Expert Advice

My Return to Working Behind the Chair

Carlos Valenzuela | October 5, 2015 | 12:13 PM

In my forty-plus years as a beauty professional, I have reinvented my beauty career multiple times. Three weeks ago, after more than a six-year absence, I returned to working behind the chair, after all, isn’t it all about the salon? The success of the salon inspires my education and the efforts of manufacturers, publishers, associations and consultants who serve our industry. The salons are the raison d’etre, right? So, how might they be doing? And, how might I do? How tough is it to build a new clientele in today’s market? Stay tuned.

I opted for a salon in a great neighborhood mall, which boasts four additional salons. My return is a challenge with no clientele, me turning seventy, technology a centerpiece, and leasing a station is totally new to me. My exposure as a stylist, salon owner, and educator could be an advantage, but I could also be too set in my ways. One step at a time, I thought, and forged ahead.

I implemented a social media strategy months before my first day in the salon that was helpful in building a bit of a buzz. Unfortunately, most of my “friends” are other beauty professionals or out of towners. For anyone starting out, here are four initial observations:

  1. Social media word mouth and reviews are king. You must get happy clients talking about your work. I am sure someone, somewhere is already writing a book about this.
  2. If word of mouth rules, then your work, and only your work, is what will bring clients in. You need to create and send out as many fabulous cuts, colors and styles as possible. Do not put out work you don’t like to do because that client will send you more of the same.
  3. In order to create great work you must perform powerful consultations. Hairdressing is all about relationships—more often; if something goes wrong it’s in the communication.
  4. There are two types of hairdressers today: One who asks a client what they want and obliges. The other asks a series of insightful questions that result in style options for that client. A style is a compromise between the client’s wishes and the stylist’s talent. The first stylist works faster and has more clients per day, and the second stylist uses up more time and charges more. Which of the two are you?

Powerful consultations result in great styles that bring you more of the same. I really listen and work with a client. The client must buy into the idea of change, yes, but ultimately must believe in your sincerity. One of my stand-by phrases seals the deal “I want to give you a style you can look good every day (thank you, Vidal), it does me no good for you to walk out looking like a million dollars unable to reproduce the style at home.”  This foresight and commitment by you as a stylist has a surprisingly reassuring effect on many clients. Take away concept: do great consultations.

Carlos Valenzuela is an international stylist, trainer and author of iFabulous Salon Success.  Contact: [email protected]






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