Booking the Elite Client

by Allison Bridges

We all have our favorite clients based on personality and (let's be honest), the size of their tips.

If we look more closely at how and when the client books their appointment, it will tell you if they are the type of client you want.

I am solidly booked at least two months in advance. This includes January as well as February and I do not need to worry about "the slump" of dismal business numbers that stress out so many stylists.

I would love to tell you I am a highly sought after celebrity stylist, or that I am so fantastically creative that clients are beating down the doors. However, my success stems from knowing who my top clients are, and enticing them to come back and bring their friends.

I call them Elite Clients. These are the cream of the crop, this is who secures your income, and you need to know exactly who they are so you can attract more of them.

Before you can book the right type of client, we need to categorize clients into groups. There are three types of clients: Bad Clients, Good Clients, and Elite Clients.

Bad Clients arrive late or not at all; their appointments are sporadic throughout the year.

Good Clients arrive on time, but they do not pre-book their appointments. They usually have good intentions of coming in every five weeks, but for whatever reason they do not.

Elite Clients always pre-book. They pre-book their appointments every five weeks or less, and they usually have more than one service done at each visit.

If all you are getting are good and bad clients, not to worry; elite clients can evolve. As you book up and fewer appointments become available, the good clients that really love you will evolve into elite clients. The bad clients have less opportunity to get booked with you, so they will go to someone else, resulting in fewer no-shows.

Why is pre-booking so important?

Picture a small snowball rolling down a hill. It picks up a little snow and then a little more; now it is starting to gain some momentum. Soon it is a very large, monstrous snowball. Think of your appointment book in the same way.

Your first client books every five weeks, and then another and another. Soon you are fully booked, with many being elite clients who are committing their money to you for the following month. You have essentially secured your own year-round income. The elite client is not a seasonal client; she comes every five weeks or so, no matter what.

Show me the money

Let's say your average elite customer spends $70 at each visit to your salon for color and a cut. Here is the difference between pre-booking her every five weeks and letting her go longer, say seven or even twelve weeks, just like a typical "good" non-pre-booking client.

The difference between Rachel, who comes in every five weeks, and Meghan who visits every 12 weeks is $420. That is a significant amount of money to lose on one client.

The tremendous loss in potential income to you becomes painfully clear when you multiply it by the number of clients for your projected annual total. For this example, I used an average number of clients a regular stylist has, one hundred clients.

Now we really see the difference between example A and Example C: $42,000 a year and this does not even take into account the difference in tips!

Keeping your appointment book full at all times maximizes your time in the salon. Waiting around from one appointment to the next is just wasting your time. Do you remember that small snowball rolling down the hill? To keep your appointment book full, you will want to create a sense of urgency. People act quickly if there is a fear of losing out. This can be the best motivator to quickly build and grow your elite clientele.

To see what I mean, sit down and watch a home shopping network for ten minutes. Just telling someone that there are only 20 items of such and such left, and it will not be available again for six months, makes them begin to want that product.

Similarly, you can create a sense of urgency until you are fully booked by elite clients. To do this, tell them to secure their next appointment before they leave because (fill in the blank -- prom season, a holiday, your vacation, their vacation) is coming up and the time they want will go quickly.

I no longer have to tell my clients to pre-book appointments; they do it automatically. More and more of my elite clients have gone way beyond booking five weeks ahead, and have booked for the entire year. Soon yours will too. The bottom line is … pre-book your clients ….and secure your income.

Allison Bridges is the owner of Evolutions in NY and author of Trade Secrets of the Successful Hairstylist, which is available at and Share your own success or contact Allison by visiting

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