The lash industry is crazy competitive, and no competition is more vicious than the ones raging outside your front door! As a company of longtime lash professionals, we understand how important it is to strike the right balance betweennotstirring the pot and defending your business’s health.
We want to help you do the same, so we’ve put together this guide of tips and strategies to help you navigate competing with other lash businesses in your neighborhood without burning bridges. It’s a small (lash) world, after all!
1. Develop distinct brand/aesthetic
Clients paying for luxury items like lash services don’t want surprises at any turn. Key to contributing to a client’s sense of security and knowing-what-to-expect is developing and maintaining a cohesive brand aesthetic across the board. Make sure that your website, social media posts, and online presence match your studio’s in-person persona. For example, don’t host an all-white, minimalist website and Instagram aesthetic and then shock first-time clients with neon pink salon walls! Use social media and online tools wisely, providing a glimpse into what your lash studio’s culture and atmosphere is like. You’d be surprised how many studios don’t realize this, and so ensuring your brand flows smoothly from one platform to the next is an excellent, subtle way to make clients feel comfortable, become return clients, and recommend you to others.
2. Use strategic pricing
When setting or reevaluating your lash business’s prices, you need to think logically about where the value is for your clients. You don’t want to offer the cheapest services for what you do, as clients who are already prepared to shell out for lash extensions are more likely to spring for slightly more expensive prices due to the idea that the more expensive the beauty service, the higher quality the work. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between affordable to your typical client and charging what you deserve. Now’s the time to do some market research! Get a sense for what lash studios in your immediate region charge for their services, and strive for median-to-above-average pricing.
You may also want to set prices based on what sets your lash studio apart. Do the lash techs in your studio consistently churn out the best lash lifts or Russian volume sets in your district? Price these services up! If you’re worried about driving clients away by doing so, follow these foolproof steps on communicating price increases with clients.
3. Keep up with lash trends
Like the entirety of the beauty and fashion world, the lash industry is always evolving. It’s worth it to invest in your lash studio’s upkeep with some of the fun, quirky services your bolder clients may ask for. These include M-curl lashes, bottom lashes, or even colored lashes, lash tints, and brows. Read blogs, attend webinars, and follow influential lash artists on YouTube. If clients can count on you to always have the latest funky trends on hand, they’re more likely to stay with you for the long term!
4. Add new, luxe services to your book
Similarly, make sure that you and your employees are consistently working on professional growth. For example, you could teach interested lash techs on how to do lash lifts and tints, which are super simple processes that offer great ROI. Noticed that you or another classic lash artist in your salon has fully mastered their craft? Work on a plan to get them volume trained. If you’re hoping to upgrade your salon’s game as a whole, you may even consider enrolling as a group in a salon and spa management training. As you learn and perfect your craft, add the new services in.
Lash extensions are all about upping the luxe factor in your client’s day-to-day life. Why not add to their already-lush experience by incorporating a little something extra into their service? Consider adding a mini-facial, head-and-temple massage, aromatherapy, sound therapy, or even a spot of bubbly to your clients’ experience to make them feel like a completely refreshed, totally new person when they walk out your door! It’s the little touches like these that keep clients coming back and spreading word to their friends and family.
5. Keep company culture strong
Make sure that you and other senior employees + managers of your salon are cultivating an atmosphere of trust and collaboration, of feeling like they’re allowed to take ownership of their work and have the flexibility to perform their job the way that works best for them. Additionally, make sure that each employee feels comfortable coming to you or a designated senior employee regarding any questions or concerns they have without fear of punishment. Such security translates into happier lash artists, which means better-performed work for clients...which in turn only means better business for you!
Furthermore, clients and consumers across many industries are paying more attention to the “social impact” of the businesses they frequent. Clients will be able to tell when their lash artists are taken care of and happy, and are more likely to support businesses that treateveryone under their roof well!
6. Network, network, network
If you can afford it, arrange for you and your lash techs to attend local or regional trade shows and beauty conventions to connect with other talented lash artists in your area. Attend any events and seminars in the area (safely in the time of COVID, of course!) to meet aspiring lash artists in your more immediate vicinity, and who you are more likely to keep in regular touch with.
In the age of the internet, however, you’re not just limited to local connections! Join one of the dozens of lash stylist groups on Facebook, follow new ones you discover on Instagram, and even search each other out on LinkedIn (you can follow us here) — it’s not just for the office job-holders of the world. You’ll connect with lash techs and beauty professionals all over the world, and you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks for things like tweezer care, adhesive storage, makeup looks to try with certain lash types, and more! Who knows what you may learn or what opportunities may come your way from the most unexpected places!
