It’s the single greatest challenge facing any small business owner or self-employed hairdresser: how can I grow my business? Because (and let’s face it) there is no Harvard Business School for running a salon much less your own business in beauty. Even today cosmetology school doesn’t prepare hairdressers for salon life by properly explaining the business and marketing side. If only success was as simple as having the best products, in a good location and just being a really skilled hairdresser. In 2022, business is far from simple.
An important thing to note is that so often we make simple mistakes when it comes to building awareness and even loyalty to a service after we’ve added it to the service menu. We rounded up some of the most common questions we are asked by beauty pros in our certification courses to help you answer the question, “How do I build my clientele?”
Realize that your market is ANY woman
What percentage of clientele do you believe can offer this service to, and which clients are more likely to desire this service? We often make assumptions about our clients, what they want and what they can afford. But only other services, hair extensions CAN be for virtually any client in your chair BECAUSE the real opportunity isn’t always in full installs.
The opportunity for you lies in:
- The 30-something client with expendable income who changes their look and style with the changing fashion
- Mature women seeking to increase the thickness of their hair following hair loss or thinning
- The middle age crowd desiring the hair they had when they were younger
- The client with finer hair who is seeking a particular texture, volume or cut that they can’t achieve any other way
That being said, demographics wise the lion’s share of the extension user base is between 35 and 44, but 45% of the entire extensions market is made up over women over 45 looking to minimize hair loss or even retain their youthful look with long, beautifully healthy hair.
Sometimes extensions or wefts can fix shoddy cut or color work (someone else did), or even achieve the celebrity inspo look your client was craving but didn’t have the volume, length or density to achieve on their own. Think of extensions and wefts as just pieces in your toolbox of hair transformation and pitch them appropriately.
Build interest by showcasing your work
In this day and age between TikTok and Instagram it’s incredibly easy to build a discoverable portfolio of your work. So many of us use this to showcase your balayage or color makeover work, but are you also using it to showcase your extensions before and after? The one important caveat for 2022 however is that video is becoming an even bigger player thanks to the explosion of TikTok, so don’t just take still photos…take video! Make it fun to a hype song and show them what you can do!
Another caveat is this: make sure what you are putting out there looks good on socials. Lighting and a perfect frizz free finish are essential, but so is the background appearance of your salon. Remember that new potential clients are eyeballing your business. Is your station or salon photography space cluttered? Coffee cups everywhere? Dirt or dust? Make sure you’re putting your best business face forward.
Make sure you are leveraging ALL platforms. Don’t just share to TikTok or Instagram, share to both of those plus Facebook. There are social media programs you can use to do this for you such as Hootsuite or Later so you don’t have to take time manually posting to each one. When it comes to Facebook, make sure you’ve linked your Facebook to Instagram and you’ll be able to post automatically to it when you share to Instagram.
One final thought: you see hair collections from haircolor manufacturers all the time, but have you ever considered doing your own? Extensions are just one of those services that lends itself to before and afters. It’s not enough however to just snap a quick pic of the back of a client’s head. It’s an opportunity to share your expertise and say WHY. An example would be telling the story for the client who always wanted density to have more options for updos, and simply tell what you did and why. Share your knowledge and expertise and you become the trusted source for add-on hair. For really great photography however, you need a great photographer. Form relationships with local photographers who are always in need of makeup artists and stylists for their shoots. In addition to often being paid for their on-site services, stylists get credit along with the photographer for any published photographs.
Special Occasions are your bread and butter
You know bridal hair is big, but when it comes to the entry into hair extensions surveys have shown that the majority of women try extensions for the first time BECAUSE they have a special occasion coming up. This can include a wedding, a reunion, a big event or even a special date if they’re diving into the dating game.
When a client comes in for a special occasion, she often brings along photos. Start by indicating where and how extensions were used to complete the photographed look. Next, explain how extensions provide sustainability for the look to last its longest. Natural hair is quick to frizz and fall apart, but extensions last for long periods of time and will hold up throughout the event. Lastly, explain that hair is one of the most important accessories you can use to amp up your look. Just like jewelry, you wouldn’t want to leave it off on a special day. If they want the look without long term commitment, clip-in sets or tape-in hair extensions are the ideal choice.
