How To Get More Clients And Have The Best Booking Year Of Your Business— Framework+Tips From ISSE

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How to get more clients?

Unless you’re fully booked for the foreseeable future, chances are you wouldn’t say no to increased bookings at your salon or spa.

But how exactly do you get more of them? With so many tactics and ever-changing trends, what’s the best way to attract and convert clients?

To answer these questions, we turned to the experts who presented at the Professional Beauty Association’s International Salon + Spa Expo (ISSE) held online earlier this month.

We (virtually) sat in at some key sessions during the conference and took note of the top client-attraction tips that hair and beauty entrepreneurs can implement today. Have a look below.

Develop the mindset of an expert

There’s a popular line in personal development that goes, “Success is 90% mindset and 10% strategy.”

While some may disagree with this quote and the exact percentage may vary depending on what you want to achieve, there’s a lot of merit to the idea that success isn’t just about tips and tricks. While strategies and tactics play an important role in helping you hit certain goals, your path to success is also heavily influenced by your mental attitude and beliefs.

Your mindset can affect how you show up in your business and what ideas you decide to pursue. As such, it’s important to adopt a mindset that serves and empowers you.

When it comes to getting more hair and beauty clients, the cosmetologist and master wigmaker Marquetta Breslin says that salon and spa professionals should “develop the mindset of an expert.”

According to Marquetta, many industry pros “don’t have the mindset of an expert yet because they just don’t value themselves.”

“Let me tell you this, first and foremost: you are worthy and you are an expert. So carry yourself as such. That’s step number one.”

Part of doing that entails seeing yourself as a leader.

“You need to understand that you are not selling, you’re leading because you are an expert. That means you don’t NEED the sale. When you need the sale, people can feel that.”

She adds that when hair and beauty professionals come off as needy, potential clients often get turned off, and ultimately won’t end up in your chair.

So when implementing client marketing strategies, make sure you have the right mindset. See yourself as the expert that you are, and carry yourself with confidence.

Leverage Instagram

There’s no question that Instagram is one of the best marketing channels for salons and spas. Instagram is a highly visual and vibrant platform, so hair and beauty-centric content fit right in.

What’s more, Instagram has lots of built-in tools (e.g., comments, DMs, CTA buttons) that facilitate engagement and client conversations.

That being said, you need to learn how to use these tools properly to get clients from Instagram. Succeeding on the platform requires a solid understanding of your brand, your audience, and the Instagram algorithm.

Celebrity hair and makeup artist Olivia Smalley shares some key tips to help you do just that.

Target your audience

According to Olivia, targeting your audience should be one of the first things you should do when planning your Instagram content strategy. Doing so will help you nail the right messaging when publishing on the platform.

Olivia recommends doing audience research on the following:

A good tactic when determining your ideal audience is to identify your best client and list their traits and characteristics. “Who’s your favorite client? If you just break down all her traits… it helps you identify [the right audience],” says Olivia.

Avoid distracting photos

Olivia also discussed the dos and don’ts of posting images on Instagram. Her main tip is to remove any distractions from your photographs.

“It is all about what you’re taking away from photos, rather than what you’re putting in. If you see a cup in the background, if you see a blowdryer chord… all of those little things make a massive difference for your Instagram feed.”

Show your face

While you should certainly post images of your clients and salon, don’t forget to add in photos of yourself.

“You want to make sure that every 6 to 8 slides, your face is popping up on your page. You need to make sure you’re showing people what you look like,”

Doing so helps clients “catch a vibe” from you, and if that aligns with who they are, they’re more likely to choose your business. Essentially, showing your face and personality helps you attract the right clients.

Plan your grid

The overall look of your Instagram grid is important, so plan it well. Olivia recommends using UNUM, an app that makes it easy to preview your Instagram grid so you can view how your posts look together and plan accordingly.

Pro tip: While UNUM lets you post from the app, she recommends publishing content using the Instagram app, as Instagram doesn’t seem to like it when users publish through third-party platforms.

Apart from UNUM, there are plenty of other tools that can help you plan your Instagram grid. Plann is one of them. We recently sat down with their team to know how this tool can help you grow your Instagram account. 


Be smart about DMs
Instagram’s direct messaging feature enables you to converse with potential clients, gain insights into their needs, and ultimately drive bookings. As Olivia puts it, “It goes down in the DMs.”

Not all direct messages are created equal, though, so she recommends using the following framework when communicating with potential clients via direct messaging:

Welcome letter. This is the part where you thank the client for reaching out and let them know your availability. It’s best to get this out of the way first, says Olivia, as it allows you to quickly filter out those who aren’t available during times when you can take bookings.

Ask for photos in natural lighting. The next step is to get a feel of the client’s hair (or skin) situation. Olivia recommends asking the client to take a photo of themselves in natural light.

Ask clients to bookmark “inspo pics”. If the client is a great fit, the next step is to have them give you more info on what they want to achieve. A good tip is to have them go through your Instagram posts and ask them to bookmark images they like. That way, they can show the pictures at their appointment. (Bonus benefit: Getting more bookmarks gets you in Instagram’s good graces and helps increase your visibility.)

