This is the second of a three-part series on men’s salons with artist-at-large Caffery Van Horne. Caffery has a background in fashion and 15 years experience in the international hair industry. This week, he’s offering his take on great customer service.
Two Essentials for Creating a VIP Treatment
Here’s number one: you have to be on time. Men – and customers in general – hate to wait. If they plan to do the waiting game, then they’re going to go a barbershop and then it’s first come, first served. If they make the departure from the barbershop to the salon, it’s because they want an appointment. Maybe they want to be able to book on their lunch hour, and know that they can get in there. Their time is down to the minute. So I think a lot of guys really go for that, if you’re on schedule.
Second, for the corporate guy, a flexible schedule helps him.
Some of them can’t get out of work, or they have lives in the morning. So I’ll do a 7:30 in the evening for a guy. And I always find that these clients reflect that in their tipping. They appreciate the fact that you stay late. I have one corporate client that drops a big tip just based on the fact that he knows my workday ends at 7 PM, and that’s when his appointment begins. He really values that I’m accommodating his schedule. I’ve also gotten up at 6 AM for a businessman because he’s that busy. He owns a chain of women’s
clothing stores and sometimes the night before, in packing, he calls me up and says, “Oh my God I’ve gotta get my hair cut. I’ve got a buying show in LA and I look like shit.” And at that point, he won’t even ask what the price is. He’ll just give me a chunk of money because I got up at 6 AM.
I find that those are the cornerstone clients in my business. Because that’s when you really earn a living.
And the question is, do you have the lifestyle to offer that flexibility? The more flexible you are, the more high-end your clients are going to be.
The Keys to a Memorable Visit
Remember your client’s details but don’t get into their business. I’ve always said this. It’s about how well you remember their story—people like to be remembered. They like to know that you know their issue. Because you’re part hair and part shrink. So you have to be up on all fours.
If a guy says, “Yeah I met a great girl”, ask, “How are things going?” at the next visit. If it seems that they’re not that into that line of conversation, they will lead you. Customers always lead you. In five minutes, they will lead you in the direction of where they want the hair to go in, and in the direction that they want the conversation to go. If they’re quiet, leave them alone. If they come in and they’re in a talkative mood, then start talking. It’s a dance. The relationship with your customer is a slow dance, they lead and you follow.
Walk the Floor
Even as salon owner, I shampoo my guy; I hang up his coat, I don’t pass him off to my staff because that’s
impersonal. But still, walk the floor. I put myself in a strategic position in the salon where I can see everything that’s coming and going. Whether or not you do the hair, every head that walks out of your shop is your brand. If you’ve got people working there that don’t represent that brand, either they get better or you fire them. It’s going to take away from your brand. It has to look like you’ve done it, because they represent you.
Missed Part 1? Read Caffery’s input on style
Photos by Stephen Caissie