Get involved in local events
While you may throw local in-salon events fairly frequently, summer is the perfect time to become visible and take your extension business OUTDOORS. Because of how remarkable even just a few extensions or even clip-in bangs can make to a client’s appearance….the service lends itself to putting on a show in a busy spot. Find the busiest outdoor festival this summer and setup an outdoor salon for the day. Keep it simple however…it’s impractical to do half or full heads. Offer up a few pieces, maybe some clip-ins or ponytails and charge a nominal fee to give potential client’s a taste. Put on a show…hand out business cards and make your business more visible!
To drum up new hair extension business and up your salon profits, start planning an invitational night NOW to get ready for “autumn winter extensions season”! Offer a special “ladies night out” promotional evening featuring extension demonstrations and a 2 to 3-piece mini service to introduce each client to hair extensions. You can also host an evening for groups of friends for a makeover party.
Make their first time experience effortless and memorable
The most common reason clients trying a new product or service give it up after one go is that it didn’t meet their expectations, was overly complicated or just a plain hassle. The key to gaining a longtime extensions client is two things:
- Setting expectations from the very beginning
- Reinforcing their choice and asking for a rebooking
With extensions, be it bonds, hand-tied wefts, beads, tape-ins or even clip-ins need to be cared for properly and take some maintenance and even a schedule of appointments to move them up or reinstall them. Let your client know during consultation what they will need to do to ensure their extensions look good and don’t damage their hair. This includes them committing to a brushing, detangling routine daily and if they’re not able to do that, clip-ins are a far better option.
Make sure they are comfortable during the service and when done, have them enjoy their big moment by showing them their before photo and reinforcing what the transformation has really done for them. Make sure you follow up a day or two after to check-in and answer any questions they may have. Gently remind them of the homecare regimen you mentioned during consultation and after the install was completed.
Lastly, always, always ask for the rebooking. Even if a client has to cancel or move their appointment you want to get them into a pattern of coming back to have their extensions moved up, touched up, retaped or reinstalled. If they’re happy, you’ll have landed a new extension client for years to come!
If a client is new to extensions and is on the fence…don’t have them jump in with both feet. They can “dip their toe in” with tape-ins OR but just added a few strands to add volume to back or sides. Our Perfect Locks tape-ins give you the power to create a chemical-free transformation on nearly any canvas. A first-time guest receiving tape-in extensions will be amazed at how much of a dramatic transformation she can receive in a short amount of time with no damage to her own hair. Stylists can create a great experience by having hair on hand and educating the guest on what it’s like living with these extensions. It’s also important to have a very informative consultation and be prepared to answer all questions. Guests need to know as much information as possible. It’s helpful to have a care card with answers to the most common questions so the guest can be assured that they can maintain the extensions.
Know your Customer Retention Rate
Did you know one of the most important gauges on how well your salon is doing is your customer retention rate? Not sure what that is or what your % is? Read on…
This little known percentage is incredibly important and can tell you how well you are doing with first-time clients month to month, but also tells you if any of your marketing initiatives are REALLY successful. You'll always get a rush of new clients after any event...but if 3 months down the road they haven't come back they're gone forever. The national average for customer retention among salons is 30%...for every 10 people that sit in your chair, you'll only keep 3. Sit down…do the math and keep track of this number on a week to week basis.
Focus your attention on 80% of current client retention and 20% on generating new guest through your marketing efforts.
The general benchmarks for the salon industry are as follows:
- New Client Retention: 30%
- Existing Client Retention: 68%
- Overall Client Retention: 58%
Always build Perceived Value
The fastest way to destroy a client’s perception of the value of you and your business is to get into the horrible habit of discounting your services. On the other hand, the extent to which clients believe they are getting an outstanding value compared to the cost of your salon services or products may lead to a full book of business plus a waiting list of people that want to come on as new clients.
Increasing the value that clients perceive in your services and products also makes it much easier for you to increase prices in order to keep pace with increases in your own cost of doing business or become more profitable. Because extensions are a fairly pricey service, build value by making the install an experience. For instance, what about instead of that quick wash and rinse, you start offering a scalp massage and aromatherapy experience in your backbar for every client? What if you introduce new clients to extensions by putting in a few pieces of hair to add a little subtle color to their new hairstyle once they pay for a full hair color service?
Building your business takes time and consistency, but the most important thing of all is to monitor the outcome of what you’re doing. If you run ads, make sure you landing new customers AND retaining them. Years ago as we learned with Groupon…foot traffic doesn’t always add to your bottom line.