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.
So, this is something I have been aware of for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s just part of who I am and as much as I take heat when boundaries are crossed, it will not change who I am. I have learned throughout the years when to remain silent, and I am very respectful of others.
Just like someone who feels as though they are too quiet, this is my personality defect.
In defense of those who tend to talk instead of remain silent I want to clear up a few misconceptions.
- I am paying very close attention.
- I listen. In fact, I listen very well.
- I think out loud.
- It isn’t that I like to hear myself talk.
- I feel compelled to share thoughts, experiences, and laughter with others.
- This conflicts with people who need or prefer silence.
- I am not self-obsessed. Just open.
- It is just one form of open communication, which I require to do my job well.
- I can relate to most people this way, and connect on a personal level.
- I am nervous, just like you. If we can laugh together, things are better for all of us.
- I know when to shut-up. Ok, most of the time…
When you work in a profession that requires you to break the ice with a stranger, daily and on a regular basis, you learn what works best for you. My way of navigating this otherwise, very uncomfortable environment, is to talk. When I open up, others will understand that this process is intended to engage them, so I can find out what their needs are. When I know a little about who you are, and what you like, then I can make you happy with your hair. I will continually put myself out there, on the front line, so you know I am not judging you. I am open to whoever you are, whatever you like, and can most likely help you meet your goals through connecting.
It’s all about connecting.
If you are one of those people who hates their hair on their neck, have you ever tried cutting your hair short?
As a female there is some crazy stigma that you must fit a particular profile to have short hair, don’t pay attention to that crap, it is really just judgments placed by others who aren’t brave enough to try it themselves.
I used to notice how women with shorter hair had a different sort of confidence. They don’t grasp on to things the same, there is a unique liberty available to them.
With the summer months approaching, and warmer weather well on it’s way, I would encourage you to consider cutting it short.
Depending on your texture there is one warning to heed, though. If you are used to just pulling it back or up, you won’t have that freedom. There is some level of styling necessary to make it look like you want.
This is the trade-off. You have long hair that takes about 30 minutes to style “pretty”, or 5 minutes if you just pull it out of your way. You cut it short and now it takes 10-15 minutes everyday. Not longer than that, but you can’t get away with doing much less.
So, if time is the issue, completely understandable.
There is also the grow-out. If you just simply hate your hair short, can’t find any style that agrees with you, and you must grow it out… well the road is long. At least a year if not more before your hair meets your shoulders and is luscious again. Be prepared for this.
If you have never cut your hair short, and it is on your mind… I would consider it. You only live once, and it’s just hair right? What a fun way to re-invent yourself!
I have always loved MOP- or Modern Organic Products.
The products just work well and make the hair feel like hair is supposed to feel. They work on every hair type and because they are concentrated, you don’t need much and a little bit will last a very long time. Recently on the hunt, I came to the conclusion that MOP is no longer readily available. I think the price point was a challenge for hairdressers, a hard sell in today’s lower budget economy. Also, the education provided to salons by the company was less enthusiastic than it could have been. Perhaps it was a little intellectually advanced for many of todays hairdressers who really didn’t take the time to convey enough information to their clients about WHY MOP is a wonderful product line.
I highly recommend almost all of their products, but there aren’t many to be found anymore.
The best of the best is MOP Mixed Greens Shampoo and Conditioner. It works well in CO arid, dry climate because it cleanses the hair without stripping the natural oils that serve as a great barrier from the elements and nutrition for the scalp to stay healthy. They also have (had) Lemongrass Shampoo, serving the fine hair client. No weight added, no drying effect that is common in other combinations marketed for finer hair. The idea behind the competitors product is if you reduce the oils weighing the hair down, you will be left with volume. In other words, dry out the hair and it will fly away. This doesn’t work because it causes the hair to feel drab and unhealthy. Not a desirable effect on someone who doesn’t have much hair to begin with.
I am sad to see MOP dissipate into the ether, it is truly one of the best product lines out there. In the mean time, I will be scooping it up at every opportunity to make sure it is still available for my clients as long as possible. Oh, not to mention, it’s what I prefer to use!
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….