Let me guess: you’re eager to start on your own, but the thought of actually starting your own business or becoming a freelancer is quite scary….like scarier than The Conjuring movies (please tell me I’m not the only one who had nightmares for weeks after watching it…)
Look, we all started somewhere. Building up a clientele of loyal clients takes time, but some salons just seem to do it effortlessly (and with lightning speed!), while others struggle.
That’s why I created my step-by-step guide to get your first 10 clients within 7 days.
Here it is:
Day 1: Identify your ideal client
You need to know who you’re targeting to know where to find them.
Are they men or women?
Are they younger or more mature?
Where do they live?
Why would they visit a spa or salon?
What do they want to gain (to relax, to look 10 years younger, to have slimming treatments, to de-stress etc.)?
Are they pain or pleasure driven (ie. do they have a back pain, for example, that they would like to alleviate or do they want to have a pampering treatment)?
Look for niches that are not yet catered for in your target location. List as many attributes of your ideal client as possible.
Day 2: Create an irresistible offer
Once you know your ideal client, you can craft an irresistible introductory offer. You don’t necessarily need to discount your services, but why don’t you offer a full price service with a complimentary service?
E.g. a full price body massage with a free eyebrow shaping and tinting? The more types of (great) treatments your client experiences at your business, the more likely she will come back to you.
Day 3: Get visible
Target number of clients to get: 3
Now that you know more about your ideal client and you have a killer offer, let’s think about where he or she is looking for services like yours.
• Google search: you are not likely to have a website at this stage, but you can certainly list yourself on websites that provide lists of therapists and salons. Another idea is to add your business (even if it’s just a home salon) to Google maps because many people search based on location.
• Yelp, Tripadvisor and other review sites: Many people search on these sites for salons and spas. If your target market includes tourists, especially consider Tripadvisor.
• Facebook: it takes a few minutes to set up a Facebook business page, which can be a good substitute until you have a website.
• Don’t forget about Facebook groups: if your target market is in a certain location, look for groups dedicated to that location and introduce yourself and your services. If you’re a MUA and your target market is brides, look for wedding and bridal groups to introduce yourself. You may even offer to collaborate with other service providers and cross-promote each other.
Search for your keywords in these groups (e.g. massage therapy) in case someone inquired about such services recently, so you can make a pitch to this person.
Day 4: Provide free services
Target number of clients to get: 3
Not everyone agrees with doing free work, but if you do it strategically, it is tremendously helpful to build up a clientele. What do I mean by strategical? Make sure that you provide the free service to those who are your ideal clients, i.e. who are the most likely to visit you for a full price treatment.
For example, if there is a service provider near your business with a similar ideal client avatar to yours and whose services complement yours, ask them if you can give their clients a complimentary mini treatment.
E.g. if you provide massages, a gym/yoga studio could be your complementary service provider and you could provide a free 20 mins post-workout massage to their clients. It is beneficial for the gym/yoga studio as well because they can provide your vouchers as gifts to their clients. And since your salon is nearby, who wouldn’t want to stop for a free massage after a strenuous workout?
Day 5: Network
Target number of clients to get: 2
There are lots of networking events and groups where you can promote yourself and your services. Get yourself some business cards and even vouchers of your offers and you’re good to go.
If your target market is professionals, look for networking events where these people hang out. If your target market is expats (because you identified it as a niche that is not catered for), look for these groups.
Here’s a list where you can start your search for networking events:
• Events on Facebook
• Members clubs
• Networking organizations, such as BNI
Please note that some of these events are not free.
So how to network in an efficient and effective way? Just passing out your business cards to anyone and everyone is not enough. You need to start conversations, such as:
You: Hi, I’m Anna.
Claire: Hi, I’m Claire. Nice to meet you!
You: Like wise. Is it your first time at this Professionals Mingle Meetup?
Claire: No, I’ve been here many times.
You: That’s nice. It’s my first time but it seems to be a lovely community. What do you do?
Claire: I’m an accountant. And you?
You: I’m a spa owner. Have you had a massage lately? I guess your back could use one because you must be sitting a lot all day.
Claire: Oh yes, I’d really need one, but it’s just hard to find the time.
You: Why don’t you come and visit my spa tomorrow evening after work? We’re open until 9 pm and since we’ve just opened, I’d be happy to give you a 30 mins complimentary back massage.
Claire: It sounds lovely!
You: /Go ahead and set up an appointment. It’s good to have your online appointment book on your phone./
Yes, this is a “foot in the door” technique, but you have to get them in your spa while they’re excited about it. Now you just have to give Claire a WOW experience and she’ll sure come back (and she’ll probably rave about your spa the next day at the office, which will get you a lot more clients).
Day 6: get some free PR
Target number of clients to get: 2
I have an entire post about how to get media coverage with zero budget, but since most types of PR take more time than my 7-day promise, I’ll focus on just one, which is the quickest, easiest way to get the word out there: invite influencers for a complimentary treatment. Search for influencers with a following that match your target market. You don’t necessarily need an influencer with 10K+ followers. They are less likely to post about your business for free and they are bombarded with opportunities. Influencers with a highly engaged community of 1000+ are just as fine.
Day 7: Gather feedback
By now, you probably had some free clients and some paying clients. They can give you invaluable feedback about your business’s feasibility, your pricing, your services etc.
The best way is to collect their email addresses and gather feedback after they left as they might not be entirely honest with you face-to-face, just out of courtesy. Send them a short survey to ask them a few (maximum 8-10!) questions about their experience with your business. How did you perform? Now is the time to make some adjustments if necessary.
If you have a small budget ($5-10 a day is good to start with), Facebook is a great place to advertise your business.
These are the next questions you might be thinking about:
• How do I make sure my clients return over and over again?
• How do I get referrals?
• How do I sell them products and add-ons?
• When can I raise my prices?
If you want to get the answers to these and many other questions– with step-by-step guides, checklists and worksheets – make sure you sign up to my VIP list: