When it comes to the casual dialog between client and stylist, the topic often is up for grabs. But when conversation focuses on rising gas prices, low job rates, the housing slump and the banking crisis, stylists may be doing themselves a disservice. By focusing on the dire economic news, they may be raising client stress and chasing away the day’s service and retail sales.

To illustrate this point to staff, try sharing the following anecdote that Larry Kopsa, partner with Kopsa Otte CPA, picked up from his economics professor during his sophomore year:

 “In a small town, there was a man who owned a factory. He had always wanted his portrait painted and told himself when that one day when he had enough money he would. When the factory was profitable and enjoying a moderate success, the owner interviewed and selected an artist, celebrating his decision with a nice dinner at local restaurant.

“Just after ordering a steak and a bottle of wine, the factory owner glanced down at a newspaper lying on the floor. The headline read, ‘Big Recession Coming, Save Money No.’ Concerned, the owner beckoned his waiter, telling him there’s a recession coming so he’ll change his order to a sandwich and a glass of water. The restaurant owner overhears the cancelled order, and goes to the backroom to call his winemaker. He tells the winemaker that there’s a recession coming and it’s already impacting his business. He decides to cut back on his order. Panicking, the winemaker calls his bottler, warns him about the recession, and drastically reduces the number of bottles he’s ordering for the following year. Subsequently, the bottlemaker calls the artist and tells him he won’t be ordering any more labels so his artistic services no longer will be needed.

Feeling dejected, the artist goes down to the restaurant and orders a glass of wine. There picks up an old newspaper on. Warning of a pending recession, the old paper is dated from 1932.”

“One of the things I tell salon clients is that misery loves company, but you have to stop. Don’t talk about negative things at the chair,” warns Kopsa. “When you talk about the high price of gas to the client in the chair, you’ve just talked her out of that bottle of shampoo. It’s so important to keep that conversation positive, and focused on beauty trends, retail products and her own personal beauty needs.

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