Updated: Oct 31, 2022
About the author:
LeeAnn Miley is a salon owner based in Hastings, Nebraska, and the President and Executive Director of The Sovereign Stylist. Her personal experiences led her to advocate and educate stylists on proper worker classification. LeeAnn’s blogs are typically focused on tax compliance, worker classification, and general business practices. LeeAnn believes that laws and business are powerful entities when one has knowledge of them and has dedicated herself to spreading such knowledge to the industry she loves.
In order for your salon business to be successful, it takes a revolving door of clientele. A lot of stylists rely on social media and some rely on referrals, but eventually the door slows down. So where do you go from here? I've compiled a list of unique ideas to build your book.
Radio- Take 10 $15 gift certificates to your local radio station. Have them use them as “give-a-ways.” Free advertisement plus new clients!
Hashtag- Hashtags are a great way for potential clients to “stumble” across you on social media. Use area schools, colleges, local events, places, big corporate businesses, the possibilities are endless.
Lady Balls- Leave your business card in the box color isle at your local Walmart!
Get your business on the web- Invest in a website, Facebook page, Twitter & Instagram accounts. They don’t have to be fancy to start with, just functional with all your business contact information.
FaceBook Groups- You can search for keywords in local FB buy/sell/trade groups like; hairstylist, color & dye.
Re-book- EVERY client should leave with their next appointment already scheduled. Don’t ask them when they would like to re-book; tell them their next appointment is such & such date, here are the times you have available.
Ask for Referrals- Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for referrals. Mention your referral program.
Google- Check your Google business account, upload photos of your work & your salon, edit keywords to match your location & specialty services. This is FREE & there’s even an app!
Go LIVE- Do a LIVE reveal of your salon introducing you as the know-it all in your area when it comes to the beauty world. Ask people to LIKE your business page, share the LIVE (especially in groups), & have people tag 3 friends who deserve the best stylist!
Go LIVE Again- Host weekly LIVE chats showcasing your work, show how to use various tools, even have guest interviews. The more you become known, the more clients you will attract.
Client Classes- Host themed classes in your salon outside business hours. Invite dads to come in with their daughters, teach simple braiding & easy to-do do’s.
3 Cards Every Day- Hand out 3 business cards, outside of the salon, EVERY day & you’ll gain at least 3 new clients a month. Think grocery store, doctor’s office, your kids’ teacher.
Get Out There- Don’t be scared to go out there and network. Websites like Meetup have several networking groups in various areas, and some are even free to join. Bring plenty of business cards and introduce your own company or the one you represent. It is a proven way to build your book of business. The truth is…networking really works!
Capture Leads- If you don’t have a contact form on your website, get one immediately. You could have hundreds of web visitors who want to hire your salon or spa services but can’t get in touch with you.
Start blogging- Offering free advice through a personal or company blog will always be appreciated by your readers. This is a long term strategy that involves offering ideas, feedback, or just plain advice. This is a proven approach to building new relationships and acquiring business over time.
Selfie-station- Offer a selfie station ― everybody is all about social media and great hair, so why not have a small area set up in front of your company logo or stylist station and have the clients snap photos and share all over social media? Free advertising/marketing for sure. Also, put a sticker in the mirror with your own hashtag if you have it.
Hair Holidays- Think of promotions based upon each season or upcoming holiday. Don’t be afraid to create full-priced promotions to bring awareness to exciting services that go well beyond your regular haircut, hairstyle, and nail care services. Promote services like wedding upstyles, ombre hair color, all-natural hair smoothing, texturizing, sugar hair removal, and threading. Besides Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and year-end holidays promote National Hair Extensions Day on May 22, National Blonde’s Day on June 4, Hair Designer’s Day on June 26, and Kiss A Brunette Day on July 2.
FaceBook Ads- Use Facebook Lead Ads to promote a service with a big discount. The beauty of Facebook Lead Ads is that they can be targeted geographically to your ideal audience and allow you to capture names and email addresses directly. The collected email addresses are gold for future email marketing. You can even direct the same users to a different offer on your site where you’ll collect even more information such as mailing addresses. Now, you have email addresses for future email blasts, street addresses for direct mail marketing, and the ability to tag your website visitors with a cookie for re-marketing. The spin-off strategies are almost endless.
