Read Time: 9 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: Recently Licensed & Seasoned Professionals
Who doesn’t want to add a few more high-quality clients to their book? Attracting quality vs quantity requires a few key strategies to help you build your ideal client base. Building a client base takes commitment, discipline, planning, and action. It also takes time, patience, and consistency. How you approach building your clientele will directly affect how successful you are and we’ll show you exactly how to do that in this guide.
Who is Your Ideal Client?
Before you begin attracting clients to your business, lets clearly define who your ideal client is and how many new clients you can accommodate each year.
Start with how many new clients you want to acquire each month, each year? Then look at your book and see what what your capacity is. How many more clients can you take on without jeopardizing your current level of customer service?
When building a client base, you can go in one of two directions. 1. You can build a business slow and steady, working with anyone and everyone who will do business with you or 2. You can custom craft your client base by targeting your ideal client. If you want to build your ideal clientele, it will require some reflection and planning on your part. The first step is to identify what your ideal client looks like.
- How old are they?
- How much money do they make?
- What industries do they work in?
- Are they beauty and wellness enthusiasts?
- Where do they hang out?
- How do they spend their time?
- How do they treat you?
Be as honest as you can as you answer these questions. Knowing who your ideal client is will help you attract clients who not only feed your bank account but also feed your creativity.
Tools To Build Your Book
Promotion and Planning
Promotion and planning are the pillars of building your book. Promote yourself and your services through different marketing channels (see our recommendations here.) When planning, remember, there are two paths to build from: clients from within the salon/spa/shop and clients outside of the salon/spa/shop.
Outside the Salon, Spa, and Shop
Networking. Networking is tried and true method of building your ideal clientele. If you’re unsure of how to meet potential clients (or even people within your industry), check out our guide to networking. You may not convert every person you meet into a loyal client, but you will convert a few and that makes the entire endeavor worth it.
Social Media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, websites, and review sites, all play an important role when seeking new clients. Almost everyone is on the internet and it is a great way to market directly to the type of people you want in your chair. If you aren’t currently building time into each appointment to properly document the result, you’re missing a huge opportunity to create and curate a page that appeals directly to your ideal client. Learn more tips in our online marketing guide.
Fliers and Business Cards. Place fliers and your business cards in local businesses within a 5-10-mile radius of where you work. Offer to do the same for the businesses who agree to promote your services. Not only does it help build good working relationships, but it might lead to referrals.
Volunteer in the Community. You can volunteer at senior homes, work with people going through cancer, or spend time at the local theater. Other volunteers, employees, and supporters of the organization will notice your dedication to giving back and will often think of you when they need a beauty or wellness service. Plus, it’s a feel-good gesture and when you feel good, so do your clients.
Recruit Models. When you’re first starting out, you have way more free time than you might like. Make the best of down or slow times in the salon, spa, or shop while also growing your skill set and your portfolio by working on models. Reach out to local colleges and share on social media that you’re looking for models to try out new looks and techniques. When they come in, treat them as you would any paying client. Prepare a special loyalty or “share with a friend” card to encourage them to refer friends and family to you. Not only does working on models give you an opportunity to build your lookbook and get social media content, but you’re hopefully creating a loyal client who will recommend you to their network.
Inside the Salon, Spa, or Shop
Provide excellent service. Great service = raving fans. The time a client spends with you is a great opportunity for you to build trust and rapport. Be present, listen actively, and be interested rather than interesting. Someone who believes in your abilities and likes you as a provider will refer you to friends and family.
Be an educator, not a server. Don’t shy away from educating on retail or sharing your recommendations for homecare.
Ask for referrals. All it takes is a few enthusiastic followers for this to work. If you’ve got a dozen or so awesome clients, chances are they’ve got friends or family much like themselves. Sometimes all it takes to fill your chair is to let your current clients know you’re taking new business. Work this conversation into your topics. Which leads us to our next topic.
Why Referrals Are Crucial to Your Success as a Beauty Pro
Your current clients are the most powerful resources you have for developing new client relationships and ultimately securing new clients. Creating a buzz through referrals or implementing a referral system is not only one of the best and cost-effective ways to bring in new business, but it is a surefire way to grow your bottom line and create salon/spa/shop brand awareness. Here is why a referral system is crucial to your success.
