Open for Business? How to find new customers
Having to put yourself out there and make people aware of what you have to offer can feel scary
There is a lot of competition when it comes to our industry as everyone knows someone in the trade but worry not! There is plenty of clients to go around so if you’re willing to put in the work you can have as many clients as you wish.
I have put together some of the techniques I have used over the years to reach new clients, get them booked and most importantly, get them to stay.
First of all.........Believe in yourself!
It all starts with you. You have to 110% believe in the services you are offering to your potential clients, if your client even senses a bit of uncertainty then they are going to look for something wrong. You have to reassure your client’s that you know what you’re doing and that you are confident in your work. But…you will also need to be brave enough to let your clients know that if anything does go wrong, (A chipped nail for example), then you will be there to fix it.
And if you are not confident in your services, to the point that it is affecting your work, go and have a refresh training day. Research online, read some books, make yourself so knowledgeable that you can’t help but be confident in your field.
Decide where you are going to advertise
Social Media is a great place to start.
We are very lucky that we can use a lot of different social media platforms to run our businesses though, and these are mainly free of charge.
For a business to be able to grow an organic following and to advertise directly to them is priceless.
But, there is a lot of choice!
You need to decide what platforms will work best for you and concentrate on them. I believe in having your brand everywhere, but you need to work out where you will get actual clients from and which are going to spread brand awareness.
For example: When I first started, Facebook was the main social media platform and everyone was on there. Everything I posted was seen by everyone who liked my page and in terms of finding clients it worked great. Still to this day 80% off my business is conducted via Facebook.
Instagram on the other hand took me a while to get used to, I have a good following on there but only a couple of people have found me and booked through there, I use it more for showcasing my work and connecting with other professionals. Although I know people that run their whole business through Instagram.
TikTok is growing daily, and although it is now owned by Instagram it is said to be the new Instagram with billions of users and even celebrities such as Will Smith and The Rock using it.
Pinterest has a massive amount of account holders and a lot of business is conducted through here. A lot of businesses that make and sell goods through Esty get a high number of sales from sharing their pictures on Pinterest and then their customers following the link to their Esty shop.
I have a Pinterest account and get around 34k views a month but no clients this way, just brand awareness. Also, Pinterest is a brilliant place to search for nail art ideas, I have created secret boards that I can share with my clients when I find a design they would like. Lots of fun that keeps clients engaged.
There is no definite answer as to which platforms will serve you best, it is all trial and error, along with a lot of leg work.
Have a play around on different platforms and see which you prefer.
What I will say is this….. Focus on your two favourite platforms and focus on building them up, try not to spread yourself too thinly trying to conquer them all, building your audience takes a lot of time.
One other thing to keep in mind…….
If you were to build your business on Facebook, what would happen if one day Facebook wasn’t here anymore?
Always keep this in mind when building your business.
This is what lead me to build a website, if social media disappeared tomorrow, or even crashed for a bit, potential clients and students would still be able to find me.
Building a website can be costly if you hire someone to build it and run it for you but can be very time consuming should you build and run it yourself.
You will need to work out what will suit you and your budget best.
Having a healthy network of others can serve your business well.
From conferences, workshops, every day actives or family and friends. There is always potential to grow your network.
If you are a parent you will have a whole network of yummy mummies that you connect with daily, they may know you already offer nails, but they don’t know they need them…yet!
This may be at the school gates, in a playgroup, the nursery or even the after-school club your child attends. And if you don’t have child you must know someone who does, do the school run with them one day and take your business cards.
Think of a way you can get one or two of a group through your door
As soon as you have one person from that network you make sure you give them the best treatment they have ever had. Make their nails so pretty that they will go and show all of the others, they will be so impressed they will want theirs done too.
You need to make their treatment so unforgettable and give them the best results that they will want to come back and will never look at going somewhere else.
Ways to get them through your doors…..
Offer an exclusive discount, everyone wants to feel special. Making a discount that is only for them will make them feel important and privileged, so they will be more inclined to take you up on your offer.
