Want to know how the professional beauty industry is perceived by other local businesses? By potential clients? Guidance counselors (who recommend for or against going to cosmetology school)? Legislators (who create the regulations that govern our industry)? The Department of Education (who funds education for our future professionals)? Every one of those perceptions begins in your chair and that of the stylist next to you. Yes, our industry has several important associations that advocate for each of us to state governments, state boards and the various departments of the federal government. If you can join the groups—better yet, get involved—you can help shape those perceptions on a larger scale. But the bottom line is that every perception a government professional has of our industry starts and ends with each and every beauty student and beauty professional, including you.
Does that sound like a big responsibility? It is. The industry’s image rests on the shoulders of each of us. No matter where we work—from New York City to New Orleans, from Boston to Broadview Heights, Ohio— beauty professional are in high profile positions in all of our communities. But here’s what’s beautiful about that: The steps you can take to represent for our industry are the exact same steps that will earn you more clients, bigger tickets and a better lifestyle long term.
• Dress for success.
As my friend, salon owner and educator Joe Santy always says, “Dress for what you want to achieve, not for where you are today.” Put another way, present yourself in a way that says “I’m worth any price I want to charge.”Think about the power in that practice.
• Always be on time and prepared—
Which means to be there 20 to 30 minutes early and calm and ready for your first client. Never allow a client to arrive before you do. That’s especially important if you’re independent. Worse yet, never rush in and say “What do you want to do today?” Be prepared with a plan.
• Start with a consultation. With every client at every appointment.
Nine out of 10 problems with clients occur because of a lack of a thorough consultation, and more than half of clients who leave their stylists do so because they didn’t feel that the stylist cared about them. Doing the consultation not only solves those challenges, but it gets you in tune with your client and her with you. Trust and credibility begin to build with the consultation. The door to retail recommendations opens. Chances are, your client will decide whether or not she wants to book another service with you by
the end of the consultation—not by the end of the service.
• To quote hair colorist extraordinaire Beth Minardi, “Elevate your technical skills to an art form.”
Perform a great cut and you’ll earn a nice paycheck. Take it to another level, and you’ll involve your client in a surprising experience, which leads to a warm memory. Lots of stylists can offer a great haircut. Only a few can create an experience that tells your client that she’s in the right place. Be the difference.
• Focus on the client—not on the money.
When you dress for success, create an experience and dazzle your clients EVERY time they sit in your chair, the money will come. Professionalism equals better pay.
• Recommend products.
Professionals send their clients home with the products needed to recreate their art every morning. They don’t whine and make excuses that they can’t “sell” because the products in their salon are available in Target or CVS or ULTA. Professionals have a secret weapon the stores don’t: the trust and credibility that they have built with their clients. They focus on the moment they’re creating with their own clients and make the professional, responsible recommendation.
• Rebook the next visit before the client leaves.
It’s not pushy. It shows that you care—about her hair and about your work.
• Shampoo, rinse, repeat.
Follow these steps at the same level of focus with every single guest. That means at every visit, you provide the same thorough consultation, the same creative and technically superior service and the appropriate product recommendations. The professional stylist never says these words: “Same thing as last time?”
• Be accessible.
At every opportunity, invite your clients to reach out to you between visits if they have any questions. Ask them how they like to connect—phone, text, email, Facebook—whatever works best for the two of you. If they don’t reach out, check in on them and make sure they’re loving their hair and have enough product til they see you again.
• Love what you do.
Helping others look and feel more beautiful, giving them the confidence to live their lives the way they desire IS a huge responsibility. But the rewards are even bigger. Take a moment between every client to recognize that what you do every single day is extremely important.
Finally, if you want to be involved with representing your industry on a bigger level, join one of the professional associations that works for all of us every day. From there, start by hosting your local city councilperson or mayor at your salon so you can teach them about your business and your industry. Once you’re comfortable on a local level, your association will help you host state and national legislators.