May 2008

Men Welcome! Growing your Male Clientele List

By Christopher Campbell

Male ClienteleMen and women are different.

While that statement isn’t very original, it is an important factor to consider when building your male client business. Men have different wants and needs than your female clients, and successfully addressing them can make your salon the go-to place for guys.

The first factor to understand is men are most likely not comfortable coming in to begin with. Generally, men haven’t had the same exposure to information and techniques for caring for themselves women have had. Women have learned from friends, relatives and the media how to make informed decisions on what will aid them in looking their best. Men, on the other hand, were lucky if their father taught them to shave. This is especially true of more mature clients. As a salon professional, you have an incredible opportunity to affect this type of client and the way he perceives grooming and personal care.

You can make male clients more comfortable in your salon in much the same way as in your home. Greet him warmly and make no issue that a man has walked through the door. If you greet him with a look of surprise, he’s going to feel as if he has walked through the wrong doorway.

Does the layout of your salon make your male clientele feel welcome? What magazines are in the waiting area for your male clients? What music is playing, if any, and is it gender neutral? Are there male images on the walls as well as female? These are all visual cues that tell a visitor whether the space was meant for them.

The next area of opportunity for catering to male clientele is at the shampoo bowl. Do you have a men-specific brand of shampoo on your back bar? Besides being conscious of these client specific needs, using products on the back bar is the first step in retailing. While shampooing and prepping him for service, explain to him what you are doing and why it is important. Never assume he’s learned this information elsewhere.

After you’ve prepped the client, do you wrap his head in a towel and parade him through the salon? How would the other men in your life feel about you treating them this way? Men generally see getting a haircut as a maintenance job, not any kind of reward. They aren’t looking to be on display by being marched through the salon, or by being placed in the window for the world to watch their vanity in action. Be kind, and place him at the back of the salon where prying eyes are less likely to make him feel uncomfortable.

Once that male client is in your chair, what are you putting around his neck? Some guys aren’t going to know that the stains on the towel you just wrapped around his neck are hair color. And what about that leopard-pattern cutting cape you’re using? How manly is that? It is always important to be conscious of a man’s personal sense of masculinity. You would never want inadvertently to embarrass a guest in your home, and they aren’t paying you for your time. A more gender-neutral or even masculine cutting cape shows that you have planned for your guest.

Next is the consultation. Ask him what products he’s been using, and give him your honest, professional assessment of them. When you go to a trained professional whose services include a consultation, you expect to receive the full benefit of their knowledge and experience. How would you feel if the mechanic working on your car only told you about some of the things wrong with your car? What if your doctor talked to you only about subjects with which he felt comfortable?

For men, talk in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Refer to the liquid tools (not products) they are going to use to maintain (not enhance) their image (not style). It isn’t about what they use to make their hair pretty. Help them understand that professional salon products are made of superior ingredients and formulas. Also help your male clients make the connection that proper care and maintenance of their hair will help them keep it, if hair loss or damage is a concern for them.

Your duty as a trained professional is to share with your clients all that you know. Explaining that professional grade products, used properly, can aid in hair retention and help improve their image will win you loyal clients every time.

Chris Campbell is President of Christopher Philip Ltd. makers of Gym Grooming products. For more information visit www.gymgrooming.com or call 1-888-205-3355 .