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I always say that for a client, meeting a new stylist is like going on a first date. I like to use that analogy because I think the two experiences are very similar. The client is nervous, she is hoping she says all the right things, and that you guys click, because no client comes to you hoping it is not going to work out. They hope that you’re going to be their person. Please keep that in mind. You on the flip side are hoping you’ll have a really great time together, that the client has that kind of hair that you really like doing and you want to build that long-term relationship too. With that analogy to think about, what can make or break a first date? No matter how hot or how good looking the person sitting across the table from you is, no matter how fancy the restaurant is, or even if they pull out all the bells and whistles, the relationship is not going to last if the conversation sucks, or if there is no trust that can be built. If the communication is not there it’s just going to be a flop. As a stylist our consultation is the ultimate communication and trust builder, there is nothing else. You can do the best hair in the world, but if your conversation skills lack and you can’t have a good consultation, or if in the first 15 minutes of meeting you a client isn’t fully confident you get them, or think this is going to be a great long-term experience, they are likely not going to come back for a second time. The consultation can really make or break it. Consultations are also the difference between retention and referrals vs. re-do’s and a failing business. Your consultation can really make or break your career.

I think a lot of stylists skip over this read, and think oh yeah, I’ve done consultations before. I guarantee each and every one of you reading this have never heard this strategy before. You have never seen consultations explained this way no matter how many consultation classes you’ve taken or the tools you have tried out. So, let’s dive in.

We all come pre-wired and predisposed to learning in one specific way or another. You’ve probably heard people talk about that before maybe as far back as elementary school. There are four different learning styles and most people have the natural tendency to think that they are hands on learners. Only 25% of the population are in actuality hands on learners and the other 75% learn another way. All of your clients, and you are wired to learn in one of the four ways. I want you to understand the four learning styles because the client sitting in your chair learns in one of these four styles better than any of the others, and the only way to ensure that the consultation goes flawlessly is actually by hitting all four of these styles in one way or another through the process so that you can be 100% sure that your messaging is coming through loud and clear to the guest.

I want to remind you the purpose of a consultation. The goal for us is to listen to what the guest wants, almost like taking an order at a restaurant. We also want to offer advice based on personal opinion or expertise so that we can get on the same page and meet in the middle. Most of you reading this blog don’t like to just be order takers, or do the hair your guest requests even if it is a bad idea.  They’re coming to you because you are the professional, so you should be offering that professional advice. Then there is the middle ground between what the guest came in asking for and what you as the stylist believe is the best plan. When we are working to get on that same page with our guest there is an element of learning happening there. If you aren’t speaking to the style that the client understands best they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. So, if in your mind you have the perfect plan, and you explain that to them, think they’ve got, and in their mind the client could be like I hope this lady knows what she is talking about because I have no idea what is going on right now. A lot of the time the client won’t tell you if they don’t know what is going on. If we improve our consultations and communication it is never going to be an issue in the future. When most stylists consult they speak in their own communication style, and naturally we’re all really great at speaking in our own style. Alternatively, others are kind of going through the motions based on other consultation techniques they learned at a class somewhere, but they don’t understand the logic behind it. The key and most important part are that you have to understand the logic behind what you are doing and the tools you are using. I want to give you the logic so that your communication is going to soar and all of your consultations are going to kick some serious ass! I want to share with you the four key elements of every consultation to ensure that you and your guest are 100% on the same page. Each of the key elements is wrapped up into a learning style, some of these are going to be familiar while others are brand new.

Learning Style Number 1:

The first learning style I want to discuss is visual which is also known as spatial. A visual learner likes to see pictures, and images, they have a better spatial understanding when they can see the world around them. A visual learner is an I’ll believe it when I see it type of person.

Learning Style Number 2:

The second style I want to discuss is an oral learner. An oral learner prefers sounds, auditory and musical sounds alike. They prefer music, but sound would also count as hearing the sound of your voice. The more that you can speak to them the better.

Learning Style Number 3:

The third style I want to discuss is the verbal learner-linguistic. There is a difference between oral and verbal learners. A verbal learner prefers words in both speech and writing, verbal learners are actually great at reading content and comprehending it. They’re also great at taking notes, and when they do it really cements everything into their brain. They like speaking and learn through speaking.

Learning Style Number 4:

The fourth style I want to discuss is the physical, kinesthetic learners who prefer to use their body. These are the hands-on type of learners, where sense of touch really makes a difference.

Reflecting back to those four key learning styles I want you to try and place yourself and see what fits most with you. I am going to dive deeper into each style and talk about how you can start incorporating all four of these elements into your consultations because every single guest you have sitting in your chair is either a visual, oral, verbal, or physical learner and consultation is a teaching and sharing technique. The more we can get on the same page with each guest the better our consults will be.

