I have always been the type of person who can talk to most anybody. That is not to say it is always comfortable for me, but I know how to keep a conversation going. I think this is one of the things that has helped me the most in my career and I've watched the lack of conversation skills ruin careers before too.
Building a clientele can be incredibly intimidating and I think the biggest part of that is the fear of mistake or rejection. I will talk about how to handle the situation when a visit goes wrong another time, but for now, let's focus on how to build a connection and keep your client coming back for more.
- Keep the conversation focused on the client. It is okay to talk about yourself and your client absolutely wants to know about you as a person, but most people will feel special and like they had a great experience if you let them talk about themselves. There is the running joke about hairstylists being therapists and there is quite a bit of truth to that joke. You are a safe person who isn't in your client's personal life so they are able to open up and talk to you in a way they can't with their inner circle. If you can get to this place, you'll earn a client for life.
- Speak with a smile in your voice. I have a Ritz-Carlton work background and I was always told to answer the phone with a smile and smile when I speak because it will completely change the way your client receives your message. I know this sounds slightly creepy so let me clarify. I don't mean you should have a smile plastered to your face, but you should always focus on sounding warm and happy. I've heard a lot of stylists speak with a mono-tone or dull voice and it isn't appealing and hurts their building potential.
- Make a list of 10 go-to questions. I made a little list of 10 generic, politically correct questions that I knew would apply to pretty much any guest who sat in my chair and if the conversation ever lulled I could pull one of the questions out of my file. It was rare that I would even get through all 10 because I could usually carry an entire 2 hour visit using just 4 or 5 good conversation starter questions.
- Talk about hair! This is my favorite hot tip and the one that gets forgotten most easily. The vast majority of stylists don't take the time in their visit to talk about current hair trends, products or styles and this is a huge mistake. You want your client to see you as an industry expert and you have to talk the talk to earn that respect. Maybe at the beginning of each week chose a product and favorite new celebrity hair style that you are going to talk to your clients about. Want some bonus points? Feature these on your Facebook, Instagram or blog too!
- Don't work in silence. Unless your client has their nose buried in a magazine, talk the whole time. Remember, the goal is only 30% to do great hair and the other 70% is to make your client fall in love with you. I know a lot of mediocre stylists who dress cute, smile and love on their clients like crazy and they have an incredibly busy chair.
Your homework is to make that list of 10 go-to questions. Ready, set go! xoxo