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Building clientele fast: A how-to guide for salons

Salon owners looking for new clients don’t just want to increase their revenue — new customers also present the opportunity to sharpen technical skills, improve client experience, and expand your network even further with reviews and referrals. So how do you grow your clientele, and fast?

You might have heard that it costs 5x more to gain a new customer than keep an old one. That means attracting the right customers for your salon is even more important than building your client base quickly. And recruiting and maintaining a solid team of salon staff will help you out a great deal along the way.

For salon owners willing to venture beyond their comfort zone, attracting more ideal customers quickly is possible. We’ve put together this how-to guide of best practice strategies for salon owners who:

  • Are looking for new clients
  • Are just starting out and have no clients
  • Want more returning clients
  • Want to build an excellent salon team

How to get new salon clients

You don’t have to be a salon marketing expert to get new clients. But you do need to be creative, have an open mind, and be ready to experiment with some of our suggestions to attract new salon visitors.

Social media marketing

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are powerful, free tools that salon owners can use to upload recent client before-and-after photos and build a style portfolio  — but that alone won’t help you generate more online engagement, gain more followers, or turn followers into loyal customers.

Leverage your salon’s social media account to:

  • Establish your salon’s branding. You can use a free graphic design tool like Canva to jazz up your social media pages and showcase your salon’s unique brand logo, colors, brand voice, and aesthetic.
  • Offer real value in your social media posts with tips, tricks, and advice for hair care and hair styling.
  • Make sure your social media posts target local audiences with geotags and locally-relevant hashtags.
  • Use Google My Business to make sure your listing appears when people do Google searches looking for local salons.
  • Link back to your salon website in your posts to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to book with you.
  • Make time and space for clients to post pictures of their new hair or nails while in your salon. This is a great trick to get a quick testimonial from your clients.

Encourage clients to leave reviews

The people who read your salon’s reviews aren’t just casual readers. Online review readers are eager customers who are ready to book an appointment once they find a salon with top reviews and great value. So reviews are an especially powerful way to get new clients, and you can encourage satisfied customers to leave them by:

  • Incentivizing customers to leave a review. You can offer clients small perks like 10% off their next hair appointment, a free deep-conditioning treatment, a free face wax, or a free product if they write a review and send you a screenshot.
  • Sending follow-up emails after appointments or including review links and/or QR codes on receipts. Make it ridiculously easy — and quick! — for customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page or Google My Business listing.
  • Featuring your best reviews on social media. Call your reviewers out by name to show your appreciation with a regular “customer spotlight” post.

Partner with other hairstylists, local businesses, or beauty influencers

If you’re just starting out in the beauty industry, there are probably other business owners and hairstylists you admire in your area. You don’t have to see them as your competition — they can be partners that help grow your salon’s local reputation and image.

  • Reach out to hairstylists or salon owners in your community and ask if you can provide any extra services they don’t offer to customers at their salons in exchange for a percentage of the revenue you make from their referrals.
  • Search Instagram and Facebook for local hair or beauty influencers and offer them a free or discounted haircut or treatment in return for featuring and mentioning your salon on their social media pages.

Start a customer referral program

Starting a referral program to drive word-of-mouth marketing is an easy and affordable way to turn one customer into several. You can easily develop one of your own by:

  1. Setting referral program objectives. How many new referrals do you want to bring in? And how long do you want to run your referral program?
  2. Deciding what incentives to offer. Will you offer a percent discount, a free treatment, or discounted products in exchange for new customer referrals?
  3. Establishing guidelines. Will customers need to bring in proof that they referred someone, like a referral card? Or would mentioning a customer’s name be enough? How will you track your referrals?

Don’t forget to post about it on social media!

Paid advertising

Running paid ads for your salon on Facebook, Instagram, and Google is a great marketing strategy to scale your business. But before you invest in social ads, try to build your follower base through free channels first. When you feel the time is right for paid advertising:

  • Set a budget. How much are you willing to spend? If you’re just starting out, you may want to experiment with social media ads that cost $5 to $10 a day for 10 to 15 days and see what kind of engagement you get. Make sure to target your campaign to your local city or area.
  • Determine your offer. Will you feature services like a free cuticle treatment or blowout? Maybe give out a 20% percent discount on total services? Your offer needs to be compelling, and it may take some trial and error to nail it down.
  • Analyze your ROI. After experimenting with paid ads for a few months, ‌look at the profit you generated and determine if your marketing strategy is paying off.

 

How to get clients to your salon if you’re just starting out

Social media and multiple communication tools have made it easier than ever for hairstylists and beauty professionals who are just starting out to grow their client base, but it takes time to build a social media following and a name for yourself. Here’s how to jump-start that journey. 

Start with family and friends

Offering free or heavily discounted salon services to friends and family is a great way to get your feet wet with customer service. And they’ll probably be jumping out of the woodwork to take advantage of such a great deal while supporting someone close to them. 

But how do you make sure your friends and family don’t get too used to free or cheap services? Boundaries! Let them know that, after you’ve gotten established, you’ll only be offering special friends and family services on a limited basis.

Offer discounted services to get established

If you provide competitive pricing — lower than average in your area — it can help you establish a good rapport with those first few clients and help bring in some great reviews. 

But you should only provide discounted services for a short period of time. Let your new customers know that you’re only offering this promotion for your first three to six months in business. After that, you’ll have to raise your prices to cover the costs of running a busy salon.

Look for apprentice or mentorship roles

Finding a professional in your beauty industry niche to mentor you at the start of your career is a great way to help you navigate pitfalls you might not have anticipated. Mentors can also give you insight into the business, the customer experience, and the technical aspects of the job. 

