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While I agree that 30 clients in a year is an attainable goal, it shouldn't be your only goal.

That is a long term goal and needs to be broken down into short term goals. For example you say I want to have 30 clients one year from now.

OK, how are you going to do that?

You could start with these:

I will hand out 5 business cards every day and I will tell those 5 people what I do.

I will talk to every client who comes to the salon today and give them my card.

I will offer every client who comes to the salon today one service at 50% off.

I will offer every new client this week 25% off their next service if they pre book and keep that appointment.

I will start a referral program and offer it to all of my clients at every appointment.

I will send thank you cards to every new client after their first visit and offer them_________( you fill in the blanks)

I will read at least one trade magazine and try one new technique each month.

I will practice my __________(smile lines, efile, c curve, nail art, sculpting, whatever) at least __________minutes per day.

I will attend at least one trade show per year.

I will attend at least 2 continuing education classes per year.

I will visit the message boards daily or weekly and ask questions.

I will network with other nail professionals.

I will take business/marketing classes or attend seminars.

I will ask every client if they would like to book a pedicure with their nail appointment.

If they/I don't have time for a full pedi, I will then offer a toe polish change.

I will recommend cuticle oil to every enhancement client.

I will recommend heel treatments or foot files to every pedi client.

I will offer manis to every pedi client.

My nails and feet will always be impeccably done.

I will dress professionally, make up and hair done every day.

I will always be on time.

I will send a thank you card to every one who sends me a referral whether they are a client or not.

I will ask other business if I can leave cards and or brochures at their front desk.

I will network with the hairstylists/estheticians/ receptionist/other co-workers and ask them for referrals.

If you do all of these things ( and there are dozens more) you will have your 30 clients and then some in less than a year. If you only do some of these things you will still get your 30 will just take a little longer.

And, you may think oh jeez, I don't want to give a 50% discount that's hardly any money! Well, would you rather have 60% of 50% or 60% of 0?

My reasoning for the big discount is this: it is rare these days to find someone who doesn't already have their nails done. Now, they may be unhappy or looking for a new tech or maybe they want to have their nails done where they have their hair done, BUT there are a bunch of techs in town and unless you already have a reputation as an outstanding tech these people have NO REASON to try you out, especially if you are the same price as other more experienced techs. So, you must give them an incentive to try your services. Once you have them in your chair you can dazzle them with your talent and knowledge. If you are good they'll be back. So, yeah, you may have only charged 1/2 of your regular price, but you have a client in your chair, who, if she is happy will do two things for you: book another appointment and tell her friends about you.

Now that you have this 50% off client in you chair you have the opportunity to ask her about a pedi, recommend some retail, ask for the referral and prebook her next appointment.

Above all else, you MUST be in the salon-every single day! You need to set regular hours and keep them. If you aren't there existing clients don't see you, won't get to know you and won't think of you when they need a mani/pedi/nail repair whatever.

It takes a lot of time, effort and hard work to succeed as a nail tech and this is all stuff they don't tell you in school.

Also, you need to get out of the every 2 week client mindset. With the great products on the market now clients are able to go 3-4 weeks without problems so you need to have more clients that you see less often. The upside is you can charge more for your services when they only come every 3 weeks.

I know this is a lot of information and you probably think you can't do it or it wont work but I'm here to tell you that it took me less than 6 months to be fully booked with a waiting list and having to hire more techs when I opened my first shop. I did all the things I mentioned above and even more-so I know firsthand that these things work and it can be done.

If you stay focused on the short term daily, weekly and monthly goals the year will fly by and you'll think-gee that wasn't so hard!
Sherri Dahin
CND Grand Master Technician
Owner, The Nail Diva's Beauty Lounge
2115 S. Arizona Avenue Suite 7
Yuma, AZ 85364
[email protected]
KUDOS to you Sherri on this post...I am living proof as I am sure alot of others are that THIS is what made one successful....I am a start over again professional having moved to a new area and have already achieved this goal..My one year mark was the end of Nov...print this out gals/guys and post it in a place that has you reading it daily...IT WORKS!!!!!
How many years ago did you do this to have a full book in 6 months?

At that time, were there as many nail salons and nail techs as there are now days?

