Salon partnerships with medical professionals are like marriages, Crystal Allen explains. Both are working together for the betterment of their client. Allen owns Full Circle Hair Restoration Clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and has been in the beauty business for more than 27 years. She often refers her clients to doctors who help them ascertain the best level of hair health possible. Stylists and medical professionals are the perfect combination: doctors can prescribe a routine treatment, and stylists can deliver that treatment and make the existing hair and new hair look its best.
As a growing majority of Americans are experiencing hair loss or thinning, it is imperative that salons adapt to meet client needs. Keeping clients in your chair means shifting your services to keep up with what’s affecting clients, whether they’re talking about it or not.
Hair loss is a personal, and often emotional, issue. Society glorifies hair and creates a standard for what beautiful hair is: long, voluminous, luxurious. The truths are that many people are experiencing hair thinning or loss—and that Photoshop is a hell of a drug.
Talking about hair loss can be embarrassing for clients, so salon owner Frank Rizzieri of Rizzieri Salon and Spas suggests finding a private space in your salon to have discussions with clients. If no such space exists, get creative with your hours.
“Do it on a day that your salon is closed,” Rizzieri says.
Rizzieri owns salons in three states with his flagship in New Jersey, a 14,000-square-foot space including a salon, spa, medical spa, barber shop, textured hair salon and more. He knew that he needed to begin partnering with medical professionals in order to maintain his client base.
“I’d rather see them stay in my footprint than venture out somewhere else,” he says.
Rizzieri began by interviewing doctors, and he talked to 15 before he found the right one.
“Doctors have to have the same philosophy as you,” he says. Rizzieri wanted to feel assured that his clients were getting the highest level of care from the doctors he would refer them to. Through these conversations, Rizzieri was able to find medical professionals whom he connected with personally and could assure him that the health of his client is their priority—not the dollar signs.
Dr. Nikki Hill recommends an initial meeting be face-to-face. Hill is a board-certified dermatologist who has specialized in hair-loss disorders for more than six years. She owns her Skin of Culture and Hair Center in Tucker, Georgia. Hill notes that it’s imperative to ensure that both parties’ personalities and goals mesh.
“It’s just as important for stylists to select dermatologists as it is for dermatologists to select stylists,” Hill says. “It’s an extension of your business and philosophy.”
Hill says clients are putting a lot of trust in their stylist when the stylist refers them to a doctor. She takes the responsibility seriously, and she treats her partnerships with stylists like they are a team. It’s all about keeping open communication between the two in order to best care for the client.
When it comes to stylists finding their perfect physician partner, asking questions is a good thing. Dr. Alan Bauman, a board-certified hair-restoration physician, feels comforted knowing that stylists he partners with come to him with questions about treatment options and how they can help with the process. He also avidly seeks out stylists who are willing to learn.
Bauman has owned Bauman Medical Group since 1997 when he began practicing in his Boca Raton, Florida, facility. Since then, he says he’s served more than 20,000 patients. Bauman recognizes the importance of doctors partnering with stylists to deliver quality care to their clients.
“I see the stylist and salon as the first line of defense for people who are experiencing hair loss,” he says. He firmly believes in education for both stylists and doctors, which is why he created the Certified HairCoach Program. This program brings together stylists and doctors to educate them on hair loss and treatment.
Many doctors know that their careful analysis and diagnosis isn’t necessarily the solution to some hair-loss or thinning issues. Although a doctor can identify the root cause of a patient’s hair concerns, they rely heavily on salon professionals to execute their prescribed treatment. Stylists see their clients far more often than the doctor typically would, which means stylists can keep a closer watch on the progress and re-growth or strengthening of their client’s hair.
Doctors work directly with stylists to recommend a treatment plan for their clients. The clients will continue visiting the stylist while they implement the prescribed treatment, allowing clients to stay with their stylist longer and truly experience the positive change that can occur when a medical professional assists with the treatment process.
Often times, a treatment plan involves repeated visits to the stylist. Not only will this keep clients in stylists’ chairs longer, but if stylists execute the treatment correctly, they can earn life-long trust, appreciation and loyalty from their clients.
Dermatologists, hair-restoration physicians and other types of medical professionals spend years studying hair growth and health. Professionals like Bauman and Hill have personal connections to their practice.
Bauman recalls growing up as a teenager and watching his father lose his hair and the challenges that came along with that. Hill personally experienced significant hair loss due to the stress of medical residency, which is when she realized that knowledge of scalp disorders is uncommon among physicians.
It takes individuals like Bauman and Hill to begin forming a niche among medical professionals who understand hair loss.
“There are only about a thousand doctors in the world that do hair transplants,” Bauman says. And he estimates that just 10% of those doctors are certified through the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery.
Medical professionals have the knowledge and training to identify the problem and prescribe the best treatment for the patient, yet a patient’s concerns aren’t solely with their physical appearance.
“Hair loss is a visible problem with deep psychological effects,” Bauman says. He mentions that many stylists tip-toe around conversations with clients about hair loss because they’re unsure how to navigate it. His HairCoach program trains stylists how to have these conversations in a gentle and supportive way that will allow clients to feel comfortable with the services they will receive.
LET'S NOT MAKE A DEAL
Bauman says a big turnoff for physicians looking to partner with stylists would be if it were only about the money and pushing products—and vice versa.
Rizzieri agrees; he is keenly aware when fellow stylists are exclusively in it for the money.
“How about we just talk about helping somebody out?” Rizzieri says. He encourages stylists to remember that their clients are at the core of their business.
Allen sees red flags when doctors aren’t asking her clients enough questions to get to the root of the problem. She observes that some doctors shuffle clients through quickly and just treat symptoms instead of digging deeper for a diagnosis; this can ultimately cause the client to lose trust in the stylist who referred them.
Above all, both stylists and doctors encourage starting an open conversation with one another to ensure that the partnership will be mutually beneficial.
In the end, your client is at the heart of everyone’s work. The best stylists and physicians care for their clients and want to help them feel beautiful again. Hair quality impacts a client's self-esteem, and being able to offer both a diagnosis and treatment plan for hair loss can be life-changing. Consider partnering your salon with a local medical professional to keep clients in your chair and to grow their confidence.