Visual:

Let’s start with our visual learner, somebody who’s a visual learner wants to see examples of what you are talking about, and not just one. The more examples you can show a visual learner the better. Showing them the little details is something they need to really understand what you are talking about. They are going to do best if they are able to show you examples and you in turn are able to show them examples, because they communicate much better through looking at something rather than talking. They won’t understand what you are talking about until they see it.

Oral:

Then we have somebody who would be more in tune with the oral learning style. For them they are going to be very in tune with everything that’s coming out of your mouth, and they’re going to match your tone. If you are going into a consult and you are not really feeling it, low tone, and low energy, you have already blown it before you even opened your mouth. They’re never going to come back. They want you to be high energy, they want to feel that positivity through your voice. You need to smile through your voice, they want to hear that happiness in your voice. They want to be all in on the conversation-don’t be distracted. If you get distracted and pulled into a side conversation or consultation with an oral learner you are screwed they are done for. They want to have 100% of your attention for that consultation, you have to be all in with no distractions. They will also want to hear you recap the plan several times. You must explain exactly what the understanding is, exactly what the plan is, at least two times so it really cements in. They are also going to find comfort in you knowing exactly what they want, when they verbally hear a recap it is going to give them the greatest peace of mind that they have finally found someone who understands what they are looking for.

Verbal:

So, then we have those who are more verbal learners. Very different than the oral learner a verbal learner actually needs to keep talking. The verbal learner wants to talk themselves, because when they’re able to speak and say things that’s going to cement it in their head a little bit more. You need to keep this type of guest talking. You want to get this guest to spit out all the details and you do this by asking questions, you ask what they like and also what they don’t like. A verbal learner needs to be coerced into continuing to talk so that you can both get on the same page. For these types of learners, you need to remember it is equally important to know their likes and dislikes.

Physical:

Then we have the physical learner, and this type of person wants to feel really physically connected and they want that through eye contact. We want to look at them in the eye and not through the mirror and be truly eyeball to eyeball. Get in front of your guest, if you have a stool that you can sit down at eye level with them, this is the best. If you bring out something like a swatch book encourage them to touch the swatches and really make a choice for themselves. Allow them to touch their own hair, if you are doing a cut have them hold their hair so you can show them where the cut will be. This kind of confirmation for a physical learner is everything. Getting them really involved in the process is huge.

A good consultation is a partnership 100% of the way, and if you can’t get on these four levels with each and every guest and make sure they actually get the information they need to feel comfortable with the plan, you’ll end up with a redo, a refund or no retention if you can’t get these things down.

So, let’s pull it all together and make your game plan:

Guest walks through the door you greet them immediately. Greet them with a huge smile, a handshake or a hug. Do what works for you. As you walk up to them and you have a smile in your voice you have already appealed to the visual, physical, and oral learner.

Guest sits down and you sit down with them eye level if possible and if not, you stand in front of them, remembering to be eyeball to eyeball. What you are going to start doing here is working through your list of consultation questions. You should have a list of at least 15-18 questions in your brain that you routinely ask each guest. If you are in my Thrivers Society program I give you the consultation overview with a major checklist cheat sheet of all the questions you should be asking. If you are not a part of the program yet I encourage you to still make a list of 15-20 questions that you’re going to run through with each of your guests to make sure you hit all the touch points. When you are asking your questions, you want to be sure you are doing so with a huge smile and warm tone because that’s really going to be great for the oral and verbal learners.

As a guest starts to mention what they have in mind I want you to pull out a look book. Some sort of printed book that your guest can flip through, or scroll through on your phone. It needs to be a visual resource that you and your guests can go to during the consultation to get to what the guest is looking for. Ask the guest to hold the book or the phone and to go through and pick out pictures that they like. This is going to be both for the physical and visual learner. If you’re just showing them pictures you are only appealing to the visual learner, but once you make the guest an active participant in the experience everything is going to be enhanced and you’re going to meet the needs of both the visual and kinesthetic learner.

When a guest shows you a photo they like, ask what they like about the photo and if there is anything they don’t like. This question appeals to the oral, the verbal, and the visual learner. Based on the picture they show you can now show alternatives if needed, this is great for the visual learner. From here you can ask questions about the new photo and get them talking about it, this is great for both the oral and verbal learner.

Now when you are doing color, always use a swatch book or color ring, every single time. There is no scenario in a consultation where one of those tools doesn’t come out. This is very important for the visual and physical learner-they have to have it. They don’t understand any other way, going through magazines will not be enough. Having something a guest could look through, feel through, point to, and touch is really going to help you get to where you need to be for that guest. By doing this you are going to cover the visual and physical components for each guest.

