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The era of unrealistic expectations is upon us with more and more clients coming in demanding the desired look of a Photoshopped image they find on Pinterest. Salon professionals see this fairly often and the vast majority of consumers are none the wiser. There is no warning label on the back of those drug-store hair color boxes explaining that an unplanned trip to your local hairdresser may ironically be in your future. We’ve seen how bad it can get out there...
Similarly, who do we blame for contributing to the birth of home remedy “solutions” throughout many hair care related topics on the Internet?
It’s easy to point fingers at social media or even the client, but we would like to offer a different perspective. Let’s just assume it’s the hairdresser who has perpetuated this behavior since it’s really not at all the client's fault. Perhaps we didn't ask the right hair consultation questions.
Generally speaking, our clients don’t really understand what we do. They don't have a trained eye to distinguish the difference between natural and unnatural pigments, color theory, chemistry systems, etc… Hence, the Pinterest DIY stand off between the ridiculously frugal and the professionals who would like to help them. What is it that we can do to keep these scenarios at bay?
With new technologies and borderline crazy ideas on the internet, more and more people are attempting to do their own hair at home mostly out of convenience and budget restrictions. We could all agree that this is probably never going away. The issue should not be that new ideas surface, even if they are outlandish at times. It adds value to our job when we can educate our guests on what we do, because if they knew, they probably wouldn't try at home.
"I did a box dye like 6 months ago, but I'm ready to be blonde now."
It's hard not to take the bait every single time (at least that’s true for me). Hairdressers are a different breed! We are people pleasers at our core, deeply rooted in a cut-throat industry that is constantly evolving and shifting as trends typically do. When we are growing within our craft, it's easy to lose sight of the process because we so desperately want to be of service… to know that we are providing value. This also translates in our innate desire to get the recognition we feel we deserve, and that need for recognition can be inspiring, albeit dangerous as well.
When you can give someone exactly what they’ve been asking for during their first visit, you've effectively just changed their life. That sort of achievement is a drug for us and it makes it easy to want to skim over the consultation process and gallop to the color dispensary - with good intentions - but often poor judgement. We happen to think that much of this Pinterest paradigm can be dissolved when we learn that it’s OK to not only say “no”, but also to educate those in our chair on the 'why' behind it.
Below are a few salon consultation tips and professional recommendations to help you turn your DIY guests into loyal clients.
How many times have you ventured thoroughly into a deep consultation and nearly exhausted the level of conversation before the service even starts? Sounds boring, but in reality you are shifting the client's view of you from simply a service provider – to an expert in your craft. Watch your tips explode just for adding another 3-5 minutes to your consultation. That level of attention to detail and professionalism doesn’t go unnoticed and it’s something we should be living and breathing.
What does your client love about the pictures they brought in? If they decided to bring in a smorgasbord, don’t just choose one and go for it. Ask yourself, "Do all of these pictures have one similar quality? What kind of verbiage is she using to describe the picture?" Be technical, but bring it all back to them and what they are trying to say. It’s always good to verify one last time for good measure. Confirm by saying, “what I’m hearing is…” and before you head back to the shampoo area, hopefully you’ve heard something along the lines of “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m looking for!”
Product Knowledge allows you to demonstrate your brain power and leave no doubt or question behind the value of professional products vs. store bought and/or professional services vs. home remedies. You are setting the bar, ensuring the customer can recreate their desired look at home, and by giving them solutions to the problems you have identified in the consultation. If you skip this part, you can bet that when this client reads about ‘putting coconut oil on your hair every day cures dandruff’, she will believe it.
Under promise and over deliver by guiding your guest toward more realistic expectations. You can guarantee that you’ll retain them and build a long-standing relationship by taking the time to build a “hair plan” over a number of appointment sessions, allowing the service to evolve with integrity at the forefront. If all doesn’t go as you initially had planned, at least you didn’t promise the moon and stars, but also bear in mind that you’ve essentially guaranteed yourself a second visit to make “minor adjustments” next time! Either way, you’re in the drivers seat, you’re the one with the knowledge and experience, you’re the professional. Make it obvious that you are indispensable!
What we mean by that is to be tuned in on your performance. Be mindful of every section you clip, every stroke of your brush, and every guide that you set. There are lots of opportunities to engage in conversation with your guest without sacrificing the level of artistry you put in to the work. Don’t be afraid to say “Sorry if I’m not being very talkative in this part of your haircut, I’m just really in my zone right now.” Your client will value you more for your exquisite quality of care and attention to detail. Surely an experience they can’t get in the kitchen with their bestie, a bottle of wine and a box color.
Take it from us, we have seen some botched hair over the years and we fully recognize it is not your fault. We can always do better, and that’s part of the art of hairdressing. Also, we love that you bring in pictures and we love that you have goals in mind! It gives us direction when you have certain expectations. Would we rather you just tell us “do whatever you want”? – Sure! That tells us that we have earned your trust, which is massive!
Go forth knowing it’s cool to bring us inspiration. The caveat to this unspoken agreement is that we do our jobs well enough before the service starts to conclude whether those expectations are unrealistic or not, but also to give you no reason to think of going through risky lengths to do your hair ‘at any cost’.
Can good practices alone solve the problem or the lie of DIY? Probably not, but bringing the art back into hairdressing will at the very least help you to be more successful and less affected by the – sometimes - laughable stuff on the Interwebs.
We hope that this has helped the salon professional, but also the consumer who could avoid sacrificing the integrity of their hair and/or paying additional fees for failed attempts... And someone put a darn warning label on that drug-store box color packaging, already!
Professionals: Have you had a guest come to you for a DIY correction? We would love to hear your experience! Please share your story in the comments box below.
Salon Guests: Are you a victim of a DIY series? We want to hear from you too! Share your story and let us know how your stylist came to the rescue!