, or time constraints.
“Once you know what their mentality is, you can go about combating their misconceptions about nail services and offering services that fit their needs,” says Finger. Offer alternatives that may fit their budgets, lifestyles, and schedules.
Enough about you, let’s talk about me
If you don’t know the face across from you, chances she doesn’t know you — and probably has no clue what services you offer. Take the opportunity to tell clients about the various services you offer.
“Nails may not be a regular part of their life,” says Finger, and so they may not know about the types of enhancements, treatments, and products available to them.
Educate them on the services and aspects of nail care. “Win them over with your customer service,” advises Finger. “You want them to leave your salon with a positive attitude about nails.”
Accept that some clients will only return to you for holidays and special occasions. “Those clients are regulars, too,” says Finger. Either way, you want them to feel comfortable coming back to you year after year.
“If she likes your work and returns to you when she needs nail services, it doesn’t matter if there is a year lapse in between appointments. She is a regular and will probably tell others about you,” Finger points out. Keep these clients happy and treat them as you would a client that comes in twice a month.
Gather contact information
Don’t just let clients waltz in and out of your doors without a trace. It’s the information age; take advantage of clients who are used to providing their contact information.
Have all new clients fill out an information form that includes their mailing address and e-mail address. This information will prove invaluable when you want to send promotional information throughout the year.
Reach out and touch someone
Send “thank you” cards to all new clients, suggests AnnaMaria Paty, owner of The Perfect 10 Nail Studio & Spa in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. Whether handwritten or mass-printed, a note in the mail is always a thoughtful touch and adds another positive layer to the client’s experience at your salon.
“Make follow-up calls,” says Mary Ciavatta, co-owner of Salon Kokopelli in Brielle, N.J. Phone calls to see how enhancements are working out are also a good idea. A quick message or friendly chat establishes a relationship between you and your client, and makes her more likely to return to you when she has nail care needs.
E-mail is perhaps the easiest form of follow-up contact. Create a mailing list and set it up to e-mail new clients after their visits. “We send e-mail reminders if new clients don’t re-book within two weeks of their initial appointment,” says Bambi Montgomery, owner of Honey Child Salon and Spa in Chicago. Include a link to your salon’s website if you have one, or provide an e-mail address they can use to set up new appointments or ask nail-related questions.
Send promotional information to new clients to drive them back to the salon. This is one of the more common practices because it works.
Whether it is a service or retail discount, a complimentary service, a flyer for a new service, or coupon, make sure you target holiday clients regularly.
Accommodate short-term needs to gain long-term clients
You know the dozens of party nails you are applying will end up being chewed off before they see the new year. Yet many clients are uncomfortable admitting to this, not wanting to hurt your feelings or seem undedicated to their new nails.
Save them the mangled nails and show the customer that you are flexible and professional by offering a removal service and manicure. Get them back in the salon, leave their nails as good as new, and introduce them to your natural nail care services.
Keep your name on their mind
“Give them a gift,” suggests Lesa Beamer, owner of The Beauty Mark in Oakley, Kan. Magnets, pens, can openers, mirrors, files, home-care packages, mints, or key chains with your information on them can be handed out as holiday clients leave.
Have an incentive for new holiday clients in the salon
“We run a gift certificate special before the holidays,” says Ciavatta. “For every $100 a client spends in the salon or on a gift certificate, we give her an additional $15 credit that is good through April 1. The credits can be gifted to other people, so this always brings in new clients and boosts business after the holidays.”
“We’ve developed a holiday gift card program,” says Montgomery. “With the card new clients receive 10% off every new appointment throughout the year.”
Bonnie Canavino, a spa consultant with Spa Specifics Inc. in Park Ridge, Ill., suggests offering a mini-menu of affordable add-ons during the holidays. Offer new clients the opportunity to receive a complimentary service from this menu with their next visit.
“Offer clients a choice of one of them — anything from a winter sea salt bath for the feet, to an aroma butter foot or hand masque, or warm oil treatment — for $10 during their initial visit,” suggests Canavino. “This way, they know the value of the complimentary service and are excited at the prospect of returning for another visit.”
One last thing before you go
Book a follow-up appointment before clients leave. You’d be surprised how effective this tactic is in getting clients to return. Make the extra effort to let clients know you’d like to see them again.
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