How Long Does it Take to Build a Salon Clientele?

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that the #1 factor to succeed with a salon business is to have a well-established client base.

This is also the main reason why many talented hair stylists and nail technicians shy away from even starting a salon as they believe they won’t be able to build a salon clientele fast enough.

But how long does it take to build clientele as a hair stylist or nail technician? I decided to find out.  

How long does it take to build a salon clientele? It takes about 12 months to build a profitable salon clientele and it takes up to 24 months until you have your ideal client base. However, with the right marketing efforts, you can reduce this time to 4-6 months.

The amount of time it’ll take certainly will depend on the type of salon you have, where it is located, and how smart marketing you run. However, it will first and foremost come down to the goal you set for yourself and how dedicated you are to achieving that.

In this article, I will walk you through how you build your plan to grow your salon clientele.

The Time it Takes to Build a Clientele

Before writing this article, I listened in to a group of hair stylists and nail technicians to understand long it had taken them to build their clientele.

  • Debbie said it took her 6-9 months as she started her nail salon until she was in a place where her books were full. She said she had invested quite some time and effort into marketing which was the source of her success.
  • It took the hair stylist Jennie 3 years until she felt her hair salon had the clientele she wanted.
  • Gina managed to get her books full in 6 months in her nail salon through smart marketing activities.
  • Maggie and Zoe both said it took them 6 months to build their beauty salon clientele.

It is clear that the time it takes will vary a lot but the good thing is that the time it will take is very much in your control. It comes down to staying dedicated and doing the right marketing activities.

Define Your Goal: When Will You Say You Have a Fully Established Salon Clientele?

Before you set out on your journey to grow your clientele, you should set a goal for yourself. To do this you need to think about what a fully booked salon means to you. Do you consider that you have a fully established salon clientele when:

  • Do you make your income goal?
  • You need to start telling people you have to put them on a waiting list when they try to book you?
  • Your clientele consists of your ideal clients only? This could mean that you only count clients with regular bookings, that purchase more than one service during a visit, and that also buy retail from you.

Your goal will be personal to you and based on what you believe is right for your business. Take a minute or two now to write down what your goal looks like and by when you’ll want to have achieved it.

Example: “In 8 months, I want to have 200 regularly returning clients that, on average, buy two services during each visit”

Build a Plan for How You Will Acquire New Clients and Reach Your Goal

Building up your clientele is an exciting journey but it can also feel like a daunting task. You have your goal set but achieving it can feel very far away at this stage. This is also the main reason why so many people fail and instead revert back to working as employees in established salons instead.

You need to stay persistent now and believe in yourself. It will take time and hard work but if you keep working against your goal, you will succeed.

Don’t think about all the clients you need to acquire to reach your goal now. Try instead to break down your goal into small, achievable, milestones that you can reach along the way. You simply will not be able to get 150 loyal customers overnight (if this is your goal?), it just doesn’t work that way… But it is quite realistic that you can gain 5 new repeat customers over the coming week. And if you can gain 5 new repeat customers in a week, you can have 20 loyal customers in a month.

The Snowball Effect – When Your Clientele Really Starts Growing

As you start building up a loyal base of customers, you will over time also build an army of advocates who’ll recommend you to their friends. As more time pass, you can also put in place more marketing activities that’ll further fuel your reputation and attract more and more clients. If you do this right, this will accelerate the growth of your clientele so that if you gain 20 new loyal clients the first month, you gain 30 the month after, and so on...

I am not saying this is easy but if you stay consistent, and implement strong marketing activities (like the salon marketing activities I recommend in this article), you will soon start to see the growth rate of your clientele snowballing.  

Stay Focused and Reward Yourself On The Way

Building your salon clientele will take hard work so you need to set achievable targets on the way that you focus on. Reaching those is a big deal and moves you closer to your goal so you should not forget to reward yourself when it happens.

It is no point to chase your end goal now but rather focus on the smaller target you set along the way. Get a pen and paper out (or your laptop for that matter) and write down what those milestone achievements will be and how you will celebrate when you reach them.

Below are some examples of what this could look like. I suggest you set at least 10 tangible goals and rewards on your journey to reaching your clientele goal.

  • If you are starting out new, your first target could be that when you’ve had 30 new clients in your salon (that aren’t just friends or family), you will get yourself a glass of wine and celebrate with a good friend.
  • When you have had your first 30 returning clients, you’ll buy yourself something unnecessary that you’ve been wanting to get for a while but you did not give yourself.
  • When you reach 300 salon appointments, you throw a dinner with friends.    

These targets are important and you should only focus on one out of the ten at a time. You’ll see that each one is possible to reach and you’ll keep knocking each of them off your list over time. Soon you’ll find yourself at that end state you envisioned as you set out.

Related Questions

How Do You Build Your Salon Clientele Fast?

The fastest ways to grow your salon clientele are:

  1. Run a limited-time intro offer
  2. Ensure your salon is visible to people walking by
  3. Tell your network about your salon
  4. Collaborate with other local businesses
  5. Run paid search marketing
  6. Leverage campaign networks that reach new clients
  7. Offer a superior service with a surprise to build loyalty
  8. Activate a recommend-a-friend program
  9. Always re-book clients on their visit

To get started, read the article on the 9 fastest ways to build your clientele where I’ll give you the practical details for how you can start attracting more clients already today.

How Many Clients Does the Average Salon Have?

The average salon has around 500 clients in their clientele but it can range from 200 to 800. This assumes 2 full-time working salon staff with an average client frequency, loyalty, and drop-in rate.

There are many factors that will impact the size of your clientele (number of staff, quality of service, type of salon, etc.) so this is a very rough average.

In order to calculate a more accurate number for your salon, check out my article on the average number of clients a hairstylist have a day.

I hope you found this article helpful, I would love to learn more from you.

How big clientele do you have today? What was your most effective way to build it? Let me know in the comments field below.

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