The Nailtech Survival Guide
Tips to increase your business in a declining economy
Networking (forming and building relationships outside the salon)
Salon Events (hosting workshops, classes, pamper parties, showers, etc.)
Buddy Passes (offering 2 for 1 certificate, specials)
Social Networking Media (using Facebook and twitter)
Retail (good old fashioned sales)
Salon Specials (weekly, monthly promotions)
Referral Programs (getting clients to work for you)
Sponsoring Community Events (get involved in causes you care about)
Exposure (marketing and advertising alternatives)
For the average person networking can sound like a scary thing to do. If you were brave enough to start a business of your own then you are certainly brave enough to share it with the world. Networking is just one of many ways to do that. If you plan to stay in business for any length of time you need to form relationships outside of your salon walls. Networking is crucial to the growth and sustainability of any small business. You might be asking what
exactly is networking and why is it important to your business?
In the simplest terms networking is a gathering of different individuals, companies or organizations that come together to exchange information about their business and the services they provide. Networking comes in many forms. There are online networks and we will discuss that at a later time. The type of networking events I am referring to are networks that are not directly related to our professional industry. These types of events are held in a variety of venues. It is meant to be a calm relaxing intimate environment, where you can feel comfortable and accepted. Remember everyone there is there for the same reason as you, EXPOSURE!
It is important to attend these types of events because the other attendees may have services that can be useful for you, more than that you get to promote your services. You may find a graphic design artist, a handyman, or an accountant and these services are important to the business side of being in the beauty industry. In most cases after the initial exchange of information a conversation can end up leading to a meeting or a referral to
a friend or relative and that is one more customer that you didn’t have prior to the event.
The more you attend these events the easier it becomes to talk about and promote yourself and your business. You are your biggest cheerleader and if you don’t shout it out no one will know you exist! Don’t be afraid to attend different venues. There are many organizations locally that host networking events at happy hours, libraries and cocktail style events monthly. Many are free or for a minimal cost. It’s worth the investment to spread the word of your services.
Bring a friend or co-worker. This can break the tension, and make it a bit easier when trying to speak to a total stranger. Have plenty of business cards or marketing materials on hand to distribute to other attendees. Remember that they are in need of your nail services even if they don’t know it yet! Have facts about yourself and your company prepared and ready to share (this should be natural and not rehearsed) because no one knows your business better than you.
Many good connections and business relationships can form from sharing your business with other like-minded people. Any type of collaboration or exchange of healthy business related topics can only help in the growth and familiarity of your business. Become a regular at a local networking function. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Find a venue that you can enjoy it will be like work and play all at the same time.
Hosting an event whether it’s an industry related event or a social event can have huge advantages for your business. Hosting an event can be beneficial to your business. Hosting a professional event is much like hosting a personal one for friends and relatives. The difference is that you are opening your doors to potential clients who may be interested in your services and you also are spreading the word for your business to those who may not know who you are what you do or where your located.
What types of events can help me to profit as well as gain exposure? Some events can be hosted for free and that can draw in crowds who are interested in the networking perks. Free events would generally consist of networking or informational gatherings that can open other doors of business relationships and further spread the message of your business.
There are events that can be held at a minimal cost and be rewarding for yourself and the attendees. Workshops, lectures and private parties are a good way for salons to keep the buzz going on in your salon. Remember: you want people to talk about your salon. It’s when they are not talking that something could be wrong. Be creative; think of what other salons or nailtech’s you could partner with. The bigger the network the more resources you have available. Events like bridal shower parties including packages and services is a good way to keep the salon or yourself in the loop! Baby showers, princess birthday parties, ladies night out with hor d’oeuvres and wine is a great to promote your salon services. If no one else is doing it then just maybe you should!
Our industry is always evolving and new trends seem to pop up every day.
Monthly classes and demos for professionals is a way to keep up on current trends and the industry and become a reputable source of information and education in the local market! Bring in professionals from other salons or other cities (then you will see how big your network is) Reach outside your circle or your comfort zone. You will be surprised how many people will respond to new and innovative ideas and how fast they will be willing to participate. Think about hosting an event, you can start as small as just a few people and with networking and consistency watch how your events grow.
Everyone likes to save money whether it is in the form of coupons or rebates or markdowns, we all can appreciate making our dollar go further and last longer. The purpose of the buddy pass is to do just that for your customer and so much more for you. Initially you will be taking a “pay cut” so to speak, but if it means retaining a long time client that will come a receive services often then the discount works well for both parties involved. The buddy pass basically works like this, you set a reasonable price for two people to receive a service of the same type for certain period of time or a certain day of the week which ever you prefer. These two people may want the same or similar services. Neither of the services should be so overpriced that you are doing more work for less money. Remember the client should receive a bargain not a steal!
The benefit is if the client who is new to you or your salon likes the service and paid a minimal price, they will then decide if they like your work and if they would like to become a regular customer. So what you have done is obtained a new client that will return and will be happy to pay in the future because they had an opportunity to preview your work for a discounted rate.
