Industry News

Why Not DIY Hair?

Patrick McIvor | July 23, 2014 | 2:30 PM
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Our industry is under assault on lots of different fronts, from licensing issues, to at home haircolor, and today even "electronic" salon options, all saying to our industry we are not important enough or professional enough to need a license to perform our trade, and on some levels suggesting that people can do what we do at home. Why? What makes a guest think, "I can do this myself," or worse, what makes politicians in 17 states think a license is not needed to be a salon professional?

I was painting our lake house this weekend as these thoughts started to run through my head and as I was up on a ladder painting 20+ feet up in the air on my house, the irony hit me. How many of us as hairdressers DIY? I know I have laid out three out of four of my salons and not hired an architect. I have prescribed over the counter medicine that used to be prescription only for myself, I've done some plumbing, electrical, worked on my car and landscaped my property. We as hairdressers complain about our profession being taken away from us, but we also may be taking away other people's professions too, most that also require licenses. But WHY, why do people want to DIY? Then in the middle of my thoughts something on the radio caught my attention.

I was listening to a report on the restaurant industry and it caught my attention when the report said that the worst place to be right now in business is at the lower end of casual dining, because with $10 "all you can eat’" deals now, it's a race to the bottom, verses hi-end restaurants which are exploding and profitable. The challenge is the same, when you lose the experience, it becomes a lot harder to hold onto business and then it becomes more about the money.

Why are "all you can eat" appetizers $10? Because the only difference between you and your experience and your competition and their experience is money, and if the money/cost is the same, one of the only ways to be better is to be cheaper. Instead of having better, the lower cost tries to win with an even lower cost, not a great plan for independent salon owners. What's the difference between a restaurant that has $10 "all you can eat" and the best restaurant in town? The experience. At the best restaurant in town, you can make a reservation for two, not just for large parties, and the menu changes daily, not a menu that is lamented to last at least a few months, if not a year. The experience at the best restaurant is the food and the service, where as the experience at the ‘all you can eat’ is the price and quantity.

So, what about the guest that wants to color their hair at home or the salon across the street that is offering haircuts for less than a pound of coffee? I started to think about why I prescribed my own medicine…maybe because I was tired of sitting in doctors offices for hours waiting when I had an appointment an hour ago (the experience). Why did I want to paint my house and do construction work? The experience. We were tired of meeting with contractors that didn't get back with estimates or didn't have pictures to show us of comparable work they had done (showing they have experience).

We need to realize the same goes for us! There is a difference between having your "roots done" and having your hair colored, the difference is the experience. There's a difference between getting a haircut and having your haircut, the difference is the experience. Having your "roots done" is maintenance and at best it will be the same as last time. But having your hair colored is an experience! And, at the hands of a trained salon professional, the haircolor experience can open up a world of beautiful possibilities that can transform the guest. Professional salon haircolor makes people walk differently- stand taller, feel sexier and have more confidence, as a salon professional WE have all done this standing behind our chairs. At best, the DIY experience is looking in the mirror to make sure the DIY results aren't bad.

So what keeps me from DIY’ing?

1. I like what I see. Make sure your work is easy to find and search. Use Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

2. Show good cost to value. Salon guests either think we are the best or the best for the price. Use reviews, ratings, awards, show events and education to show value.

3. Be timely. Don't make them wait and use technology. For this I love salon software systems, I use STX, and customize appointments and timings, because there is a difference when I can glaze with an express option using Goldwell Colorance Express. With a five minute processing time, using advanced technologies can save the guest time without sacrificing wearability on even the most delicate blondes…and scheduled correctly with salon software, we might be able to add another guest.

4. Make it an experience they want to share. Today, if you’re not rising to the top, your fighting to stay off the bottom, and it is the experience that is the difference between choosing me, you, another salon professional or DIY. There's only one way to cut hair...and that's off.

There's only four things that we can do with haircolor...we can make it lighter, darker, warmer or cooler, and in the hands of a true salon professional, those 4 things are the beginning of endless, magically, beautiful experiences.

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