Keeping Chairside Conversations ProfessionalAs the salon owner and manager, it's your responsibility to offer your staff members advice that helps them grow their own business. In preparation for our upcoming March 2012 Drama Issue, we interviewed Lauren Gartland, the founder of Inspiring Champions, a coaching and consulting company for salon and spa professionals. During that interview, Gartland talked about the importance of using professional, positive conversation to build a lasting connection to a client. We thought it was an excellent point to share with your staff at your next salon meeting.

SALON TODAY: How do stylists, estheticians and other service providers keep their conversations professional and focused on the client?

Lauren Gartland: "It’s a fact that people love doing business with professionals, however I have found that most successful technicians in our industry are not the most technically skilled, but they are the BEST at building long-term relationships and creating an experience so extraordinary that the client can’t wait to come back and tell everyone they know about you. To achieve this, you have to make it a top priority to talk less about you and be curious and interested in the client. People love talking about themselves. Things people enjoy talking about are their hobbies and interests, their kids, pets and career. Ask open-ended questions that being with What, When, Where, Why and How—these demand a response other than “Yes” or “No.”

"For example, you could ask: “What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working? Where is your favorite place to travel and why? If you could travel anywhere, where would you most want to go and when? What do you love most about your career? What do you love most about being a parent? How did you decide on your children’s or pet’s name? What’s one goal you most want to achieve this year?

"These kinds of questions are powerful and will help you build a connection to a client. Document important details they bring up such as vacations they are going on, parties they are hosting or attending, special events they are going to, or upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. Write it down, and ask them about it they next time they come in for their service. It will WOW them that you remembered!

"Unfortunately, too many service providers love to talk too much and normally about themselves and about things they should not be sharing in a professional setting. I once had a personal trainer that was great, but he told me so many things about his personal relationships that it became uncomfortable for me to work with him. I ended up finding someone else.

"Always strive to keep the conversation positive. If you have a negative Ned or Nellie in your chair who complains or talks about issues that are uncomfortable for you or other clients within earshot, you must take control of the conversation and turn it around. Otherwise, it can drain and deplete you. Politely interrupt them and say: “Thank you for feeling comfortable enough to share this with me, however I am currently fasting from these types of conversations. Can you share with me the best thing that happened to you today or the greatest thing that is going on in your life. Change the subject something you know they enjoy.

"Be credible, honest and respectful and people will want to do business with you for life."

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