Expert Advice

Who Does Your Hair?

Heather Ward Kepshire | March 5, 2015 | 2:19 PM
Heather Ward Kepshire

Let’s play a game: First, think about the number of years you have been working as a stylist in a salon.
Second, think about the number of years it’s been since you had your hair done in a salon- Wait, not so fast… Not in the salon you were employed by.
If the number of years are the same, you may be committing the same big mistake the majority of hairstylists make: Once we are in this industry, we no longer have a stylist of our own.
It begs the question: Why do we spend our careers counting on clients to value our industry, but then forget to keep valuing it ourselves?

Hairstylists Don’t Have Hairstylists
The average stylist never schedules appointments for their hair. We usually get it done when we have a free minute at work, and when one of our co-workers has a free minute too. Or we coordinate to come in on a day off. Or worse still, we sometimes take matters into their own hands. Regardless, most stylists (especially seasoned ones) actually grow to hate having their hair done. Getting our hair done is not the greatest experience, on the contrary, it’s quite an awful one because it’s rushed and inconvenient. So, why is this actually important? Why should you, a hairstylist, set up a appointment and go get your hair done in a salon like a normal client?

The Answer May Surprise You
The reason hairstylists should have hairstylists has nothing to do with neglecting yourself, or walking the streets looking like a gutter rat. Instead it has everything to do with feeling the “customer experience”.
As a group, we spend our careers exposing ourselves to new techniques, and mastering our craft, but we never make a real effort to hone our customer service skills. We spend years working under the assumption we know how to treat and talk to our clients, because it seems to be working for us. But what if we’ve been missing the mark?

Think about it. Let’s say it’s been 5 years since you’ve had a proper appointment to get your hair done in a salon. If you are no longer sitting in a styling chair as a client, how on earth are you checking to see if your own chairside manner is keeping in the spirit with how you’d like to be treated? Or at least up to par with your industry peers? Without the actual experience you could be working with a handicap and missing out on a huge component of your job.

As we already know, the customer experience pertains to the details that have beendrilled into us:

Greeting… Shampooing… Draping… Up Selling… Cutting…Coloring… Styling… Retailing… Paying… Rebooking… Thank You Cards.

But when the roles are switched, and you take time to be a client again you’ll actually gain some additional insight.

What You’ll Learn When You’re A Client
This is what you haven’t been taught in a class because it’s subjective to who you are:
• What am I willing to pay extra money for?
• How do I like to be sold product?
• What will keep me coming back to this stylist?
• Is there anything I am pleasantly surprised by during my service?
• Did I learn something?
• What worked? What didn’t?
• Did I rebook? Why?

The more you become a client, the better you will be with yours. Regardless of whether the experience is good, bad, or indifferent, this exercise will bring you one step closer to relating with your own clients.

The Common Misconceptions
Misconception #1: Going to get a facial, a massage, a manicure (any other beauty service that’s not hair) will teach you the same lessons about the customer experience.
Actually, no. It’s like apples and oranges. Having other salon services will give you a general feel for what succeeds and fails in the service industry. But having a hair appointment, a service you do day to day on your clients, will give you specific feedback by showcasing the skills you currently use, and maybe some you never thought to use. Nothing will deliver this information in a more clearer, comparable, easy to digest way.
Misconception #2: I can’t go to another salon because I don’t have the time, the money, the patience, or some other excuse, to have another stylist do my hair. You should really think about it and evaluate your priorities. Just like many of us come in on our days off to attend classes, and some of us fly across the country to learn something new, why should this be any different? This is education. Something as simple as booking a blowout with another stylist will help you develop your personal approach to relating to your clients. This is important, time to treat it as such.
Misconception #3: My currently salon has a policy against getting hair services done by “competing” salons. If the salon you currently work for has made you sign a contract containing a policy against getting your hair serviced by anyone but them, that’s a shame. A policy like that is exactly why so many of us are compelled to compete with each other instead of collaborate. Those outdated views and restrictions are the core of the divide in this industry. It would be good to self-reflect and think about why you signed that contract in the first place. The whole point of this exercise is to become self-aware and learn from each other. Learning from your peers is how you get better. And your peers aren’t just the people that work in the chair next to you, it’s estimated there are about 700,000 hair stylists and barbers in the US… those are your peers too. That’s a huge pool of talented people to start learning from. So, one more time, why is this actually important? If this industry is indeed your passion, you need to make yourself available to learning. Throughout your whole
career. In every possible aspect. There is always room to improve. Now would be a good time book that appointment.

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