If a guest comes in and wants just a trim. Hand them a mirror, turn them around so they can see the back of their head and show them what one inch means to you by combing through their hair. This gives the guest a super solid visual and a guest who is a visual learner can really understand that. Use you comb as a guide to give your guest a visual on what you will be doing, even just feeling that comb go through their hair is going to be great for a physical learner as well.

At the end of the consultation you’re going to say OK, so my understanding is that this is what we are achieving today. Here is when you will begin your recap, you will show a swatch again, talk about the process of what you will be doing, talk about the colors you will be using, show multiple swatches if necessary, discuss the cut that will take place, reconfirm the length of the cut and the style. Once you have recapped everything that is going to take place you want to place your hand on the guest’s shoulder and let them know that is your understanding of the plan and ask if there is anything else they would like to add or change before getting started. That confirmation for the verbal and oral learner is everything.

Often when consultations go bad it’s because the stylist ended up dominating the conversation. Verbal communication is very common in consultations in the salon, some visual though it is often fairly weak. There is very little partnership in the consultation process, I rarely see a stylist who is truly trying to get on the same level and communicate in the way that a guest understands. The more you can nail this down and start incorporating all four pieces the easier your life will get. Your consultation allows you to teach your client what is possible for them. This comes down to their learning style and the only way to communicate effectively is to hit all four points.

If you have ever had a client leave unhappy or call for a redo, generally speaking this is due to the consultation. Even though you may have felt you were on the same page you weren’t, there was some kind of communication breakdown. The more time you spend in your consultations pulling out information you will see a decrease in unhappy guests looking for redo’s.

I have decided to include for you today everything you need to create your consultation kit. I have suggestions for everything I want you to be walking out with every time you consult with a guest. Make sure you head to brittseva/012 to receive your consultation kit cheat sheet, so you can really start putting it together, practicing, and putting it into play for your business so you can get your consultations nailed down.

TO HEAR MORE ON THIS TOPIC TUNE INTO THE THRIVING STYLIST PODCAST EPISODE 12. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW.

Consultation Kit Quick Guide

Links Mentioned:

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To sign up for my free Facebook training class click here now.

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To listen to past episodes of The Thriving Stylist Podcast click here now.





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A question that I get asked a lot by stylists, salon owners--all at different points in their career is “Britt how do I know what’s next?”

I think a lot of us a human beings even beyond our industry are always in search of our life’s purpose. Most of us have some kind of awareness that everybody was placed here on this planet and that we are all here to serve a specific purpose. So, few of us actually discover what that purpose was meant to be. I think a lot of us are looking for our what’s next, our what’s bigger or what’s going to take us to the next level or allow us to live the life the we always dreamed possible. Most of us didn’t join this industry as stylists to be okay with struggling, not paying all our bills and just living okay. Most of us when we decided to become stylists became stylists with the mindset of I am going to be loaded, have tons of cash, work whatever schedule I want, and live this luxury lifestyle you had in your mind. For most of us we thought we were going to live this big huge life and for a lot of us it is not panning out like we thought, or we’ve done that and we’re like man I did it, now what. Many people do not realize that success is a constant moving target. People are always looking for more, there’s always a next level and that can be a personal what’s next or a professional what’s next. People are constantly finding themselves in the state of “now what” and that is how we are wired as humans. I wanted to dedicate this blog to helping you find your what’s next.

What I am going to do is cover the 8 different what’s next options that I see if you want to stay in the industry. Now if you’re what’s next is you want to work for Facebook or Apple, you go do you! What I am going to cover is if you want to find your what’s next in the industry. Even if you are on the fence of not knowing if this industry is part of your what’s next, that’s okay, you are still going to get a ton of value out of this because I am going to go over the different ventures or different paths I think you can look into and the process of figuring out how to determine your what’s next.

Let’s start with the two most common what’s next ideas. Let’s say everybody reading this is a hairstylist or they are a licensed cosmetologist and imagine everyone had already built a clientele that you’re looking to graduate to somebody else. A word of caution to the wise: if you have not yet built a clientele for yourself and you are looking for an out, please don’t do that.

A lot of stylists I have talked to who struggled to build a clientele get to a point where they’re like I am just going to get another job to supplement their income. The reality of this is working in a retail store and getting a paycheck is a whole heck of a lot easier than working to build a clientele, it’s also more boring and way less lucrative. Sometimes we choose that easy default path, but in the end, it typically leads to years down the line you realize you want to get back into the industry. You got into this industry because it was your calling and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is no other industry where the opportunity is in such abundance the way it is in ours. If you are reading this and thinking building a clientele is too hard and thinking about finding what’s next--please don’t. Focus on building your clientele, listen to my podcasts, watch all my Facebook videos or do whatever you need to do to find the inspiration to build a clientele.