Client referrals Lead to More Client Referrals
Client referrals work much like the domino effect. When someone experiences your services based on a client referral, they recommend you to other people, and other people refer other people. A client acquired through a referral will no doubt give more referrals, and because many of those clients will offer you multiple referrals, it increases your growth potential exponentially.
Referred Clients are More Loyal
Referred clients tend to stay longer than clients who come to you in other ways because they have already established some form of trust in you and your business. When new clients who are referrals arrive at your salon, they already know about you, your services, and other important factors that fit their needs and lifestyle. Because of what they already know, they come with the mindset to stay, and subsequently help build a steady stream of income for your salon, spa, or shop long-term.
They tend to respect your expertise
Referred clients know their friend or colleague has had success in following your direction. Because of this, they are more likely to see you as an expert and follow your tips, instructions, and suggestions when it comes to their hair, nails, skin, and even products. Thanks to the person who referred them, the trust is already there; all you need to do is establish the relationship.
More Money, No Problem
When referred clients sit in your chair, your service costs are usually a non-issue for them. Referral clients come to you with an expectation to pay a certain amount of money and typically don't flinch when you have the cost conversation. They are prepared and they've already chosen you!
Asking For Referrals
Asking for referrals can be difficult, if not downright awkward. Lucky for all of us, there are different ways of getting people to refer your business and you can choose what works best for you.
This is your traditional client referral program. Remember a good direct referral program is one that is a win-win for both you and your client. Be sure that there's an incentive/reward for your client when they refer as well as some sort of discount/reward for your new client’s first-time visit.
This is where you want to make your work obvious to the community without necessarily promoting a service. An example of an implied referral would be to post before and after pictures on your social media. It could also be to sponsor a community event or charity function. Clients can see your work or business name without you necessarily asking for business.
This is putting something of value into the hands of your client. For example, each year you may select the top 10% of your clients, give them two gift card/certificates worth $25, $50, or more and let them know this is your gift to them to say thank you for being a client. Then you can tell them to share the other gift card/certificate with a friend, as a gift, so their friend can receive a free service as a token of their appreciation. Another example is a service give-away. For example, if you are looking to grow hair color sales then perhaps you can offer a complimentary haircut with the purchase of a new color service. The options are limitless; get creative.
At the end of the day, your clients are your sales and marketing team in their own way; don't allow them to keep you all to themselves! Ask them to refer you and offer them incentives for doing so. If you establish a strong referral method, you may never have to pay to advertise again.
The Importance Of Client Retention
One of the most effective ways to build a client base is through client retention. Step one is assessing if we’re really retaining our clients. This can be a painful process because you truly need to look inward and be honest with ourselves. If your clients are not rebooking and returning, then you need to learn why. Usually, there are two main reasons why clients don’t return: either the client wasn’t satisfied with the service or the experience. If you have not seen a client in the last three months, reach out via an email, text, or phone call. You can simply say, “I’ve been thinking about you and miss you, haven’t seen you in a while and was wondering why. If your absence is about the service or experience, I’d love to hear about it. I’m committed to you and the service I provide and am always interested in ways I can improve. I hope to see you soon.” 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.
Creating a client experience goes beyond a great service. The most important stay in contact. Set up automatic emails and/or texts to be sent to clients every 6-8 weeks (depending on the services they need) and remind them to make their next appointment. This takes time, energy, and dedication and at times you may find yourself feeling discouraged if clients aren’t pre-booking or rebooking. That’s okay; don’t give up.
The trick here is to use as many of these tips as you can. The more ground you cover in your strategy the faster you’ll build your book. Remember, consistency is important in creating a habit. The only way to see results is to never give up. Try one new tactic at a time and slowly you’ll start attracting not only new clientele, but the right clientele.
Retaining Clients During & After the Pandemic
This live course from Milady & Steve Gomez will support salon owners and professionals while they focus on new client retention strategies. This is one of the most important areas of our industry—Stay ahead and think strategically.
Reinventing Your Salon During & After the Pandemic5.0 average rating (2 reviews)
This course from Milady & Steve Gomez will support salon owners and professionals while they navigate through the pandemic and leave them with a new focus on how to successfully conquer the days & months ahead.