You probably know more about your clients’ children, their jobs, and their husbands than their families and friends do (and possibly more than you care to.) Nobody knows your clients better than you, or so you think. But is that really true? Do you know why they chose your salon, how they felt about their visit, and what they think of their nails and the service they receive?

If you don’t know the answers to all these questions, you’d better find them out because it’s this type of information that allows you to make intelligent, informed decisions about your business. To gather this information, you need a system that allows you to monitor your target clients and stay in touch with their changing needs.

The most effective tool I’ve found to learn more about my clientele is the customer survey. Surveys can help you create a marketing plan that helps you effectively attract and keep the clients you want. How you structure the survey depends on what information you want to gather. Here are some different types of customer surveys and advice on how to best use them to build your business.


Ask yourself what you want to know about your clients and write it in the form of a survey (see example on page 110). Ask staff members for their input. A good source for ideas is the client profile surveys you sometimes find at hotels and restaurants. Pick up samples when you visit these places; they may ask questions you hadn’t thought of yet.

When asking staff members for their input, discuss how the information is important to them as well as to you. If they understand how the surveys affect them, they will be more likely to encourage clients to fill them out. Ask both new and veteran clients to fill out the survey. Give them an incentive in the form of a service discount; better yet, offer them a free trial size sample of a hand lotion or nail treatment (which may help boost retail sales).

Compile the results of your initial survey immediately and discuss them with your staff while interest is high. Read interesting comments aloud at a staff meeting and discuss what changes should be made based on what you learn about your clients’ lifestyles and their likes and dislikes.

Continue to display the questionnaires at the front desk and in the waiting area.


A new client follow-up telephone survey is great for gaining a fresh perspective on your salon and is especially beneficial to new staff members; they can get immediate feedback that helps them better service clients. First, develop a script for the telephone survey. I’ve provided a sample of the script I use in my salon. Present the script to staff members at a meeting. Booth renters can participate in this survey on a volunteer basis and pay a fee for the results.

Ask the nail technician to gather basic information on each new client she sees. This will automatically provide you with a list of names to call, and the technician may be able to provide important details about the client and her salon experience.

Choose someone knowledgeable about all the services your salon offers to make the follow-up phone calls. Make the calls a week to 10 days after the client’s visit. This is also a good opportunity to give the client an incentive to return by offering her a 10% discount on home maintenance items she didn’t purchase at her first visit.

Go over the results of individual surveys privately with the nail technician who performed the service. Offer suggestions on how she could have made the client’s visit more pleasurable. At the same time, share glowing reviews with the entire staff to lift morale.


A focus group survey is a great way to get first-hand information from your customers while promoting goodwill toward your salon. Ask each nail technician to nominate one or two clients whose opinions she respects, and then invite those clients to a group lunch or dinner. Have a list of open-ended questions ready and allow time for comments. (Your focus group might bring up issues you hadn’t thought of). You might also ask the group to evaluate your marketing and promotion ideas. As thanks for their time, pick up the tab for the meal and offer them a gift from the salon: compile a report on the meeting and present it at the next staff meeting.


The nice thing about a demographic area survey is that someone else does it. You should have obtained a demographic study of your community before you opened your salon. If you didn’t, get one now. It tells you how many people live in the surrounding area, the average age and income, and other important information that will help you tailor your services and promotions toward them. You can get this information from you chamber of commerce. Board of realtors, landlord, or local mailing companies.

Once you figure out just who is coming to your salon, it’s time to put your new found information to work. Don’t let this kind of information slip by you. It’s inexpensive to obtain, easy to gather, and gives you the knowledge you need to develop a successful marketing campaign.

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