"Even stylists who are strong technically always seek new clients and want to retain those clients," observes veteran salon professional Ted Halone, who has launched a series of hairdresser-targeted business education CDs he calls Coach In Your Car (yoursaloncoach.com). The first in the series, "New Clients: How to Get 'Em, Keep 'Em and Have Them Spread the Word About You," helps stylists build future clients from their current client base.

"So many stylists have not learned how to self-promote," Halone laments. "New people just starting out in particular have that question: How do I promote myself?" Halone offers three wide self-promotion avenues that lead to the land of constant referrals, consistent upselling and successful product recommendation.

1. open communication

By communicating in a very open way, you're really displaying your own confidence. "That's what will convince the client," says Halone. "A doctor doesn't ask the patient, ‘Which antibiotic should I prescribe for you?' But a doctor may do some research right in front of you before recommending a course of treatment and will still have your respect. So you don't have to know everything or ‘fake it 'til you make it.' Just talk openly to the client until you get the communication going."

Don't ask: "What size perm rod would you like to use?"
Do ask: "What type of curl would you like to see as an end result?"

Show the client photos so that you know you're talking about the same type of curl. Then you decide what size rod to use. "After a full discussion like that, your recommendation will be much stronger," says Halone.

2. exposure

The big three of business exposure are printed ads, web marketing and word of mouth, according to Halone. "Unless you get exposure, you won't have clients," he stresses. It's up to the salon owner to run ads and maintain a website, but as a staffer you should be familiar with what the ads are promising and how the website promotes your skills.

The third piece, word of mouth, is up to you to generate. "Be able to present yourself in a one-minute description," says Halone. "I'm Vicki. I'm a professional hairstylist with a specialty in cutting." Mention something about your training, and then hand out your business card, which you should carry with you at all times. "You can't be sitting on your laurels waiting for the salon owner to send clients your way," he notes. "You must take responsibility for your own career; that's what will keep you in the industry."

3. loyalty

It's not just about your technical skills. You'll get clients coming back by offering the most pleasant experience that the client has ever had in a salon. "Ask yourself what kind of experience you're providing to every client who sits in your chair, from start to finish," Halone adds. "Create the most wonderful experience you can for the person, and she'll not only come back but also to tell all of her friends." In his own work, Halone has heard client after client tell him that they switched to him because their last salon did not recognize their needs.

Exactly how this fabulous experience plays out will depend on your personality, says Halone. "Your business is as individual as you are," he notes. "You're an artistic person with a unique ability and eye for translating style. Every hairstylist can create a wonderful experience for his or her clients."

give it time

If you're practicing all three areas of self-promotion, don't be discouraged if you're not moving as fast as someone says you should be, cautions Halone. This applies to learning new technical skills as well.

"Move at a rate that makes you comfortable," Halone says. "Then when you master that point of business development or even a technical skill, you'll be so much more confident and can really take off."

Photo is courtesy of Cosmetologists Chicago.

How to promote yourself as a new hairstylist

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