How Does a New Stylist Build up Clientele?

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I am a stylist fresh out of beauty school; I have only been working for six months and it seems like I have no clients! I am tired of the big gaps in my schedule. How do I build my clientele?


Hi Alison, thanks for writing! I remember that first year of my cosmetology career when I read a lot more magazines than I did haircuts. Sometimes the only work I had in a day was a single shampoo or blowout, but three years later I am busier than I can handle! Here are a few ideas to get your career off the ground and fill your books.

Make Yourself Available
Spend all your time in the salon or on call. Any potential client who walks in the door could be yours just by the fact that you are ready and willing to cut their hair at a moment’s notice. Six months from now, when you have less availability, that client will already be loyal to you.

Get Training & Advanced Education
Check with your local beauty distributors to see what classes in product knowledge, color formulation, foiling patterns, texture services and cutting techniques are offered in your area and attend as many as you can. The good part about being so new to the industry is that you will constantly be excited by new ideas and techniques, and ready to try them on your clients or friends. Your enthusiasm and new skills will win over new clients.

Develop Specialties
By finding a niche market, you can offer special services that are typically higher in ticket price. As a newbie stylist, I developed skills that the other stylists I worked with didn’t have, namely extensions and updos. Soon I was the only stylist clients used for weddings and proms, which are events that pull in the big bucks! If the other stylists in your salon are not interested in learning such techniques, you will get every opportunity to use your new skills.

It’s super important to think of creative ways that you can find clients. I built a small but serviceable website to make sure that any prospective client can check out my updos, cuts and color. Coupons or promotions are good for getting people in the door as well. But instead of passing out flyers on windshields or in local mailboxes, target your promotions to your desired clientele by offering bring-a-friend coupons or new client specials.

Social Networking
Sites like Yelp and Facebook allow you to promote yourself in a way that is searchable and visible. San Francisco-based Yelp has grown exponentially in the past few years and allows users to post reviews of restaurants, concert venues and salons. If you have a skin thick enough to tolerate a little criticism, Yelp is a great way to promote your services. Just be aware that users are brutally honest, so if your skills aren’t up to par, their reviews will reflect it. Facebook is a bit of a softer sell and can increase your client base within your social circle. “Friending” as many of your clients as you can gives you access to their photos of your work. I can’t say how many times one of my friends has posted “New Hair!!!” pictures or a post thanking me for their exciting new cut and color. Developing a Facebook page for your salon is also a good move, since it allows you to offer promotions to any of the salon’s fans and link to photos of your work.

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