Did the location, size of salon, booth rent or commmsioned salon, local economy have any impact on your ability to build in 6 months?

Most newbies won't have an opportunity to work closely under an experienced nail tech or be able to take over an established techs clientele.

How many other techs reading here, who are newbies have built a full book within the past (two) years?

How many years ago did you do this to have a full book in 6 months?

1992. I opened my one room salon in an office belonging to my mom. Yes, I paid rent. I had ONE client who followed me from JCP where I worked for 2 months before deciding I could do better on my own.

Prior to that I worked very part time for a couple of years until I decided that I REALLY wanted to do nails.

I put an ad in the Super Shopper. $25 full sets. I was booked in 6 months.

I worked alone and had no mentor, no message boards and no one to network with. No stylists to work off of. But I KNEW I wanted to make my living doing nails and I knew that in order to do that I had to work it like any other sales job. I had to put myself out there and do everything I could to let people know what I did for a living.

There were no nails only salons at that time. I was the first one.

When the McNails started to come to my town I didn't worry about them. I focused on MY business, My clients, MY skills. I did not lower my prices to compete with them. I stayed educated and informed. I took more classes, practiced more and raised my prices.

See, the real truth is I don't "do nails". I don't do nails for fun or as a hobby. This is my career. It just so happens that I'm good at it and I love it.

Nails was also not my first job. I was a Realtor and a property manager. I learned about marketing and sales with that job. I learned that it DOES NOT matter what you do for a living, if you are in sales or customer service you have to be proactive and you have to ASK for the business. Just because you have a license and work in a salon does not automatically entitle you to a clientele. Whether you realize it or not hair and nails IS a SALES job. You are selling services and you are selling yourself. Lets face it, no one needs nail enhancements or hair color. But it is our job to create that need or at least make em want it real bad. :wink:

When I could afford it, back in 92, I joined the chamber of commerce and the American Business Women's Association. They were both good investments in my business. Truly, any club you join, business related or not, will expose you to potential clients.

Building a clientele is sort of like losing weight. You have to have a goal and a plan and then you have to work it slow and steady every single day for the best results.

I'm not saying everyone can do it. What I AM saying is it can be done. Yes, the demographics of your location will play a part, and so will your salon, and the number of McNails in your town and a million other things over which you have no control. Don[t worry about the things you CAN'T control. Worry about the things you CAN control, like doing the things I mentioned above and you WILL be able to build a clientele.
Very well said!
Sherri, that was extremely well said.

Webmaster Deb, I'd like to recommend that Sherri's two posts be put at the top of the Nail Tech Forum along with the post of what to ask in an interview. Maybe the heading should be : How to become a successful Nail Tech! Big Grin
Hey Donna! You Changed your picture. Cute nails--V-day?
:oops: awww-thanks you guy for all your kind words.

I really feel strongly about what I said. BS (beauty school) didn't teach me anything except how to pass my state board. They certainly didn't tell me how hard it would be to build a clientele, or even how to do it.

I didn't have a mentor, or message boards and had to travel for classes. There were no classes in my area and even now there are very few. I can remember the first time I saw a P&W nail. It was in 1992 and I was working a JCP. They were on the cover of Nails or Nailpro and I was like "whoa! how did they do that?" I read the article and grabbed a hairstylist and said "I'm gonna do these nails on you OK?" And I did it. They weren't that good but they weren't too bad. After that I wanted to put those P&W nails on EVERYONE! It took a couple of years for them to catch on and now all my clients have them.

I remember in BS when we got our nail kits...CND is what we got. In the box was a little jar of pink powder and a jar of clear and a jar that said "white tip powder". So I ask the instructor what that one is for and she says"you use that one over tips" I say "so we're gonna put on a tip and then make the whole nail white?" and she says "yeah" and I'm thinking "why? why would you wanna do that?" She honestly didn't know that "white tip powder" was for doing P&W nails. She barely knew what acrylic was! :roll:

I'm sure there are lots of people who have similar stories about BS. So ya see, we're all at a bit of a disadvantage when we get out of school. Thats why I'm so grateful for this board!
Wow...that is a fabulous post. thank you so much for sharing..... I sooo needed to hear this!

