An Esthetician’s Guide to Building Client Retention

As an Esthetician, your clientele comprises 100% of your income. You survive on appointments and product sales alone. Therefore, aside from your vast and comprehensive knowledge of skincare, product ingredients, application techniques and a million other things, your business acumen must be in tip-top shape! When it comes to service based businesses, client retention is the name of the game. Time is money and money means keeping those books booked! Once you get a client, it is your number one priority to bring them back time and time again. Considering that you have already done the footwork of getting a client into your treatment room for the first time, let us explore a few ways to ensure they’ll be back time and time again!

Service Quality

Yes, you retail skincare products – but your service is also a product that you sell! Your client is purchasing your time, your attention, and your expertise in the industry. Your service is your signature! Don’t be cookie-cutter here. Don’t cut corners or go through the motions. Be attentive, educative, and give your all! In addition, there is a transactional element in which you are trading your service for a dollar amount. For this reason, you must always make sure that, to the client, your service is not only equivalent to what they are paying, but that they are getting a little extra above and beyond that. A few tips to ensure a quality service experience:

– No, you are not a massage therapist. But people love massage!! Go overboard!

– Be sure that your menu descriptions are precise to create an accurate expectation.

– Choose your product line carefully.

– Make your space is clean and inviting, pay attention to lighting, don’t over-decorate, choose your music accordingly.

– Your energy dictates your space. Clear your life of its chaos as part of what you offer your clients.

– Actively help to solve skin issues through education – results will speak for themselves.


Let’s be honest though, clients can purchase a “service” anywhere. If they are going to be a return client, what they are truly purchasing is time with you. A client relationship is similar to any other relationship in that it requires trust and reciprocity. For a client, you are someone they see, on average, once a month. Be a part of their life experience by keeping up with them! Even for the client that is just going to fall asleep after the first few minutes, use those first few minutes to ask not just about their skin, but about their son Jack, their finals at school, their new dog, anything that is of utmost priority to them. You can use your skin analysis to break the ice. For example, your client mentions their skin is feeling dehydrated due to travelling a lot for work. Your next question should be about the travel, not the skin! You’re going to rehydrate them, that is a given. This is your chance to create relationship! Don’t miss this! This process of checking in will do two things. It will show that you truly care about them and their life. It will also allow them to get anything major off their chest so that they can relax. When you create that level of intimacy, it makes your service more personally significant to that client. If you have a large clientele and are as forgetful as me, use your software to keep very detailed notes in your clients’ profile. This will keep you on track! I would advise you, though, to be very cautious of boundaries. READ: Do not dig into people’s personal lives. Your job is to simply be a blank canvas for them to paint the picture they would like you to see. If you judge them in any way I can guarantee you will never see that client again! If you continue to be your client‘s biggest cheerleader, you will have them for life. Celebrate their accomplishments, validate their challenges, and encourage their endeavors. And you thought you were just going to be giving people facials?!


Another way to ensure return clients is through your booking process. Offer a discount on a package. A 5-pack of facials guarantees they will be back 5 times! And a side benefit is the next four visits, they will probably buy more product, since their service has already been “paid for”. You can also develop a system of customization within your booking operation. For clients with a very regimented schedule, offer a standing appointment (i.e. the 1st Saturday of every month or 11am every other Thursday) that they can cancel as needed. This is a very fuss-free option for people that know they are coming regularly. For clients with an unpredictable schedule, offer to text them your day-of openings on Saturdays. Offer a courtesy reminder the day before scheduled appointments, and ask if they prefer text, email, voicemail, or no reminder. This will integrate YOU into THEIR life.


Involve yourself in what they are involved in. For example, a client comes in for a facial and mentions they are planning a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. Why not mention that you do lash tints and waxing? Also be sure to give them lots of samples to take with them because they are so small and “travel-friendly”. Will they need to bring any gifts? Because you have plenty of products and gift cards available. Book their next appointment now, because you can’t wait to see their pictures when they get back! You aren’t selling them anything – you are filling in the blanks for them! Now they will be beach AND holiday-ready, and you saved room in their suitcase for other things. And surely you have warned about the strong sun in the tropics and ensured they have plenty of broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen for them and their family! Your company has now become a solution to their problems. And you now have a client for life!

Conflict Resolution

Finally, if something goes wrong, use the conflict for good instead of evil. A client doesn’t like a product they purchased from you. Don’t just return it. Talk to them about it – what didn’t they like and why? Is there something to be learned from what they are saying? Validate their frustration, and try to find a new solution with them. If you run late with one client and become late for the next, throw in a peel or give them a card for a free brow wax with their next facial. Conflict is not the end of the world, but it can become the end of a client if you don’t face it up front and work through it with them. Usually if you handle a conflict with someone well, they will become your best client because they respect how you dealt with the situation!

Building a client base takes time and commitment, but the short cut is in not losing anyone! With these simple techniques, you can continue to build. Your clients will refer you to their friends and families, and your success will follow.

Source by Lindsay M Keene

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