Having diverse skills is valuable because you can handle any type of request without fear. Gain experience with as many different types of people and their hair so you don’t disappoint them with inadequacy.
Just last weekend a charming young man waits patiently for an hour, he just happened upon the salon. I noticed him noticing my make client before him as he left and when it was his turn he complimented my work and had confidence that he would be happy with whatever I wanted to do.
He mentioned, “don’t mind the blue glue behind my ears.” Well that’s odd-so of course I took the bait- what is it?
He happens to be one of the traveling performers for Blue Man Group, the show that evening and the next day was nearby. So here I have a well received actor and musician (drummer) in my chair trusting I do anything. He wears a bald cap for work so as long as it’s shorter he had no parameters. Being fairly mild in appearance I chose a much more mainstream haircut, one that the girlfriend back home certainly will approve he beamed. As a performer he has an outgoing nature so I worked a little funky magic in that can either be enhanced with product or ignored for modesty.
I certainly enjoyed meeting Steven, a pleasure to work with on all accounts. I am also grateful for all the training I have so I could adapt to the changing needs of my small towns client base
The best way to build your clientele is by referrals.
The only way to get referrals is by doing your job well.
What does it mean to do your job well?
In no particular order here are a few ideas:
Get technical skills: https://heididelmuro.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/secret-2-get-technical-skills/
People are busy.
They did their homework to find you, why do someone else’s too?
Free service or product you say? That just might work.
Offering incentives for your clients to spread the word costs much less than print advertising, and consumes less of your time than any other form of marketing.
Whenever your client comes in and says,
“I get so many compliments on my hair!”
That should be your cue to say,
“Great, I am so glad to hear that!”
But don’t stop there- next you could say,
“You know, for every referral you send me you earn ‘X’.”
I like the choice of words with earn, because it is work for them. They have to keep track of you, and make the effort to communicate with another about you. You have to keep track of their work, too. Because you already keep your client files up to date, note in your clients file who they referred so the next time they see you, their incentive is honored.
If you aren’t sure what type of incentive to offer, or what will work; think about your business.
What types of things can you afford to offer if you have 2 more clients in your chair?
There are two main things at your convenience; services and products.
Services cost you time (and money if chemical).
Products cost you money.
The incentive I have offered my clients since 2006- For every 2 new clients you send me, you earn the same service free. If you send two color clients, you get your color free. Two haircuts, free haircut. I do this to reward my clients who are loyal.
A lot of people offer an incentive for first time clients. I don’t usually do this because first time clients are more work for me, I can’t do more work for less. Also, there is less incentive for them to come back to you because next time is costs more. Besides, they can go down the street and get their hair done as a 1st time client with a discount, ahem. Notice a problem here? I can do a client for less who has been in my chair repeatedly, who is a joy to work with and who loves my work. They deserve an incentive because you don’t have to find them over and over again, they are coming back- so don’t gouge them.
As a client it is very helpful to your stylist if you have at least a vague idea of what you want, and what you don’t want. Make sure that your hair will actually do what you are asking as well. When you go into the salon, and you say, “Do whatever you want”, you and I both know that isn’t what you really want. My (maybe even rude) joke is- ok, lets do a blue mohawk. The point is, you don’t want just whatever, you want something specific, even if you aren’t sure what that is.
It is our job, behind the chair, to notice certain things about you in order to ask the right questions and suggest options you might be interested in. What kind of clothes you are wearing gives us an idea of the comfort level you select in your every day activities. Are you wearing a scent? Makeup? Which car in the parking lot is likely yours? – I wouldn’t ask this but I would try to guess. Which magazine did you select? Did you sit down and start looking at your hair or are you looking at me instead, trying to figure out if you trust me…
Then the conversation- keep in mind this is haircut specific:
1st question- How long do you want to spend on your hair every day?
2nd question- Do you wear product? Do you want to wear product?
3rd question- How do you feel about the texture of your hair?
4th question- How much length do you want to lose?
5th question- Do you pull it back/up often? Do you want to?
