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Help Your Stylists Find their Niche

Kati Whitledge | April 19, 2018 | 9:05 AM

We’ve all heard the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” We are in an industry with limitless possibilities. We are a culture that also struggles with #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). How could we possibly choose just one path? It may not be easy, and it will most definitely take time, but helping your stylists find their niche will catapult them to massive success! It’s no different than creating a unique selling proposition for your salon.
Wouldn’t you agree that every great salon has a niche? You bet! We all have something we’re known for in our community. Whether that is bridal hair and makeup, celebrity hairstyling, hair extensions, fabulous color, great grooming or curly hair services, your community will associate something with your brand. Do you have control over that narrative? Well, that’s another blog topic for another day. Today, we want to focus on helping our professionals find their differentiating factor. In a salon that offers it all, what sets your stylists apart?

The Push Back
Are you feeling a sense of push back about this topic? If so, let’s give this some food for thought. How many of you would be excited to go to a restaurant that offered every style of food? A place that served pastas, hamburgers, burritos, pancakes, and shitake fried rice. Would that be appealing? I suspect that most of you wouldn’t be interested in this because we tend to think, if they offer all of these options, they can’t possibly be that good at any one of them. Isn’t that where our mind goes? I believe it’s no different with our hair salon services. I understand the struggle of wanting to do it all, but if we are looking at the behavior of our buyer as well as looking at the way we buy—we would probably agree that we love going to the places that do a few things really well—the specialists. Those are the locations with lines out the door! So how do we help our stylists find those few things that they do really well?

Give It Time
First, we must give our stylists the opportunity to embrace all of the services you have to offer. In other words, it’s actually good to start off doing it all because we have yet to see where they shine. We’ve had stylists on our team at Be Inspired Salon, that have tried to avoid men’s haircutting because it didn’t come easy for them and they weren’t confident in their technique. We didn’t let them off the hook. During their first year, we required them to work on mannequin heads in between guest reservations in order to improve their men’s cutting skills. We also offered them the opportunity to join a business networking group where they met a lot of local business men and women. The men in the group were eager to reserve appointments with our stylist and they started booking more and more men’s haircuts. Lo and behold, about a year later they absolutely love men’s services and are one of our best barbers.

In your stylist’s first few years, they are really in discovery and development mode. They should be encouraged to push through technical challenges because you never know what will become one of their biggest strengths!

Passion Wins
After your stylists have given it ample time to discover and develop their strengths, then choosing their niche comes down to what they are most passionate about. If you’re wondering how to identify this, you’ll want to think about a few things.

First, what types of clients or services energize them the most? When they do (this service) with (type of client) they are super jazzed for the entire day. Next, what types of clients or services drain their energy? This is to help them eliminate the ones that aren’t going to be fulfilling long term. Finally, when their team members ask for their input, what services or client situations are they seeking them out for?

Oftentimes we think about what services we do the best instead of who we work with the best. One of our stylists is amazing with baby boomers. We joke with him about it because it’s sort of cute how they look at him as if he was their son. Joking aside, baby boomers do not want to be forgotten! They want to be taken care of on a more regular basis, they’re loyal, and they will typically spend more because they purchase everything you recommend. I’d say that his niche in working with baby boomers is a smart decision. He’s booked solid and has had massive success in his career. Thinking about these questions will help your stylists identify their niche!

Marketing Their Niche
Now that we’ve helped our stylists find their niche, we want to market them! How can we help them grow their clientele with the right clients? I believe the answer is Meet Your Stylist. I wanted to implement the Meet Your Stylist tool for my own salon because I knew we’d massively increase our new client retention if we could somehow control the experience of a first-time guest prior to their first visit. We started giving our guests a personalized experience on our website by offering the Meet Your Stylist survey. They not only get matched with stylists that provide the services they’d like, but also those that fit best with their personality and lifestyle.
What kind of impact could this make for your stylists? We love the opportunity to shine a spotlight on our stylists, and I hope this topic inspires you to showcase your stylists and their niches! The return on your marketing investment will most definitely pay off in a big way.

About the Author: Kati Whitledge is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and podcaster. She opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Her passion for salon marketing and business grew tremendously and encouraged her launch of Meet Your Stylist, a matchmaking marketing tool used by salon owners nationwide. She’s also the beloved host and founder of The Beyond The Technique podcast—where valuable education is provided on the vast topics of salon business. Kati’s mission is to equip salon owners and their teams with the most innovative business marketing strategies.

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