How to Get More Clients as a New Hairstylist Fast

Updated on May 14, 2019
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I'm a freelance hairstylist in Oregon. I'm an entrepreneur at heart and I want to help you be a successful cosmetologist!

I know what it’s like. You’re fresh out of school...

...or maybe you’ve changed cities as an independent contractor cosmetologist. You have no clients and no idea where your next paycheck is coming from. Take heart! I doubled my income every year as an independent contractor. EVERY YEAR. I grew my clientele from zero (My husband still remembers the day I came home bawling my eyes out because I’d only made five dollars that day) to booked solid 8 weeks out in less than three years. And you can too! Here’s seven incredibly simple strategies that you can implement tomorrow to grow your clientele quickly and easily!

“A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.”

— Nicole Snow

1. Rebook your clients!

This should go without saying, but I’ve seen so many stylists letting money literally walk right out the front door. Without repeat business you will struggle as an independent contractor. A “full” clientele is around 100-150 clients depending what you specialize in. Get people back in as regulars and you’ll have a regular income.

2. Use the magic cape!

While I’m on the subject of rebooking, whip your iPad out and do it while they’re still wearing that cape. I heard this trick at a show and it did wonders for my bookings. Something about that magical piece of synthetic fabric makes them think they can’t get up till they’ve done your bidding. NEVER I repeat NEVER take the cape off till you’ve asked, “Would you like to come back in six weeks or eight?” (Also never ask, “Would you like to rebook?” If you’re good at what you do, assume they’ll want to come back. If you don’t believe you’re worth rebooking with, they won’t either.)

3. Pick a niche service and offer it at a steep discount.

When I was starting out I decided to offer 15 foils of highlights for $30. You should pick a service you like doing and offer it at a spectacular price that no one can refuse. This should be based on your preference and the market you’re in. Don’t undersell yourself or your work, but make it a price people will be more than ready to pay. You’ll make up the difference when you send them home with a bag of product at the end of the service.

"You don't have to be a movie star for me to do your hair, when you sit in my chair you're my movie star."

— Vincent Roppatte

4. Get the word out!

When I got my license my husband and I moved out of town a couple weeks later. We knew no one and I had to start completely from scratch. It sucked. But I worked really really hard at getting my name out there and grew an entire clientele faster than anyone my salon owner had ever seen. Leverage your social media. Print up some business cards (Vistaprint offers many choices at an incredible price) and hand them out to every living soul you meet. (You can even write in a 15% of offer on the back “just for them.”) Take fliers to local colleges. Walk in parades handing out coupons. While these may only get you four or five clients this month, those people all have friends.

How do you get the word out about your business?

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5. Leverage your existing client base.

Once you have a few clients start offering a referral discount. This snowballed my clientele in very little time. I chose to offer $10 off for ever client who booked a color service. This applied to both the old and new client. People love telling their friends about a good thing. Take advantage of this and give them both a reward for it!

6. Be willing to do services you don’t love (for a while).

Perms and roller sets are not my favorite activity. I remember almost every person I went to school with swearing they’d never do another perm once they graduated. You may not enjoy every single service you offer, but at the end of the day, you still gotta eat. No job will be fun 100% of the time. If you can do a few services you don’t love now, you still have a client in your chair and every client in your chair has friends and family who may also need a new stylist. (Also, those sweet little old ladies can be some of the best clients. They book in advance, tip generously, and will almost never stand you up.)

"Like a therapist, or the local barkeep, hairdressers are in a position of trust, We are transforming not just how a person looks but how they feel and, therefore, they want to tell us things."

— Tabatha Coffey

7. Consistency is key!

Showing up every day with a great attitude makes a huge difference. By showing up and doing consistent, high quality work, you will attract clients who will, in turn show up for you appointment after appointment. I’m still great friends (even outside the salon) with many of my clients. It’s truly such an incredible job when clients become family.

Questions & Answers

    Growing a clientele of your own? What are your tips?

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