Top colourists share their best practices for increasing your salon’s colour business.
Having the best technical skills with colour is not the only thing you need to get ahead. To really build your book, you need the right customer service skills, as well. Here, nine past Contessa Canadian Colourist of the Year finalists share their top tips for getting—and keeping—your colour business booming.
1. Show off your work.
“We create commercial collections that feature hair colour clients would be attracted to. Then, we advertise these photos through posters for the salon and sending them in our emails to clients. This creates word-of-mouth that allows for client referrals.
—Silas Tsang, co-owner of Blushes, Ottawa
2. Solicit referrals.
“One rule we use at the salon is to give clients two business cards. One is for them and we ask them to hand the other out to the first person who compliments their hair colour. This is a great way to build clientele. If your clients love their hair colour, they will be happy to do so.”
—Julie Vriesinga, artistic director, Salon Entrenous, London, Ont.
3. Create personalized colour for every client.
“With regard to referrals, we make sure not to give friends the ‘same’ colour! I hear from guests all the time about how their last colourist made them all look the same (they usually discover it when they all get together at a party or for drinks and then the search for a new colourists begins). You have to create a personalized look, especially for referrals!”
—Alann Sluser, owner, KOKO the Salon, Edmonton
4. Know your colour.
“Be aware of what the client needs, whether it’s using a semi/demi permanent, permanent or ammonia-free colour. If you can provide the right type of colour—for example, using a demi-permanent colour or ammonia-free colour when necessary—it can make a world of a difference in giving the hair much more vibrancy and longevity the client never had before. Once you achieve that, the client will never leave you.”
—Tim Kuo, co-owner, Salon Haze, Vancouver
5. Be realistic.
“A client will come in with a picture of a celebrity and say ‘I want to look like this’ and often I have to steer them toward a more realistic look. So, I start off by asking the client what she doesn’t like about her hair. If you can pull out four or five things she doesn’t like and then fix the top one or two things, you’ll be better off. If you nail those two things, she will love it.”
—Michael Shire, director, colourist and stylist, Holt Renfrew Salon, Toronto
6. Tap into your current client base.
“The most important tip is to suggest colour services to all your customers, every visit. We have a tendency, as hairstylists, to stay in our comfort zone. Our job is to suggest new ideas and looks to customers, even the ones who have been coming to the salon for many years! They might not say yes the first time, but the idea of a new colour or a new colour service will grow and they will eventually ask. Suggesting new ideas must happen at every visit.”
—Simon-Pierre Daoust, PlanéteHair Coiffure, Montreal
7. Talk about your education.
“Early on in my career I was hesitant to talk about my experience or education. I realized that this was a huge oversight. Being current and constantly seeking education makes for a great hairstylist. The best advice I can give to young stylists is to constantly seek education, and always remain open to learning.”
—Jessica Van Kuyk, director of technical education, Suki’s, Vancouver
8. Keep it fresh.
“The main reason a colourist loses clients is because they become bored with us. I plan out my clients’ colour a year ahead, adjusting the plan to the client, depending on how trendy they are. The first visit is establishing a new colour that’s great for them, according to the season. The next visit at three to six weeks is maintenance. The visit after that is transitionary—maintenance with a little transition to the next season. The visit after that, we transition to the new season—brighter and lighter for summer, richer for the fall, darker into the winter. Every season has a transition. By letting them know ahead of time, they know change is coming and they never have to ask for it. And they know that I have a plan to keep them current, fun and fresh.”
—Michelle Pargee, owner, Milica SalonSpa, Langley, BC
9. Do a great consultation—every time.
“Clients love the consultation. It’s your chance to sit down, ask questions, explain to them what steps you’re going to take and make them feel comfortable about the service. Especially for clients who are afraid of colour or who’ve had colour problems in the past. Look at their eyes, look at their skin tone as part of the consultation. As you do this, you’re building the trust with them. You hear it so many times and it sounds like a broken record, but it is so important.”
-Marlo Steenman, Hair by Marlo, Edmonton
Hair: Richi Grisillo, Toni&Guy Paddington, Australia; Makeup: Mikele Simone; Styling: Leticia Dare, Photos: Andrew O’Toole.