What I am going to address next is for those of you who have put in all the work, have a full clientele, are happy with the money that you are making, but are looking for something else. This is what I am talking about what I am talking about find your what’s next. Let’s say you are that stylist and you’ve built that clientele and you are ready for a new challenge. Most of us think there are two avenues we can go down and that is education and salon ownership.

Number 1: Education

In the industry there are two segments to education and then there’s a hybrid in between. We either have branded education or independent education. Branded education is when you have a hair color brand you use in the salon and you decide to become an educator for them. Independent education has been made possible due to social media, the exposure one can get through social media has made independent education boom over the years. What a lot of stylists experienced by this boom is the reality that some stylists are incredibly talented, but don’t make great educators. This was unfortunate because these stylists had amazing skill sets, had built beautiful clienteles and their work was amazing, but being able to teach effectively and communicate something is very different. This has led many educators to return to branded education, but that does not mean independent education isn’t possible, it just is not as easy as it used to be.

If you have never taught or educated before I would suggest going branded first. The amount of education that a distribution company or brand will provide to you is unbelievable. Also, some stylists go into education to find either they don’t like it or they are not good at it, so trying it before you buy it is a great way to go. Something to keep in mind with branded education is that the brand is actually going to expect that you make a financial investment. A lot of people think they are going to become an educator and make a ton of money, but you must first take into consideration the financial aspects to becoming an educator such as travel costs, training costs, and classes. Another aspect to keep in mind about becoming an educator is that you will likely be traveling on your Sundays and Mondays especially when you start. You have to think if this is something that is going to fit into your lifestyle. Going branded first is in a lot of ways how you will build a network for yourself and you will get people in your community to know who you are. Your name will be more common and popular and it will make it much easier to build as independent educator when people already know who you are. Going branded and getting your name out there really does end up making a difference if you’re considering going independent one day, so stick with branded first and build yourself up.

Number 2: Business Ownership

When we are looking at common path’s stylists take when they’re looking to level up business ownership is one of them. Business ownership comes with a lot of different options, you can be a booth rental salon owner, you can be a commission salon owner, you can be a mini salon owner or a studio suite owner. If you are a commissioned stylist or a booth rental stylist going studio suite first is a really nice way to test the waters. It gives you a sense of if you like being in charge. Doing a trial run of this before you are in a heavy lease in a huge space is a really nice way to test the waters, because I know a lot of stylists who have gone into studio suites and realized it was not for them. For those of you who already know you want to become salon owners I want you to ask yourself a couple of things; do you want a team, do you want employees. These are two different questions.

Some of the most successful salons I know are booth rental salons who are 100% a team and there is a company culture, and everybody is on the same page. They are all in on the salon business even though they are booth renters and are technically independent. That team culture does exist in booth rental salons everywhere and those are the most successful salons I know right now. Commission salons can absolutely have that same team environment. They would be employees and the company culture would be a part of it. You can still have that same type of agreement with booth renters.

Now, do you want employees or not? I think everyone is hot to have contractors only or booth renters because having employees feels heavy. It only feels heavy when you’re cutting corners and not doing it right. There are so many companies that make getting employees setup super easy. There are a lot of great resources that you can use if you’re going the employer route to have that team culture, have employees that follow the rules and all that good stuff.

Now a couple of other things I want you to keep in mind if you want to pursue the business ownership route. You will need to supplement employees with an hourly base wage, and will need to do your research on this based on where you live. You cannot simply link having employees as a way to be profitable. Both booth rental salon owners and commission salon owners can either be profitable or in the red. Neither option is a guarantee of profit. What is more important is determining what you see for yourself and what environment you want to have for your salon. After you determine what is right for you, do your research and think about what you can offer your area that doesn’t currently exist. In order to run a successful business, you will need to find the gap. Is there a gap for what you’re thinking about putting it or is it just going to be another salon in a busy area. You want to be that one salon that everybody wants to go to. So, if you’re going to go the business ownership route really think about what you are going to do that’s going to stand out from the crowd.

Number 3: Salon Leadership

Are you part of a salon team where you’re looking around and thinking they could really use a social media coordinator, or we could really benefit from an assistant manager, or maybe a management role. Is there something that you could do within your salon space that is going to give you more responsibility without making you feel like you need to bail out on your current job. There may be opportunities within the walls and space that you are currently in, really take a look at your salon and think about ways that you could level up on the team. Within the salon you can create a lot of different roles that people can grow into, and that people could love. You can have a salon director, retail coordinator, front desk manager, assistant manager, reception team and so on. Growing and expanding roles really help people to feel like they are contributing to the overall growth of the business and help improve team morale. People enjoy that there are roles they can graduate into beyond just doing hair. For those of you who are salon owners reading this, please create those opportunities for those in your salon who are desperate to figure out what is their what’s next.  If you see a need within your salon speak up to the salon owner, and you might just be happily surprised with what you find.

