A client in the salon is worth 10 who are reading your ad.
Everyone knows it costs more to attract new clients than to retain the ones you have, so NAILS asked top salon owners and technicians for their best tricks for getting clients to rebook on the spot, overcoming sticky situations that could result in lost clients, and luring lost clients, and luring lost clients back to the fold. You’re bound to find an idea that’ll work for you.
Robin Ali, manager, Champagne Images, Phoenix, Ariz.: “If we haven’t seen a client in a while, we send out postcards offering a service at half price. We get at least 50% of them back with this method. To keep clients coming who may not be able to afford regular services, we make it easier by offering ‘friendly money’. Anytime a client refers someone to us, we give her $5 worth of ‘friendly money’ that’s good toward a service. It eases the cost burden for her and nets us new clients.”
Gina Marsilii, owner, Perfect 10 Nail Salon and Day Spa, Wilmington, Del.: “It’s easy to get a client back by offering a complimentary service. If I’m confident the work was good, I know the client didn’t return because of a communication problem. I call her personally and, since I recently renovated to add spa services, invite her in to see my new digs and offer a complimentary service. The usual situation is that a client needed a broken nail fixed and couldn’t get in right away. If she complains, I always thank her for giving me the opportunity to make the situation right. I tell her I realize she could have gone elsewhere. Clients appreciate that.”
Judy Tomaras, manager, Avanté Nail Studio, Barrington, III.: “If I see a situation developing that’s a personality problem between a client and a nail technician, I take the client aside and tell her I know she’s uncomfortable and that I’d be happy to recommend another technician for her. Some technicians have certain specialties and they know it. They aren’t overly competitive and don’t mind me moving clients around.
“To get first-time clients to rebook, I offer much more flexible hours to accommodate her at odd times. This lets her know I want her in the shop. I offer to re-book the fill in at any time that works for her and tell her to call me if she gets home and wants to reschedule. She’s a lot more likely to return than if I just give her a card and tell her to call to rebook. Hopefully, she doesn’t take advantage of odd hours too much in the future.”
Connie Sullivan, owner, Genesis, Boston, Mass.: “Clients get frustrated if they’re waiting too long and we get backed up. If a hair client is getting frustrated or has to wait. I offer her a free manicure. It usually pacifies her. If a client complains about her nails, even if I look and see nothing wrong, I have the technician do it over and I don’t argue with the client. When she sees this, she’s satisfied, unless she’s a chronic complainer.”
Lisa Eggers, manager, Color My Nails, Midvale, Utah.: “We guarantee a full set of nails for seven days. Even if a client does not like the shape or length when she gets home, she has seven days to come in and get her nails fixed or changed for free. This definitely keeps clients who weren’t satisfied. If we haven’t seen a client for a while, the technicians send out a card and offer the client a free buff and polish or a free retail polish. If the client was a regular who quit coming, this almost always does the trick.”
Frida Pankevich, nail technician, Miano/Viel Salon and Spa, New York, N.Y.: “We get clients to re-book on the spot by offering a service package they purchase in the salon. When they buy it, we schedule the appointment. Clients are most likely to make appointments when you offer a package deal they can purchase on the spot. If someone hasn’t come in for a long time, the only solution is a personal phone call. If someone hasn’t been in because they’re ill or they have moved and feel the salon is too far away, we try scheduling an appointment at their home or office. When it comes to sticky situations, we always do what the customer wants. If there’s a problem or mistake, the service should always be free of charge. Once, I had a client insist that she read in Elle magazine that we offered a fruit salad pedicure and she wanted one. We tried to tell her it was a fruit-based hair conditioning treatment, but she insisted, so I sent an assistant out to purchase fruit salad and we soaked her feet in it. She was happy, we were happy, and we retained a loyal client.”
Debra Kerr, owner, Kerr Beauté, Columbus, Ohio: “We have a client who for 16 years has been 20 minutes late for her appointment. We just book her 10 o’clock at 10:15 without telling her. We never turn anyone away, so when someone is late, we smile and say, ‘You’re a little late, but let’s get started and we’ll do what we can.’ Then we shorten the techniques so she gets a short version of the service for the same price. Hopefully, she learns from this, but a few never do. To ensure re-bookings, we sell services in packages and call and remind clients how many more services they have on their package. We also send out birthday cards with 10% off coupons. After a first-time client comes in, we send out a thank you card with an offer for 25% off her next service and/or retail items.”
Maria Bunchetta, nail technician, Maximus Total Beauty Day Spa Deluxe, Merrick, N.Y.: “A manicure at Maximus Spa is not just a manicure. We begin with an exfoliation, then apply essential oils and massage the hands and arms up to the elbows. Hands are dipped in warm paraffin and we end with a European manicure. Because the client sees immediate results with a spa manicure, booking her for another treatment is relatively easy.” To encourage several re-bookings, Maximus offers both a series special and a discount option. With the series, you buy four and get one free. There’s no expiration date. This drops the $20 spa manicure cost to $16 per session. For greater savings, you can combine a series purchase with the 20% discount the salon offers for coming in on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. This drops the cost per session to $12. “If a technician is running behind, we offer the waiting customer the opportunity to experience another service in a mini version at no cost; for example, we’ll offer a mini massage or soft-glow facial.”