Remember this is not an ongoing rate promotion or special. It is just that, a special or promotion. It should not conflict with your regular prices or your services. Some technicians feel as though they need to offer this all the time in order to compete with others or continue to get new clients. Well imagine how regular customers feel who pay full price on a consistent basis. Eventually they could become disgruntled or unhappy with fact that they never seem to save but a “newbie” always seem to save and there is no guarantee that they will return.
So be careful and fair when it comes to setting prices that benefit some clients and not others. Your regulars could feel slighted or cheated by the show of favoritism.
Welcome to cyberspace! The newest and most competitive way to advertise for your business is to join the new age of online marketing. This is not for the faint of heart. If you are proud of your business and you want to share your ideas with the world, there is no better place to do that than online. These tools for advertising are currently free and can be used by anyone who has a computer or a mobile phone devise that has internet capability. Its’ easy to sign up and only takes a few minutes. Facebook right now is the most popular amongst the population who just like chatting or discussing random thoughts or ideas. The way is works is simple you find friends, family or co-workers online and exchange information with them. Those friends add you to their friend list and when you promote a product or a service those people then see your promotion. The more friends you have the more potential for new business you get. You may also want to create what’s called a fan page for your business. The fan page will allow you to post updates and information about specials or events that may be happening at your place of business. Again, the more fans you have, the more exposure your business gets. It’s just like conventional networking, just online. The information gets directly to the clients with the click of a button.
Twitter is similar but different in its own right. More celebs engage in tweeting, which opens the pool even larger. Twitter works just like Facebook, the only difference is they have two groups of people, followers and following. You could be “following” someone who is not one of your “followers”. The only people who read your posts are people you directly send a message to or all of the people who are following you. Don’t be confused, everyone you are following will not read your post. So be selective about who you choose to follow. Remember only those who are following you will get tour tweets. One great feature twitter has is called the re-tweet. The re-tweet button allows your posts to be spread much more quickly to all of the followers of the person who re-tweeted it. I know it sounds confusing, but it isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Re-tweets are just like the like button on facebook, but benefits are that people who are not following you get the privilege of seeing your promotions.
Twitter has its own verbiage, so you have to familiarize yourself with the language in order to
keep up with all that’s going on in twitterville. You can also post pictures and photos directly to your tweets. This allows friends and followers to see any projects or events you have attended and keeps them update and wondering what you are doing next. Pick a name that best describes your business or your talent. This will be how you are identified by others who may be looking for you online. You want to be easily identified by clients, friends and potential new clients. The more people who can identify you and have something in common with your business the more opportunities you have to share your thoughts, ideas and much more with the entire world.
Retail is one of the oldest and most profitable avenues in our industry. After reading the previous sections, you should have some clients to retail products to. With that being said, the retail aspect of our industry has become very broad and diverse. Some only think in terms of products such as polishes or hand lotions. The world of retail can bring in additional streams of revenue that you may not have considered in the past. Branding is a company’s way of being indentified through its’ product or service. Private labeling is one of the most popular ways to get your salon seen and respected by peers and customers alike. Private label companies are easy to find online and most are willing to package and distribute your products for an additional fee. Products such as polishes, scrubs, cuticle creams and even acrylic systems can be purchased from private label companies. The beauty of private labeling is that the product is already developed and you avoid the cost of trying to develop a product for your company independently.
There are many companies that have products already to be packaged and distributed with your company name on it. There are also companies that will develop a formula specifically for you. The choice is yours. Start small and try out a few companies first.
Most companies will send you samples of their products as an introduction to their company. Familiarize yourself with that brand and see if it reflects the quality and durability that your clients will appreciate and have grown to expect from you. This is an investment, so think wisely about who you are targeting. Are you retailing to other professionals or are you retailing to your clients specifically? That will be the deciding factor in how to go about purchasing the products that best represent your company.
Company t-shirts, and coffee mugs, key chains, etc. is a great way to promote your salon with current clients and make them feel like a partner is the success of the company. People love give-a-ways and these items can be raffled, given as promotions, or sold for profit.
Either way, it keeps your salon name in the forefront of the public eye.
If you haven’t tried retailing start with one or two products and see what the response is from clients. You may be surprised. Putting together take home care kits with your company name is a sure fire way to get your clients excited and bragging about where they get their nails done.
When we hear the word “special” it sends a tremor through my body. It seems that some salons let specials run too long. A special is a promotional price for a set amount of time. A special should be a product or service for specific price for a specified period of time. Specials I repeat SPECIALS do not last forever. Department store sales do not last forever and neither should a salon sale. Salon specials can vary. You can decide that you want to promote a new service or a service that is not selling as well as some others. Then you run a special. Events and holidays are always a good time to announce a special. Proms, graduations, weddings, concerts, Mother’s Day.
These are perfect times to share your services and let new customers become familiar with your salon. There are many ways to run a salon promotion; the key is staying ahead of the curb. What I mean is making sure that your timing is right. Allow yourself enough time to prepare for the flood of people who will be eager to try your service for a discounted price. Make sure you are staffed properly and that you have enough products to fulfill the demand.