Listen to red flags. As you’re talking to the client, get a feel of how the conversation is going. Are you getting along well? Does something feel off? If anything is amiss or if red flags pop up, listen to your gut and don’t take the appointment.

Give hours of operation / location details. If you and the client are on the same page, go ahead and send them info on your business hours and location. This is a good opportunity to inform them about things like the parking situation.

Pro tip: If you have Instagram Story Highlights that provide salon info, you can encourage your clients to view the Stories on your profile.

Set up a consultation. If everything goes well, you can proceed with booking a consultation or service appointment. At this stage, Olivia recommends using online booking software to facilitate this process.

“Booksy says that over 60% of bookings are taken after hours… Online booking software can work 24/7, so that means all around the clock, even after you’re asleep, and even if your business is closed. [With online scheduling] you have more chances to increase and even double your bookings by simply offering the ability for your clients to book online.”

Online scheduling software also streamlines the booking process. “So much manual labor [goes into booking those appointments],” says Olivia. “How much time do you spend going back and forth with your phone calls, text messages, direct messages, and email? It’s coming at you from all directions. But what if you could just funnel appointments into one spot?”

Online booking lets you do just that, she adds. And by adopting salon scheduling software like Booksy, businesses can increase their appointment bookings — and be more efficient while they’re at it.

Be everywhere if possible

While Instagram is certainly a significant marketing platform for hair and beauty businesses, don’t forget that there are other apps and websites that potential clients are using.

As Marquetta points out, “There are so many different platforms now to choose from… you need to go to where your people are at.”

Her tip? Select your top 3 websites or apps and focus on them. Marquetta recommends creating a “staple piece of video” and then distributing it to your top 3 platforms.

Let’s say you recorded an in-depth tutorial, and your top 3 platforms are YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can take the video in its entirety and post it to YouTube and Facebook. When it comes to posting on Instagram, you can shorten the content to fit the parameters of IGTV, Stories, or Instagram Reels.

Other platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Pinterest, or TikTok) may come into play if your staple content is relevant to those channels. For instance, if you happen to create a piece of content that’s related to business, then you can cross-post it to LinkedIn. Published an entertaining video? TikTok could be a great fit.

The bottom line, says Marquetta, is to find your top 3 and focus on those channels. Secondary platforms may be considered depending on the nature of your content.

Consider paid marketing

If you have the budget for it, try running paid ads, says Marquetta. Doing so can put your content in front of a wider pool of potential clients.

She recommends the following ad types:



Do note that ad formats and best practices can change from time to time, so Marquetta suggests going through Google or Facebook ad training materials to get the latest best practices. Remember that these platforms want you to succeed and spend more money with them, so following their official guidelines can do wonders for your ads.

That being said, she also says to set the right expectations. “One out of ten ads is actually going to work. Just because you run an ad doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful right off the gate.”

The key is to keep trying and over time, you will learn which ad types work best for you.

Ask for referrals

In his ISSE class, the cosmetologist, barber, and author Ivan Zoot says that one of the best ways to get new business is to ask for referrals. This is something that you must do consistently and without fail.

“The number one most important thing you need to do is ask for referrals,” he says.  

“You need to ask any customer you ever serve, starting today until forever. It’s not a short-term thing, it’s not a one-time thing. It’s an every time thing — forever.”

So, how exactly do you do it? Ivan offers a three-sentence script that goes like this:

“Thank you for the opportunity to cut your hair. I appreciate your business. If I gave you 2 cards would you send me 2 friends?”

Then as you say that third statement, hand the client 2 business cards that they can give out to their friends.

This tactic, when implemented consistently, can help bring more clients your way, says Ivan.

Pro tip: Because of COVID-19, people are hesitant to take physical cards. Ivan recommends either asking clients to take a photo of your business card or sending images of your card to your customer (that way, you get their mobile number in the process).

Anticipate and address objections early on

If you’re already in touch with potential clients (perhaps over the phone or in your DMs) a good way to seal the deal is to anticipate and address objections.

“You must identify the objections,” says Marquetta. “

"You’re already going to know, just by talking to the client, what objections they’re going to have upfront.”

Let’s say you encounter a client with curly hair. Stylists know that people with curly hair are worried about getting their haircut because curly hair can shrink. In this scenario, Marquetta says it’s best to address the issue upfront before the client brings it up.

You need to be discerning and observant of the client’s needs and concerns. “You’ll know by talking to them during the consultation… exactly what their objection is going to be,” she adds

Identifying those concerns upfront will put you in a better position to close the deal and get the appointment.

Ready to increase your bookings?

As you can see, there are many tried and tested ways to attract and convert clients. Whether you’re generating buzz with ads, engaging with potential clients on Instagram, or talking to them on the phone, you’ll find no shortage of strategies to implement. The key is to actually test them out and continuously improve.

And when someone is ready to book, make the process easy by using an online scheduling software like Booksy. Try it for free today.

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