18 Apr 2014
“There was a little girl
who a had little curl
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
she was very good indeed,
but when she was bad she was horrid!”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [Emphasis added]
Like the Longfellow poem above me, so too can a workday at the salon be. Extremely gratifying when things are going well, but an absolute nightmare when they’re not. No fear, you’re a sassy, sophisticated business owner. You’ve got this all under control, but do your customers? Here’s part one of our list of very important ways to keep customers cool in tense situations and how to maintain your own sanity in the process.
1. It’s OK to say “no” if needs be. If a client is asking for a difficult ‘do that’s going to be impossible to pull off, what do you do? Do you smile, nod, and do your best to keep the boat from rockin’ or blast them with a firm “No!” right off? The real answer is a combination of both, somewhere in the middle. Obviously you shouldn’t “shut down” the customer right off, it’s just bad business. Emote patience and kindness with a warm smile and a confident and reassuring tone, and listen carefully to the request. If, after careful evaluation, you find the client’s request unfeasible, give an honest and upfront answer. Perhaps this will be difficult for the customer to hear, but any discomfort you might feel in this instance will pale in comparison to a terrible-looking cut that could’ve been prevented water slides for sale.
That’s not where it ends though. Good stylists look for alternate opportunities to service clients, not to simply shut them down. Never simply deny a request without providing an adequate reason. For example, “Mrs. Doe, since your hair doesn’t quite reach the occipital bone, hair extensions may not be the best choice here because they won’t blend…” If you just say “No” without any details, the customer will likely feel hurt and insecure, setting the appointment off on a bad foot. Smart stylists will offer a positive alternative style in these scenarios. This will show your clients that you’re willing to work around an obstacle provide good service. While it’s not always easy to say “no,” especially when a client is excited, some tactful strategizing can prevent a tense situation and leave both parties feeling great about the experience.
2. Identify the costs up front. As a stylist, assume the client hasn’t done any research prior to getting in the chair. While you’ve got the various prices of all your services memorized (right?), they likely do not, and this is the ideal time to discuss it as clients don’t want to feel blindsided at the end of their appointment with a cost they didn’t anticipate. This principle becomes especially prevalent with dyeing and coloring services where each process differs slightly in price. “Sticker shock” is no fun. Manage the expectations earlier and deal with any price question before you’ve got them in the chair. It’ll make things easier in the long run and your clients will appreciate it when they’ve got their purses out.
3. Respect the client’s time. Busy schedules and overbooking aren’t always avoidable, but some of the anguish can be. If you find yourself running late, cutting into a client’s appointment, take immediate action to inform the client, or the front desk staff. Leaving a client sitting in the waiting area wondering what happened, will often lead to bad feelings. If you find that you’re running behind by more than 30 minutes, speak candidly with your client, asking them if they mind waiting and give them a good estimate of how long it’ll take. If this doesn’t sit well, offer reschedule your client’s appointment at a discounted price. They’ll certainly appreciate your respect of their time and you being upfront about the situation.
4. Minimize Jargon. Your client wants the absolute best style and color they can get, so be open to the fact that they may want to discuss every intricate detail of the process. Try to describe each process without using technical jargon. What’s technical jargon? It’s industry-specific verbiage that your client may not understand. For example, “REMY,” “Follicle,” and “weft” may be second nature to you, but your client who didn’t go to cosmetology school may not understand. When you must use jargon, take time to explain what you mean and never assume that a client understands the terminology the way that you do. Here’s the thing: if your client doesn't understand a word or concept, there’s a good chance they won’t say anything out loud for fear of embarrassment.
If necessary, check your client’s understanding by asking basic questions, and when you feel you’re not being understood, re-think and re-explain the concept it in a clear and cogent manner that they’re more likely to understand. This needn’t be condescending mind you. Your clients will appreciate the time you’ve put into keeping them informed, and you avoid any misunderstanding throughout the process.
We’ll have a few more of these coming in the future, but if you’re a stylist with some advice to other stylists, please feel free to share firstname.lastname@example.org.