Number 4: Step away from the chair / sales positions

This would be a huge game changer for some of you that are really ready to step away from the chair. There are many sales positions within our industry. This can be an amazing opportunity for those of you who maybe want to educate, don’t want to be behind the chair anymore, don’t want to give up their Sunday and Monday to travel, but want a salaried role, consistency, sales, going from salon to salon, meeting different stylists, educating, and uplifting the community. Most hair care brands have these positions, along with color brands and distribution companies. There is a lot of opportunity in this area of our industry and a lot of people that are doing it have been doing it for 20-30 years because they love it so much. So, if you know that being in the salon is just not for you anymore and you want to do something different really take a look at the opportunities that exist within your hair care brands. Reach out and make those connections, because you’d be surprised to see what’s out there and available to you.

Number 5: Corporate Positions within Hair Care Companies

Every brand that you know and love has a corporate level. No matter what the company is they have a corporate team that works in cubicles and offices somewhere. They have sales, marketing, human resources, accounting, executive assistants and so on. It is a business-like structure that you would picture anywhere in corporate America and that exists from most of the brands we all know and love and maybe for some of you, you would like working in an office. For some of you corporate may feel very comfortable and you are a happy camper there. The nice part about that is you can have the best of both worlds. You can have the corporate job with the salary and insurance and all the things that are the appeal of a 9-5, but still be in the industry. For those of you who feel like this is a route worth looking into I urge you to head to the page of some of your favorite brands and check out their careers page to see what opportunities may be a good fit for you.

Number 6: Industry Influencer

It is my belief that an industry influencer is the wave of the future. I believe our industry has a lot of educators, but we don’t have a ton of industry influencers yet. An influencer is someone who elevates our industry by inspiring others. They talk about brands that they love, they become a resource for great information, and in a lot of other industries people refer to these as the bloggers of the industry. There are makeup beauty bloggers on every corner, food and mommy bloggers right behind them, but for our industry--not so much. I think there is a lot of potential here, but this is the type of pursuit that work comes first money will come later. For those who will want to pursue this route that will have to be a sacrifice that you are willing to make.

Those who blog make money through sponsored posts, running ads, and education opportunities that come as well. This is a long game. Industry influencers can make bank, but you can’t go for the quick buck, because that is not how it’s going to work. If you really have something interesting to talk about, you think that you have a unique voice, and unique information to share, that can really be a great path for you. I think it’s a really underdeveloped market, that there is so much potential there.

Reflect:

Okay so now I told you I had eight different career opportunities and wanted you to consider when you're looking to level up. But before I get in into 7 and 8 I want to take a moment for you to reflect, because I think it is important before we move into the last couple of options.

Most of you are like okay where do I even start?

 You start by not thinking about the job itself at all. You start by thinking about the lifestyle you want to have.

If you choose to be an educator. Are you down to travel a ton, live life on airplanes and in hotels?

If you choose salon ownership. Are you doing it just because you’re hoping to make more money or do you truly want to uplift others in the industry? Do you really want to create an incredible environment that doesn’t exist anywhere else?

If you choose a sales and corporate position. Are you really ready to step away from your clientele and start serving stylists? Do you enjoy corporate work, are you down to go home and work on your laptop once you get home, are you okay cruising around in your car all day, or do you enjoy working with other stylists and salon owners and educating them.

You have to be able to put your lifestyle first when you are making these kinds of choices because that is a game changer.

Number 7: To become the most amazing most successful hairstylist this industry has ever seen 

Some hairstylists are making six figures, like multiple six figures. They are living large, buying houses, taking trips to Europe, living these big beautiful lives taking clients. They never became a salon owner, they didn’t feel the need to educate. Maybe they are not even working full time anymore. They love their clients, their picky about who they take and who they don’t take, and they really do enjoy the work they’re doing. If that lifestyle I just described appealed to you, than just go all in on what you are already doing. We all joined this industry to make a ton of money as hairstylists, that’s what we all initially decided to do. I think many of us get caught up in the idea of missed opportunities. You have to ask yourself if you really want to chase those opportunities or if you want to make a killing be the stylist you already are. You can do that working in a town you’re already in, go home to your family every night, visit Maui every summer living in your beautiful home. You can do all that being a stylist, and that is respectable. Really think about what is it that you’re doing that you feel like you need to level up and what leveling up is to you.

