From independent solo artist to the largest upscale chain, salon owners and stylists everywhere are looking to combat the dual threat of rising costs and shrinking margins. And yet, across the industry, professionals often overlook a valuable and largely untapped asset: the male clients we so quickly usher in and out of our salons.
That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our male clients or give them our very best effort once they sit in the chair, because we absolutely do. But giving them a great haircut is one thing. Understanding their behavioral tendencies and leveraging those tendencies into new revenue streams is another.
Data on Men at the Salon
According to data from a new survey recently published by Boulevard, the opportunity for growth in men's salon services is significant:
- Male clients visit the salon with far greater regularity than female clients: 68% visiting at least once a month and 38% coming in at least once a week.
- Male clients are far more likely than female clients to seek multiple services in a single visit (67% vs. 49%).
- Male clients are far more likely than female clients to buy products at the salon (69% vs. 31%) and to be heavily influenced by the recommendations of their stylist (63% vs 37%).
If men come into our salons more often, book more services, and are more likely to make retail purchases, why do they get comparatively little of our collective time, thought, attention, and energy? And since the result is that we get comparatively little of their money, how do we change that? As with so many things in the salon, it starts with communication. Making men feel welcome and showing them you care through great communication is the best way to keep a reliable and repeatable revenue stream from going elsewhere.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
We’ve all seen it—and let’s face it, probably done it (I know I have): a male client sits down in the chair, and we simply ask, “What are we doing today?” Folks, that’s not good enough. If you wouldn’t do that with your female clients, you shouldn’t do it with your male clients.
We should stop assuming men just want to get in and out and, instead, we should treat them to a personalized experience. Come out from behind the chair, look them in the eye, and get to know them. Ask them some discovery questions. "What kind of look are you going for? Is color a concern? Is dryness or hair loss a concern?" Include lifestyle questions as well, such as how much time they spend getting ready or what their self-care routine looks like.
Ask repeat male clients the same kinds of follow-up questions you’d ask any other client. How did you feel about your last haircut? Is there anything you wish we’d done differently?
Today, communication extends beyond the salon. Do your social channels and other branding materials showcase clients of all genders? Can prospective clients easily find examples of your work online that are relevant to them?
Suggest New Ideas, Products, and Services
The data clearly show that male clients are open to booking and receiving multiple services in a single visit. That’s a great thing if you’re looking to grow revenue, but we can’t sit around passively and expect it to happen on its own. We have to provide the spark. We have to inspire.
Men tend to look to their salon professional for guidance and direction, especially when it comes to trying something new. And they want to have a conversation about doing something different, but they may not know how or where to begin or be hesitant to ask questions. It’s hard to blame them—a busy salon can be an intimidating environment.
That’s why it’s our job to lead the conversation and suggest new ideas and services. We have to be the ones to say, “I have an idea that I think would be great for you.” We have to be the ones to say, “Let’s try something different this time.” Maybe it’s adding some color. Maybe it's an eyebrow wax. And maybe we offer it as a complimentary add-on the first time just so they can see how they look. The important thing is that we are the ones taking the lead.
The data show conclusively that men are more likely than women to buy products in the store, especially based on their stylist’s recommendation. As with women clients, when the male client goes to check out, it's not enough to passively ask, “Are you all set on products today?” When we put it like that, what do we expect them to say?
Again, take the lead. Identify and recommend products based specifically on the client's hair type and the look and feel they’re trying to achieve. Bring the product to them and open the cap so they can see it, touch it, and smell it. Encourage men and make them feel understood, and they’ll reward you with the retail revenue that’s so important to your business.
Cater to Men
You don't need to overhaul your entire operation, but small modifications will mean a lot to your male clients. Try these:
- Make sure your grooming products are prominently displayed and easy to access. We know men are more likely to buy products in-store than women.
- Review your special deals and packages. The overwhelming majority of packages and subscription offerings are designed to appeal to women. Create some specifically for men and, if the value is there, chances are they’ll jump at it.
- Men prioritize availability and convenience over other considerations, so try to accommodate them in booking their appointments. This gives you leverage to prebook several appointments out in order to guarantee they can get the time slots they want.
Just Be Inclusive
No one is suggesting that you favor men over women. Keep doing all the amazing things you’re already doing to help all of your clients look and feel their best!
Think of it this way: our industry values inclusion. That means treating our male clients to the same experience to which we treat everyone else. By leaving behind our assumptions and improving communication, we can build better, deeper, and more meaningful relationships with our male clients. When we do that, the revenue will follow.
Shanalie Wijesinghe is the Director of Education at Boulevard, where she lends her industry and platform expertise to both in-house staff and partner salons and spas. A salon industry veteran with more than 14 years of experience working for high-end luxury salons such as Sally Hershberger and BENJAMIN, Wijesinghe was previously a sales engineer for Boulevard and blends her knowledge of the beauty and technology industries to help put the company’s partners and employees on the path to success. A Bay Area native and first-generation immigrant, Wijesinghe is a graduate of the Paul Mitchell School specializing in cosmetology, styling, and nail instruction.
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