Birthday Discount- Having an email campaign is a great way to reduce no-shows and increase client retention. When a customer signs up to receive your email communications, prompt them to enter in basic contact information, including their birthday. When their birthday rolls around each year, you can send out a customizable birthday incentive to entice them to return to the salon. This could come in the form of a discount, free product, or service — even a coupon off their next highlight. By offering birthday incentives, you’re letting the client know you value their business and are thinking of them on their special day.
Lunchtime Package- Create and promote a salon package that is 30-45 minutes, affordable, and is something simple that anyone can enjoy on their lunch break. Print out coupons or flyers, and approach local businesses in your area to market your new spa plan that can provide their workforce with some effective stress relief and enjoyment.
Blow-out Trial- Many people are afraid to try a new hairdresser because they don’t want to end up with a bad haircut or color job or both. However, a nonthreatening hair salon service that can be used to get potential new clients in the door is a free blow-out. This free blow-out can be advertised through traditional channels like direct mail coupon packs, ads in local newspapers, door hangers, and so on. A salon can also create an attractive gift certificate for this free blow-out and ask noncompeting businesses, such as Mary Kay salespeople, to distribute it as a “thank you for your business” gift to their clients.
Instagram Buddies- More than 31% of American women are on Instagram, and with nearly 50% of brands using it, you can’t afford to fall behind. Instagramming can be fun, but don’t let it be casual. If you want to connect with your audience, set up a day or two every month where you spend the day doing a professional photo shoot in the salon. Once your pictures are ready, you can schedule out when you’ll post them throughout the month using free tools like Hootsuite.
Offer Online Booking- When clients find your salon online, you can make it easy for them to make an appointment without even picking up the phone or visiting your website. Salon management tool Booker displays an online booking widget directly on your Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, MapQuest, or SpaFinder profiles that link directly to Booker’s software’s scheduling tool.
Ask For Reviews- When people search for your business on Google – to check hours, make an appointment, or to find your location – reviews connected to your Google My Business page show up alongside the search results. This is a huge opportunity to set yourself apart by loading your Google listing with positive and glowing reviews. Get in the habit of asking happy and loyal customers to leave a positive review (and give them the link or help them do it).
Raffle- Discounted cuts or services are a great way to bring new folks into a salon, but once that discount ends, they’ll be onto the next salon offering another discount. We’d recommend offering something that isn’t going to cost much and is more exclusive. For example, you can launch a “free haircut for a year” raffle where one select person can receive a free haircut or style for a year, with some limitations.
Why You- The mistake that many small businesses make is to promote what they do, without telling people why their services are different or provide more value than other options. Make sure your website amplifies these differences. Make sure your social media posts include highlights about these differences too.
Influencer Club- Reach out to local Instagram influencers and offer a complimentary treatment in exchange for a post a live story to get some great exposure on social media. You can also arrange to do a service/product giveaway on their channel to increase your customer base.
Be Your Own Model- According to marketing guru Brandon Gaille, one of the best marketing tactics for salon owners is to be their own models. No one wants to get their hair done by someone who has pretty lousy hair, so make sure your own stylists do your hair and that it’s a showcase of your salon’s best work.
Partnered Advertising- Partner with local tourist destinations, clothing retailers, or beauty shops nearby. Then, you can cross-promote each other’s businesses while customers are shopping in their stores. Eventually, you could save some money on ad space by advertising together.
Featured Publication- A feature article may detail how you began in the business, your expertise, past employment before striking out as an entrepreneur, and what you offer that no one else does. You can even include testimonials from your clients
Gift Card Bonus- Offer something for free whenever a customer buys a gift card. It can be something as small as an eyebrow wax or as large as a facial, based on the amount of the gift card. That way, you get a chance to wow the customer and turn them into a client for life.
Go To The Public- Take your salon to the public in a well-prepared stand with a couple of salon chairs and invite passers-by to get a manicure or a blowout for a discount. Have all those who are interested add their telephone numbers and email addresses to a sign-in sheet. That way, you can follow up with additional marketing and turn them into long-term customers.
Contribute Your Knowledge- Write guest articles on popular salon blogs. Should they accept your content piece, you’ll enjoy free traffic to your website and coverage for your brand.