6th question- Ad nauseum until we get to an understanding of what you do/don’t want, and whether or not we can get there given any limitations.
Clients beware! Sometimes you can’t have what you want the first go-around. It takes a little bit of growing into the shape and lengths you desire, but each cut will get you closer to what you want.
I have said this before, and I will say it again- Always quote the work before you begin. Let the client know, I charge $x amount for this service and this is what it includes. This cures the uneasiness the client may feel while you are doing their hair, and they can always choose not to have the service if they don’t have enough money with them.
Next up… Color consultation information.
In no profession can you get away without performing. There is an old adage “fake it till you make it”, and this is unfortunately true. In most cases, even a hairdresser that is a natural will fumble at first. On the same note, every seasoned professional will find a client in their chair that they will not be able to satisfy once in a while. On-going training is imperative to stay current with trends, and innovative techniques often accompany flashy new equipment.
If you are just beginning, this is the best thing you can do for your career. PAY ATTENTION!
Attend as many classes as you can afford.
Apprentice or assist in a salon you want to work in long-term, build a career instead of a job.
Learn how to use every piece of equipment you own, and learn it well.
Learn the difference between cutting hair dry, damp, and wet.
Learn the difference between razor, scissor, and clipper.
Learn the textures and densities of each client. Also, how weather affects the texture of each clients hair.
Learn the products that make your job easier. This will make your clients hair work for them, rather than your client work for their hair.
Practice, practice, practice!
When you are new, offer to do everyone’s hair you know. Make sure they are aware of your skill level, though.
Pay attention to what you are doing. Be present with the hair and build on your skills in steps.
Watch others and learn from them. Notice the details- tension, where to begin, systems, directional cutting, ask coworkers what color formulas they are using and take mental note of consultation, clients hair before, and results.
Color can be very tricky- stick to one line until you fully understand how color works. Once you get a few tricks up your sleeve, experiment with other color lines and see the differences. Once you work with different ones you will see which you prefer, and which your clients prefer as well.
Don’t trash the clients hair, be cautious if you are unsure.
ASK FOR ADVICE!!! Don’t be a know-it-all from the get-go, you will fail. You will get sued. You will lose your job.
In summary, know what you are doing. If you don’t know yet… learn!
Communication: This must be crystal in order to know what the client wants. Not only words, of course communication is a whole body experience. Touch their shoulder before you touch their head to reassure them of your grace, this establishes trust in contact. Look in their eyes so they know they have your attention, listen to their choice of words in describing what they want, and analyze where they are coming from. Ask the questions that feel natural for you to comprehend what they need from you, and give them an understanding of the limitations you have (whether it is time, training, or their hair is simply not going to do what they want). Let them know your rates for their request, offer alternatives to their service and pricing if you aren’t sure they are certain or dead-set on what they want. Have consistent pricing too. People hate going to the hairdresser and having the surprise ending- that she is now charging you more than she did before but forgot to tell you. I always quote the work before I begin. It’s the only way to be fair to both the client and yourself. Don’t just come up with something either, have a base and structure additionals consistently.
Make sure you are actually connecting with your client, tap into the way they understand the world, look at their hair from their perspective. Ask as many questions as necessary, in ways that speak to that person…
Every now and then I will have a client who says, “maybe I didn’t tell the last girl what I really wanted, because look at it, it’s______.” That undesirable trait may or may not be your idea of foul play, but it most certainly is according to the client (who is no longer patronizing the last hairdresser). Communicate clearly to avoid repeat offending. My response to this is almost always, “I am the professional here, it is MY responsibility to make sure I know what you want before we begin.” Don’t argue with a client about whether their hair is gold or not, accept how they see it and make sure you do it how you have agreed.
Additionally, it’s not enough to know what someone does want, you must know what they do not want.
For all the readers who are clients, this series of articles is a valuable tool for you too. Make sure the hairdresser doesn’t proceed until you are comfortable with the communication.
Stay tuned for the 2nd secret….
This was a mystery to me, until I figured out what works. It didn’t take me long to figure it out, here I will share it with you.
Follow my blog and you will learn.