Toward the end of every client's visit, you have one magic moment to make your pitch for referrals, agree industry consultants Kristi Valenzuela and Michael Cole. "The best time to ask for a referral is when you are finished and they are telling you how much they love it," Cole writes in his book, A Little More Off the Top. Talk about any referral program your salon offers, or simply ask the client to send you friends.

keep the cape

Maximize the success of your message by delivering it while the client's cape is still on. "As soon as you remove the cape, her mind is out of the salon," comments Valenzuela, who consults for KRS Consulting and also works closely with Redken. "She's thinking about picking up her kids from soccer or stopping at the grocery store on the way home."

Make eye contact directly by standing between the client and the mirror. "Then the client can look half at you and half at the mirror to see your work and how great she looks," Valenzuela recommends.

up the energy

Have a bit of excitement in your voice, or your pitch can come through as half-hearted or just part of your job. Try to have your words come from the place inside you that knows what a great hairdresser you are. You just want your client's friends to have the opportunity to have beautiful hair, too! Even if you've scripted yourself and have said the words a zillion times, make it sound fresh.

"When the client sees the gleam in your eyes and in your smile," says Valenzuela, "she'll become excited to hear what you're going to say."

what to say

Valenzuela calls her procedure for getting referrals "purpose before action." First, give clients the reason they should recommend you. If you reward clients for referring clients, that's a "something in it for them" that you should mention. Next, direct them in the action they should take. For example, you can give them a supply of your card and ask them to hand it out to their friends.

Scripts that have been shown to work include:

  • From Kristi Valenzuela: "I'm so excited to tell you how to get $5 off your next visit! All you have to do is give this card to anyone who compliments you on your hair. When that person comes in, she'll get 20 percent off her first visit, and then the next time you come in you'll get $5 off your service. Please let your friends know that I'm located at ABC Salon on Main Street. Tell them that my favorite thing to do is highlights like yours, but I always have a consultation with each client to decide what's best for her."
  • From Michael Cole: "I want you to know that I have really enjoyed working with you today. While I enjoy all of my clients, there are a few of them, like you, that I really like. We seem to hit it off, and you give me more creative license with your hair. I wish I had more clients like you! Do you know anyone like yourself who you think would enjoy my work as much as you do? Please tell them about me and send them to me. I promise that I will take good care of them for you."

thanks, sales force!

Don't forget to thank clients who trust you enough to send friends and family. Cole suggests tucking a personal note into any thank-you card that reads: "Sue, Thank you for referring Mary Jones to me. The most gracious compliment I receive from you is when you think enough of me to refer people like Mary to me. Thank you very much."

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