Stylist and Salon Newspaper: Take Charge of Your Retail Reality

(originally published August 2010)

Did you know that salon hair-care products make up a substantial one-third of the hair-care market,  comprising $2.8 billion in sales in 2006? According to the 2008 report “Business of Beauty: Maximize Your Profitability,” commissioned by the Professional Beauty Association, an additional $300 million in growth in salon-based products is projected by 2012.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to this potential growth is the continued rise of mass retailers that lure clients by providing easy access and often-false promises of lower prices. Often, the clients do not understand that buying professional products directly from the salon is the only way to ensure product quality and access to the expert advice of the salon professional.

Professional Beauty Association’s (PBA) report refers to retail as an important profit driver for salons, as it can contribute most directly to overall profitability. Without the marketing and advertising budgets afforded to mass retailers, stylists in many salons must take on the role of several job positions: marketer, salesperson, educator and product expert. When salons educate and empower their stylists to fully embrace each of these roles, it not only helps ensure the success of the salon and stylist, it derails longtime industry myths about selling. These myths are what keep salon retailing from being the profit driver it can and should be. Here are several things to keep in mind when encouraging your team to beef up sales efforts and educate customers on the value of purchasing products directly from your salon, not the drug store down the street.

Give the client what they want:
Perhaps one of the most important things you want to continually remind your stylists is that clients are expecting a learning experience with their appointment. Stylists should be genuine in their dialogue with clients and focus on educating them about the benefits of each product used during their visit. The best rule of thumb: Be honest in your recommendations. If you do not think something is going to work for a particular client, do not recommend it. In the end, clients will appreciate the honesty. Help set minds at  ease and build confidence by setting up training sessions to let your team role-play through the selling process.

Recommend, Recommend, Recommend:
A common myth among salon professionals is that stylists do not enjoy recommending and selling retail products, when in truth they do. Since customers look to their stylist as a trusted expert and source of product information, you would think this process would be a cinch, right? According to the PBA report, 71 percent of customers leave the salon without ever being offered a recommendation. “Despite the stylist-customer agreement that recommendations are welcome and often will prompt a purchase, the industry still has a massive, permeating problem.” This adds up to huge missed sales opportunities. Create a systematic process in your salon to ensure that every client receives a product recommendation before leaving.

Be the Queen (or King) of Samples:
Who doesn’t love getting something free? Stock up on miniature versions of the products you sell in the salon. Not only will you be able to give them to clients so they can try the products before committing to buying, you can also give them to the staff. If the stylists are familiar with the products they are selling, and have actually used them, their recommendations to clients are going to hold far more sway.

Make it an Experience:
Encourage your team to get their clients involved in the salon experience. Let the client see, touch and smell the products as they are being used. Show them how much to use, having them work it through their hair. Explain how the products you are using will benefit their hair type. If a client is emotionally involved and educated about a product, they are more likely to invest in it. The opportunity to interact with a product before they buy it is something a client would never get the opportunity to do if they were purchasing from a mass retailer.

Clean Up:

There is nothing more unappealing than a dusty, forgotten display, so be sure to keep yours neat and tidy. Use creative, colorful signage to draw the client’s eye and make the selling process easier for the stylist. Also, make sure the display is near the front desk; there is no better purchase than an impulse purchase.

Remember, you and your stylists are the experts; clients come to you because they lack the knowledge and skills that you possess. More importantly, they are putting their trust in your hands. Clients will be delighted by the individual attention they receive from a well-versed and comfortable staff who cares about their specific needs and takes the time to make them look their very best.