I was getting a haircut recently, and the owner happened to be present. I asked the owner how the salon got its first customers, because the business is booming and the owner now has multiple salons.
“I used to go hang out in the mall where women from the town would be. I’d offer pretty girls a free haircut or other free hair services, as long as they came to my salon with my business card. The women didn’t always show up, but when they did, we’d give them a haircut or coloring or whatever it is they wanted free of charge, as I promised.
I knew I wasn’t that good at cutting hair at the time; I had just started. So I wasn’t going to be able to sell clients on my talent alone.
What I knew to be true was that if you were a pretty girl, the haircut didn’t matter that much – you’d get compliments on your hair all the time whether it looked good or not. And "your hair looks great” is always followed by “who did it for you?” I was able to make a lot of mistakes early on with new customers, and they’d still be a great source of referrals for me.
It still works today. When new employees ask me how to build a clientele like mine, I simply tell them: ‘Cut the hair of all the pretty girls for free.’"