Do you want to build a large and faithful group of clients for your hair salon?

Some hairdressers wonder why they lose clients, or why they can’t seem to grow their business.

Although there are many reasons women leave relationships, there are only a few main reasons why women leave (or don’t return) to a hairdresser.

If you know what a woman wants from her hairdresser, she will be a loyal client for years to come and will refer all her friends.

Follow these tips to do your best work, keep your salon clients happy, and keep them coming back for more.

Your hair client will tell you what she wants

How to listen to your hair salon clients

You may be an expert in hair styling, but the only person who is an ‘expert’ in a particular head of hair is the woman (or man) who wears it.

Listen to what your client tells you about her hair, and believe her. You may have been taught in stylist school that a certain cut or blow-dry angle will produce specific results. But the person sitting in your chair knows how her hair behaves, and it may not fit the cookie-cutter mold you were taught.

Few things are more annoying to a hair client than having a hairdresser tell them they’re wrong when they try to (helpfully) let you know the tricks and stubborn behaviors of their own hair.

Not all fine hair is the same, not all curly hair behaves the same, and one person’s straight hair may not respond the way others do.

Similarly, color formulas aren’t one-size-fits-all. If your client tells you her hair goes red, believe her. If she says she has a lot of breakage (or feels like she’s ‘losing her hair,’) take care when timing the color processing so you don’t make matters worse.

If your client asks for a certain style or cut, you can suggest some new ideas, but don’t overrule her. I once asked for a certain style, and the hairstylist overruled me and said she didn’t want to do that; I let her push me around, but I regret I didn’t have my hair styled the way I wanted it for that particular event.

Perhaps your client isn’t explaining herself in a way you understand (she hasn’t learned the lingo you know, remember?). Take a few minutes to make certain you heard her correctly.

Phrase her statement back to her in slightly different words. For example, if she says she wants more streaks in her hair, ask her, “Are you saying you prefer the highlights in your hair to be more distinct?” That one question can tell you if she wants her streaks to stand out more (“chunky”) rather than being blended, or if she’s asking you to make her hair lighter all over. There’s a big difference in those two things.

A few minutes of close listening can ensure good results when she leaves the salon, and a return visit the next time she needs a cut and color.

Get the best hair-cutting shears you can afford

Why are good scissors important to a hair stylist?

You will be cutting hair all day long, five or more days a week. Your salon scissors will get a workout far more than other shears you might own (you know, those things you pull out from the kitchen drawer to open a package of chips?). Your scissors need to hold up to the constant workout.

You will be cutting every imaginable type of hair, and you’ll be angling the cut of the style in various ways. You can’t afford to use scissors that don’t leave a good cut.

Good hair shears hold up for many years; they can be sharpened repeatedly, repaired, and kept in great shape. They’re an investment in your career.

There are many great brands to choose from yes, you might get sticker shock when you spring for a leading manufacturer, but when you find a brand you like, you’ll be happy with the investment.

Kamisori Emerald is a good choice, as is their entire line of hair scissors. There are various lengths to choose from, depending on how large your cutting hand is or how you hold your shears when you cut hair.

If you’re left-handed, you’ll find Kamisori shears designed to accommodate that as well.

Other great brands include AuPolus, Feng Chun, Shark Fin, and Kenchii. All good brands of hair shears have scissors for lefties or righties, and offer choices in the lengths and angles of the blades.

You’ll also want to find a good blowdryer, the best brushes and combs, and a flatiron that you feel comfortable using on all types of hair.

Good hairdressers sell themselves, not hair products

Women want to believe they can buy the styling products you used and get the same great results you just gave them when they go home, but try to avoid pushing products that they really may not need.

Ask your client what products she still has at home before telling her she will magically reproduce your skills if she only buys a tube of this or a bottle of that. Respect her budget, and offer suggestions on how she can use up one of the zillion bottles she has in her cabinet before investing in yet more of the stuff.

Tell her to bring in the products so you can give her tips on using them – this personalized service will go a long way to building trust and loyalty.

Most woman have dozens of jars, tubes and bottles of unused or partially used hair products; they really don’t need to buy more goop, but they do need some guidance on how to get the best results with what they have on hand.

Excellent hairstyling service starts at the appointment desk

How to improve your service to salon hair clients

It’s common practice for hairstylists to book clients on top of other appointments and try to work in a cut or blow-dry while another client’s hair is color-processing.

This can work, but it can also backfire. If you leave clients under the dryer (heat processing) as a babysitter while you are doing cuts for other clients, you’re probably overusing the dryer and damaging her hair.

If your client tells you she has breakage and worries about the heat, honor that concern and don’t put her under the dryer to process. Sure, this means you may have to attend to her sooner than you planned, but, after all, she is paying you for your service, isn’t she?

Don’t engage in conversations with others while you’re cutting or applying color to your client. Some hairdressers treat their salon like a party room and allow anyone to interrupt them while they’re working on a client. This is rude, inconsiderate, and sends a message that you don’t respect the person in your chair.

If others try to interrupt you while you’re working, ask them to wait a few minutes so you can finish what you’re doing.

Hair clients don’t like to wait

Monitor your pace and set your appointment book to reflect the amount of time you actually need for each client.

If your clients mention they’ve had to wait, it’s a sign you may be overbooking or getting distracted while you work. Listen to the clients and you’ll see where you need to tweak things or adjust the timing of your appointments.

Chances are, your clients took time off from work or family needs to make their appointments, and they may even have paid a babysitter. If you consistently run an hour behind, it costs them money. Respect their time, and they’ll respect yours.

Never, ever, show preference for one client’s time over another. I once saw a hairdresser ask one client (who had arrived early and been waiting patiently) to wait while she took another person who had just arrived. She framed it by saying she could ‘give her better service.’ The hairdresser had arrived late and clearly showed preferential treatment to Client #2, who was a wealthy businesswoman but had just arrived.

The hairdresser lost the business of the first client, and other staff members reported the incident to the salon’s investors.

If there’s been an unavoidable delay, acknowledge it, apologize and offer some small consideration to make up for it. Give her a bottle of product (a few dollars of shampoo or a jar of scented cream may save you hundreds in lost business), or reduce your fee slightly for that day.

Your apology will let her know you care about her as a person, that you realize her time is valuable, and that delays aren’t your normal way of doing business.

Do you charge too much for hairstyling?

Every market and every salon is different, and every stylist can command his or her own fees.

But, the economy and fluctuate, and if your fees are already pretty hefty, don’t raise them needlessly.

Some people have left good hairdressers to whom they have been paying high fees (which makes it appear they don’t mind paying for expensive services) when there’s been an increase. If you raise your fees by $20 and drive off three customers who come in every six weeks, and who refer customers to you, have you made a good business decision? Probably not!

Are you raising fees on someone who tips you well? If she regularly tips $10-$20, she is already paying a higher fee. If she leaves due to an increase, you’ve lost the original fee plus the tip.

Learn the latest hairstyling and coloring techniques

Learn the what is trending in haircuts and styles

A huge issue for many women is when they go to their hairdresser wanting a new color technique or a style that is currently popular, and the hairdresser has not yet learned to do it.

You may have clients who love the same style they’ve had for years (and they could use an update), but don’t assume that the way ‘you’ve always done it’ works for everyone.

Most women will want their color applied with foils rather than a cap, for the obvious reasons that there’s less breakage, less pain, and more flexibility in creating certain effects with the color.

Sure, those courses are expensive, and they may take more time, but they will pay off in making clients happy and in continued business.

You would not want to go to an accountant who was not up on current tax law, so why would you expect your hair clients to go to a stylist who doesn’t know how to keep up with the trends?