People who don’t like parting with their hard-earned cash are more likely to give in when they are getting a discount, this makes the spend justifiable.
Ok it means you have to do a treatment for cheaper but if it means your gaining a new client, one that will then tell her friends where she got her nails done, then so be it.
This would also be a great time to introduce a loyalty scheme, such as, refer a friend and both save £5 off your treatment, or a loyalty card, with each visit they receive a stamp, after the 10th stamp they save a percentage or even get something for free.
You want to build friendships when it comes to business, opposite to what most believe that everyone is competition. Having a network of professionals gives you others to inspire to, brainstorm with, go to with business problems, you can recommend each other to clients, attend events together, even run events together.
Collaborating with a celebrities, influencers or bloggers is a great way to get your name out there too.
You have to be detailed about what you expect from your collaboration, usually the influencer will receive a treatment free of charge in return for exposure to their followers. whether this is an Instagram story, Instagram post, blog post or Facebook post, the details need be agreed between the therapist and the influencer.
Depending on how big the influencers following is they may even wish to get paid as well as receiving a free treatment.
Again, you will need to work out if the exposure will get you new clients, or will it just get your brand out there.
Swapping trades with another professional is another great way to get your services seen. I am very lucky that I have swapped trades with my cleaner, hairdresser, personal trainer, my daughter's horse riding instructor and my tattoo artist, just to name a few!
All these professionals now walk around with either lashes or nails on showing off my work to all their clients and they get their treatments done in return of offering their services. It is a great way of not having to part with any cash too.
Who could you swap trades with?
Work for free!
If you get offered any opportunity to show off your work, even if it means working for free, then do it!
You may of seen I have been lucky enough to attend London Fashion Week, an amazing opportunity and a dream for any nail technician, but I don’t get paid for this, well not in the beginning anyway.
But the content I can create from attending, along with the people I get to meet, working for free isn’t an issue.
Some magazine articles I have written, they have been for free too. The exposure and possible opportunities is better than some money.
Let people see how well and hard you work and leave a lasting impression. Then next time should they need someone, hopefully you will be the first person they think of.
Places you can offer your work included charity events, care homes, day centres any where were someone will have you, get your self in there.
School Fates & Summer Fairs
This one is similar to getting in with certain networks of people. Meeting people and showing off your services at school pamper evenings or summer fates is a great way to do this.
Offering your services there at a discount rate you should convince people to try your services.
I met some of my original clients this way, they booked in with me at a pamper evening I used to attend and then they continued to use me for their nails even though it has been roughly 5 years!
There is usually a small charge for your table and what ever you make on the night is yours. I used to reduce the treatment costs as I would be doing roughly 6 clients a night, once I took a staff member with me and we were both fully booked all night, not only did we meet lots of new clients, spread my brand, we both came home with a nice sum of money.
So really something to look in to.
Having an online Booking System
Is it easy for potential clients to book with you?
If they are waiting for a reply for a couple of days, then they could easily find someone else to do their treatment during this time. The fast pace world we live in everyone expects an instant reply. If a new client has decided to book with you then make sure it is easy for them to do so, enabling online booking is perfect for this.
An online calendar like ‘Shedul’ is great as it is free of charge to use for your bookings and if you enable the online booking it simply takes a percentage of each booking. They also advertise you on their ‘Fresha’ app which allows clients to search for therapists within their area. Another great way to reach new people.
You can join here http://www.shedul.com/
Make sure you post stuff that your clients and potential clients want to see. Keeping the content relative to your business and ensuring you use your branding/logo on all your pictures will help with your online presence.
Sharing a funny meme that relates to your business but add your logo to the picture and hopefully its so funny others will share it, although they are sharing the meme, they don’t realise what they are actually doing is exposing all their friends to your logo.
Engage with your audience
Get people involved and ask them for their opinions. Drum up conversation and build relationships with your audience. This not only works well in terms of bringing your clients back to you but also having your content getting engagement will show it to others in your online platform. In return, getting your name out there even more.
