Business Builders for Indies
Chad Clark, director of education for FlexStylist will soon open his own salon, Chad Clark Hair, which will be a commission/flex chair hybrid that will test various business models and methods of helping stylists succeed. Reach him at [email protected]
Chad Clark trained at Sassoon Academy, as well as with TONI&GUY in Belgium. After educating for JPMS for 6 years, he returned to teaching at the Sassoon Academy in CA, and went on to become director of education for FlexStylist.com, which allows stylists to rent a chair on demand. An independent artist himself, he focuses on a “non-denominational” approach to teaching and coaching. Here, he shares his best business-builders, which he personally used with great success when moving from LA to the “central valley,” where high ticket prices don’t fly:
1. Know your target audience. The most important part of building a clientele is building the right clientele. “Target niches such as hospitals/medical clinics, business owners or employees of local shopping districts, and even upper-class private communities,” advises Clark. “All of these potential clients have expendable income and offer broader connections to the community than the walk-in guest.” Also, reach out to your Chamber of Commerce and propose special first-time client offers that will drive in new business to your chair.
2. Never discount your work. Consumers view discounts as devaluing and desperate—if they pay less for something once, they won’t pay full price the next time. “Discounting harvests a Groupon-minded clientele that will leave you at the drop of a coupon,” says Clark. What’s better: offer a complimentary cut to first-time clients, a technique that built Clark’s business when he relocated to a new area. Once the client is in chair, consult thoroughly, go the distance with service and offer chemical-service or treatment upgrades, which add income. Then, pre-book them.
3. Use the right social media platforms. Instead of posting on Facebook or Instagram that you want new clients, create a Yelp account. It’s one of the first places locals look. Don’t ask clients for reviews—mention your Yelp account and how helpful reviews are to you. Include your Yelp site address on your business card. Once a client posts a positive review, offer him or her a complimentary service or product, but don’t publicize that you do this, beyond telling the reviewer. Keeping it exclusive makes it work. Other platforms are good for occasionally posting last-minute openings, which will most likely be seen by those you already know. Keep all platforms you use updated with your work, schedule and booking links.
4. Promote your education. Talk about the classes you take, then share what you have learned and why it’s different from what you have done in the past. Discuss new products you like and their performance. Your guests will admire your dedication and passion.
5. Practice the four Rs: Rebook, Retail, Refer and Retain. To rebook, Clark recommends saying something as simple as, “Now that you have your new look, I recommend you come back in 4-6 weeks. I am getting booked well in advance lately, so I highly recommend booking a spot with me now. If you need to change it later you can, but this way, you know you will have me when you need. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait at least 3-4 weeks, if you call the day you need to get in.” (This creates a sense of urgency.)
Retailing comes down to asking the right questions and addressing personal challenges.
If your guest loves your work, just ask for a referral. You’ll get new guests who are predisposed to liking you. Finally, you’ll retain clients when you employ the first 3 Rs, and maintain a high level of technical proficiency.
6. Follow-Up. Always find out how clients are managing their hair at home. Clark waits no longer than 5 to 10 days to call and ask how a new look or product is working out. Are they enjoying it? If the client has not pre-booked, use this as a second opportunity to encourage them to do so.
7. Be There. Many renters come to work when they have a booking, then leave. Why? Clark says that being at your chair or in your suite can make the difference between getting the new client and the client going somewhere else. Even if you don’t get many walk-ins, you should be available during the expected hours for last-minute bookings. Says Clark, “When people know you are consistently available between your designated hours, they know they can rely on you and become more confident that you take your business seriously. That builds loyalty.”