Finding a mentorship can be as simple as reaching out to local hair stylists or beauty professionals you admire via email, phone call, or direct message. Once you’ve found someone who’s willing to work with you, have an initial conversation with them where you’ll set up:

  • A regular time and day of the week for mentorship
  • What they’ll cover in their mentorship sessions
  • What they’ll receive in exchange for sharing their time and expertise
  • When the mentorship period will end

How to keep clients coming back to your salon

As a salon owner or salon manager, you’ll want to turn your customers into loyal clients and raving fans who’ll come back for future appointments and do your marketing for you! The question is, how can you increase client retention to make that happen?

Provide great service

Client satisfaction goes beyond the time you spend providing customers with the perfect style or cut. For example, your hair salon professionals should also offer consultations and discussions with clients about:

  • Hair texture
  • Hair care skills
  • How much time they dedicate to styling on average
  • Easy hairstyle ideas
  • Product suggestions (especially if you sell them in your salon)

Making sure your salon’s stylists take the time to ask these questions at the beginning of their appointments will help them build relationships with their clients. It’ll also show customers that your salon is full of go-to hair experts that are willing to go the extra mile.

Get to know customers and build genuine relationships

Stylists and beauty professionals have to talk to their first-time customers to get to know them, but what if you don’t know what to talk about or are just shy?

  • Have a list of small talk topics ready to go. Ask clients questions about where they live, their hobbies, their weekend plans, their kids and family, and current events — just steer clear of religion and politics!
  • Take notes about your clients after they leave so you’ll remember details about their lives for next time. That means you’ll get to know them better and lay the groundwork for a close professional relationship.
  • Be okay with clients who don’t want to talk. You can even ask them, “Would you like some quiet time to relax during this visit?”

Schedule future appointments at the end of visits

When chatting with clients during their visits, take the opportunity to ask how often they get their hair cut or nails done and‌ suggest how you might work together in the future.

You’re not trying to pressure anyone into future bookings — you’re just showing customers you want to collaborate on a plan of care for their hair, skin, or nails. And before a client heads out, invite them to schedule their next appointment and let them know they can cancel or reschedule at any time if necessary.

Even before you set up a streamlined client booking system, you should lock down your salon employee scheduling with a fool-proof tool like Homebase scheduling. You’ll be able to create perfect schedules and share them automatically, so you’ll know exactly what your future availability looks like for clients. 

Offer surprise extras

Everyone loves being treated like a valued customer, and surprising clients with extras like offering them a complimentary drink or snack is a great way to go above and beyond with your customer care.

Other perks like hand massages, scalp massages at the washbasin, free conditioning treatments, hot towels, and simple facial treatments make customers feel ‌like they’re getting a full-service, self-care experience, not just getting their hair cut or nails done.

Build a great salon team

Unless you like flying solo, it’s going to be hard to scale your salon business without a winning team by your side. But building the right team takes time, especially when you’re new to the industry or community.

We recommend using a people management platform to simplify growing and running your business. That’s why Homebase developed our suite of tools — to help small business owners build great teams and focus on their business management. Our tools can help you with:

  • Hiring and onboarding: Use our library of pre-written, customized job descriptions and post them to multiple job boards to find new salon hires. Then, your new staff members can use our onboarding tools to self-onboard by reading employee handbooks and welcome packets before their first day and e-signing any necessary documents.
  • Team communication: Our free team communication app lets you send individual or group text messages, write shift notes, track performance, and notify team members automatically when you publish or change the schedule.

Employee happiness: Use our employee happiness feature to keep a close eye on your team’s morale by collecting employee feedback after shifts, getting automated reports on employee sentiment, and boosting engagement with team member shoutouts and great perks like early wage cash outs.

What Homebase can do for your salon business

When you’re trying to grow your salon business, it’s hard to know what to focus on. Should you invest more time marketing yourself to new clients or streamlining how you manage your team?

Homebase is here so you don’t have to choose one or the other. Our platform lets you automate every aspect of your salon’s workforce management — including hiring, onboarding, scheduling, communication, time tracking, payroll, and HR — and frees up your time and energy for high-priority work like bringing in new customers.

FAQs about building salon clientele

How do you build clientele fast?

There are a few ways to build salon clientele fast. If you’re just starting out, you can:

  • Start with friends and family
  • Create a limited-time promotional offer for new clients
  • Enhance your store front’s visibility with signs or decorations highlighting your soft or grand opening
  • Offer competitive, discounted services while you’re getting established
  • Look for apprenticeship or mentorship opportunities

If you already have a solid client base but want to bring in new customers, it may be time to:

  • Build a social media presence and email list
  • Ask current clients to leave a Google, Facebook, or Yelp review
  • Partner with other hair stylists or local businesses to promote your unique services
  • Create a referral rewards program for your current clients
  • Invest in paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram

What are key factors in building clientele?

The key factors in building your salon clientele quickly and sustainably are:

  • A distinctive salon brand that communicates your standards and expertise.
  • A skilled team that understands your salon’s brand and what impeccable client service looks like.
  • Strong client relationships based on great service and a thorough understanding of their needs.
  • Dedication to exceeding client expectations with unique extras and special touches exclusive to your salon.

How long does it take to build a clientele?

It can take around a year to generate a satisfactory profit from your salon clientele, and around two years to build a solid base of happy, loyal salon customers.

But with the right strategies in place to maximize your marketing efforts and bring in new clients — and with the help of Homebase’s tools for team onboarding and training, scheduling, team communication, and HR — you may be able to significantly reduce the time it usually takes to build clientele.

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