We are all marketers, whether we choose to or not, we market ourselves on a daily basis in the salon. Consciously or not, we give a lasting first impression that charts the course of our relationship with each client. Do you know your first impression?
Typically, when I ask this question, I get, “Clients don’t care about my first impression, they just care about their hair.” Even though ongoing clients trust you no matter what, you project an up or down vibe at each encounter. And, how about first-time clients?
We humans are magnificent imitators. You learned hairdressing by imitating, as a child you imitated your parents, later peer groups and mentors. The alpha professionals in your salon influence the behavior, attitude and style of the group, just like big shade covers up small shadows. This means that, if you never think about your first impression, you have left it to others to create it for you. There is at least one alpha stylist in every salon, is he/she establishing your first impression?
Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at the Harvard Business School, has been studying first impressions for more than a decade. She found we make snap judgments about other people based on two primary questions:
~Can I trust this person? ~Can I respect this person's capabilities?
Trust, not skill, is the most important element of creating a first impression. Your client is taking in your first impression in and asking themselves, “Can I trust that this person has good intentions toward me?" and "Is this person capable?"
How can you up the ante on making a good first impression?
- It’s All About Them, not you. Do not overpower with your presence, talk, dress or cologne. You are being paid to perform a service. Looking and acting your best is key in first impressions, however, show an attitude of service, of following directions and wanting to please with a desirable outcome.
- Allow the Client to Speak First. Yes, say hello, welcome the client and pause. Perhaps ask, what are you looking for today?
- Actively Listen, this means concentrating on what the client is really saying, instead of thinking about what your next move.
- Ask Questions, repeat important key points for the client. Allow the client to hear, once more, what she is requesting. Often, I find they change their minds or clarify what they said.
- Find Out much as you can about the client’s grooming habits and lifestyle. Focus the conversation on what they choose to talk about. Maybe nothing—ok, that works also.
- Bring it all together with your fabulous recommendation.
Why revisit your first impression? Because projecting trustworthiness is the reason some stylists are busier than others. Your skill is certainly a factor, but in my lifetime as a stylist, I have seen many professionals who offer just the basics build a huge clientele. You can’t afford to leave your first impression to group dynamics.
Carlos Valenzuela has forty-plus years experience in the beauty education industry as an international consultant, trainer, author and entrepreneur. He holds a Masters in International Management, and originally trained in London, and Chicago with Pivot Point International. Carlos’s educational program, iFabulous Salon Success guides new salon professionals to attaining successful careers in the salon industry.