Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Sharing Clients is Good for Stylists

Being Your Own Boss!

Many hairdressers have the dream of building up a clientele in a salon, then having those clients follow them to a booth rental salon where they will work independently. Setting your own hours, keeping 100% of sales...livin' the dream.

Salons where you are expected to build salon clientele rather than your individual book are looked at with suspicion by many stylists. Where is the security if I can't pick up my business and take it with me?

In the right situation, however, sharing clients can be the best thing for your and your career.

First, the MY BOOK mentality:

  • You can't serve two masters. When your primary concern is building your book, your primary concern cannot be your clients' well-being. There will be times when it is better for your client to see someone other than you - it fits their schedule better, another technician has expertise you lack, you are fully booked. Who are you going to put first? Your book or the client?
  • Your income is limited by what you can produce with your own hands. It's every man for himself. The only way to earn more is to work longer or raise prices.
  • You actually lose flexibility unless you are willing to sacrifice clients. Want a vacation? Some clients will try another salon that week and never be back? Having a baby or require surgery? Fall off your bike and break your wrist? Let's see how many clients return after a 6 or 8 week absence. Yes, some will. But there will be a noticeable drop in your sales and it can take a lot of time to make up that ground.
  • How pleasant will things be when the economy slows down and clients start stretching time between appointments or coloring at home? With more downtime in the salon, stylists begin to fight for new clients and walk-ins. The salon environment becomes tense which can be sensed by your clients.
  • Lack of support from owner - A salon owner does not have much incentive to try to bring new clients in the door if they are just going to be poached by a departing stylist. There is no reason for them to invest in advertising or marketing. You will be on your own to generate new clients.

Now the SHARING model

First, for sharing to work, the salon needs to have these things:
  • Qualified Staff - there can be no weak links
  • Consistency - the client experience must be consistent no matter which provider is seen
  • Client Focus - everyone in the salon must be dedicated to putting the client first. This means checking egos at the door. Stylists must not be offended when they see a regular guest in another chair
  • Communication - a computerized salon system helps immensely here. Cut and color notes must be kept to date on all clients all the time for reference by other technicians.
  • Trust - Team members must trust each other not to pressure guests to see them only.
  • Confidence - Team members must be confident enough in their own ability to not take offense when a client does decide to stay with another stylist. Sometimes another technician is a better fit. It's OK.
If you work in a salon where salon client building is the expectation, there are many benefits:
  • A salon where everyone is busy is more profitable than one where just some stylists are busy. By sharing clients, the workload is spread out, the salon is more profitable and that allows the salon owner to invest more in education, improvements, compensation, etc. 
  • Clients get seen at their convenience, not the convenience of the technician. This often means they come in sooner. If you are booked, it's better for your client, your salon, your colleague, and ultimately you, if that guest sees someone else this week instead of waiting for you next week. You now have that time next week to sell to someone else.
  • Lower stress - You can relax and enjoy your craft more when you know your clients are taken care of. When your colleagues have your back you can go on vacation or maternity leave knowing that your clients are well-taken care of by trusted colleagues who will not try to poach clients into their chair on a permanent basis.
  • Positive Environment - A team environment where stylists are not fighting over walk-ins is a more pleasant work environment. It's also more pleasant for clients, who pick up on the sense of cooperation and get to know more individuals in the salon. This helps cement the relationship not just between client and salon, but also client and stylist.
  • Job Security - Building salon clientele builds healthy, profitable salons. Healthy profitable salons invest in people, equipment and education. A salon that continually builds up stylists only to have them leave and take their clients with them, can never gain any traction. It is two steps forward and one or two back, always trying to regain the clients and revenue taken by the departing stylist. Salon loyalty helps salons grow and prosper, creating opportunity for those who work there.
  • Opportunity - There may be a time when you don't want to spend 40 hours behind the chair. Working in a salon that builds salon clientele opens up doors for advancement that aren't available in a booth rent situation or a struggling salon. Do you have an interest in management or education? A healthy salon can support individuals in those roles. And again, you see the investment in the salon resulting in salon growth and personal growth for stylists.

1 comment:

  1. Volunteer your services for upcoming fashion shows and hair shows. In exchange for your styling services, ask the host of the event to provide free advertising for your salon.