Changing the Language of Retail

Although there are exceptions to the rule, as a whole, hairdressers don't like to sell products. It’s a simple fact. As a former owner of two salons, it’s always been clear to me that selling retail is something that only a few people master and the rest seem to run from. Perhaps it’s the pressure to sell by management, insecurity of the artist or the fear of losing a client’s trust - who knows. In the meantime, the product sits on the retail shelves collecting dust and waiting to be purchased. I can tell you firsthand that the lack of motivation to sell retail costs a salon owner both in terms of wasted space and in the funds tied up in retail products.

Teaching Moments

For as much as I experienced on the side of apathy from hairdressers toward selling retail, I see the opposite when it comes to sharing information. In all of my years in this industry, I have never met a hairdresser who didn't want to be an educator at some level. We all teach our clients how to style their hair at home and are willing to pass along our techniques to other hairdressers. So, why not change the language from one of selling product to one of educating about it?

Think of it like this: you color someone’s hair, and you send the client on their merry way without recommending the proper home care. Instead, they go to the drug store and buy the least expensive brand they can find. After three or four shampoos their red is pink, or worse their blonde is orange. Who do they blame? You! And guess what, they’re right. You did them a disservice by not educating them on how to maintain their color. You failed to service them fully. And, think about it, does anyone have a client that doesn't use shampoo? No one should leave the salon without at least recommending shampoo and conditioner to help protect their investment.

Need another reason to sell retail? Well, here’s three. A new client who buys retail from you is three times more likely to return. A client who buys retail from you remains your client three times longer than someone who does not. Clients who purchase retail from you regularly refer three times as many clients to you. So, if client loyalty and retention mean anything to you, step up and start educating your clients about the products and tools you use on their hair.

School’s In Session

It’s not a stretch when you shampoo someone to tell them why you are using the shampoo you use. When you style your client's hair, why not explain what product you are using, why you use it and how to use it? Just hand them the bottle, tube or jar as you work, and soon you’ll find them reading the label, opening the lid to sniff the scent, maybe even dabbing a finger and rolling the product around to get a feel for it. And all of that happened by merely giving them the product to hold while in your chair getting styled. From there it’s just a simple suggestion to buy at checkout. They already know what they need and why, so now it’s just a subtle hint to nudge the purchase.

So, remember fellow hairdressers, educating about proper home care should be part of the service we provide to our clients. It’s our obligation to make sure that their hair looks great and stays looking great. Clients desperately want our advice, so give it! Step up and educate them and you’ll find that sales will happen naturally.

Jim Bower is the founder of SalonInteractive, software solutions for eCommerce and digital supply chain management. He is a former salon and spa owner with over 30 years of experience in the industry.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.