As a nail professional, you know that a full book is essential to your bottom line. While walk-ins will generate some of your income, the best way to ensure a profitable business is to book—and rebook—clients regularly. “A healthy rebooking rate would sit somewhere above 40 percent,” says Maddy Stumbles, marketing communications manager for Timely, an online booking system based in Dunedin, New Zealand. Seems simple enough, yet most techs will tell you that they struggle with talking to clients about follow-up appointments. Whether it’s a lack of confidence in broaching the subject or just plain fear of rejection (we’ve all been there!), read on for advice from experts and experienced nail pros on getting your clients to commit to their next appointment now.
Starting the Conversation
When it comes to rebooking, one thing nail pros can agree on is timing. “If you blurt it out at the very start, it’s overload,” says Liz McKeon, a beauty business expert and president of her eponymous Dublin, Ireland-based consulting company. “The best way [to bring up rebooking] is to slip it in during the conversation.”
Celine Cumming, a nail tech at Angel Nails Delaware in Middletown, Delaware, listens to what her clients have to say before rebooking. “I always rebook at the end of the service when the conversation flows naturally into talking about any upcoming plans they might have for the next days or weeks, and a possible need for new nails before or after the event they have planned,” she says. Waiting until the end of the service also leaves room for you to get to know a new client before you broach the topic.
Tuning in to your client can spark an opportunity to encourage rebooking, while at the same time fostering the tech/client relationship. That relationship is key, says McKeon, who suggests the 15/15 rule for chatting with clients during a service: Limit the conversation to 15 minutes of personal chat (allowing the client to do most of the talking) and 15 minutes of professional conversation. “If it’s all personal,” she says, “You lose the ability to sell your services, which includes rebooking.”
It’s also important to know your audience. Marc Barr, a nail tech at Above All Grand Salon & Spa in Wexford, Pennsylvania, says that this is especially important at his salon. “We have a lot of clients from out of town, including corporate parties of up to 60 people,” says Barr. “When the company is paying for the service, as much as they might love it, [those clients] likely won’t be back again.”
What to Say
How can you make the most of those 15 minutes of professional chitchat? According to McKeon, talking the client through the service can lead to rebooking. “You can say, ‘This is what we’re doing today and next time we’ll be doing this,’” she says. “This way, your client will look forward to the next appointment.” Jaime Schrabeck, licensed manicurist and owner of Precision Nails in Carmel, California, also uses the time to talk about what the client needs going forward. “We discuss rebooking during the service so we can offer options before the end,” she says, adding, “We reserve standing appointments 18 months in advance.”
If the client needs more incentive, McKeon suggests making it sound like your availability is scarce—even if it’s not. “You [show] your clients how good you are by having a full book,” says McKeon. “Let them know that if they want to get in for their next scheduled date, they really need to rebook now.”
Teresa Spitzer, licensed nail tech and owner of Nail-issimo! Salon and Spa in Billings, Montana, plays the convenience card when trying to rebook clients. She says to clients, “I want to make sure I can accommodate a time that works best for you. Let’s book it now so you know you have a convenient time for your schedule. And, if something comes up, I will do my best to reschedule you.”
Once the client agrees, be sure to make it official. Put it directly in your book—in front of the client—and hand her an appointment card or let her know that you will follow up with an email or text confirmation. “If [salon policy asks that you] refer the client to the receptionist, walk your client up to the front and tell the receptionist, ‘This is Jane Smith. Can you please rebook her on this day and time in two weeks?’” says McKeon.
Even if your client declines to rebook while in the salon, all is not lost. For new clients, some techs employ incentives. When Dawn Shultz, master nail tech at Nail-issimo!, was first starting out, she would require new clients to prepay for two fills when making their appointment for a full set—but she wouldn’t charge them for the full set. “This builds rapport with your new client and, even if she never returns, your first appointment is [paid for],” Spitzer says.
You could also try some good old-fashioned customer service. A few days after the appointment, call your client to make sure that she is happy with her nails, says McKeon, adding, “You can try to rebook her again at that time.” You can also follow up with an email or a text; both are a way to keep the conversation between you and the client going. “I schedule a lot of appointments by text,” says Cumming. “It works well because [clients] can send pictures of what designs they like and I can more accurately schedule a time slot based on how long the service will take.”
Keep in mind, rebooking doesn’t guarantee that a client will actually show up. “Things happen; I get that,” says Cumming. “But if a client is a no-show, I don’t let her book an appointment with me the next time. Instead, I suggest she comes in as a walk-in and sees the first available technician.”
When it comes to rebooking, the bottom line is to focus on filling your book with trusted, loyal clients. “It’s about building that relationship and doing your best work each time,” says Spitzer. “Your goal is to gain that client for life.”
What’s your best advice for rebooking clients? Let us know in the comments below!
-Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a business writer and author living in the Ozark Mountains near Mountain Home, AR.
[Image: Courtesy of Getty Images/Sergey Nazarov/istock]
This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of NAILPRO