I often think of opening my own salon just so my kids can be there too. After all, what is the problem with children anyway? They are just smaller, younger versions of us. I dream of a mommy hair salon where there is a room dedicated to just the children for playing, and I imagine it being very busy during the day, because quite frankly, mothers can now get their hair done without having to also pay/find a babysitter. That way my kids can be there too. I can work for my family, and also be with my kids.
Over the years I am certain one of my three daughters will be interested in my craft and will learn a lot just by being around it. Maybe I will be benefitting them in the long run.
1. Health: It is not the best environment for young growing bodies to be exposed to regularly. There are chemicals and debris.
2. Neediness: My children are very young still and often want me to hold them. If I can’t because I am in the middle of applying a highlight- and one of them (or even two) are crying- that is a huge disappointment to them and even worse it is a distraction to me and my client.
1. My kids can learn that women can work too and kids aren’t taboo.
2. My kids will learn and see the practice of business skills and ethics that I mostly learned by mentoring the salon owners and colleagues I had from my own young career days. Sorry mom and dad (who probably will never read this because he isn’t a thoughtful parent) but you didn’t teach me much about business when I was young.
3. Convenience for me and other mothers who also tote kids with them everywhere.
I am always spotting little salons that are out of business. I could also quickly move into a small houses that would be easy to convert because the separated rooms are already in place. It is just a matter of getting the upfront funding to open, and marketing for the clientele. Which I have learned is not that difficult if you have done it before and know what works and what doesn’t.
In all honesty, it is a dream, but will probably only ever be a dream because it isn’t worth it for the two problems. If over time we overcome the second, the first will always be a deal-breaker.
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.
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.