Consistently Spectacular: Make Every Time Like the First Time


Your first appointment with a new client is like a first date, and a blind one at that. It’s understandable that you’d want to make a good first impression, but for your sake, please don’t try so hard. Whether it’s free nail art, a longer massage or extras that belong in a higher-priced service, these unwarranted perks may be your generous way of welcoming someone new. However, be careful not to overperform lest your new client expect those extras for nothing. This sets a bad precedent and the client will likely be disappointed later when you don’t treat them like that first time during every subsequent visit.

Whether this new client becomes a loyal and valued client depends entirely on your ability to maintain, or better yet, improve upon the quality of service you provided during that first appointment.

The consistency of your services will improve when you have the following:

  • quality products, tools and equipment that work reliably
  • developed skills and mastery of your products
  • an organized work station stocked with needed supplies
  • adequate time to complete services
  • the ability to adapt and resolve problems quickly.

Find the Perfect Balance
The consistency of your services reinforces the experience you provide for the price, and reconciles client expectations with your capabilities and willingness. If you set the bar too high, you risk devaluing your services and disappointing the client in the future; set the bar too low, and the client may not be sufficiently impressed to become a loyal client. Whatever you choose to do, you must be able and willing to replicate both the experience and the outcome to the standards you’ve established.

Communication is Key
Undoubtedly, services from salon to salon, and sometimes even within a salon (remember booth renters are independent!), cannot be compared though new clients, especially, will try. How much you charge for a service is a meaningless number without the context of what exactly will be provided.

Any new client should clearly understand what services do and do not include and what they cost BEFORE reserving the first appointment.

Do your natural nail services include massage, paraffin, exfoliation and polish? Do your enhancement services include product removal, extensions, repairs and nail art? As salon consultants, we have very strong opinions on how services should be structured, priced and marketed to clients, but those are topics for another day. Suffice to say that however you choose to present and deliver your services, there should be no surprises.

The Ends Do Not Justify the Means
The consistency of the service experience is just as important as the consistency of the service outcome. We’ve all had inconsistent experiences. For example, it doesn’t matter how reliably delicious the food is at a particular restaurant if the servers aren’t attentive and accommodating every time. Likewise, it will not matter to your clients how wonderful their nails look after an appointment if you’ve arbitrarily shortened their massage time, omitted portions of the service they’ve come to expect or behaved differently from what they’re accustomed to.

The greatest disappointments tend to happen after a truly brag-worthy first visit to a business. 

Don’t Let Familiarity Breed Complacency
No matter how long they’ve been part of your clientele, don’t take your clients for granted. Clients who see the same technician on a frequent basis will notice deviations from their typical experience, and those deviations may impact their perception of the value of the service. If a client comments, “That’s not the way you did it last time,” be very careful how you respond. Your client should not be left with the impression that your services may vary in unpredictable ways. “Hit or miss” service execution will drive your loyal customers away just as inconsistent customer service will, so commit to being timely, cordial and professional.

The client-service provider relationship needs to be nurtured and it’s your responsibility as a professional to be utterly predictable, in a good way.

Avoid Having Bad Days
Your clients deserve your best every day, even if you’re having a bad one. That may seem like an impossible goal, but it’s what we should strive for in a business that involves direct client interaction.  Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Be prepared. Review your schedule the week and the day prior for any scheduling issues. Make sure you have all the products you need, including clean towels, at the beginning of each workday.
  2. Know  your limits. Don’t overwork yourself or you’ll end up resenting your clients. Set reasonable goals you’re likely to achieve, don’t compare yourself to others and focus on making slow and steady career progress. Don’t be afraid to delegate or to say “no.”
  3. Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate your personal or professional life. Avoid toxic people, live within your means and don’t make impulsive decisions you’re likely to regret later.
  4. Be adaptable. Keep things in perspective and don’t overreact when things don’t go according to plan. Have a strategy for when clients arrive late or require more work than you anticipated. Solve problems with a smile on your face. They’re just nails.
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Jaime Schrabeck
Salon Management Consultant at Precision Nails
Celebrating more than 25 years in the nail industry, Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. works as a licensed manicurist and owner of Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. Beyond the salon, she directs international competitions, teaches classes, organizes events, consults with manufacturers and other salon owners and advises California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology as an expert witness.
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Tina Alberino
Salon Management Consultant at This Ugly Beauty Business
Licensed cosmetologist and beauty industry advocate, Tina Alberino is a trusted resource, providing a wealth of information and personalized advice. Tina’s extensive consulting experience informs her writing, available here and on her blog, This Ugly Beauty Business. Her first book, The Beauty Industry Survival Guide, delivers relevant content in the bold and brazen style that has become Tina’s trademark. Areas of expertise include employment law, tax law, ethical salon management practices and professional development.

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