How to Fill Your ChairsOne of the biggest challenges for newly minted stylists and seasoned veterans alike is filling their time or their chair.  Having a guest in the chair is the only way we are successful as stylists, colorists, nail techs, estheticians or massage techs, so it’s important that we have an action plan to make that happen.  

The first question I always asked someone wanting to work at our salon was “What are you going to do to get busy?”  Too often the response was “Don’t you have a lot of walk-ins?”  This was not at all the answer I wanted to hear.  Or sometimes a newbie would say, “Well, I’ll get busy through word of mouth,”to which I’d respond that they didn’t yet have any clients who are going to talk about them.  What I was looking for was someone who understood that they needed to be proactive.  That’s someone I can work with and teach how to fill his or her chair.

Speaking to both friends and strangers about their hair is one of the best ways to start attracting business for yourself, and how you go about it is important.  Too many times I’ve heard hairdressers start a conversation with something like  “Who does your hair?” while asking in a rather derogatory way.  This is quite simply one of the worst things you can do.  Never -- and I mean never -- put down someone else’s work.  

The approach we used worked very well and I’m happy to share it:  I’d go up to every person I saw and introduce myself by saying  “Hello, my name is Jeff and I work at Hair Etc. Salon and Spa and I just had to tell you your hair has so much potential.” Then I would immediately compliment them by pointing out something I liked.  For instance, I might say, “I love the length of your hair.”  I would then tell them about a haircut and refer to it by name (always name your haircuts).  For example, I’d say, “There’s a haircut called Freedom that would look amazing on you.  What it would do is give lots of volume throughout your hair.  We’d do a bit of piecing around your face that would really accentuate your cheekbones – and you have the most beautiful eyes, so we’d open up this area a bit by creating some framework to show off those gorgeous eyes.  How does that sound to you?”  

At this point I had their complete, undivided attention and would take out my mobile device and book an appointment right there on the spot.  I carried $5 Looking Good cash coupons I would give them to use during their first visit.  

Our salon software STX also sent an email confirming their appointment.  My close rate while building my chair was 90%, as I was able to track every person I spoke with about their hair.  

If you don’t have software that allows you to book an appointment on the spot, then at least have your card and promo ready so they call the salon to book the appointment.  Write the name of the haircut you told them about on the back of your card. 

I guarantee you will have a full book within 6 months by being proactive and knowing how and what to say when approaching a new friend and soon-to-be client.  You will then be raising your prices because you are “Booked Solid."

Jeff Mason has spent his life in the beauty industry and is a second generation hair stylist, salon owner, national platform artist, educator, and executive.  For the past three years he has served as President of STX Software, LLC, ushering in a period of significant progress and growth for the company.  He can be reached at 800.766.4778 or at

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