How to Build Clientele as a Hair Stylist (30 Ways in 2024)

When running a salon or spa business, building a client base is one of the hardest – yet most important – parts of the job. 

Having a robust book of business is like having a built-in cheer squad for your beauty and wellness business. They'll keep coming back for more, they'll spread the word about how amazing you are, and they'll make your work days a whole lot more enjoyable! We all dream of having books filled with happy, loyal customers, but figuring out how to build a clientele can be a challenge even for the most seasoned stylists.

We know how difficult it can be to both run a business and build it at the same time. It feels like you're doing two jobs (because you are!). But the key isn't to do everything. It's to find the key strategies that grow your business – while fitting into your workday and lifestyle.

So whether you're opening a new salon or spa and building your clientele from scratch, or you've been in business for years and just need to boost bookings – these are the tips for you. Read on to learn about the client acquisition cycle and the strategies you can use to find new salon clients at each stage.

Growing Your Clientele is a Cycle 

A chart showing the clientele growth cycle: marketing, sales, client experience, retention, and referrals

First, let's talk about the customer acquisition cycle. Finding new clients and turning them into loyal regulars is a process that takes place over five stages: 

  1. Marketing is when you get the word out about your salon or spa business to people in your community who may not have heard of it before.
  2. Sales is when you turn people who have heard of your business into customers by getting them to purchase a service.
  3. Client experience is when you give customers such five-star service they can't wait to come back.
  4. Retention is when they do come back – preferably over and over again.
  5. Referrals is when they become free marketing for your business by telling their friends, family, and acquaintances about you, starting the cycle over again.

30 Ways to Get More Clients as a Hairstylist (At Every Stage of the Client Acquisition Cycle)

Building a customer base is an important part of the job for any business owner. But for spa and salon business owners, it carries a bit more weight. A survey by Software Advice found successful salons and spas have a customer retention rate of about 80 percent, and a study by the International Spa Association found repeat customers make up about 70 percent of all spa visits.

This means reaching the right clients, giving them a great experience, and turning them into loyal regulars is an absolutely integral part of running this kind of business.

Take steps to build your books at each stage of the client acquisition cycle. From marketing to referrals and everything in between, we have all the strategies you need listed below.

In the rest of this article, we will go over all the sages of building your clientele. Feel free to click to each section:

Okay, let’s dive in!

Marketing: Help New Clients Find You

A huge part of building a customer base is reaching new customers through salon marketing efforts. A good marketing strategy will help ensure new people find out about your business all the time – and, if your marketing speaks to them, some will be inspired to give your business a try.

These strategies will help you meet your potential clients where they are: online, and in your community.

Identify Your Target Audience

It may seem counterintuitive not to try to get as many clients in chairs as possible. But why spend money and time trying to bring in potential clients who aren't likely to come back? You want to focus your efforts on the clients who are most likely to become loyal regulars, so the first step is to identify who those clients are.

To identify your target audience, start with your current clients. Think about their demographics – their age, gender, income level, occupation, interests, and the services they typically book. Look for trends that might help you identify the types of clients your services are most appealing to.

Be Active on Social Media

Toya Lyn Salon on Instagram

A survey by Clutch found 92% of business owners say social media has helped them establish their brand. All salon and spa businesses should be active on social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram. They may also consider sites like Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

Social networking allows businesses to reach a larger audience, build their brand, and engage with customers. It's also one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies available – social media doesn't need to cost anything more than your time.

Build an Online Presence

In addition to social media profiles, you need a comprehensive online presence. That means a business website, as well as claiming your business on directory sites like Google My Business. Ensure your website and any online profiles contain accurate, up-to-date information about your location, hours, and how to contact you.

Send Out Newsletters

A newsletter can be a great way for a salon to market itself. You can send an email newsletter to your existing clients, and reach new clients by sending physical mailers to people in your neighborhood and community.

Use your newsletter to promote your salon and its services, educate potential customers on tips and trends, engage members of your community to build relationships with potential clients, and direct traffic to your salon's website and social media profiles.

Share Before and After Photos

Before and after photos

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways a hairstylist or other salon professional can market and promote their services is by taking before and after photos that highlight their work.

These photos can be used to build a portfolio, showcase your skills, and provide visuals of the exact services you offer. Before and after photos are great to include in social media posts, newsletters, and other marketing materials – they show potential new clients exactly what you can do for them, and help entice them to book an appointment.

Collaborate with Other Salons and Stylists

Collaborating with other salons or stylists allows you to expand your salon's network and increase your exposure, helping you reach more members of your community who might be interested in your services. 