Having an online presence will help spread your brand. The more people like, share and comment on your posts, the more your chosen platform will rate you as ‘popular’ and will make you more visible to others.
Don’t worry that its only your mum or your aunt showing you love online; it all starts from somewhere. One day your aunts work college may see that your aunt liked a picture of yours, then tags her niece in the picture because she was always getting her nails done and would love the colour you had used. Then the niece comments back and her friends see that she has commented and then they in turn, comment saying how much they like the colour too! Leading to even more exposure, but again, this all takes time and patients and biggest of all, consistency!
Keep it professional!
Only use professional brands and ensure your clients know your fully qualified and insured.
You want your clients and potential clients to know that you have high standards and only use professional only products, that you are highly qualified as well as being insured.
It is actually a legal requirement to have your qualifications and insurance certificate displayed on the wall. Making these visible to clients will reassure them that they are in safe hands.
In such a big industry what sets you out from the rest?
Having something special to offer your clients will make them keep coming back for more, learning extra skills to make your work even more special is a great way to wow your clients.
Even being able to show off that shiny new certificate and to say I have been for training with such and such, you will learn hints and tips from someone else and be able to bring these to your clients.
In the lash world this could be having a mentoring session with an award-winning lash artist, or in the nail world someone who specialises in a certain nail art which you go and learn.
Extra training will of course grow your confidence too.
Unfortunately you wont just wake up one day and have 300 clients. It takes a lot of time, a lot of learning and a lot of patiences.
If you have a quiet week instead of panicking about it just use your time wisely, just because you don’t have clients you can still work on your business. You can spend time adding to your website, networking online to grow your social media following, creating images to share on your socials, even planning and designing some special offers. There is always something you can be doing when it comes to business.
Be grateful of your clients
If your worrying that you only have a few clients, usually because they are made up of family members and a few friends, dont be disheartened.
Every business starts off with family and close friends. Them few people that believe in your dream with you and happy to support you.
Without this foundation of clients, you would have none! So be grateful for the few you have, in time your client base will grow but in the meantime focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
These are amazing for new, small businesses.
There was one competition I did in my early years that helped me grow massively. I mentored another lady when she first started out too and told her this method and she grew quickly too, so I am very fond of this little competition I created.
On my Facebook business page, I would announce the day and a rough time that I would be posting my competition post, the prize was that the first 5 people to like the post would receive gels nails for £10.
Of course it was slow at first, but I would do it every week, usually on a Friday. It didn’t take long for my clients, and friends of clients, to look out for my Friday competition posts, some would even visit my page in anticipation to make sure they hadn’t missed it. All of this was good traffic for my page and grew my following.
It got to the point that once I had posted the competition post my notifications happened so fast I had to be sat ready with pen and paper to make sure I saw the first 5.
After one minute of posting I had my 5 winners. I would then comment on the post to announce the winners, tagging them if I could ( this would then show the post on their wall, not sure Facebook does that anymore) and then there would be banter between the people that didn’t like it in time and then the winners would message me to book in.
Ok it was half price treatments but it was five half price treatments, and actually most of them became loyal clients. Unfortunately through the years I don’t see some of them anymore but that’s just the natural process of the business.
It’s a lot of fun and my audience really enjoyed engaging with it, give it a go but please don’t be disheartened when you get 1 or 2 likes, that is still one or two clients, then they will tell their friends they got their amazing treatment for half price and that they should look out for your next competition too.
And then of course you can take pictures of the winner’s nails and this is then content for your chosen platforms.
If someone didn’t see the competition but then saw the picture, they will want to know how they can get half price nails too!
Remember to have fun in your business and not to worry too much. I know we do this to make a living but as soon as you start taking things too serious you take all the fun out of it, this is not appealing to our clients, ever been served by a moody member of staff in the super market? Remember how they made you feel while they were serving you? You do not want your clients to leave feeling like that.
I hope this helps you grow your business and would love to hear your feed back when you have tried some of these techiques.