September 2010

Retail Matters

Retail Matters | by Steve Sleeper


Clean Up Your Act in the Salon

An old adage goes, “You have one chance to make a good first impression.”

This holds true in the beauty business. When a potential client walks into your salon for the first time, their first impression is the lynchpin on whether or not they become a loyal customer.

Would you rather them see a floor strewn with hair, sloppy stylists and messy workstations, or a salon that sparkles with professional-looking stylists?

Not only is a dirty salon a hazard to acquiring new clients, it is a hazard to the retention of your current clients.

Put Your Salon’s Best Face Forward

Your salon’s appearance is the very first thing a client sees. If you have faded or peeling paint, give everything a fresh coat. A color theme running throughout the salon is very appealing and eye pleasing. Keep your fixtures updated and working; if something is broken, have it fixed immediately. Make sure the salon is well lit and bright. Consider featuring local artists each month to keep your salon’s art fresh and unique.

Dress to the Nines and Act Like a Ten

A good-looking stylist is a successful stylist. No, it is not about pre-conceived notions of physical beauty; it is about overall appearance. A client who sees a stylist in sloppy, ill-fitting clothing, last night’s makeup and ratty hair is not going to feel comfortable entrusting the stylist with their own appearance, and why should they? A clean, polished stylist is essential while lending credibility to your salon.

Stylists do not have to wear a ball gown and tiara, but make it a policy that clothes are clean, hair has been washed and styled, and makeup is fresh. If your stylists wear aprons, make sure they are clean and absent of stains.

Hold your stylists accountable for putting their best foot forward when it comes to customer service. Make it a policy that, if they are running late, they must call to let the salon know so it can alert any waiting clients.

If they are running over with an appointment and have another client waiting, they must make it a point to let their next client know what’s going on and that they will be with them shortly. Instill in them that communication and individual attention go a long way in making a client feel like they are valued.

No Hair, Anywhere

Make sure the floors are swept after every hair cut. Piles of hair all over the floor are considered, well, gross to clients and can be a slipping hazard if walked on. Make sure all areas of the salon are well swept at the end of the day to capture stray hair and dirt, including back rooms, bathrooms, under workstations and even by the front desk.

Get rid of the hair on all hair tools and disinfect them after each use, no exceptions. Rinse out the sink after each shampoo, preventing clogs and contributing to a neater-looking salon.

Do the Laundry

There is almost nothing more horrifying to a client than having a stylist use a used towel on their hair or wrap a cape around their neck that has a previous client’s hair all over it (yes, salons like that do exist). Keep up with the laundry and make sure your salon always has clean towels and capes for clients.

Do the Dishes

Your salon’s color bowls and bottles should be cleaned immediately after each use. If they pile up around the sink, there is potential for a spill, which just leads to another mess to be cleaned up.

If you offer clients complimentary beverages while they wait, make sure the cups, mugs, carafes and coffee pots are thoroughly cleaned after every use.

Yes, you may feel like Cinderella, but there is quite a bit of surface area in the salon that must be wiped down daily. Doing this at the end of the day only takes a few minutes and will save you lots of extra work later down the road. Wipe down the workstations and make sure they are free of hair, styling product residue and dye. Give mirrors and windows a good scrubbing and make sure they are splatter-free. Wipe down products and display areas; it is hard to entice clients to buy bottles of dust-covered shampoo.

Keep Supplies Neat and Tidy

This is especially important for salons that value efficiency. Not only that, but disaster could strike if things are out of place (for example, haircolor in the wrong spot). Make it a policy to keep styling carts tidy and well stocked so stylists don’t have to spend time rooting around for a bobby pin or a piece of foil.

Make sure you keep inventory and are mindful of what is in stock and what is running low. Always order more of something before you run out completely.

With a little hard work and an eye for detail, salon owners and their stylists can ensure that, when it comes to clients, they are making the right first impression with a squeaky-clean salon and professional employees.

Steve Sleeper is the Executive Director of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), which is made up of salons and spas, distributors and manufacturers dedicated to improving their individual businesses and the industry as a whole. For information, visit or call 1-800-468-2274.