It's best to collab with a business that offers different services than you do – that way, you can both cross-promote each other while offering more value to your clients. For example, a nail or makeup artist can partner with a local hair salon, and both businesses can refer clients to each other to help meet their needs.

Be Active in Your Community

Being active in your local community can help your business build relationships with potential clients and increase brand awareness. By participating in community events, volunteering, and supporting local causes, a beauty and wellness business can establish itself as a valued and respected member of the community, which can lead to more bookings and glowing word-of-mouth recommendations.

Always Have Business Cards on Hand

You never know when you might meet someone who could benefit from your services. That's why you should always have business cards on hand – and look for opportunities to hand them out!

If you're a hairstylist, look for opportunities to compliment people on their hair – and then offer your services. If you frequent another business in your community, offer them your business card (and maybe a promotion, because local businesses can and should support one another).

Run Specials on Slow Days

Is there a certain day or time when your books always seem to come up empty? Maybe you struggle to get appointments on Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings.

If there's a specific time when you want to boost bookings, consider offering a special deal or promotion. For example, you can reward clients for booking their appointments during slow times by giving them a discount or an extra free service.

Always Be Kind

92% of people trust their friends recommendations

According to a study by Nielsen, word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of advertising. 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising!

That's why it's important to always be kind – to everyone around you, and not just the clients who come into your salon. You never know who might end up a customer, and if you practice kindness, the word will spread, bolstering your business's reputation as a great place to support.

Sales: Building Your Salon Clientele

Sales is the part of the client acquisition cycle where customers have already learned about your business – and now it's time to convince them to give your services a try.

These strategies will help you increase bookings so you can focus on what you do best: Providing a client experience that keeps people coming back again and again.

Accept Walk-Ins

While it won't be possible to accommodate walk-ins all the time, you should strive to accept them whenever possible. Not only do walk-ins boost your revenue, but they offer more convenience and flexibility for your clients. And a first-time walk-in can easily turn into a repeat customer, helping you build your books in the long-term.

Be Responsive

If you have a website and active social media profiles, potential clients are likely to reach out to you on all different kinds of channels – by phone call, email, social media post, and DM. It's important to regularly check all these different channels and follow up with potential clients who reach out to you. Many of them will end up booking services, but even if they don't, being as responsive as possible will help boost your business's reputation as a place that takes good care of customers.

Look for Opportunities to Sell New Services

Periodically, review your books and the services your repeat clients tend to schedule. Look for opportunities to recommend additional products or services; for example, if you have a client who comes in for highlights, consider recommending a product that will complement their beauty needs, like a purple or brightening shampoo.

You can also offer your guests package deals on multiple services, or ask them to consider buying gift cards for friends and family (or even their own future needs).

Keep Learning New Skills and Techniques

The more services you can offer, the more clients you'll be able to serve. Look for opportunities to continue your education, especially when it comes to learning new skills and techniques you can then offer in your salon. Trends are constantly changing, which is why it's absolutely crucial for beauty and wellness professionals to keep up with what's in, and how they can sharpen their skills to provide the most in-demand services.

Client Experience: Delight Customers Into Coming Back

An important part of the client acquisition cycle is customer experience. By providing a positive experience every time a client books an appointment, you increase the odds they'll return (and help spread the word about your business through referrals). 

Use these strategies to ensure every guest has a great experience that will make them want to come back.

Communicate Clearly at Every Step of the Service

No client should ever be surprised by any part of their service – you should clearly communicate what you're doing at every step, and check in with them often to see if they have any questions or concerns.

Work Quickly and Efficiently

Not only will working quickly save time for your clients, but it will allow you to book more appointments each day, boosting your revenue. Plus, if you finish a service earlier than expected, that's a great opportunity to offer your client an additional service and increase the sale.

Advise Your Clients (But Listen to Them First)

Your clients come to you because you're an expert in your field. It's totally OK to advise them on the new products or services you think would be best to help them achieve their goals – but with the caveat that you should always listen to your clients carefully before making any recommendations. Don't make them feel like you're just trying to sell them things – learn about their wants and needs, and make tailored recommendations that will be most beneficial to them.

Lend a Helping Hand

When other professionals in your salon or spa are busy or falling behind, jump in and help them when you can! This will give clients a positive impression of the business as a whole – it shows them it's a place where professionals will support one another to make sure all clients have the best possible experience.

