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Patrick Butler: Tips for building your salon client list

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 10:11 AM

American Crew’s education development manager, Craig Hanson, interviewed Patrick Butler for FirstChair.com.

What are some real ways to build your business?

Getting new clients into the salon is key to building your business. The problem is you can’t expect the salon to always provide new clients for you. You might have to take matters into your own hands. One of the easiest ways to get a new client sounds like a “no brainer,” but it is true. You have to talk. You have to let people know that you are a stylist and that you would love the chance to give them a great new look. Always carry business cards with you just for this very occasion. People are always curious if they should be trying something new with their hair, and you may be able to provide them with that chance. Don’t be shy! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Another way to build your business is from a client referral. First check with your salon as to what they will allow of if they already have a program in place. Then, with their permission, find a couple of “twentysometing” people, because people in their 20s are starting out in their own professional lives. They want to look good for their new job and are trying to make their mark. The point is they want to maintain a professional image. You can give them a golden opportunity! The deal is this: you will maintain their hair cut and/or color for free. They have a little work to do, though: they must refer at least three new clients to you each month in order to receive the deal, plain and simple. If they don’t follow through, no deal. If they do, all the better for you. Again, you need to okay this with the owner or manager. Chances are they’ll be willing to give it a shot if you are.

How do you see the importance of being professional?

We may be creative people who like to express ourselves with different hair color or progressive fashion, but we still have to maintain a professional image. As stylists we have to make everyone who sits in our chair look good and maintain their professional image. It would be hard to gain their trust if we ourselves did not convey a professional image. People have to be able to believe in you and what you recommend. If you can’t maintain a professional image or talk to them in a professional manner, it will be very difficult to build your business. I am not saying that you can’t express yourself in your clothing or hair color or hair cut. Just make sure that you can support it in a professional manner.

Selling retail products is an important part of building your salon business. Clients depend on our expert opinion when it comes to their hair cut or color. A proper product should also be part of that conversation. The product you choose is really a solution to a problem—lack of volume, too much volume, fuzzy hair, etc. You are in a position to provide an answer to a situation that might not have been answered before. If you can show the client how the product helps, you have solved a problem and gained a loyal client in the process!

How important is selling retail?

Adding retail to your service ticket is a great way to add more money to your paycheck as well. Many salons have a program in place that will pay the stylist a commission for selling retail products. When you are building your business, every dollar counts, and selling retail is a great way to give yourself a boost.

Patrick Butler is an American Crew International All-Star and a lead Menswork Academy Instructor. He has been a valuable part of the American Crew team for nine years and has been doing hair for 11 years.

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