Since we're on the subject of $$$, just want to add something. I have been in business for almost 9 years and have a full book. The prices of nail products has skyrocketed since I started. When I first started doing gels about 8 years ago, I paid approx $22 for a 2-oz tub. That same 2-oz tub is now $50-plus. That is more than double. Did I double my prices? No. I can't double my prices. Sometimes a client will ask me how much I have to pay for something, ex: gel, cleanser, drills, uv lights. When I tell them, they are totally shocked. The nail suppliers keep raising the prices and not all nail techs can raise their prices to accomodate. I am in a small town where people are very conservative and I cannot (and will not) raise my prices right now. I have recently started selling Silpada Jewelry to supplement my income. I love, love, love doing nails and there is nothing else I'd rather do, but if the suppliers keep raising the prices, I will have to give up the thing I love doing more than anything in the world!!
Not necessarily. You have already taken one step in the right direction by adding jewelry sales. There are many other things you can retail as well.

Also, Janet McCormick has an article in either Nails or Nailpro next month about implementing the double station technique into your salon.

This works extremely well, especially if you are doing mostly gels. There have been some very interesting and informative threads on the mailing list about this topic as well.

Once again, its about stepping outside the box and trying something new.

After 9 years, is there anything you can do to save time without cutting quality? Are you using an efile for everything including prep? How much time are you spending setting up and cleaning up between appointments? Are you removing your clients' polish or are they. If you can find little ways to save time on each service-say 10n to 15 minutes, you can easily add one more client per day.

one client per day at $25 (just a conservative figure) = $125/week=$500/mo=$6000/year.

So an additional $6K without raising prices.

I hired an assistant so I could work in more clients, she sets up for peds/cleans up when I'm done, removes polish, answers the phone, sanitizes implements, takes out trash, makes appointments, cleans shop, etc, gibing me more time to work. I realize not everyone can afford this but if you can it is a good investment.

I also started having my pedi clients come in 15 minutes before I was through with my previous appointment to have polish removed and start soaking. This saved me actually 30 minutes because it would take me about 15 minutes just to set up remove polish and start them soaking which then left me 15 minutes of soaking time which = no $$.

I earn an average of $40/hour so that 15 minutes of down time actually costs me $10! If that happens a 4 times a day that's $40 a day! Can't have that!

So, you gotta try to find creative ways to make every minute you are in the salon count for $$.

Keep up with the retail and add some more items and try to find a way to add one more client a day without working extra hours-you CAN do it!
You might want to consider a more price effective gel as well. Since you've mastered the gel craft then try some Nailite gels if you haven't. I've heard good things about the gels. Hey whats the worse that could happen?

Sometimes I think we are paying for a name rather than a product.
Studies suggest that a customer does not become a client until a third or fourth visit to a service facility - some say the number is five!

What is the difference between a customer and a client? A customer is a shopper. They are shopping around for the right service or personality. What can you do as a nail tech to turn the shopper into a client?

Well I do not have the answer on how to get the client to come back for five visits, but I have a little information that will help encourage a second visit.

Your second visit is FREE, with the purchase of a new set! FREE?? - NO WAY!

Here is how it works. Your customer has just had a new set of nails done by you. You send her home with her cuticle oil (incorporate the oil into your price so she does not have to buy it). You explain to her that the healthier the natural nail is the better the enhancements will last - and this will help you grow stronger nails - as well as all the other benefits of the oil that YOU sell. Then you book her FREE appointment NO LATER THAN TWO WEEKS from her first visit.

If the customer has any issues with her nails and you did a good job, the issues will be minor within the two week period. This is your second opportunity to turn the customer into a client. Tell her how well she is doing. FIND OUT HER INTERESTS - family, golf, sail, swim, run eat go to movies and so on. Make HER feel important. Take notes. Give her a kick-a** nail fill and BOOK HER NEXT APPOINTMENT. – And what will you be talking about at the next appointment? – Her interests of course.

You are now on track to turning the shopper into a client.

:arrow: More tips to come and Sherri - Great Post!
I have done the free thing. The way I did it was buy 2 fills and your full set is free. This way they have already paid for the next 2 appointments. About 50% of those people became regular clients for the salon.