Number 8: To create that solid base and live the fullest life possible, knowing that that’s your what’s next

For me my mind instantly goes to more time with my family. It is not a professional what’s next, and that’s not to say that I don’t have big dreams and ideas for what’s next for my business, but I got into this industry to make a ton of money and be there for my family. So, if those are the two reasons I decided to become a hairstylist I can never lose sight of that.

For some of you I really want you to think about that. Do you need to add to your work plate or is your what’s next man I am amazing. I am going to raise my prices, do more stuff to raise my average ticket, I’m going to be pickier about who I take on as clients, and I’m going to love the fact that I chose the best industry on the planet. That’s a huge what’s next and something that so many human beings never get to experience. They hate their jobs and they hate what they do, they don’t make enough money. You have the ability to make as much money as you want to working whatever schedule you would like. Take that opportunity and enjoy it.

If you feel like you’ve conquered the business, that you aren’t being challenged and you are feeling lost as to what your what’s next is, I want you to make your what’s next a personal one. Take a step back and start thinking about what you want a personal level, maybe it’s moving into a bigger home, or taking a dream trip, scaling back your schedule to be home more. Finding your what’s next doesn’t always have to be job related. Sometimes what’s next is stepping back and enjoying it all. So, what I want you to next is to take a step back and think about your dream lifestyle, how do you want to live out your days, what do you want to look back on forty years from now and think about your life. There are two types of people we will find in old age, those who live in regret and those who live their life to the fullest. So really think about who you want to be and the choices you’re making.

TO HEAR MORE ON THIS TOPIC TUNE INTO THE THRIVING STYLIST PODCAST EPISODE 31. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW.

Links Mentioned:

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To sign up for my free Facebook training class click here now.

To sign up for my free website training class click here now.

To listen to past episodes of The Thriving Stylist Podcast click here now.

Payroll process and new employee onboarding support company

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I have something a little special for you today just for my salon owners in the house, but if you are not a salon owner don’t worry I still have you covered. I think you will be validated reading through today’s content and who knows maybe one day you will become a salon owner and you will come back to this and find it to be a super great resource. Today we will be talking about common struggles that salon owners face, unexpected feelings that they go through, unexpected experiences they go through and unexpected challenges they may have. My purpose of this information is to make you feel normal. More than anything else I think that a lot of salon owners go through very common challenges that they didn’t expect when they decided to open the doors of their business. I want to talk to you about how to navigate some of those challenges and just to help you see them coming before they come to a head and make you feel frustrated.

I could have picked from dozens of emails, but today we are going to look at an email from who I will call “Salon S”. I have seen many emails come across my desk that are very similar to what I am going to share below.

“Hey Britt,

First off you have been a savior to me, loving Bootcamp, love your podcast. Here is my little life problem:

I opened my first salon this summer, I put my blood sweat and tears into it. No loans, no family support, just many nights of bartending to make my dream come true. All while continuing to take my existing clients. My clients are the reason I have not given up on this career, they are so supportive of me. My problem is that the people in my life that are the closest to me have changed. My husband as the numbers and bookkeeping guy has admitted that my business is too girly for him and he could not get into it. My cousin and fellow hairstylist of 10 years has officially disappeared. I feel it is due to her being more senior in the industry and jealous that I have the opportunity to do this. I offered her the opportunity to partner with me and she didn’t take it so I’m so confused. She is older and more experienced and I think that the idea of working under me somehow didn’t feel right to her. Then my best friend since hair school through thick and thin has applauded me for making this change and bragged about how amazing my salon is, but will not consider leaving her corporate salon to rent a chair with me. She doesn’t want to be my partner, she doesn’t want to work on commission. I’ve posted ads trying to fill one of my chairs with no luck yet. I feel completely lost on this journey and I’m completely discouraged. Maybe I expect too much from the people closest to me. They seemed all in until I opened my doors. I’m only human and reaching my breaking point. Was this even the right decision?”

Can anybody reading this relate to all those feelings?

 I think a lot of salon owners have gone through similar struggles over the years. For some people they feel as if their team has abandoned them. They feel as if they bring so much to the table and why can’t the other stylists just hop on board. I see tons of emails like this. One of the big things that surprised me when I became a business owner for the first time is that it is very different than you expect it to be. I am sure you have all heard the saying “It is lonely at the top”. It is not lonely, but it is a place that most people don’t understand. If you have never actually been a business owner and carried that weight on your shoulders--you don’t get it. If you’ve never had employees you don’t understand how it feels to feel like you have their livelihood in your hands and you’re trying to juggle it all. It is a lot to carry. There are some things that I have done to help me ease those troubles and frustrations, and today I want to walk you through the four biggest challenges I think salon owners face so you can see them coming and have the tools to navigate through them.

