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How to Build Clientele: A Hair Stylist’s Crafty Guide

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Written by Series Eight

building clientele

How to Build Clientele: A Hair Stylist’s Crafty Guide

For freelance hair stylists, figuring out how to build a clientele can be a struggle. Not anymore! In this article, we’re sharing all the top tips to get and keep you on top with a devoted and loyal customer base you can rely on.

As a freelance hairstylist, some of the hardest work you do has nothing to do with cutting hair. Renting a chair in a salon is merely one step toward building your business. If you’ve been looking at it as a finish line, it’s time to adjust your thinking.

Yes, you’ve put in a ton of work getting to where you are and that’s wonderful. Pat yourself on the back. For real. But, there’s a lot more to working as a freelance hair stylist. You have to build your reputation, your client base, and develop your own professional brand. 

Don’t worry, though. Your reputation will come with the strength of your work and your professional brand can function as an extension of the salon you choose and your personal style at first. Building your clientele, though, takes more skill and a bit of finesse.  

We’ve put together a list of the best things you can do to gain and retain clients and make a name for yourself. Keep reading to learn how to build clientele as a hair stylist.

How to Build Clientele Within the Salon

If you’re currently renting a chair in a salon to try and build up your clientele, there are lots of things you can do — and some things you should avoid — to retain clients.

building clientele

Make Sure Clients Have a Positive Experience

Probably the most important thing you can do to build client retention is to ensure that every person who sits in your chair has a good experience. In addition to giving them an amazing cut and/or color, don’t neglect the basics of customer service:

  • Be professional, friendly, and respectful.
  • Communicate clearly every step of the way — check in throughout the appointment. and let the client know what you’re doing and why.
  • Greet clients and make them feel welcome.
  • Advise clients on promotions and products, but listen to what they want first and foremost.
  • Let clients know what to expect from the process and about the cost upfront.
  • Don’t be shy when it comes to inviting them back for their next appointment.

It’s also important to know what clients don’t want out of a salon experience. Some big no-nos include:

  • Poor personal or booth hygiene 
  • Gossiping with other stylists
  • Not listening to the customer’s wishes
  • Inattentive stylist and/or a long wait


Offer a Referral Rewards Program

Once you’ve won clients over with your professionalism and technical ability, you should also be sure to ask for a referral. Let the client know you’re new to the salon and working on building clientele. 

You can increase clients’ motivation to refer their friends and family by creating a referral rewards program. Give clients a discount for every referral, or offer a free service for a specific number of referrals.

Accept Walk-Ins

If you’re trying to figure out how to build a clientele but aren’t accepting walk-ins, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to show off your skills. Accepting walk-ins is a surefire way to increase your overall client base. Set aside one day or a few hours each day to accept walk-ins.

Lots of people are busy and forget to schedule appointments. If you can meet their needs and make life a little easier for them, they’ll be sure to come back again, especially if you provide them with excellent service.

Build Your Portfolio

Show off your work! Take photos of clients and keep them in a clear book that can be displayed at your salon or can be displayed online via the web or social media. You can offer this book to people instead of a magazine to help them decide what kind of cut they’d like or send them to social media to peruse your portfolio online. Just be sure to ask permission before you display pictures!


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Manage Your Schedule Well

When you’re a freelance stylist, it can be difficult to keep track of your appointments. Investing in a good salon software or scheduling app will help you manage your time to make sure your clients get the best experience possible.

There are lots of programs out there that make it easy to manage schedules, book appointments, and even keep track of client’s preferred styles and products.

appointment check-in

How to Build Clientele Outside the Salon

If you want to build up your clientele quickly, you’ll need to put some work in outside of the salon as well. There are a lot of things you can do to spread the word about your work.

Advertise Online

Take advantage of social networking and local business websites to promote your skills online. You can even start a blog or your own website to share pictures of your work and provide information to visitors. Talk about the latest styles, your favorite products or techniques, anything!

Appoint Reminders


Continuing Education

It’s important to always be working on improving your skills. The hairdressing industry is always changing, so you always need to be evolving if you want to keep up. Attend continuing education classes, seminars, and professional events and conferences to improve your techniques, network with peer stylists, and keep up with the latest trends.

If you’re always able to give people the most fashionable haircut, color treatment or top hair care tips, you’ll have clients lining up for your services!

Make It Easy For Clients To Schedule An Appointment

Client management apps and software make it easy for you to manage your appointments, and they also make it easy for clients to schedule with you. Your clients will appreciate being able to schedule online without having to make a phone call. And, they’ll be sure to tell their friends about what you have to offer.

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Learn From Performance Statistics

If you’re using client management software to help you run your business, you’ve got a lot of valuable data at your disposal. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the information you’re collecting to help you see where you can improve.

Some of the performance statistics you should be paying attention to include:

  • New customers per month: How many new customers are you bringing in?
  • Returning guests: How many people are coming back for a second appointment?
  • Website visit frequency: How many people are you attracting through your online presence?
  • Retail merchandise: Are you selling products in addition to providing services?
  • Average ticket prices: How much are you making per client?
  • Overall productivity: What portion of your day is actually dedicated to serving clients?

If you are bringing in lots of new clients but they’re not making second appointments, maybe you need to work on improving your customer service practices. If you’re not making as much per client as you’d like, maybe you need to work more on promoting products.

Bottom line: don’t let this data go to waste; it can make your break your business and teach you a lot about how to build clientele!

Daysmart Salon Makes Building Clientele Easier than Ever

Using the right client management software will make all the difference when it comes to being a successful freelance stylist. If you’re trying to find the right software, give Daysmart Salon a try.

Our program makes it easy for you to schedule appointments, email receipts, and even store photos to manage client preferences.

Start your free trial here.