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A Practical Guide for Hairstylists to Prosper in Today’s Economy

In my last installment, “Today’s Tough Economy: Crisis…or Opportunity?“, I discussed the importance of maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity. And our industry certainly has its share of adversities today! From price and commission wars to poor salon management, from finding the marketing dollars to keep the clients coming in and staying competitive…. And this doesn’t even begin to speak of the state of our current economy! It’s no wonder hairstylists, especially those newer in the business, are quitting or switching careers at unprecedented levels today. And many of those stylists that are staying afloat are struggling under all the pressures of today’s environment.

After my last article, I was contacted by numerous hairstylists, newbies and seasoned veterans alike, with stories of their personal struggles. The one common element in my conversation with virtually everyone went along these lines: “Jon, I know you said all this adversity is really an opportunity for those of us with tenacity and right attitude. But how do I really do that? What can I specifically do to not just stay afloat, but prosper again?”

Hairdresser Career Development Systems is your partner in helping you meet these challenges and opportunities with confidence.

Despite all the doom and gloom and numerous challenges facing our profession today, there are those that not only make it through bad times but thrive! If you are a savvy stylist committed to excellence, you will never lack for business. Let me put it another way: if you truly want to succeed, you will. It’s really that simple.

Believe it or not, our profession is a recession proof business, once you create a demand for your services. Yes, you may have dozens or even hundreds of competing hairstylists in your geographic area, but ask yourself how many are really prospering? Which of your competitors always have their chairs full with top-paying clients?

Take a look around at your competitive landscape, and determine those stylists that are really achieving the level of success you would like to. I bet you discover that less than 5% of your ‘competitors’ are doing the kind of business YOU know you can! So there, now you have just cut your competition down by 95%! Sometimes, just removing that negative mindset is enough to set you free to start reaching your real potential.

You have also done something else by isolating your ‘real’, successful competitors; you have found yourself a benchmark, or mentor to emulate and/or learn from. What is it they are doing that you aren’t? What kind of marketing and advertising do they do? What kind of relationship do they have with their clients? This information isn’t difficult to find out. Now take from it and implement those successful actions yourself!

I don’t mean copy or steal from your competition, but learn from them. Find their successful actions and make them your own. Implement them into your own unique personality and special skill set. You’d be surprised, it’s often the most simple things that make the biggest difference, not being in the trendiest salon or having two assistants. Remember, this is one of the few professions where you can get all the overtime you want once you create a demand for your services.

By the way, you should also similarly look at those colleagues that are NOT succeeding, or struggling to keep their jobs. Often, learning from others’ mistakes and avoiding those pitfalls is more beneficial than following the leaders!

The sky is the limit, no matter what the current state of the economy. Believe in that and you will soon be in that elite 5%.

Here are some other tips to prospering in a tough economy:

  • Seek out self improvement through knowledge and education. This is probably the most important thing you can do. The best of the best, no matter what profession they are in, are always trying to better themselves through new knowledge and education. Knowledge is power; it will renew your passion to keep getting better, AND give you more services and skills to offer your clients and set you apart. The more you learn, the more you earn!
  • Develop a winning and positive attitude towards your personal life as well as your business. Being a happier person in general will make you more positive and passionate in every aspect of your life, including your career.
  • Don’t switch salons or jobs; give yourself time to build, especially if you are newer in your career. Be patient, it takes time to build an enthusiastic and loyal clientele!
  • Avoid salon gossip and the pettiness that tends to run rampant in most salons. Be above it and maintain your professional image with your co-workers as well as your clients. Spend that extra time getting more customers!
  • Excel at customer service and exceed expectations. If you want to be respected and compensated like a professional then you must look and act like a professional at peak performance ALL the time. Be consistent, on time, and give 110%.
  • Seek out feedback from your customers. Many customers would be happy to fill out a brief questionnaire to let you know their experience and what they think you could be doing better.  Never take criticism personally, but do take it to heart and change those things you are hearing consistently could be improved upon. Remember, the customer is always right!
  • Develop a marketing mentality. This is critical also! And it doesn’t even need to involve spending any money. Remember, this is a referral / word-of-mouth based industry. Every person you come across, not just while working, but in the grocery store, your church, your children’s school… everyone is a potential customer. Toot your own horn! Keep first-time customer discount cards with you at all times. Little measures like that can go a huge way.
  • Sell more services to your regular customers. Bundle services together to encourage upsell. Consider getting educated on the latest skills or services that your top competitors are doing, and add them to your repertoire. Don’t forget to let everyone know you now can offer that service too!
  • Ask for referrals! As Gandhi said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It never ceases to amaze me how many hairstylists do not ask for referrals! This is the LIFEBLOOD of our business. And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be in-your-face measures either. Make sure each customer leaving your chair is given at least two business cards and maybe a discount card too. Offer them a free service for referring a family member or friend. Or here’s a great little script to use on your regulars: “Joan, I need your advice. I’m growing my personal client list, and I want to have more wonderful clients just like you. If you were me, how would you do that?” This makes your client a trusted confidante and equal you are asking for advice (not referrals!) from – I guarantee you, you will be amazed at the kind of response you get. They may offer you family or friends’ names on the spot, or the other women in their bridge club. They might give you ideas of ways to prospect you never thought of!
  • Duplicate your best, most loyal clients. This goes along with the bullet above, but with a slightly different twist. It’s a fact that people similar in personality, socio-economic status, etc tend to attract and hang around with other people like them. Find out who your best clients hang out with! Where do they go for fun? What kind of groups do they belong to? Do they live in a particular neighborhood or part of town? Instead of marketing to the masses, specialize your prospecting efforts to these circles.

If you take on and really work at just a few of the tips above, I guarantee you will see your career take off, and guess what? Success just breeds more success, even in a down economy!

I also urge you to read my book, A Hairdresser’s Guide to Success – Personal, Professionally, and Financially, as well as my newest pamphlet 91 Tips for Success and audio CD A Hairdresser’s Guide to Excellence. Click here to get these items now! Don’t forget to sign up for my quarterly FREE newsletter also at www.hcds4you.com.

Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game. Then you have to play better than anyone else.”

I challenge you this month to go out and give it you’re A-game. Watch the rewards come rolling in and soon you will be in that 5% tier of recession-proof hairstylists prospering no matter what!

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