Preparing for color clients as a new hairstylist

I got a great question this week about a color correction that took me back in time to when I was just starting as a hairstylist.  One of my Facebook followers is just starting her business and is doing hair at home.  Her friend was coming in for a complicated color correction and she was asking me how I would tackle the project.  I gave my opinion but I also explained that there really is no way to plan ahead for a color correction as you don't know what exactly you'll be dealing with until you get in there.  

The process reminded me of how nervous I used to be when new clients were coming in for complicated services.  I look back now and wonder what the heck I was so scared of!  As long as you think back to basics and remember your color wheel and commit to protecting the integrity of the hair, you can tackle anything.  

This amazing stylist inspired me to write down a few hot tips for at-home hairstylists or new hairstylists trying to start their business.

  1. Pre-screen your clients-At my salon we have all the color we could need and plenty of knowledge and even our top stylists pre-screen their clients.  We never just book for "color" and make a plan when the person shows up.  New clients are asked what their existing color is, what their goal is and what services they think they'd like to receive to get there.  This allows for services to be booked with proper timing and allows the stylists to be sure they have the tools they need.  Its very normal for you to ask your client what they are looking for, or to even send a photo for more complicated services.
  2. Break it down step by step-I often see stylists in forums posting pictures of a clients existing color and desired color saying "how do I get from here to here".  Sometimes the answer is cut and dry.  More often than not, it isn't.  The problem is that you don't know exactly what tone your client will lift to or what her per percentage of grey is until she is in your seat.  Always tackle each section at once.  If she is going lighter, has a large root, panels of bright red and is all over a level 3 box dye (yikes!!) don't get overwhelmed.  First decide how you're going to lift the box dye, then think about the red panels, don't even worry about the root until you've lifted the ends and see where you get.  You can't even think about toners until you see the lift.  Get what I'm saying?
  3. Stock color in evens or odds-Every stylists worst nightmare is to be out of the color you need to achieve the desired look.  In a perfect world you could stock plenty of every color you could ever need.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.  A better system is to stock 2-4 of 50% of the shades in every color line you carry.  For example if you are using Redken Shades EQ you'll stock 03N, 05N, 07N & 09N and you won't purchase 04N, 06N or 08N.  It doesn't matter if you do evens or odds, but by stocking one or the other you can still mix to achieve all of the colors you need without having to keep limited quantities of every single color in stock.  Sounds expensive? It isn't cheap to start up your business, but this is the bare minimum you should have in stock at all times if you are trying to work to be a professional stylist.
  4. Utilize specialty tools-I've completely fallen in love with the Malibu C color correction products.  You can read my review and download my free product guide here.  These amazing products allow you to decolorize hair for color corrections or just prepare healthy hair for optimal results with minimal time and effort.  The Malibu color correction tools including Malibu Color Prepare, Malibu Crystal Gel, Malibu DDL, Malibu CPR and Malibu Quick Fix are must haves for all stylists.  Keep a couple of each on hand to make your life so much easier.   What if a color takes too dark or a client comes in with overly damaged hair? Make sure you have tools on hand and plan for the unexpected.
  5. Don't be a people pleaser-Sounds stupid, but it's totally true.  Most new stylists or stylists who find themselves stuck doing hair for friends and family at home end up being "yes" machines.  Want a color correction that will take 6 hours and you can't afford to pay, yes I'd love to do that! DON'T BE THAT GUY!!! Nobody wants to spend that much time and effort working on a thankless project.  You are a licensed professional and should be treated as such.  One of the best skills to master as a new stylist is saying "no" when a client wants to much or has unrealistic expectations.  Don't be afraid to say "This will take more than one visit" or  "you can't be a platinum blonde without your hair falling out, but you can be a gorgeous golden blonde".  This is the skill that separates the successful stylists from the burnt out hair slaves.
  6. Always charge what you're worth-So many stylists feel guilt about charing their clients $200-$500 for big color projects.  I often see newer stylists being talked into doing color services for a fraction of the cost.  Your time is valuable and a good client should be happy to pay for your time.  Can they go somewhere else for less? Sure, and the result won't be as good and the client won't get the stellar service you offer.  It is okay to lose clients who aren't willing to pay your price.  
  7. Protect yourself-I always suggest that stylist have a list of policies on their website or in print and they stick to it.  Limit the amount of time a client can wait to call asking for a re-do and explain that there are no refunds if a client changes their mind on their color goals. You are happy to refine color as needed if the final result differs from your initial consultation, otherwise you get what you get and you don't throw a fit!


Britt Seva