Another promotion that has worked really well for me in the past is buy three get one free-did this for manis, pedis and fills.

I have also done a promo where the client pays for a year of fills and backfills in advance and gets a 20% discount.

I did this for pedis also-that was a great seller. If they wanted to give some of the pedis to friends so much the better because it gave us a new client.

There are so many things you can do to increase your business I could probably write a book!

I learned in a marketing seminar once that the difference between a customer and a client is : WE need customers-Clients need US.

I agree with gelpro getting to know your clients on a more personal level they will come to believe that you are more than just their nail tech. People love to talk about their kids, their pets their family themselves. Showing an interest in your clients personal lives lets them know that you are interested in more than their money(even if you aren't :wink: ) Its called "relationship marketing".

Also, gelpro mentioned the number of times someone needs to see you before becoming a client. The number of times a potential client needs to see or hear your name before they even THINK about you is 6. What that means is just because you gave your card to someone once doesn't mean you shouldn't follow up.

Here is an example:

You introduce yourself and give your card to 5 clients who visit the salon for hair services. One week later, using your salon's data base of clients you send those 5 clients a little note that says "I enjoyed meeting you last week when Sue was doing your hair. I look forward to seeing you again so you can tell me all about..........Sincerely . One week after the note card you send those 5 clients a coupon, flier, brochure newsletter or something. One week later those 5 clients return to the salon. You say hello, remember me? Did you get my flier. Can I offer you a complimentary hand massage while your color is processing? Or maybe you notice one of them has a broken nail-you offer to fix it for FREE, during which time you talk to her about her nails and oh by the way we have this really great new hydrating lotion that would be good for your skin. I noticed when I was repairing your nail that your skin looks a little dry. Would you like a sample? Or maybe one has really chipped polish and you say could I give you a complimentary polish change while your here? She probably won't say know and once again you talk about her nails, her skin her feet. Offer her a sample of something. The next day you send those 5 clients a THANK YOU card thanking them for the opportunity to be of service and you hope they will think of you if you can be of service in the future.

Now, so far you have put yourself in front of them 5 times. During the time you had them in your chair you should have made a client card with all of their info including email, phone, mailing addy and What products you used, what you did, etc.

For your 6Th contact shoot of an email mentioning something you talked about..."Sue, I just wanted to let you know that I heard about a place that sells the ____________you mentioned when I did your nails. Call me and I'll tell you about it."

Now that is your 6Th contact. And you have clearly left the ball in their court. Who do you think they will think of next time they need something nail related? Most likely it will be you. It may be for a GC, they may send a friend, their regular tech may be out of town, whatever, they will most likely call you.

It didn't cost you a lot of money-pennies actually-just a little time and thoughtfulness on your part and you have started to developer a RELATIONSHIP with the other clients in the salon.

You can use this same method with women from you church group, your mom's club, any professional organization you belong to or any group of people you know.

Is so simple its almost silly!
oh saving this one too
Ok now. So you have a few “Clients” now – but you want more. What is the best form of advertising? Flyers? Ad in the paper? While this may work to some degree, word of mouth is by far the BEST!

You can do all the marketing in the world, but if your work is sub-standard, you will not turn customers into clients. Practice, practice, practice. Do a bank teller, grocery cashier, or someone else that is always dealing with the public a great deal, with the expectation that they will promote you.

What makes your work any different than the NSS on the corner that charges $10 less? The NSS is not your competition! You have to do things differently. If the customer comes to you and cannot see a difference before, during and after the service, why would they be willing to pay more?

Think of each nail bed as an artist’s canvas. You are an artist – they do nails. Now a true artist uses their tools to create everything. So now you have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to sculpt! THROW AWAY YOUR TIPS! Whether you use gel or acrylic, you have every shape and style of tip you need right at the tip of your brush (OK, OK I know you need more that just the tip of the brush).

Explain to your customer that you will be committed to growing out their nails so that they will eventually have their own nails with a protective coating of gel or acrylic protecting them within six months. Explain what you are doing and why you are doing it. Do you think they get that at the corner NSS? It is very difficult to grow out the natural nail if the first thing you do on a fill is cut off the natural nail so you can glue on a tip.

