Training the Perfect Client
As unique hair professionals with diversified talents, interests, and work preferences, we don’t all share the same definition of an “ideal client.” Samantha may enjoy religious, grey-coverage clients as an ideal, while Sam gets giddy over vivid rainbows. However, what all hair professionals can agree upon is the “perfect client.”
The perfect client shows up for their appointments on time, has realistic expectations, and an appreciation for our professional recommendations. They purchase home-care products and prebook their maintenance appointment. Talk about a unicorn! Ideal clients can be gained through strategic marketing, but perfect clients are trained by our professionalism behind the chair. If your clients are less than perfect, take a look at your own behavior. Clients are trained by what they experience in the salon.
1. SHOWING UP ON TIME.
If you’re always running late, don’t be surprised when your clients begin showing up late. Why would they make extra effort to be on time when they know from experience that they’ll most likely have to wait for you to finish the client ahead of them? When you’re not on time for your clients, you forfeit any right to ever mention their tardiness or, heaven forbid, have repercussions for tardiness when it inconveniences your schedule. It’s really just tit-for-tat.
2. HAVING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS AND TAKING RECOMMENDATIONS.
Clients with unrealistic expectations for their hair are simply ignorant. I mean that in the purest way possible; they simply have not been educated about the science of hair and service processes. What are you doing to share your education and expertise? Obviously, educating clients during the consultation and discussing our process throughout the service are huge. But establishing credibility and educating clients is a process. Try blogging, sharing informational social media posts, creating tutorials, sending out a client newsletter, submitting press releases to your town paper, or educating at a local event. All of these methods help to get good education out to consumers, establish your expertise, heighten value in the services you provide, and add weight behind your recommendations for clients.
3. PURCHASING HOME CARE.
Be honest: are you guilty of expecting your clients to purchase homecare products from you when you haven’t even “prescribed” anything? Prescribing and offering are very different. Doctors prescribe products they believe are necessary to fix a patient’s ailments. They tell you what you need, why you need it, what it will do, and exactly how to use it. Prescribing is not a pushy sales pitch that turns people off; it is a service. Someone only turns down a doctor’s prescription if they truly cannot afford it, already have some of the exact prescription at home, or are completely homeopathic. It is now commonplace and expected that a doctor’s visit will result in a helpful prescription, and this end result is often why someone sees a doctor in the first place. Simply throwing out, “Do you need any products today?” does very little, if anything, to train clients to purchase home care from you like they do from big pharma.
4. PREBOOKING FOLLOWUP APPOINTMENTS.
We are in a service industry, so some accommodations should be made in order to provide excellent service to our clients. However, if you are bending over backward and working extra hours at the expense of your family or your health to squeeze in the same clients who don’t take prebooking seriously (but continuously text you at 9 p.m. needing to get their hair done the following day), that’s no longer “good service.” That is enabling bad client behavior at your own expense. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, that’s a hard “no.” Make sense? Quit enabling and start training so clients get in the habit of prebooking as a perfect client would.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re still working to build a full book, quit being so available. Every time a hair professional posts, for the seventh time in a week, that they have openings in their book, a pair of shears dies! No, but really, how do you expect your clients to learn that it’s important to prebook their appointments when you’re constantly promoting to social media that anyone can get in whenever they please? There’s no demand there. Prebooking clients helps increase their frequency of visits, filling in those gaps in your schedule. Promote yourself without diminishing the implicit demand for your services so clients are trained to prebook.
How you conduct your business, speak to clients, and carry yourself behind the chair directly affects how clients respond to you. If you want the unicorn, that perfect client, some training is necessary. Before you get the urge to fire every client in your book, evaluate your own behavior (which is really the only thing you can control). Ideal clients can be gained through strategic marketing, but perfect clients are trained by our professionalism behind the chair.
Consultations & Communication
This book will touch on consultations (of course), keeping client records, saying no, and even some of the ways we’re inadvertently communicating to clients that it’s okay to be a “bad” client. Enjoy these articles, but then make sure to get to your local AHP Root gathering for real talk with fellow hair professionals about their consultation and communication best practices, and maybe even some shared camaraderie over client communication frustrations.