During times of uncertainty, you must remain relevant; the worst thing you can do right now is go off the radar. If you haven't reached out to your clients already, do so today. Fortunately, social media and the internet make the task speedy and effective.
Base your communication on the fact that you and your clients are there for each other—you go way back. Anyone who believes a client comes to you because you mix stuff in a bottle, lives in a cave. People bond to people, not to bottles —yes, you do a great job; but what lasts is how you make your client's feel. Your customer service, listening skills and sense of humor are the biggest reward and takeaway for a client from any salon visit. Based on this give-and-take relationship, you now reach out to address issues together.
Three beauty issues top the list of client concerns: haircolor, social distancing, and money. These are the key topics for effective communication with your clients right about now. So, here is a quickie action plan for you to consider:
VIDEO: I chatted about the Virtual Consultation with MODERN SALON's Anne Moratto on Tuesday, April 14.
- Contact all ( I mean all) your clients: by email, phone, text, social media or live. Clients really want to talk to you—so email and text are a bit more impersonal unless you offer by text/email to set up a time for an online consultation on FaceTime or Zoom.
- Ask your client you about their wellbeing, then hit these points:
- Update them on your professional situation--you applied for unemployment, you haven't heard back, you are taking online courses, you are learning new techniques, selling cookies—whatever.
- Listen to the client's needs. (get to this topic soon because you will be doing lots of these) Your first professional responsibility is to your clients. Listen to your client's needs and do what you must. They will never go gray, no matter which celebrity is promoting it, —they would rather move to another planet. So, you either help them out or they will find someone who will—and, this could be a drugstore salesclerk. Discuss with them a few home color options:
a) Brush on color/makeup: offer an online site to purchase
b) Temporary color: you may need to brush up on a few names.
c) Demi-permanent/permanent colors available over the counter. Don't hate me, but at least they will come close to their color level with your help.
I visited a drugstore to familiarize myself with available options ;-(
d) Sell a home-color kit. You will need bottles, containers for liquids. I am passing on this one.
A word of caution: if you do it for one client, you do it for everyone. Imagine a client who honored your privacy by not bugging you, she then colors her hair and it turns out terrible, later she finds out you were offering color consultations and she wasn't in the loop. Oops.
Your clients have been practicing distancing for weeks now. It takes twenty-one days to create a habit—social distancing is imbedded in your client's mind. Don't you think they worry about this when they think of how close we work in salons? Yes.
So, begin to address this issue by discussing how you envision your new salon station:
- The styling chairs will probably be six feet apart
- Your station will be very clean and clutter-free to avoid having to sanitize multiple touch items.
- You will be wearing gloves, face mask, and offer a sanitized version to your clients.
- You are certifying yourself on the latest disinfectant procedures www.barbicide.com/certification
- There will be abundant sanitizer, wipes, and the station will be thoroughly wiped down between each client
- You will find a way to sanitize and wrap your combs, brushes, tools and break them open in full sight of the client.
One final consideration: you may need to book clients a bit more spaced apart due to sanitation before and after each client. You may also consider a price increase or sanitation fee. You may consider working fewer but longer days and create a side hustle.
We all expect a rush of clients when we do open our salon doors, however, keep in mind that many of our clients, just like us, will initially be on a budget. The high-end salon will experience few losses because this client was minimally affected during the pandemic. The market-priced salon (the vast majority) will see the greatest number of clients with money issues. It's key to address this upfront, otherwise, these clients might consider the economy route, at least initially. To circumvent this possibility, during your online consultation, offer to "work with them" (you didn't say free) if their first visit is financially challenging. I personally never discounted my services. I gave it away or did a value-added service such as a "gift with purchase" ---free cut with highlights, free product with a cut/color, etc.
Move quickly on the three big topics that are bugging both you and your clients. Rise to the occasion and address them in the best way possible given what you have to work with. It's not the best solution, the most professional and perhaps goes against everything you believe; however, these are times we also don't believe, these are not normal times. Don't stress yourself trying to come up with the "right" solution, instead, work with poor choices to make them better—that's what counts right now. Survivors are those who overcome bad choices.
Put your creativity on overdrive for solutions.
You got this.
Carlos Valenzuela is a hairdresser, educator, ex-salon & school owner. His focus is guiding salon professionals to a more fulfilling career & lifestyle. @carvale19
Read more from Carlos Valenzuela on MODERNSALON.com
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