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It’s probably not the weather

Over the past few months, I feel as though I have been having the same conversation with different reps, Salon owners that I chat with from time to time and Stylists. Everyone says that business is slow. They all seem to be having the same problem and they all seem to have the same reasons for it. “It’s probably the weather.”. “The economy is slow.”. “It’s peak vacation season, so people are away.”. “We charge $90.00 for a color. Our clients don’t want to spend more for product.”. “My client bookings are down. I guess my clients are really busy.”. I have news for you, and you aren’t going to like it. The above excuses – yeah, I said it, excuses for the lack of business at your Salon comes down to you, your staff, your customer service, your policies and your lack of retail. Plain and simple. I say excuses because sitting around complaining about business being slow and doing nothing about it is an excuse and is lazy. *To be clear – I agree that the weather can affect sales – Mother Nature is not always our friend up here in the Great White North – a blizzard or a good ‘ol Polar Vortex will keep people at home. As for the others, well, there is always something that can be done.

I have been in the retail/customer service game for over 25 years and in our beloved industry for over 12 of those years. I know too well the struggles we can face, from product cost increases, rent increases, wage increases and competition from other Salons that offer the same services. Here’s the deal. When your Salon has procedures in place, when your staff is educated on your products and your stylists re-book and follow up with their clients and your retail shelves are stocked, your business will sustain itself, and grow. It will. *The key – you have to work at it, everyday. You have to believe in yourself and your business and what you are trying to accomplish. Being me, I have compiled a little list for you.

– Policies. I cannot stress this enough. Dress codes need to be in effect and followed. Personal calls are not for the Salon floor or the store front. Take it to the lunch room. I understand emergencies arise and a call from the school must be taken on the Salon floor. Booking your next oil change…not so much. *Remember – all your client in your chair is doing is listening and watching everything going on in the Salon…and good news travels fast….bad news travels faster.

– Make it your Salon policy to re-book every client at the end of their service. Now, I know this will not happen 100% of the time, it can happen 85% of the time – I know this because that is what our average is in our Salon. Once you explain to your client that you cannot guarantee that you won’t be booked solid 6 weeks from now, they will re-book. Let your client know they are more than welcome to cancel or reschedule if need be. In my experience, once they realize they are not indebted to that exact date, they re-book, and show up to their appointment.

– Be sure to offer a consultation to every client, new or existing. Take a minute to ask them how they are, what plans they have, if any special events are coming up. Ask them if they were thinking of changing it up or did they like their last color and style.  Asking these questions makes your client feel important and that they matter. It also gives you a chance to find out what is happening in their lives – for instance, if they have a gala coming up, trying a pixie cut for the first time may not be the best idea. During a consultation you may find out about a health scare, a new medication or a new product they have been using that could affect their color service that day. Asking them “same as last time” doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t.

– Make sure your Salon is stocked with water, tea and coffee. Having a choice of milk, cream or flavored creamer, sweetener or sugar goes a long way. At our Salon, we have clients that as we are taking their coat are asking if we still have that “yummy creamer”.

– Get on Social Media. Facebook is checked before email. I update our Facebook page at least 4 times a day. It takes all of 2 minutes each time. We have gained customers and clients from our updates. I have gained new customers that drive from other cities because of the specials and the new arrival of products I have posted.

– Your Salon must retail product. It must. Before you get all “that’s a huge investment!”, calm down. I am not saying you have to have every brand and every product. You should have the products you are using in your Salon for sale to your clients. Keep 2 – 3 bottles of each product you use on your shelves, at all times. You can’t sell what you don’t have. *Think of it like this – as a stylist, would you go without having bleach at your color mixing station because “No one will probably want it”? No, you wouldn’t. The same rings true with retailing the hairspray you use at your station. Thinking for your clients instead of thinking about them is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Retailing products works. I know. I do it everyday. Once your client/customer realizes that their hair can have the same look and hold at home that they get from you, they will buy the product.

– Provide good customer service. Talk to your clients and customers. Educate them on their hair and their products. Offer free consultations, from an up-do to how to use their flat iron. I personally have helped our customers learn how to use their new flat iron or curling iron. I have been known to flip my head upside down and from side to side and mess up my own ‘do just to show them how to do their own hair, and correct a mishap with a flat iron. If your client is not happy with the product they bought, ask them to bring it in, ask them to show you how they use it, then show them how you use it. In my experience, the product is the right product, the application needed improvement.

