Being a Successful Barber or Hairstylist Isn’t Easy. . .

By: Liz Kline 

Being successful in the hair industry isn’t as easy as rebooking a client or offering discounts to get people in the door. It takes time, work, dedication, the ability to form long-lasting relationships, and so much more. We must adopt skills and tailor our artwork to our clients’ needs. This all takes time. For some it may come quickly, and for others it can take years. On average, it can take 12 months to build a profitable clientele, and up to 24 months—if not longer—to build the ideal client base. Additionally, honing in on your interpersonal skills can make or break your success. Here are some tips on how you can continue to grow your success. 


Being in the loop with trends and new and exciting techniques to boost your service sales can help tremendously in the long run. Clients grow stale with their looks just like you can grow stale with doing the same ol’ same ol’. Attending a trade show or a class to help inspire you with new tools, techniques or even new services can make you comfortable with growing your business. Own a salon? Part of your success is the skill level of your employees. A perk for stylists to come work for you is also having continuing education as a requirement in your establishment. To get the most up-to-date information about trade shows and events, visit 


Social media can create awareness. Are you using social media to display your work? Are you using a social media platform to communicate with potential clients? In this industry, we need to be visual. We can talk about our skills all day long, but until someone can see what we do or see a testimonial from someone, they take a gamble when coming to us—if they come to us at all. If you are not already using Instagram, I encourage you to use it. Many people go on Instagram and search “haircut” or “balayage,” and the results yield pictures, locations, and business names. Make yours stand out; your hashtag, business name, and location can help drum up business you may not have otherwise gotten. If you have testimonials you can share, even better! Remember, using different platforms will help diversify the audience you reach.  


Booking out extra time with your guest can solidify a long-term relationship. This goes for new and loyal clients. Booking out extra time to go over some new ideas of trends you’ve seen with a return client or spending ample time with a new guest will help build that relationship and trust. Did you just attend a class about a new style or cut that you know would suit one of your clients perfectly? Book out an extra 15 minutes with them next time they come in so you can show them and have a conversation about trying something new. It will also show them you were thinking about them and keeping their best interest at the forefront of your mind. 

Stop and look around. We get used to seeing the same things every day: where we place things on our station, how we position our products on the shelves, etc. But have you really taken a step back to examine what your clients may see? Taking a few minutes or a block of time to really look at your business from a client’s perspective can make all the difference. When a client comes in, do they see a pile of hair on the floor? Dusty shelves and product bottles? The same decoration or sale sign that doesn’t change? Keeping your environment fresh and clean is exciting for your clients when they come to see you.  


Be consistent and make appointments comfortable. There is nothing worse than walking into a place of business and not feeling welcomed. Or worse, maybe you are running errands only to find out the place you wanted to go to isn’t open—when the business hours on their website said otherwise. Don’t be that person. Open on time every day. If your business hours say you open at 9 a.m., then open your doors at 9 a.m. Same goes for closing time. However, if there is a last-minute customer who comes in, and you can honor their request, then do so. You may get a long-term loyal client out of the deal. Plus, in some cases, you may receive a nice tip. This brings me to my next point: making it comfortable. Having light, upbeat conversations with your clients will help them feel comfortable, especially any last-minute clients who walk in. Don’t smirk, make a face, or intentionally project body language that is off-putting. Word about a negative experience will spread quicker than a positive one. Some guests who come into the salon or shop already feel out of place. Make them feel like they have just walked into a family gathering. Welcome them, laugh (when appropriate), smile, converse, and use effective listening techniques.  


There are many ways to be more successful. Using tangible techniques will help get you started in the right direction of building your business. For more useful tools to help advance your career and knowledge, join AHP if you’re not already a member. We have education at your fingertips with our video library, our AHP Indie Stylist Magazine, Blogs and more at  

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