Management Practices

Take Ownership for How Busy You Are

Antony Whitaker | May 1, 2014 | 6:56 PM

Take Ownership for How Busy You AreHow often do you hear hairdressers moaning and blaming their bosses about being quiet? Yeah, I know – all the time. But salons are collections of individuals. Every hairdressers is ‘the business’ – and you are all individually responsible for attracting new clients.

Most successful salon owners will agree that, regardless of advertising, around 70 per cent of new clients come from referrals from existing clients. So how do you get your existing clients to wax lyrical about your hairdressing? You could try asking.

When I was still a salon owner, a young man – let’s call him Sam – applied for a job in my salon. I wasn’t looking for anyone new but something about him impressed me so I offered him a temporary position over November and December, and told him if he built up a clientele then I would consider taking him on permanently.

About a month after he started, my receptionist made a chance remark that she had never had so many requests for a new stylist as she was getting for Sam. My curiosity piqued, the next time I had a spare five minutes I watched young Sam.

He cut hair well, but then so did everyone else in the salon. He looked good, but nothing out of the ordinary. He made sure the client had a good experience, but that was the culture throughout the salon. And then I saw it. It was so simple that I’d missed it initially. He asked for referrals. Every single time.

When he finished a client, after asking how she liked her hair, he walked her to the reception and as he did he said: ‘I’m so glad you’re happy with your hair today. If you have any friends, family or colleagues who need their hair cut, I would love to look after them for you. In fact, I am going to give you a couple of cards with my name on them and I’d really appreciate it if you gave them out.’

What was spectacular about Sam was that he did this with every single client. And he continued to do so for the whole time he worked with me, even after he had become the busiest stylist in the salon.

He took responsibility for his own column and he worked hard to drive up his clientele, and you can do the same. Make sure your client remembers your name. Give her a card with your name on it. If your salon has a refer-a-friend programme, make sure you show it to your client. Actively and positively ask them to talk you up to their friends. Then you, too, could be like Sam and be the busiest stylist in the salon.

Antony Whitaker is the ultimate educator and motivator, with a worldwide reputation based on more than 30 years’ experience in the hairdressing industry. An award-winning stylist-turned-educator, business coach and best-selling author, he has taken his message on management, money, marketing, team-building and retailing to more than 250,000 hairdressers in 40-plus countries. His latest book, GROW 3: TEAM, the next instalment in his GROW series, has just been published and is available online at You can also sign up for his regular free newsletter packed full of tips, hints and lessons on how to run a successful, profitable business.

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