The 5 Excuses Hairstylists Make That Waste Time, Reduce Income and Cause Stress

I'll be the first to admit that I've made plenty of mistakes in my career.  I've blown consultations and messed up clients hair to the point when they didn't want to see me again.  I've run so far behind that I'd rather crawl into a hole and die than face my client angrily waiting in the lobby.  I've said "yes" to too many people and taken on way more than I could handle.  And that was just my first year as a hairstylist!  Did I ever say "well, I guess this just isn't for me.  I'll never make the money I thought I would and I'm probably just not one of those stylists who really makes it big".  Heck no!  9 years in the industry later and I'm still far from perfect, but my experiences and observations have taught me to quit making excuses and to take control of my future.

In my time coaching stylists and salon owners I've heard every excuse under the sun.  Let me tell you, every unsuccessful stylist is the victim of things like the economy, their salon owners poor choices, the retail options they have, the city they work in, their personal problems, their lack of confidence, their lack of time.  Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you? Of course they do because we have all used them before.  You now have a choice to either quit making excuses and take control of your career or become a victim and just continue struggling to find your place in the industry.

These are 5 of the most common excuses I hear over and over.  You'll probably relate to one or two and that is totally okay! What is important is that you take what you learn here today and apply it to create growth in your business tomorrow.  

Excuse #1-"I can't raise my prices because my clients can't afford it"-I'm sorry, what? This is crazy talk!  I know we all love our clients and that is why we do what we do, but if you want to do free or cheap hair then find a day job and do hair for fun on the weekends.  When you raise your prices their is a natural attrition of clients that will occur and you'll probably loose between 5%-25% of your clientele.  Take a deep breath right now and say "that is okay".  You can handle this loss if you have an effective marketing strategy in place and a consistent flow of new clients coming your way.  The great news is that there are plenty of clients out there who would never pay less than $90 for a haircut so your current price point of $45 is completely sub-par to them. Dramatic, but if you think about it there really is a clientele base for everybody so if you handle a price increase correctly you'll only see growth in your business.  Clients actually find it to be a turn off when you don't raise your prices periodically.  It makes you seem stagnant and unpopular.  Quit making excuses and raise your prices when you've earned it! 

Excuse #2-"My clients just don't buy retail from me.  They like to order it online or get it from big retailers"-This is my pet peeve.  I can't stand it when stylists blame their clients for missed retail sales opportunities.  The actual reason the client didn't buy from you is because you didn't set up the sale correctly.  Did you educate your client about the products throughout the visit?  Did you display the products for the client?  Do you have a beautiful and very well stocked retail display for your clients to see?  Did you mention the brand new product that just arrived last week to every single client you saw?  I've surveyed clients and they truly want to hear about retail every time they see you.  Give it to them!  I also strongly suggest you put a rewards system in place that incentivizes clients when they purchase retail as a way to compete with major retailers like Ulta and Sephora.  If clients are buying online, be sure to educate them about diversion and encourage them to support your business by purchasing from you instead.

Excuse #3-"I wish I could send thank you notes and do more marketing but I just don't have the time"- This is actually one of my favorite excuses because it is so easily resolved.  There are so many tools available to hairstylists now that make marketing and business building so simple and easy.  It should take you no more than 30 minutes every week to send thank you notes to new clients or those who made a major retail purchase.  It should take no more than an hour a week to use social media properly and update your website.  If you truly are a rockstar and don't have time (I know some stylists who are and so I totally get it!) you need to hire help.  If you don't already have an assistant, hire one at least part time.  If you do have one, include them in your marketing and social media efforts. They'll love doing it and it'll take a load off your back.

Excuse #4-"I wish I could stop using paper books, but it works really well for me and if it's not broke don't fix it" -Bad news, it is broke and you've gotta fix it.  Computerized booking systems and apps are standard now.  There was a time when computerized systems were seen as luxurious, but I've spoken to clients in salons with paper books who say things like "I actually feel bad that she doesn't know how to use some of the new systems that I know are out there".  Using paper books makes you appear dated and overtime you will lose clients because of it.  Clients like having email appointment reminders, text reminders, online booking options, plus it just makes you appear to be so much more professional.  Plus your tax paperwork at the end of your year is so simple. automated marketing is available and you'll be able to set structured service timing which will help you to increase your income and stay on time.  Your client retention and referrals will improve too.  Are you sold yet?

Excuse #5-"I have to work 12 hours a day and sometimes on Sundays.  That is when my clients can come in and I don't want to lose anybody.  I can't afford to make less than I'm making now"-Working long hours and more than 5 days a week is a sure fire way to burn out.  I know tons of stylists who have said "this job forces you to work way too hard for not enough money".  These are stylists who are tackling this industry totally wrong.  Only 20% of hairstylists will ever earn enough money to retire successfully.  It is a career that often runs hot for a few years and then dies out and leaves stylists struggling to work behind the chair at 70 years old to pay the bills.  This is all because hairstylists often try to be nice and fair instead of being business people.  When is the last time your dentist offered to see you on a Sunday?   Did your doctor say they were happy to stay until 9pm to see you for your physical last year?  Of course not!  They are professionals and we all rearrange our schedules to prioritize things that are important to us. I know stylists who work Monday-Thursday only and make GREAT money.  They manage their business properly and their clients make the time to see them.  If you are working like a dog you need to double book, raise your prices and regain control of your business.

I want you all to retire happily and healthy at the age of 60 at the very latest!  Quit making excuses and embrace all of the beautiful things this industry has for us.  Make the decision today to commit to building your clientele and creating the life you dreamed you would as a hairstylist.  I'm always here if you need any help along the way!


Britt Seva