In a Psy-Cosmetology training session, Jay Williams shows stylists and owners how to build client relationships based on both character and competence.
In a Psy-Cosmetology training session, Jay Williams shows stylists and owners how to build client relationships based on both character and competence.

“When I ask stylists, ‘What business are you in?’ most answer the hair business.  But they are really in the people business,” Jay Williams says.  “And once you understand what business you are in, everything else becomes crystal clear.”

Williams recently worked with Dr. Lewis Losoncy (“Dr. Lew”) to develop Dr. Lew’s book, On Becoming a Psy-Cosmetologist, into a powerful educational seminar for stylists and owners.  As the global education director for Psy-Cosmetology, Williams, runs four-hour training sessions for individual salons to multi-location chains all over the country.  After three decades with Matrix, Dr. Lew is currently the motivational psychologist with DevaCurl.

Written more than 30 years ago, the book was born out of an “ah-ha” moment that Dr. Lew, at the time a practicing psychologist, had with a patient who didn’t follow his advice.  “It turns out her hairdresser didn’t agree with me, and she trusted her hairdresser more!”   And so, knowing very little about the beauty industry, Dr. Lew set out to find out what was so special about the client/cosmetologist relationship.  What he discovered still holds true today.

Dr. Lew Losoncy and the book he authored more than 30 years ago.

“The cosmetologist sees the client on a regular, ongoing basis, and before every major life event,” says Dr. Lew.  Furthermore, he says, the very basis of the relationship revolves around the most personal of actions: physical touch.  Only a few professions include this “license to touch,” and most are not seen as often nor have such high emotional stakes.

Williams is fond of asking Psy-cosmetology participants the following question: “Would you rather have a loyal client or a satisfied one?”

“The most common response is 'satisfied,' stylists believe if a client is satisfied, they will be loyal,” explains Williams, who follows up that question with another one: “Would you rather have a loyal or satisfied boyfriend/husband?”

Inevitably, the second question gets a laugh and a response of, ‘Loyal, of course!’ “Then I explain that a satisfied client is satisfied only until someone else satisfies them more,” Williams says. “A loyal client offers ‘unconditional love’ and will stay with you even if she isn’t satisfied.”

“Relationships are built on both character and competence,” says Williams.  ”But when we look at client retention, it turns out that most clients who leave a stylist do so for non-technical reasons.”  So giving a good haircut, a perfect blow-out or shimmering color is great, but clients want so much more than technical skills from a stylist.

According to both Williams and Dr. Lew, most cosmetology schools are in a precarious position, as curriculum is really designed to help budding stylists pass exams.  “But where is the people-skills training?” asks Williams.  This lack of focus on the psychological component can lead to emotional burnout.  And that “fatigue” is always going to negatively impact the client relationship.

 “The first step is always to develop self-awareness of your own character,” says Williams.  “Do you trust yourself?  Your own self-awareness can be the biggest disconnect in the client’s experience.”   
In his book, Dr. Lew outlines the Psy-Cosmetologist’s Seven Sources of Personal Motivation:

1.    Love Life
2.    Be Driven From Within
3.    Change People’s Lives
4.    Be Open to Grow
5.    Highlight Your Strengths
6.    Get Over Stuff Quickly
7.    Find a Way

In the workshops, Williams leads participants through these steps to create new thinking and new behavior.  “Our participants go through a personal transformation, which changes the whole way they look at the profession.”

That’s certainly been the case for stylist Christy Nelson of Alejandro’s Salon and Spa in Kearny, Nebraska.  Nelson has been a devotee of Psy-Cosmetology since the early days of her 32-year career.  
“It just totally changed my life.  I am more empathetic towards stylists and my clients,” she says. “We’re not just hairdressers—that’s such a small part of our jobs.  It’s about really loving your clients.  And the people you have trouble loving—they’re the ones who need it the most.”

To learn more, schedule a workshop or purchase Dr. Lew’s book, go to

2016 Psy-Cosmetology Certification Workshops

May 1, 2016
Baltimore, MD

May 2, 2016
Dulles, VA

May 16, 2016
Andy Warhol Museum
Pittsburgh, PA

May 23, 2016
Philadelphia, PA

June 6, 2016
The Heinrich Hotel
New Brunswick, New Jersey

June 3, 2016
Keune Academy
Atlanta, GA

June 6, 2016
The Heinrich Hotel
New Brunswick, New Jersey

September 30, 2016
Keune Academy
Atlanta, GA

December 2, 2016
Keune Academy
Atlanta, GA

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