This is a hot topic… I mean, I haven’t met an esthetician who doesn’t want new clients! Right??
There’s no magic bullet, and as business owners, we’ll have to take the ebb and flow of being an entrepreneur in stride.
It takes guts to start your own business and then tenacity to stay in business. Owning a business is not for everyone but if you’re reading this, I know you’ve what it takes to give it a shot.
Truth is, none of us is handed a book full of clients on a silver platter the moment we step out of esthetic school. We all have to put in the work and start somewhere.
The key is – you must put in the work, and then…start!
In this article, I’ll tell you exactly how I built a 300-clientele base in less than one year when I was just starting out.
This method works very well for those new to business. It’s also a great way to keep your book full if you’ve been in business for a while:
When I first graduated from esthetic school, I was starting from zero with no client and no reputation. And mind you, it was before the Internet era so I had to literally pound the pavement.
I got a job at Dillard’s (a department store) Spa. I was the second esthetician hired and assigned Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
There was a senior esthetician who had five years experience, and I thought, “Okay great, I’m going to have a mentor to show me the ropes.”
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and I was left on my own device to figure it all out. I’m sure you can relate to that sense of loss and frustration.
Here’s the silver lining – I was forced to “grow up,” to take responsibility for my own success, and build my own book.
I went to the spa every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. But I didn’t just park my bum there and hope for the best.
I made friends with all the service providers that were in the spa and the salon… hairstylists, nail artists, massage therapists… you name it.
I develop relationships with them and created a supportive work environment for myself.
I didn’t stop there. I wanted to take this a step further and be on the fast track. I was focused on getting my books filled.
I went down to the cosmetic counters and made friends with all of the counter managers of all the popular brands sold within the store.
I offered the facials, brow waxes, and developed a relationship with them. I then asked if that’s ok for me to invite their customers to the spa for a free brow wax.
You’d be surprised how supportive people are when you just ask!
They said, “Sure Maxine, love to help you.” So that’s exactly what I did.
Now some of you might feel like this is a little scary: walking up to strangers, introducing yourself and offering something for free.
Well yeah, it was scary for me too. I had to step out of my comfort zone. Just like most of us estheticians who want to close ourselves in the treatment room and just do our magic work, I’m an introvert too.
I had to muster up my courage to approach these potential clients. And you know what I found out when I did?
The conversation often went like this:
Me: Hey would you like a complimentary brow wax?
Client: Sure, here?
Me: No, up at the spa.
Client: Oh, I didn’t even know there was a spa here!
I solved half of my problem! I just needed to put myself in front of the right potential clients, let them know that there WAS a spa in the department store and invite them to check it out!
Another reason I gave the free wax, no matter how simple, was that I wanted to get these potential clients into my environment. This not only allowed me to do my best work but also to get to know them and capture their information.
I would hand them the clipboard, give them some cucumber water and then bring them into my treatment room to give them the free brow wax.
While I was doing the brow wax, I’d start talking about their skin and offer them a complimentary skin analysis. I’d give them a few tips and let them experience what it’s like to interact with me.
And I’m not done yet.
At the end of each working day, I’d take all the intake forms of those who received the free brow wax and write them a thank you card. I’d say thank you for trusting me with their brows and mention something we talked about during that time e.g. their skin analysis.
To turn these prospects into clients, I’d invite them to book an appointment for a treatment based on our conversation, and give them my availability as well as a phone number to call.
That’s it, nothing sales-y or pushy. I was just being authentic and sincere.
This simple system worked really well. So what do you do when something works? Do more of it!
Anytime I had a gap in my schedule, I’d rinse and repeat this process to offer as many brow waxes as I could, capturing these prospects’ information and following up to get them to book an appointment.
Before long, I filled my books with a 300-clientele base.
Here are a few lessons we can learn from my experience:
- When you’re starting out, situate yourself in a salon or spa environment in which you can tap into a network of practitioners with an existing clientele.
- Build relationship with other service providers in your vicinity to create a supportive work environment.
- Develop a system to get new potential clients to experience your magic. Anytime you have a gap between appointments, you work that system.
- Step out of your comfort zone and approach new potential clients. You just have to be authentic and sincere. Remember, there’s nothing personal if they say “no.”
- When you get potential clients to say “yes” to your free offer, get them into your environment in which you can do your best work.
- Capture their information and follow up – go the extra mile to surprise and delight.