Number One: Nobody will love your salon and your business as much as you do. Nobody. Not your husband, not your kids, not the stylists who work for you. No one.

This is your dream, your vision, your baby and you’re always going to love it and be passionate about it in a way that nobody else is. If you have never owned a business before, I want you to think about a soon to be mother and her baby. Being pregnant everyone around you is so excited, asking you questions about the pregnancy, what you will name the baby, what your birthing plan is. Everyone simply wants to know all the details. Then you have the baby and the baby is here, everyone wants to meet them and get pictures and the excitement continues. About a month goes by, and that soon to be mom is just another lady with a baby. Everyone still thought the baby was great, and everyone still loved the mom, but at the end of the day the mom was the one who was going to have to do everything for that baby. Her. It’s her baby.

It’s the same thing when you open up a salon. You’ll have family around you who loves you and think it’s great that you did it, but it’s yours and nobody is going to love and care for that salon the way that you do. It simply isn’t possible. You have to relieve that pressure and know that they’ll never fully get it. In those moments you feel misunderstood, you are. What I have done to ease that pain is I’ve chosen to surround myself with like-minded business owners. I consider them my business professional tribe who act like a lifeline for me. These are people that I talk to about business struggles, business challenges and frustrations, and who I talk to when I feel like my husband doesn’t understand it because they get it. They’ve been through it.

I encourage you to have business lifelines outside of your inner circle, other small business owners, salon owners, spa owners, or just business owners who understand it all. Having somebody to express your feelings to who gets it, who is going to have your back and cheerlead you is huge for you.

If someone is honest with you and says they just can’t get into your business. Thank that person for their honesty, because they just may have saved you a whole lot of trouble down the line. Something like this is a blessing and not a curse. If somebody in your personal life says listen, I know you want me to be a part of this business, but it is just not for me, don’t be resentful. Relieve them of that pressure knowing that this is your baby and you are the one who is going to love it and go all in on it and let everybody else go.

The other thing is your stylists, your receptionists, your salon manager, no one is going to love the business as much as you no matter what amenities you bring in, what benefits you offer, or how amazing your commission percentages are. Even if the culture is amazing and they are happy, that doesn’t mean a day won’t come where they decide to make a change. This idea of I wish people in my business would care for it the way I do-- know that they won’t and that they never will. They aren’t supposed to because if they did they would go and open their own salon, which generally speaking is not what we want them to do. You have to know this is your vision, it’s yours all the way through. No one is going to care about it the way you do and you have to accept that.   

Number Two: Not everybody will follow you on the rise to the top, but that doesn’t mean you don’t make the climb.

People say it’s lonely at the top. It’s not lonely, but a lot changes when you make the climb. People leave your life and people will come into your life, people will judge you for the choices that you make. That’s part of the deal. Generally speaking humans who end up living the happiest, most fulfilled lives do make big life changes. They don’t just stay working the same job for 40 years. They don’t stay in the routine of doing the same day to day things forever and ever. They make big leaps. That’s what makes life interesting and exciting and brings us the rewards we are looking for.

As your life changes the people in your life will also change. People come into your life for reason, season, or a lifetime. Some people are just seasonal, some people are there to teach you a lesson and they are there for a reason. You have to understand that just because you might lose some people along the way, or that some people aren’t going to be your biggest fan as you rise to the top, you don’t let that stop you and you have to accept it.

There are a few big reasons why I think people don’t choose to join us on the rise.

Jealousy

It is okay for people to feel jealousy. It is unfortunate for people to have those feelings, but you have to let people have those feelings, because in the end once they process their feelings they might realize they want to be a part of what you are doing. Jealousy is such a poison because it really is mostly confusion and self-doubt. Don’t close your door to those you might feel are jealous, because maybe the timing needs to be right for that person. We have to understand everybody’s going through their own personal struggles and even though you are feeling hurt by their potential jealousy, they are going through it too.

Fear

The other thing that makes people hesitant to take the climb is fear. No matter how pretty the new salon is, no matter how great the new location may be, or how smart the owner is, being a stylist in a new salon is scary. Leaving a corporate salon where someone is getting a paycheck whether they are commissioned or hourly would mean leaving safety and security for a leap of faith and for many that is a scary decision to make. Even though taking that leap of faith might be exactly what someone needs, they have to decide if the timing is right for them. You have to remember that just because the timing is right for you, it does not mean that the timing is right for them. Stylists wait to see what happens, they wait to see who else is going to work there and what type of energy is going to be at the salon, they wait to see how the salon is going to be marketed. They wait because they are scared, and that’s okay.

