To ignite conversations, Held displays his awards and certifications at his otherwise uncluttered chair.
To ignite conversations, Held displays his awards and certifications at his otherwise uncluttered chair.

Would you move to a different state with a goal to be a renter? That’s just what stylist Howie Held did when he moved to California.

To succeed, he knew he’d have to hit the ground running. His first step was to take classes and network. That’s where he met Tamara Dahill, who took him on at her rental operation, A Tamara Dahill Salon in Toluca Lake, California.

Held actually started on commission, ensuring some walk-ins, but within three months, he moved to rental. Today, seven months later, he averages more than six clients a day, seven days a week. And, he just raised his prices. So how did he do that?

“I took my cards and began introducing myself to everyone who passed by the salon,” Held says. “I approached everyone whose hair I liked, told them I loved their hair and explained who I was. Then I mentioned that I take a lot of classes and know dozens of new, advanced techniques that would be great for them. When they saw I was being genuine and knew a lot about hair, most of them came in.”

What? No one said they loved their current hairdresser? “One girl said she would only go to a Sassoon-trained stylist, so I told her I had won a Beauty Changes Lives Sassoon scholarship,” Held says. “People in California float around a lot and too many clients get taken for granted. I’ve seen stylists who turn down blow-dries and wonder why they aren’t busy. A lot of them don’t want to be bothered with men’s cuts because they think they aren’t worth it. When those people see I care about their hair, they come to me.”

One obvious key to Held’s success is his schedule: he’ll work any day of the week a client needs him and as late as midnight. His strong educational background feeds his confidence, but he also has a few tricks up his sleeve. For instance, to get men to pay $40 in the land of value chains, he includes a free clean-up of the neck and sides every couple of weeks, which guys love. When they come back for a full cut after six weeks, they have a longer top to work with, which allows Held to make suggestions for change.

“When they get the free clean-up, a lot of them tip $20,” notes Held. “As I build the relationship, I ask who their friends and family members go to. When they see that I treat them like human beings and not a ticket, they start referring me.”

Which goes to Held’s next tip for success: developing a clientele is like dating, where the goal is not a hook-up, but to get the next date.

“Be sincere and passionate,” he says. “Work on your speed, because no one wants to sit in a chair for three hours. Do the cut first, clarify the hair and create the color to work with the cut. Be grateful for your clients! It’s the best way to retain the business you built.”

Howie Held raised his prices after his most recent hair show, proving that sharing educational experiences with clients goes a long way.


Howie Held

A Tamara Dahill Salon

Toluca Lake, California

Favorite class/education: American Board of Certified Haircolorists Summit

Favorite online education: I prefer DVDs—DJ Muldoon and Douglas Martucci—because they are longer and more detailed:

Best advice I ever got: Always follow-up with clients after they leave the salon to be sure they are happy with their new look.

Favorite color technique: Instead of two  colors, I give my clients three or four; they notice the difference. I also use a high-lift product to bump-up previously lightened hair. It doesn’t lift artificial color, but it adjusts the tone a bit and adds dimension.

Best use of social media: Yelp. It’s been great for building clients. I learned in a class not to ask for reviews, because an organic review is more genuine.

Biggest challenge I overcame: Starting without a clientele. Luckily, I began on  commission, but I had to build by marketing myself locally.

On taking credit cards: I use PayPal, because they have a business debit card that the money goes to right away. I use that for product expenses and work travel.

Greatest money saving tip: Invest in your business, focus on building it and the money will come.

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