Have Genuine Conversations with Your Clients

The time clients spend in your care should be as enjoyable as possible. Try to connect with each client on a personal level through genuine conversations about their lives, work, hobbies, and interests. Ask questions to get to know them. And after each appointment, take a moment to make some notes about the conversation in your client's file – that way, when they come back for their next appointment, you can pick up the conversation right where you left off.

Reward Existing Clients

If you have current clients who are regulars, think of ways you can reward them for being great customers. A handwritten card or small thank-you gift can be a good way to deepen your relationship. If you don't have the budget for that, a genuine compliment and a sincere "thank you" can go a long way, too.

Avoid Common Salon "No-No's"

There are some things no salon, spa, or wellness business should ever do. Avoid these at all costs:

  • Having dirty common spaces or stations.
  • Gossiping with other professionals in front of clients.
  • Not listening to clients' wants and needs.
  • Being inattentive during conversations with clients.

Make Scheduling and Payments a Breeze for Your Clients

Your clients are looking for every step of the process to be as seamless and streamlined as possible – and that includes the parts when they're not in the chair, like scheduling appointments and paying for services.

GlossGenius gives salons, spas, and other beauty and wellness businesses an all-in-one software platform that helps them wow their clients at every step.

Use GlossGenius to allow clients to book services online through a fast, user-friendly website.

Make checkout effortless by keeping client payment methods on file, or get a stunning GlossGenius card reader to accept chip cards, contactless (NFC) cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay anywhere, with a quick dip or tap.

GlossGenius even offers custom text and email marketing tools, automatic reports and analytics for managing your accounting and finances, inventory and sales tracking, and a client management system that will help you build better relationships. 

See what GlossGenius can do for your business – start a free trial today.

3 screenshots of the GlossGenius app showing booking and client management features

Retention: Building a Book of Loyal Clients

A positive experience may be the first step toward making sure your clients become repeat visitors, but there are still other strategies you can use to keep clients coming back and reward them for their loyalty and trust.

Try the tips below to show loyal clients how much you appreciate them. 

Take Excellent Care of Your Existing Clients

Just because someone is already a regular is no reason to let the standard of their service start to slip. Be just as engaging with your longest-standing clients as you are with every new client that walks in the door.

Always Offer to Schedule Their Next Appointment

Before a client can leave your business after getting a service done, offer to schedule their next appointment – right then and there. This eliminates any chance it'll slip their mind once they head home.

Create a Loyalty Program

Your most loyal customers are your business's bread and butter. Show them how much you appreciate them by creating a loyalty program that rewards them for making repeat visits.

You can use anything from an old-fashioned punch card to a sleek, modern software solution to keep track of clients' visits and offer them discounts, free products, and other perks after they book multiple appointments with you.

Ask for Online Reviews

Ask for Online Reviews

When your clients are happy and satisfied, ask them to leave you an online review on Google, Yelp, or another popular review site.

Not only will this keep your excellent services fresh in their mind, but it will help bolster your business's reputation – and others may see positive reviews and want to make their own appointments.

Referrals: Reaching New Potential Customers

When your clients are happy and satisfied, they become another way of marketing your business – they encourage their friends, family, and other contacts to book with you.

That's the last step in the client acquisition cycle: referrals. When you keep your clients happy, they should refer new clients to you on their own. But there are still some strategies you can use to encourage even more referrals.

Ask For Them

The easiest (and most straightforward) way to encourage your existing clients to refer others to your business is to simply ask them to.

When a client comes in for a service, ask them if they know anyone who could use similar services, and if they'll pass along your business card. You can also create a referral program, where you offer incentives (like discounts or gift products) to clients who make successful referrals.

Ask Your Own Friends and Family

Your own friends and family may or may not need your services – but they likely know at least one other person who does. Give them some business cards and ask them to help spread the word about your business to anyone they know who may be interested.

Host an Event

Hosting an event, like an open house, can be a great way to spread the word about your beauty or wellness business and make new connections in your community. But you can also turn these events into referral generators if you personally invite your existing clients to attend, and encourage them to bring a guest.

Connect with Other Local Businesses

Oftentimes, local business owners are eager to support one another. Build connections with other businesses in your community – even those that aren't related to beauty and wellness – and you can support and promote each other's services.

From Marketing to Referrals (and Everything in Between), GlossGenius Helps You Go Further, Faster

While you focus on growing your book of business, let GlossGenius make the software side of your business perfectly seamless. As the only technology that's built by beauty and wellness professionals for beauty and wellness professionals, it will manage all the little things that keep you booked – with no extra work and no hidden fees.

Ready to see for yourself? Try GlossGenius today. It's free to get started.

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