Genuinely Concerned

The number three the reason why people don't follow you on the rise to the top is they are genuinely concerned. A lot of the time it’s our parents or our spouses who are genuinely concerned. Fear and concern are other reasons why sometimes friends, family, or even stylists aren’t your biggest cheerleader or your biggest fan, and that’s okay. Those are human emotions and I just want to rationalize them and let you know that everybody is processing their own way and not everyone’s going to celebrate your success, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and excited for yourself.

Number Three: It’ll take time to build your dream team.

For those salon owners out there, who feel like their stylists don’t care, or feel like their stylists don’t appreciate them, there are a couple reasons why that could be happening. If you feel like your chairs are empty and no one wants to work for you, the issue there is actually you. It’s not the stylists, it you.

Stylists should only be working for a leader that they see incredible leadership skills in. It is so much easier to open a salon than it is to be a great leader. It is two completely different skill sets. You want to work for somebody who wants to be a true leader. The best booth rental salon owners I know coach their team. There is true leadership there, there’s foundation and a strong culture. This all makes a huge difference, because stylists want to work for someone who has a vision. Stylists don’t want to work for leaders who are scared, cranky, tired, burnt out, or who don’t want to invest in learning to market.

You have to establish yourself as a very inspired leader before you can expect anybody to want to show up 110% percent for you. You need become a pillar of strength for your team. If you are a new leader and haven’t had a chance to prove who you are, it’s going to take some time so be patient. You didn’t open a salon to make quick buck. This is a long-term investment, you will prove yourself as a leader, but it’s going to take time.

Stylists today want a leader with a solid vision and plan. You have to let them know that they are working towards something, and you do this by letting them in on your plans and what you see for the future of your business. If you don’t have a long-term vision it is going to be hard for anyone else to see a long-term vision with you. If a stylist is going to come work for you they are going to want to be there long term, no one wants to be a salon hopper, but they can’t envision themselves with you long term if you don’t have a vision for what that will look like. Talking about the next chapter for the salon and getting people excited is what somebody is looking for when they’re looking to work for you.

When a stylist is looking for a place to work they are going to want a salon with a super solid social media plan and strategy. A stylist wants to fall in love with you Facebook and Instagram and wants your website to be beautiful. A stylist is looking to work for a salon with a solid reputation. As the salon leader you need to work to build that. As a new salon leader this should be your top priority. You are not going to fill your chairs until people see that you are active. Today’s stylists want to know that if a potential new client stumbles upon the salons social media or website that is is up to par.

Number Four: If being a business owner was easy, wouldn’t everybody do it?

The answer to this is: of course, they would. And I think we forget that part. I think we forget that building a business and being a business owner and opening a salon is going to take blood sweat and real talk, a whole lot of tears. Not all the days are going to be great, but the prize at the end is so well worth it if you open a salon for all the right reasons, show up as a solid leader and your heart is really in it. You are going to shape and change lives, you will impact people in a big way, and watch them shift, change and grow for the better. You can have that as a salon owner if you do things right.

You can have the financial freedom that you opened this business for. You can make good money, and have a good lifestyle for your family, but it is going to take hard work. If it didn’t everybody reading this would be a salon owner and they would be making millions. If it was easy everybody would do it. It is those who are willing to fight for it who are going to become successful. So, don’t give up the fight. Over 90% of businesses fail within the first 5 years, I empower you to be a part of the 10 percent who doesn’t. Those who fail, weren’t really ready for the fight. If you were meant to do this, do it. Don’t let road bumps stop you. You have to overcome all the hurdles in your way to earn it and get to the level of salon ownership success that you’re looking for.

There is an amazing TED talk, by Bill Gross that talks about billion-dollar startups, the ones that were epic successes and epic failures. It was a study about all of the startups that turned out to be surprise successes like Uber. He decided to dive deeper into the “If 90% percent of businesses fail, what are the real factors that make a difference that determine the success or failure?” He narrowed it down to his top 3 reasons.

Number 3: Uniqueness of the idea.

Number 2: Team and structure of the company.

Number 1: Timing, timing is everything.

Make sure that the idea behind your salon is unique. That you are doing what you are doing for all the right reasons, that you are an unbeatable salon in your area. I know everybody is always like oh there’s a salon on every corner, so be the salon that’s a cut above. Do what you can to be unique, that is the way you have a successful salon. I hope that everything I have mentioned has been helpful and hope it sheds some light on the major frustrations that a lot of salon owners and leaders face.

To hear more on this topic tune into the Thriving Stylist Podcast Episode 33. Click here to listen now.

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