How-To: Retain a Client for Life

Nail educator Paola Ponce shares her tips for how to retain a client for life, including questions you can ask yourself about your services to see where you can make improvements.
Nail educator Paola Ponce shares her tips for how to retain a client for life, including questions you can ask yourself about your services to see where you can make improvements.

Nail educator Paola Ponce (@paolaponcenails) shares her tips for how to retain a client for life.

I know there is much uncertainty among new and even seasoned nail techs about client retention, especially in today’s economy, but I want to share with you the number one way you’ll end up with a client for life. Before I give you that one factor that will have your customers coming back and back again, I need to briefly tell you this story: 

Once upon a time my family and I drove out to St. Louis, for a quick escape. I’m usually the one in charge of scoring a great place for dinner (primarily because of continuously finding charming little hole-in-the-wall deliciousness). I Googled something to the effect of “best food” near me and focused on reviews to see what drew me in. I further filtered my query to show only the highest rated. I came across a little sushi restaurant that we decided to go for because the sushi looked like such a culinary experience. We show up and they are able to sit us without a reservation in their little makeshift covered patio. Before being seated, at the host stand we are kindly briefed on the rules: Keep it under two hours, and there is a compulsory 18% gratuity regardless of the size of your party. Off we go into our sushi experience. Every bite is a WOW. We got to the point where we just handed the keys to the server and said, "You bring us what you think we should not leave here without trying." He did not disappoint.  Everything was melt-in your mouth delicious! We’re talking Nobu grade sushi. We get our bill, and it's pricey to say the least — remember it has an 18% built-in service fee. My husband and I look at each other like, "I don’t care. I’ll come back tomorrow." 

Now stay with me, I promise I’m going somewhere with this. A few months pass, it’s time for another weekend celebration, and my husband and I can easily agree on that one sushi place in Missouri. We make it, and we sit down ready to indulge in the experience we had the first time we came. And… it’s not the same. They switched their menu and all of the items that were melt-in-your-mouth-delicious are going to be left to their other location. Other location? Where? How far is that from here? Why didn’t anyone tell us this before seating down? Well, this second visit was nothing to write home about. No splurge. It was not as our first That may have been the end of our story about that one hole-in-the wall crazy good sushi join, except we remembered the first visit.

Once again a few months later, an occasion for a quick outing comes up again, and we give this other location (same sushi company) a try. We know what this company is capable of. This time we did our due diligence before setting out, and from what we see online the menu is what we want, and there is still that compulsory charge but now it is 20% as opposed to 18%. The decision is made, we don’t care as long as we can get the same food and experience we received the first time.

Sure enough the sushi here is that sushi we experienced for the first time. We have a great time, and as we’re closing out our tab, we’re told some news: They're moving. Rather than panicking because now we’ve found what we want, we ask "Where to?" In our mind, we’re like, "wherever you go, we’re coming."

This company, cannot shake us off. But why? It kind of seems like they’re trying to on-purpose right? We just won't go. Why? They offer a product so unique and exceptional that they have established what I’m going to coin the “No Matter What Factor." This factor is the number one way to retain a client for life.

You want clients to be “no matter what” clients, and that can only happen if you offer an exceptional, unmatched result.

Every set of nails you give a client should come with the effort and intention of having given them your all. If you do that, the clients that are willing and able to pay for your premium priced services will not bat an eyelash to book with you because there is no one within a driving distance of them that can give them a wow-worthy set of nails.

Let's go back the sushi experience I shared with you. I want you to pay attention, and see how it began, so you can identify if your core nail services elicit the "No Matter What Factor." 

  1. Does your business stand out in an online search? First, it started with a patron (us) looking for a nice place to eat. Do you not think your prospect can be looking right now to find a “nice” place to get their nails done? Is your place nice, does it have a touch, even just a little. I once had a client review me, and she said she was pleased with her service, but the only downside was that she was just staring at a blank wall. It’s as simple as putting something pretty behind you.
  2. Can clients see your best work when they search? Then, we wanted to see food images — images that would lure us in and make the decision that this is the place we want to treat ourselves to. Can someone Google your business and see the best work you offer? Do you populate in the results of “best nails near me?”
  3. Do you give a brief on your services? Then, we were kindly greeted and briefed on the rules, including additional fees. Are your policies clear and pre-delivered prior to your client's appointment? Do not leave surprises for when it comes time for your client to pay the bill — that may offset the entire positive experience they had with you. Most importantly, are your policies kind or do they come off as if you are yelling at them? I recommend leaving your policies at the point right before they are going to book an appointment with you.
  4. Does your service elicit “wow” moments? For instance, are your products different, fun and elegant? Do you offer a short pampering moment during the service? For example, for me, it was a hot towel after the service. I think I can even remember a client or two saying this was their favorite part. 
  5. Is your client's first experience unforgettable? You saw what drew us back to that sushi restaurant. despite the price, travel, fees and many changes, it was the first experience that made us want to keep returning.  
  6. Is what you offer exceptional and unique? This one is here is life changing for you and your clients. You want them to have a one of a kind experience.
  7. Is every experience like the first one? Can you replicate the first experience again and again? 

If you answered yes to the majority or all of these questions, you will elicit the “no-matter-what-factor” from your clients and fill your book with lifers.

It's time to do some self-analysis, so you can start filling your book with lifelong clients. 

About the Author: 

Paola Ponce is a nail educator focusing on topics of soft gel and entrepreneurship. She hosts a weekly episode around these topics on her YouTube Channel @paolaponcenails.

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