As a hairstylist, the amount of income I make all depends on my clientele. If I don't work, I don't make money. This is why many salons have a cancellation policy, as they don’t get paid hourly or a salary, so when a client doesn’t show up there is little to no chance they can fill that spot. It takes some time, but anyone can build their clientele with a few simple tips and tricks. You might have to sacrifice a little at the beginning of your career, but with hard work and dedication, you can have a full schedule of clients. No matter your trade, give these things a try to attract more clients.
1. Give Discounts To Get Them in the Door
When you’re just starting a business or beginning your career, it might seem scary to give out discounts because you need the income, but this will be a very beneficial thing for you in the long run. When I started doing hair, many customers didn't want to go to someone with no experience – unless they were cheaper. I was charging almost half price when I first started out. This got me so many clients because people figured it was worth a try for the low prices. Many of those people still come to me today at full price. Even today, with a much busier book, I still throw out a discount for spots that I know I'm unlikely to fill on short notice.
2. Utilize Social Media
This generation has an advantage that previous generations didn’t have: We can post something online for the whole world to see. Create social media pages for your business. Post pictures of your work, post your discounts and specials, tell people about your business, and make new connections. This gives people the opportunity to get to know you and your skills. Post frequently and professionally. Show people what you have to offer and remind them daily about it. Many social media networks offer ways to boost and promote your posts so more people will see them.
People feel more comfortable trying a new service when they know someone who had a great experience.
3. Give Word of Mouth Referral Discounts
A good chunk of my clientele is based on a client who referred a friend, and then that friend referred their friends, and so on. Use your current clientele to get others in the door. When a client refers a friend to me, I give them 10% off their next service. I have also used social media to post a referral contest. I told my customers to post about my business on social media using their hair selfies, and if they did, their name was entered into a raffle for 50% off a color service. Get your name out there. People feel more comfortable trying a new service when they know someone else who’s used it and been pleased with it.
4. Be Personable
Maybe this is obvious, but when offering any service to people, you need good customer service. You can do a service extremely well and still have customers leave unhappy if you were unpleasant to them. For example, I could do someone’s hair perfectly, but if I were cranky, judgmental, and rude, then they won’t be coming back to me. It’s not building a clientele if your client comes once and never returns. Be happy, welcoming, helpful, and outgoing when you interact with people.
5. Offer Loyalty Rewards
There are many places offering rewards for customers nowadays. Some use an app, some a punch card, and some keep a personal record of their own. You can encourage customers to return by giving them an incentive. An example would be, “For every three appointments, you will receive 10% off the fourth appointment” or “For every $100 spent, get $10 off.” Giving a little something to loyal customers is worth it if they keep giving you business.
Giving a little something to loyal customers is worth it if they keep giving you business.
6. Build a Portfolio
Make sure to take pictures or keep a record of your work. I take pictures of my clients’ hair and post them all over my social media. My Instagram hair page is my portfolio. Prospective clients can scroll through my page and see if they like the work I do, and then they can message me to make an appointment. Depending on your type of business, maybe your portfolio looks a little different, but whether it's on paper or social media, have a place for potential clients to see your work. I chose my wedding photographer because I liked her work on Instagram and had a friend who used her services and loved it.
7. Intern Before Going on Your Own
If you feel like you can’t handle going out on your own in business, start by doing an internship, apprenticeship, or assisting. Watching and taking notes from someone who is successful in the trade or business you’re aiming for is the best way to learn. Some trades require this process before getting licensed or certified, but even if it’s not required, it would be a beneficial thing to do. You might be able to skip a lot of the trial and error of business if you learn from people who’ve been doing it for years.
I know how it feels to jump into a career with little experience and hope for the best. Some days I feel like I’m conquering the world, and others I feel like a failure. But the most important thing is to keep striving for excellence even on the bad days and to do everything I can to succeed. You might need to give a little before you can take, so make sure you’re investing in your business. These simple tips will help you build your clientele. It could take months or even years to be where you want to be, so don’t get discouraged when you aren’t seeing immediate progress. Ask those who are successful in your trade what they did to get to where they are now. One day you will look back and see how all your hard work paid off.
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