Also be sure that your advertising strategy is clear and concise, not misleading be creative with specials. Try a different promotion each month; cater to a different group of people. Do something no one else is doing. Have a postal worker appreciation day, or a teacher’s tribute day. Show the people in the community that you appreciate what they do and that will open new doors for you to attract new clients for your salon. Men are big spenders in the salon industry now. Make sure your salon menu includes specific services just for the men. A monthly specialty service or a “house” special is one way to stay ahead and keep people talking about your creative, stand out services. Change it up every month. If you want to promote pedicures, have a special formula or product for that month just for the pedicure lovers. Always try to include an inexpensive free gift (oil, top coat, pedi-slippers) this makes the clients feel appreciated and special.
There are all sorts of do it yourself salons product tips that can help you develop a special scrub or soak that cannot be duplicated by another salon. Use these tips as a way to set your salon apart from the competition. Clients live when there is always something new going on in there salon. You will be surprised how fast they will want to get in on the action and spread the word.
Referral programs work similarly to the buddy program, but it’s a little different. The referral programs give your clients incentive to work hard to for you. The more people that visit you because of their referral, the more the client is rewarded because of it.
Referral programs can range from discounts for the clients to contests for the most referrals for the month. Contests will suggest that a prize will be given at the end. The prize can be a gift certificate, a gas card, a gift card to a popular restaurant. Or it could be a gift basket, with spa products and chocolates. The possibilities are endless.
Contests will give clients that extra push to want to brag on you and your services. The prize at the end will be the incentive to make them work harder to get the new client in the door. Make it fun, keep a tally of which client is referring the most new clients. All clients think they are your favorite; this is a way for them to show that they are your biggest cheerleader.
If you are already using the facebook and twitter social networking tools, you can incorporate those sites into your referral programs and get everyone in on the fun. Referring a friend makes the client feel like part of the business as well as helps you retain new clients. It’s a win, win situation if the client feels like they are being rewarded for their loyalty and dedication. Referral programs and contests only work if you put forth the extra work that is needed to get everyone involved. People may think they are too busy to refer clients, but the truth is that they want to have a reason to tell people where they get their fabulous nail services. Referral programs do just that.
Sponsoring Community Events
A sure way to boost business, get recognized and do something charitable is to sponsor a community event. This could be anything that has significance to you or your loved ones. Team up with local organizations that already support that cause and see how you can be a part of that. Wellness walks, health fairs, cancer awareness benefits are perfect for doing something great and donating time, services or monetary gifts from you and your business.
They may use your company name on flyers or brochures to promote the event. Naming you as a sponsor is one way they acknowledge you as a participant of their event. This will open doors for you to participate in future community events. They will always think of you and you company first.
There are so many ways and organizations that are in need of volunteers as well as sponsors. You should never come up short on ideas on how you can help out. Local youth centers and community recreation centers always have little league teams that you can sponsor and donate uniforms and time to. The uniforms are a sure fire way to get the salon noticed and you will be contributing to kids who are doing something fun and inspiring in their very own neighborhood.
Connecting with other organizations in your community shows you have compassion, and you are willing to do your part to make things better. This will make you feel good as a business owner to know that you can help make a difference, raise awareness or just support a cause that needs to be recognized. Make sure you do something that has meaning to you the reward is far greater than just doing it for the publicity.
The best thing for any salon or struggling nail technician is exposure. This guide is not a written in stone manual, but hopefully it is a guide to help spark ideas of your own. Pursue the avenues that are available to you or start new trends in the industry. Remember the only way for others to believe in what you do is if you first believe in what you do.
With the birth of the internet and online media outlets, there is no limit to the exposure that your salon has right at it’s’ fingertips. Starting a blog, can also prove successful for sharing information to other nail technicians and nail enthusiasts. A blog is useful only if you have an audience or something to say that others may want to hear. Blogging has become just as popular as other methods of online marketing outlets. Most bloggers are controversial and brash or sassy, so make sure that whatever method
you choose to use, that it represents you and your business accurately.
Some old fashioned methods of exposure are still quite effective. School newsletters and community news paper continue to be a way to reach potential clients. Writing a column for a smaller paper on weekly beauty tips can help contribute to getting the word out about your business.
Try partnering with other small businesses in your area that offer products or services different than yours. Coffee shops, clothing stores or restaurants can help cross-marketing a lot easier. Offer an employee of the month service to that business in exchange for distributing your flyers to their customers. This will expand your pool of potential clients and spread the word about your business.
For these tips and more connect with me on social media @Gimmeahand on Facebook, instagram and twitter. Subscribe to the Gimmeahandblog.com for the latest industry information. Gimmeahand helping you nail success!
This book was written for professional nail techs to learn tips to building a clientele and marketing their business and themselves both on and off line. The marketing and promotions featured and tips provided are tools to help new nail techs learn new marketing strategies and help seasoned nail industry veterans tap into past marketing efforts that have been drowned out by the emergence of social media.