How to talk to your salon clients about retail hair products

Clients become your friends. When they sit down in your chair, the first thing they might want to do is catch you up on life since their last visit. You, of course, would rather talk about why they should start getting some hair color or purchase a shampoo that won't leave their hair so dry.

Kitty Victor, a professional speaker in the industry and a trainer with On the Wings of Success, says you can have it both ways. As long as you get to the hair part of the discussion, you can indulge the client with that personal chat that lets her know you do care about her job, her family and her concerns. The trouble is that many hairdressers let that part run away with the conversation, and soon they have only three minutes left to attend to business.

To tackle the problem, Victor advises stylists to change the direction of the talk as you change your focus of the hair cut:

1. Back of the head. "As you work in the back, this is where you can have your personal conversation," Victor says. Ask about the grandchild, the new boyfriend, the job or the wedding the client attended.

2. The left side of the head. This is for upselling. "Introduce services," Victor recommends. In winter, for example, ask the client, "Have you ever thought about some highlights for holiday sparkle?" Texture services, conditioning treatments and eyebrow shaping are great upsells, too.

3. The right side of the head. Talk about home care maintenance. Victor suggests saying, "Your hair responded really well to this shampoo I used. What shampoo are you using?" If you've been doing the client's hair for years but you don't remember her home maintenance routine, Victor advises saying it this way: "Refresh my memory. What shampoo are you using?" This is not only about pushing a retail product on the client, Victor adds, but really about educating her and showing the client how to style her hair.

4. The top of the head and fringe. This is for the future. You'll ask whether you can prebook her next appointment for the highlights you talked about earlier. You also can plan her next look and let her know where you see this cut going next.

If you start on the top of the head instead of the back, Victor recommends sticking with the program and just talking about the future first. You can say you want to make sure she gets her preferred time for the next appointment and then explain what you want to do next with the cut. Once you get in the habit of connecting your discussion to the part of the head you're working on, you'll begin to remember easily, and it will become something you do automatically: a great habit!

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