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Industry • Best Practice

Salons Are a Relationship Business: Here’s How to Get It Right

Good service, good communication, and a good attitude will put you on the path to good relationships.

Relationships are key for any successful business, whether you are connecting with clients or forging professional partnerships. Any salon looking to grow and expand must take this lesson to heart. Beauticians inspire devotion from customers that few other personal services can inspire. Once a client finds a stylist they like, they’ll stick with them for years, even if that means they have to drive an hour out of their way. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty — you have to earn it. Be mindful of these best practices and you’ll be well on your way to a true-blue client base.

Everything matters

Obviously, the most important aspect of a successful relationship with salon clients is the service your salon provides, but that’s more than just a haircut. Everything from the moment your customer walks in the door is part of that service. Your salon’s appearance tells an unspoken story to your clients, so make sure you’re in control of what it’s saying.

By themselves, tiny details — or the lack thereof — likely won’t prevent someone from revisiting your salon, but they have a cumulative effect. One too many small miscues, and your clients will likely seek out a salon where they feel more comfortable. Keep your salon in excellent repair. Make it so clean it sparkles. Cycle old magazines out of the waiting area. Require your aestheticians to take their food and smoke breaks off the salon floor. Ever gotten highlights while an off-duty stylist’s eating takeout in the chair next to you? It’s not a great experience.

Always choose professionalism

All relationships rely on trust, but great relationships reinforce it in a myriad of small ways. Your salon connections are no different. Customers want to know they’re giving control of their appearance over to someone reliable, so reassure them by radiating professionalism at all times. Greet clients with a smile and call them by name. Stylists should be well-groomed and well dressed every single shift. Many salons adopt a simple dress code of black shirt/black pants to ensure the team always looks chic and classy. 

Stylists also need to be aware of what they say and how they say it. The stereotype that clients treat their hairdresser like a therapist has more than a little truth to it. Stylists will hear all manner of complaints, secrets, and otherwise amazing stories, but they must resist the urge to pass judgment or, worse, spill those secrets. Your current client may get a kick out of the tale your previous customer told you, but after they leave, they’ll wonder if you’re sharing their secrets, too. If your staff needs to vent about a particularly ornery customer — and they will from time to time —  make sure they do it off the floor, well out of earshot. 

You’ll also never go wrong sticking with basic good manners. Saying please and thank you, apologizing for running late, and refraining from profanity are easy ways to show respect and appreciation for your customers.

Communication is key

Your relationship with clients includes many lines of communication: emails, texts, your reception staff, and of course, the stylists themselves. Always strive for clear messaging that serves the customer’s needs without intruding. For emails and texts, that means providing clearly-marked tools that let clients manage the kind of updates they want to receive and how often they’re comfortable getting them. For your reception staff, a positive attitude will work wonders. For stylists, it means empathy.

The difference between a good stylist and a great one often isn’t their mastery of hairdressing but rather their ability to respond to the communication cues their customers give off. Body language like stiffening shoulders or a relaxed jawline provides signals about the wisdom of pushing for an upsell. Remembering small details from previous conversations, like kids’ names, hobbies, or pets, will impress your clients and strengthen your relationship. A good salon management system organizes such personal details and keeps you in close contact with your customers through easy-to-use, integrated communication features, but index cards work if you’re on a budget. 

The secret to good relationships with your clients isn’t really a secret at all; just treat them with respect. Listen to what they’re saying, even when they’re not saying it out loud, understand their needs, and help them achieve their goals. Do that, and they’ll be with you through thick and thin.

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