Following policies and procedures, re-booking and following up with clients, taking the time for proper consultations, utilizing Social Media, educating your clients and your customers and retailing products and keeping the shelves stocked, your Salon will thrive. It will.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford

ThatGirlx3

 

 

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Mint flavoured shoes

At our shop, we retail over 25 professional hair care lines, so it is no surprise to me when I have a client or customer tell me they have never heard of the particular product I am telling them about. What does surprise me is when I introduce a product or product line to a client and they respond with “They still make that? I used to love using it but…that’s an old product line, isn’t it? My stylist said it’s old and no good.”. A phrase I hear often, and quiet frankly, a phrase that baffles me. Stylists – here’s a little tip for you – if your client loves a product – NEVER tell them it’s old and no good. First of all – it’s not professional. Second, you have just insulted your client. Yes, insulted them. You have just made them feel old and stupid for using a product that they love. I am telling you this because your clients will not, they do not want to offend you or hurt your feelings. They may however, book their next appointment elsewhere.

For those familiar with my Salon Tales, you know that I take the business of beauty and customer service seriously. I believe that customer service is the cornerstone of our industry. Yeah…I said it. When proper and professional customer service is not being provided, it does not matter that you are an expert colorist and cutting expert or how many products you retail at your Salon – if your client’s opinions are being neglected or pushed aside, the only person filling your chair will be you, wondering where your clients have gone.

Everyday I have customers or clients from the Salon purchasing products. Many of the products they purchase, they purchase because they love them. They like the hold, or the shine, or sometimes they love the smell of the product. I may not think the product is the best selection for their hair care needs, but they like it. They are able to achieve the look they want at home and like the way their hair looks and feels, so I keep my mouth shut. When I am asked if there is another product I would suggest, then I offer my opinion on another product. I never, I mean never, down play their beloved product. Being me, I have compiled a little list, a “how to suggest another product without putting your foot in your mouth” list,  if you will. (fitting title for today’s tale…don’t you think?…wait for it…there you go).

– when a client is looking for a new hairspray, first things first. Ask them what it is about their current hairspray they aren’t happy with. Ask them what hold factor they are looking for, if they want a little shine or frizz control. Telling them “it’s about time you changed hairspray!” – not a good idea

– when a client comes in asking for a product from a line that you deem “dated”, do not judge. It may be an old line to you, your client may have just learned about it, so it is new to her.

– when a client comes in looking for the latest and greatest product, before you sell it to them, be sure it is meant for their hair type. Selling a woman the newest curl defining cream  when her hair is poker straight is unprofessional, plain and simple.  Think about it, she will get home with dreams of curls just to end up locked in her bathroom with a matted mess. Trust me, I am all for making the sale – when it is done the correct way.

– if your client is misinformed about a product, take a minute to explain the proper use of the product, educate them. Flip the bottle over and show them the product description, and the directions on how to use the product, and how much to use. Take an extra minute to explain what the icons mean… the little open jar = shelf life, the bunny = cruelty free, the arrows in a circle = the packaging is recyclable. Again, telling them “you don’t know what you are doing, do you?” – not your best option.

– when a client comes in looking for a product you do not sell, DO NOT say “Oh, we don’t carry that, heard it’s crap.”. Yes, ladies and gents, many of my customers had been told that exact thing, at the Salon they used to shop at. Find out what product they are looking for, ask them what they liked about it. You would be surprised how many times a product you have on your shelves will fit the bill. …I do it everyday.

At the Salon, we help men and women look and feel better. We give them a fresh look or help them find themselves once more. We help to prepare them for their life events – graduations, weddings, births and sadly, deaths. Yes, we are in the Beauty Industry. Yes, we work in Salons. Yes, we are in the service industry, and yes, we are in the customer service industry – something we must all remember. Our customers and clients may forget the color line we use or the hairspray we suggest. They will always remember how they were treated, how they were spoken to and listened to, and how they felt. You may be an expert colorist, you may offer the greatest cut and style in town – no one will remember that if your manners and demeanor do not match your talent. Be kind. Be courteous. Our clients and customers have given us their time, the least we can do is give them and extra minute or two.