Online Look-Book With Instagram- Using your Instagram page is a perfect (and free) opportunity to show off your work and your salon’s personality to potential customers. Utilize the platform to share hair tutorials, styling advice and current/upcoming trends. You can even take advantage of its video functionality to discuss unique salon services and any product reviews (especially those you sell). Many successful salons use Instagram as a means for generating extra attention and getting a conversation going with their clients... plus it can be a lot of fun!
First Timers- Try something like: receive $10 off your first visit. All you have to do is make sure you’re providing any potential clients with a little extra incentive to step through your doors. Use these first-time specials as a means to give clients, who might have been slightly unsure, ample motivation for giving your salon a try.
Last Minute Deals- For times or days that you know are usually slow, it's a great idea to spice things up with special, daily promotions. Make these promotions an "act fast" item. Set the promotion up during your slow times and blitz it out across your social media pages, website, and email lists. Watch how you can turn a systematically slow time for your salon into a profitable one.
New Month, New Deal- Every new month comes with the opportunity to freshen things up at your salon. Consider creating a new monthly special at your salon every month. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, the point here is just to generate a little buzz, and give clients something to be excited about. Try something like $5 of your next cut during the month of February, or 10% off your first blowout in March. Remember — these don't have to be anything crazy, just something for clients to appreciate. A little buzz can go a long way in terms of attracting more clients to your salon.
Product Bundles- If you’re like most salons, you make a substantial amount of profits from the retail you sell. So, it makes sense to focus some of your efforts this year into your retail selection. Consider pairing some products together and creating some product bundles. If you already do this switch some items within each around to get a combination that's new. It may even be a good idea to create seasonal bundles - for example, in the winter, maybe pair a deep conditioning mask with a hydrating shampoo to help your clients tame static and frizz.
Gift With Purchase- Staying with a retail focused mentality here — consider giving away a free sample gift with purchases from time to time. This marketing idea works to benefit both you and your clients.
Loyalty Punch- It can be difficult attracting new clients to your salon, but that's only half the battle. The other half is making them stay and come back. A great way to do so is by creating a punch card loyalty program.
Newsletter- This may sound like a huge endeavor, but you can save a ton of time by using marketing automation software to easily keep your clients updated on what’s going on at your salon.
10 Block Walk- Walk into every business within a 10 block radius of your new business, bring a stack of business cards, flyers & discount cards, introduce yourself and ask if you can hand them out or leave them in a break room.
Door Prizes- Set up a door prize at a local retail store to give away product or gift certificate. Use contact information from sign up slips to generate future leads.
Industry Partnership- Partner with local/area estheticians, massage therapist &/or nail techs. They can tell their clients anyone who books that month receives $10 off haircuts with you.
Bloody Business- Partner with a local blood drive. Anyone who donates blood can receive a free add-in service with the discount cards you provide the drive.
Join the Show- Take part in a local craft & trade shows. Not the big ones that cost a fortune to participate, the little school & Church ones that give you a chance to actually meet members of the community. Hand out service menus, set up digital photo frames to showcase your work & display the products you retail.
3 for $10- Give EVERY client 3 of your business cards & write their name on the back. Tell them that for every new client they refer you, you’ll give them $10 certificate for your services.
Fashion Show- Go to high end shopping centers and talk to owners & managers & team up for a seasonal fashion show.
Photo Shoot- Team up with local photographers for a photo shoot. Both of you can use the photos to promote services.
Welcome Packets- Have material put into new resident folders at apartment & condo complexes.
Housewarming Gift- Real agents will often give a housewarming gift to new homeowners. You could put your postcard in a decorative envelope to stand out. What a great way to make someone’s day & welcome them to the area.
Be Seen- Research shows that the more exposure a person has to an image or brand the more favorably they feel toward it. Being seen in your community is a boost to your career. So, get involved in farmers markets, hand out water at marathons, go to business expos, wine tastings, sidewalk sales, fundraisers, fairs & festivals.
Vlog- Start a community hair & beauty vlog. Having a vlog gives you professional credibility. Use it to post YouTube videos, center it around hair & beauty and make unique to your community. As your audience grows so does your reputation.
Blow Dry Camp- Contact local cheerleading squads for an evening blow dry camp.