My Life As A Hairstylist

Salon owner, hairstylist, educator, product maker, photographer

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vacancyAll busy hairdressers know that they can’t get back lost hours, so if they get no-showed or late cancellations, usually that time is lost forever. And that is incredibly stressful and frustrating when you know you could have filled that spot 5 times over and now your income is being negatively affected.

They will go through their wait-list if they have one and try to salvage some of the time, like by filling the last hour of a colour appointment. And if they are really on it, they will call every client booked during the following days and tell them about their cancellation and offer that time. A busy stylist who takes their career very seriously hates any and all openings and will exhaust all their resources in order to fill that spot before the time is gone forever.

Because that’s how it is. Once that hour goes un-billed, it is lost forever. And you just spent an hour or two at work for free, and that should make you insane

Usually less busy hairdressers will just leave their openings in a given day and chalk them up to being newer or still building and not get too stressed about things, and this passive attitude can be a career killer, or at least stagnator. I made up a word.

If you’re a stylist who’s growth is a little slower, you must adopt the attitude of the busy stylist and realize hours lost are lost forever for you too. You need to hate openings and do everything you can to fill them too! You are far better off loading your current day than seeing that same client tomorrow or a few days later. If you make it your goal to fill as many billable hours each day with hair you will drastically improve your income and your busyness.

The first thing you should do is have reception call every client in the upcoming week and tell them about your openings. This is incredibly effective and you will be surprised how many people will be able to take a short notice appointment if they were already planning on coming in anyway. Even if you only have a few, call them. The worst thing that happens is they say “no thank you.” Well, they could cancel their upcoming appointment and I guess that would be worse.

If you don’t have any upcoming clients, you need to plan on upselling the clients that are coming in. Now upselling is a challenge for a lot of people because they don’t like being pushy, and all of us understand this. But the way to take the “sell” out of upselling is to only suggest things that the client needs or would appreciate. If your haircut client is talking about how she loves all these cool pastel ombres she seeing, say “Let’s do it!” If she doesn’t think she can pull it off, discuss doing something that she will feel comfortable with, like a peek-a-bo0 or something more subtle.

But NEVER EVER try to convince a client to do anything she doesn’t need or won’t make a noticeable difference. Only do things the client will notice and appreciate.

  • Upselling a conditioning treatment that isn’t lasting and doesn’t make her hair feel amazing and nourished immediately is selling.
  • Super subtle highlights or balayage that can only be seen while standing in direct sunlight is selling. 
    *hint*- always go a little lighter than they ask for. Most people who ask for subtle usually end up coming back for more. It’s much easier to tone down than relighten.
  • A shine treatment that doesn’t make the hair absolutely sing is selling.
    *hint*- never use “clear” on its own for your shine treatments. Adding a little gold to natural looking pigments will always make it much shinier but will usually not warm it up.

Clients need to be able to trust you, so think of it this way: you take your car to some quick lube joint for an oil change for $29 and by the time you leave your bill is $200 and you’ve been convinced to change and flush every fluid in the car. The car drove fine when you arrived and drives fine when you leave, and you immediately think you’ve been taken advantage of. You have been. Say no to all that shit by the way and just stick with the oil change.

Don’t sell for the sake of padding a bill either, because that is disgusting. Don’t take the long, expensive road to a result if there is a faster and more economical way to get there. Some hairdressers look for ways to bend there clients over, and that is not at all what I am talking about. Only upsell from a sincere place.

Don’t tolerate openings and make it your priority to fill today’s hours and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. This pro-active attitude will make you a much more active, and therefore better-earning hairstylist.

You can never get today back so try to make the most of it.

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