SITUATION: I've been in the salon industry for about 3 years now. I've worked in a few salons and learned a lot. Started off assisting, handing foils, end wraps, shampooing, blow drying etc. Now 2 years after my one year of assisting, I'm working on clients, slowly building a clientele. Although I do have a small clientele that comes to see me every 6 to 8 weeks, I am currently taking every new client that walks through the salon doors. Yes, it is a great opportunity to build and make more money but I am beginning to become sick and tired of trying to please every new person I meet every day. I'm tired of the picky ones, the ones who claim to know more about hair than you do, the ones who don't listen to your professional opinion and advice, the ones who you can never satisfy and always complain. I don't think I want this life anymore. I know you'll have good days and you'll have bad days, but lately, the bad days have been outweighing the good. I feel like clients are making me hate doing hair and are sucking my once loved passion right out of me. I know it may sound like I am ranting and complaining but I just need some help and advice. I am on the verge of throwing in the towel and seeking another profession. Please be kind and share your honest opinion.
SITUATION REVIEW: Building a client base can feel overwhelming and as a new salon or spa professional you can easily become disenchanted. However, you’re not alone. Every successful salon or spa professional has been in your shoes and has had to go through the process of developing and growing their client base.
SOLUTION: Building a client base can be a daunting task. It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t happen overnight and is an ongoing process. It takes time, requires a plan, and more importantly, it requires a positive attitude.
It Requires a Plan- The “build it and they will come” theory does not apply! If you want to build a dream clientele, it will require some planning on your part. The first step is to identify what your dream clientele looks like. Next, create your plan of action, like promoting yourself and your services through marketing (business cards, referral programs, promotions, social media, etc.) Remember there are two paths to build from: clients from within the salon/spa or clients outside of the salon/spa.
Client Retention- One of the most effective ways to build a client base is through client retention. The question you must ask yourself is, “Am I retaining my customers?” This can be a painful process because we truly need to look inward and be honest with ourselves. If your clients are not rebooking and returning, then you must stop and ask yourself why? There are two main reasons why clients don’t return: either the client wasn’t satisfied with the service or the experience. The great news is once you identify the reasons, you can easily remedy the problem, either work on your technical skills or your soft skills. We have both resources here: technical training & soft skills.
Patience and a Positive Attitude- This is one of the hardest things about building a client base. The industry average is 3-5 years to build a strong client base. Using this baseline, set a goal or timeline for yourself. Map out your plan week by week and month by month for how you will improve either of the two areas above. You should also create a plan to build customer loyalty: beyond a great cut, friendly conversation, how can you guarantee that your customer will come back? Some things to try are setting up automatic emails to be sent to customers every 6-8 weeks (depending on the services they need) and reminding them about making their next appointment. What happens if these emails go unanswered? Email them a special offer, like a complimentary deep conditioning mask when they book in the next two weeks. This takes time, energy, and dedication. If you find yourself feeling discouraged or defeated, chat about your obstacles with your team or find a mentor (in any customer service industry!) to help you along the way.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITY: By placing yourself in the driver’s seat when it comes to building your dream clientele, you will be rewarded with a career and clients that you love. Create your plan, stick to your plan, and create the client base you want to have.
Photo: Shutterstock | Irnyna Inshyna
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Patti Wanamaker brings 21 years of experience to the Milady team where she currently serves as an Implementation and Training Specialist. Her intimate understanding of the salon, school, and beauty industry comes from 18 years of hands-on experience as a multi-faceted training specialist, including 8 years of salon and spa ownership of 3 salons with annual sales of $5 million. Her experience in all 3 areas of our industry allows her to think outside the box and develop innovative training that inspires and empowers beauty industry professionals.
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