Your work is your advertising and your customers are your marketers.

Talk to them. Explain to them that your business is built primarily on word of mouth. Give them your business cards and ask them to promote your business. Provide incentives for both the existing client and anyone they refer.

Write the Client’s name on the back of the card. Buy a stamp that says “The bearer of this card will receive 20% off any service” or something similar. Now the card has your client’s name on the back. The next time that client is in, give her something, $5 off, cuticle oil, or???? AND a thank you for referring so-and-so card.

More to come…………..
Sheri, Thanks for the good tips! I like the one about the assistant. I'm not real familiar with the table set up to work on two clients. I don't think my clients would like that because they want my full attention when I'm working on them. They get upset if I answer the phone or have to take care of a delivery. A lot of them want to talk about private matters. I can't imagine doing this with another client sitting right there. I'll look for the info in the next Nails issue.
in response to mysweetjordan's comment about the price of gels now. I can understand it totally. I haven't been doing gels quite as long but, but I've finally found a great gel that's resonable and I can buy it in 1 oz size or get it in the 4 oz refill size for $75.00, saving me $25 a pop everytime I order it. I've just had to raise my prices but the gel nails sell themselves and the word is getting out in my town. The folks don't bat an eye at the new prices since they're able to go 3 to 4 weeks inbetween fills. That also means I have room for more new clients! Yippee!
Donna, what gels do you use?
THANK YOU LADIES FOR ALL THE WONDERFUL INFORMATION: It has really given me the push I needed. Big Grin
Gelpro, you're ideas are great, but I have to take exception to one comment. I don't think that using tips makes me less of a 'nail artist'. Granted, sometimes sculpting is the only way to take care of an issue, but just sculpting doesn't necassarily make you a nail artist. A great nail tech should be able to do either/or, not just one or the other. I believe a tip can be used as a tool just like a brush. I'd rather see a perfectly done nail with a tip than a poorly made sculpt because someone thought it was 'better'.

Bengalkat, if you'll email me, I'll give you the info...... Big Grin
Donna, you are absolutely correct. I use both tips and do sculpts depending on the client I am working on. Quite honestly, I prefer to have tips on my own nails. But I certainly do not think a nail tech is any less professional just because he or she uses tips rather than sculpting.
Thank you all for the advise I was really needing it. I am new to the nail business. I do hair also and have been doing it since 89 but i moved and in a town that has alot and i mean alot of salons so this advise is just what i need it on both sides the nails and the hair.

) Jackie
Donna in Huntsville, TX. :
I'd rather see a perfectly done nail with a tip
> than a poorly made sculpt because someone thought it was 'better'.

In a perfect world everyone would have the same shape and size of nails. We all know this not to be true.

If you practice your sculpting why would the sculpt be poor? In my experience the amount of time spent dicking around with tips to "make them fit" is far less productive than learning and perfecting sculpting. Not only that, once perfected, sculpting nails takes no more time than gluing on tips AND at a fraction of the cost. By always sculpting, you will never have to use the next size, shape or style of tip because you have run out of#6. Or spend 10 - 20 minutes resorting the case of 500 you just dropped on the floor. As Donna says, TIME is Money.

Tips may be easier to learn with - but if you think that being a professional Nail Technician is easy...........then you are either extremely talented/experienced or you are not doing a very good job.

AND if your client is committed to the long term upkeep of her nail enhancements, how will you ever grow out the natural nail if you keep her in tips?

I may be mistaken but I would find it hard to believe that any Nail Tech that has perfected sculpting would ever go back to tips - other than "Party Nails"

Come on sculpting pros; am I out to lunch on this one?
:cry: :roll: :wink:
enhanced :
> How many years ago did you do this to have a full book in 6 months?

16 years ago

> At that time, were there as many nail salons and nail techs as there are now
> days?

in my area -- absolutely

> Did the location, size of salon, booth rent or commmsioned salon, local economy
> have any impact on your ability to build in 6 months?


> Most newbies won't have an opportunity to work closely under an experienced
> nail tech or be able to take over an established techs clientele.

Some do not need to.. some reach out in other ways such as this forum.. if they want help it's there for the asking
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