Running a nail salon can be incredibly rewarding—it’s creative, dynamic work and you get to meet great people along the way. That being said, the manicure and spa industry is incredibly competitive. When you first start a nail salon, trying to entice clients away from established businesses can present a real challenge. After all, they have built up numerous positive reviews and a secure local reputation, and you haven’t. What’s more, finding the money to invest in state of the art salon equipment in order to compete with bigger businesses is hard. In order to entice new customers, you’re therefore going to have to rely on your imagination—and the seven strategies below:
- Charge reasonable prices. One of the perks of being a smaller nail salon is that your overhead costs are probably lower than those of larger establishments. This means that you can charge lower rates for your services and subsequently entice customers away from existing salons in your area. Once you have earned a number of loyal repeat customers, you can gradually raise your prices to match market standards. If your work is of high quality, you’ll retain your existing customers regardless, and in the meantime, you’ll have established a good reputation that will keep drawing in new ones.
- Make sure your business is listed with online review sites. Over 80% of potential customers now turn to online reviews when they want to verify whether or not a business is good to deal with. As such, you should make sure your salon is listed on business review sites like Yelp and Google My Business (Google’s local listing service). The latter is particularly important because it will place your salon on Google Maps, allowing people to easily find it even when they’re on their mobile phones.To quickly accrue reviews on these sites, you can offer incentives to your customers. Giving people who review your salon on Google or Yelp a 5% discount on their next manicure, for instance, can help encourage them to post favorable reviews your business. Additionally, it will give them a reason to return to your salon in the future.Finally, don’t forget to check back now and then to make sure you respond to any critical reviews of your salon. If you politely tell your side of the story and offer to make amends to any unhappy customers, potential new customers will be less likely to take those negative reviews to heart. This process is known as “reputation management” and it’s extremely important for any service-based business.
- Host a special event. A special event (like a grand opening or holiday-themed event) can help your salon to stand out from the crowd. For best results, pair the event with service discounts, such as offering free French manicure upgrades, free manicures for children, or extended massage times. (Be sure to create a party-like atmosphere as well, such as by offering light refreshments and decorating your salon.) Remember: Becoming more popular is all about giving potential customers a compelling reason to walk through the door. Once you have them in your salon, all you have to do is wow them with your excellent service and high-quality work and they’ll almost certainly become customers for life.
- Offer perks for referrals. For many people, going to the salon is a social experience—they like to go with a friend or family member. This means that referral programs are often an extremely successful way to entice new customers. Just offer your existing customers referral rewards based on how many new customers they can refer your way, then sit back and watch the business come rolling in. (Note that this program pairs very well with “first time customer” discounts.)
- Partner up with non-competing businesses and share customers. To effectively do the aforementioned, you’re going to have to establish an understanding of your target demographic: Where do you think your potential customers like to shop, other than at salons? Department stores, bridal boutiques, and jewelry stores, perhaps? If you can find local businesses that serve similar clientele as you do, you can create a mutually beneficial partnership. You refer customers to their store, and in return, they’ll refer new clients to you. It’s a win-win.
- Offer unique “extras”. Standing out from your competition requires being unique in some way. Yes, you may offer great, high-quality manicure, pedicure, and massage services in your salon, but chances are you’re not the only business in town that does so. To really be successful, you need to offer something more. Some salons achieve this by pairing their salon with a tea or coffee room so that clients can relax and chat with their friends before or after their appointments. Some salons turn their lobby area into a relaxing lounge that feels like a hip nightclub rather than a bland waiting room. Others go out of their way to offer fabulous group event packages. There are many different methods you can use to go the extra mile and offer something special, so use your imagination.
- Make sure you’re on social media. Social media platforms, especially image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, are excellent places to attract new customers. Hire a professional photographer to take stunning pictures of your completed manicures and pedicures and post them frequently, preferably with hashtags that clarify where you’re located and what services you offer. And don’t forget to get out there and “like” and “follow” the accounts of people who look like potential customers—It’s all about spreading the word!
As a final note, once the new customers start coming in droves, make sure you become more efficient with scheduling. New customers don’t like to be left waiting, so if you’re overbooked consistently, they’re likely to get frustrated and turn to someone else. Good time management is essential to keeping your salon running smoothly and ensuring your customers remain satisfied. Good luck!
Photo credit goes to Gina at Twinkle Farts!