November 2012

Charlene Abretske

Beyond Your Chair| Jayne Morehouse


Making Retail a Part of Your Service

Throughout my 20 plus years in the beauty business, I've heard the common lament, "I'm not a salesperson, I'm an artist" as the reason stylists don't like to sell products.

Please understand that clients come to you for the best beauty advice and personal recommendations you can provide. They want you to recommend what's right for them.

In fact, I would never trust a stylist who did not recommend products, tools and new services for me.

Whether you operate as an independent beauty professional or own a 20-chair salon, you are in the beauty business. That means you provide your clients with the services, information and products that make it possible to achieve their desired style.

That said, there are easy ways to incorporate product talk into your conversation during each service so that it's very natural. Don't think of it as selling; think of it as showing your clients how much you care.

Here are some steps to help you turn retail into a part of your service.

Start every appointment at your station and do a thorough consultation. Before your client is shampooed, take a good look at how she is wearing her hair. Ask her what products and tools she's been using regularly since her last visit.

Ask what she likes and doesn't like about her hair. Ask if she's having any challenges. Finally, ask her if she's seen any new styles she'd like to try. Take careful notes and use this information to cue conversation and make recommendations throughout the appointment.

For example, "Because you told me your hair has been drier than usual, I'm using this super moisturizing conditioner today. This change will add more moisture back to your hair, so it feels silkier and smoother to you."

Offer everything your client needs for her hair to look just like you styled it in between visits. From shampoo and conditioner to brushes, styling irons, blow-dryers and clips, if you're going to recommend it, make sure she can buy it from you. If you know she travels, stock up on travel sizes of her favorites, too. Make sure you show her how to use everything she buys. Write instructions on a card for her to take with her or email them to her after her visit.

Sampling is one of the most powerful selling techniques. Here's an example: "I'm allergic to a lot of products. My medi-spa offers a money-back guarantee, but after I had to return three after just one use (I react immediately), my esthetician had a brilliant idea. She makes me mini samples to test. She knows I'll buy the full size if they work for me, but it saves us both from spending time on the return process."

Follow up a week after her visit to see if she has any questions on how to use what she purchased. If she's having challenges, invite her to stop in for a quick lesson or offer to walk her through the steps she needs to follow via a Skype or FaceTime tutorial or an online video.

Don't make assumptions about what your clients can and cannot afford. I once asked a stylist which of the flat irons the salon offered was best for me. Her response: "These are too expensive. Try going to the beauty supply store for a better price." I hadn't asked about price. I wanted to buy it from her so she could show me how to use it. The upshot? Make your best recommendations when it comes to the tools, products and services you believe they need to accomplish their goals for their hair. Then allow them to make the decision. If you sense some hesitation, you can recommend one for today and the rest over the next several appointments.

No doesn't mean no, it means not today. Often when a client says no to a recommendation, the stylist assumes that means no to all recommendations. It doesn't — unless the client says that. Don't take "no" personally. Chances are the client just has other priorities that day.

If your client spends money on products, that doesn't mean your tip will be less. In fact, over the long run, it's likely she'll tip even more. Why? Because she'll be happier with her hair between salon visits. In addition, the happier she is, the more likely she is to refer her friends to you.

Now, back to those questions you asked your client during the consultation. They provide a gold mine of information to help you earn her loyalty. At her next visit, ask if your recommendation helped make her styling routine easier. If not, have her demonstrate how she's using her tools and products so you can correct her arm position or the amount of product she's applying. If you're at a show or see your distributor salon consultant, look for special products or sizes to meet her needs.

The bottom line is what sets your products apart from those at the drug store, department store or beauty retailer is you.

Jayne Morehouse is a columnist for Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on