7. Retail items according to demand
Don’t be afraid of trial-and-error! If something isn’t working,fix it. If you’ve noticed a particular retail product, swag item, or service isn’t selling well, try different marketing methods — placing the item more front-and-center on the shelf behind a receptionist, or discounting that lash lift-and-brow-wax package by 10-15% and advertising the heck out of it through email blasts, social media posts, and more.
If after two or three months of attempting new solutions you’re still not seeing any results, don’t hesitate to pull it off the shelves or put it on a big discount and promotion. You owe it to yourself, your fellow lash artists, and your lash salon to make room for what really sells. Items that don’t sell well often become part of a vicious cycle in which interested customers will look up reviews for it, not see enough, and then decide not to purchase it. Don’t give in to the sunk cost fallacy, where you feel as if you have to cling on to a product or service simply because you’ve invested time or money into it. Let it go and start anew.
8. Maintain sense of exclusivity/demand
When clients call to request a specific lash artist, don’t tell them that that artist is available all day, even if they are. Instead, if they’re not requesting a specific time slot or narrow slice of the day, offer them two or maximum three time slots that stylist has available. Not only does this lend an air of demand and exclusivity to your lash artists, but it also forces indecisive clients to make a decision regarding their timing.
9. Learn from your competitors!
Give your competitors your business. Yes, you heard us right! Think of it like a friendly spy mission; the next time you get your lashes done, pop over to a competing nearby salon to get a sense of how they operate. Make note of the things they do well, the things they donot so well, and file them away for future reference. Go into each appointment with an open mind; there’s always something to learn from everyone, even if they’re your competitors. Plus, it’s yet another opportunity to network within the lash community!
10. Partner up with competitors
If you’ve ever watched the originalTom and Jerry cartoons, you know that some of the best episodes are when the sworn cat and mouse enemies team up! The same logic applies to your competitors; sometimes, two businesses are stronger than one. Invite the lash studio in the other county to collaborate on events with you, such as lash artist happy hours. It’ll be a great opportunity for a proverbial olive branch, while also expanding your network and lessening any lingering sense of rivalry.
You can even take this one step further and ask lash studios for help! If you’re a newer salon, ask to set up coffee chats between management teams to ask for advice on a specific skill their salon is crazy good at. For instance, if a lash artist at that studio is known and beloved for their perfect, lasts-for-eight-weeks volume sets, ask to pick her brain as you train your own lash techs in exchange for a small fee or other compensation/incentives. The lash industry can be insanely competitive at times, and the best way to prevent it from becoming more so is to approach your competitors with openness, good faith, humility, and a demonstrated willingness to work together.
11. Use reasonable noncompetes
This bullet point mostly applies if you have additional employees/aren’t self-employed, and only if you live in a state that permits non-compete agreements. (California, for instance, does not permit non-competes.) Even then, it is imperative in every state that your noncompetes is reasonable, and does not prevent lash artists who leave your studio from working in their chosen career field within a reasonable radius of your lash business. When hiring lash artists, it is important that they feel supported in their careers and professional growth, even if that entails eventually leaving and working for the lash studio across town. Employees are more likely to trust you to feel secure in their work when they know they won’t be punished for taking care of their career goals.
12. Listen to feedback from clients
This should go without saying, but listening to the very people who patronize your businesses is an important part of staying competitive! If a client asks why your lash studio does something another salon down the street doesn’t — or vice versa — take it into consideration unless you have a good reason not to. For instance, if a client asks why your lash maintenance spiel isn’t as extensive as a competing studio’s, there’s no harm in taking a critique and improving on it if it makes sense to do so! Sometimes, copying or adopting practices your competitors do is agood thing, as long as it’s done with intention and in a way that makes sense for your business.
13. Don’t begrudge clients who switch to competing studios
Make sure that if a client tells you they’re switching to a new salon, that you don’t take it personally — and, more importantly, that you don’t let them see you’re hurt or angry. (You shouldn’t be, anyway!) Most of the time when clients change spots, it’s purely logistical; they may be moving across town, or they’re receiving a huge friends-and-family discount from the new salon. Client retention isn’t a zero-sum game. You’ll find replacement clients, perhaps from word-of-mouth from the one departing! If asked, many clients may even give you referrals to replace them if you’ve cultivated a great relationship, out of a sense of loyalty.
If you feel comfortable doing so, politely ask the client why they’re switching. See if you can offer an incentive for them to stay, whether it’s a discount, increased rewards or free services, or even a more convenient time slot that you’re willing to work extra hours for. While this likely won’t work most of the time, there’s no harm in trying, and the client will leave their last experience with you feeling valued and wanted. All these feelings are key to maintaining an excellent reputation, as they’ll be sure to refer you to the next person they come across.