Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sharing Clients

From the time they are in school hairdressers are taught to build up a book of business so they will have the stablity of a steady income stream. Unfortunately, that can lead to a bunch of little mini-businesses within a salon, instead of everyone working together as one business. Stylists take pride in their waiting list - it's a badge of honor to have people unable to get an appointment. Great for the ego, but not so good for the salon. The salon needs those people coming in NOW, when they want the cut, not next week. Chances are there are stylists who are only 50% productive who could take care of these clients on waiting lists and keep the guests' frequency of visit high.

When we were a commission salon, our pay system actually encouraged stylists to hoard clients. Now that we are a team-based pay salon, stylists are being compensated based on salon goals, not individual production, so it's to their benefit to encourage their clients to see someone else if they are booked. Easier said than done...

This has been the biggest challenge so far of our conversion. The stylists blame it on the clients (they want to see me, they don't want to see someone else). I contend that we created that attitude and we can change it, but only if the stylists really want it to happen. My stylists will tell a client it's ok for them to see someone else, but if we don't deliver the message properly, they won't believe it.

The other day a guest was running late so he could not keep his appt with his regular stylist. I moved him to someone else and told the original stylist this was a big opportunity for her to express that it's ok for him to see someone else. I encouraged her greet him warmly when he was in the other stylist's chair. Tell him "Hi, Tony! It's good to see you. I'm so glad Tamara could take care of you today, she'll do a great job." So what did she do when he walked in? She said, "Hi Tony". That's it! How do you think that client felt? Did he feel like it's ok for him to be in another chair? Heck no! He thinks that his regular stylist is annoyed at him for not waiting for her.

This is so obvious to me and I don't know what I'm doing wrong that keeps my team from following through on this! I think it comes down to ego. It feels good to have people want YOU and it hurts a little to see them happy with someone else. This will continue to be a big challenge for us in the coming months.

Any ideas out there on how to tackle this one? I'd love to hear them!


  1. I imagine the flair of indiviuality in your business is an automatic red flag, signaling the the sport of "Stepping on Toes." Ego clashes, it would seem, would be the order of the day.

  2. It is a delicate balance. We want our team to express their individuality through their great personalities. When it comes to technical procedures, there needs to be some consistency in the process.

    Our business coach put it this way..."when you go to Starbucks you can't have every barrista making coffee their own way - but their individual personalities can still shine through."

    This won't work for every hairdresser--some will be happier working for themselves (as a booth renter), setting their own hours and doing everything their own way. There's certainly enough room in the industry for everyone! It does create some hiring challenges.

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  4. Hi Cindy,

    I guess you have to find ways of keeping the clients loyal to the salon and not just to their stylist.

    One of the ways to do this is to make sure that you as an owner follow up on every client. It sounds like a tall order but technology makes it easier.

    This way you own the clients instead of your employees.



  5. We are trying to create the same environment with our nail spa clients. We want clients to feel comfortable going to any of our techs, but that is very unusual in the industry so not all of our employees or clients have embraced the philosophy. I think as an owner of a small spa, being there at the front desk greeting the clients and building relationships with them really helps to build loyalty to the spa not the service provider. Especially if the client has confidence in the owner to bring in talented professionals that will give them great service. Makes the hiring decisions even more critical.

  6. I'm a stylist/artist in Michigan, and I can say that the hardest part about having any desire to "share" a client is that hairstyling is an art form. As an artist, you take personal offense when your employer tells you that essentially, someone else can do the same thing you do.

    It kind of feels like they're telling you via action that you're dispensable, while verbally affirming that you are a talented individual. The two don't add up, and it's confusing to try and decide which one you want to believe.

    Just my feelings. :)