As some salons across the country continue to deal with capacity restrictions and staff working reduced hours, it’s forced many owners and stylists to start getting creative with their bookings.
As some clients may still be trying to book an appointment, many of them may now be more flexible about their availability. For example, if they’re working from home and able to accommodate your salon’s busy schedule, or they may also be more willing to try someone new. Rather than risk losing the client to another salon, some businesses are beginning to refer more of their clientele to other staff.
“During both of our closures, it created a massive demand for us hairstylists, which in a bad situation was wonderful,” says Eryn Wall, owner of The Head Room in Paradise, Nfld. “I was overwhelmed with the response of people wanting to get in, so it was a great time for me to start transitioning clients. Now, it’s something that I work on regularly to get clients comfortable with trying someone else in the salon.”
Another thing that many salon owners and stylists have learned over the course of the pandemic is the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, which means not overworking themselves to accommodate as many clients as possible.
“Since I’m a mom, I wasn’t taking on many clients [during the pandemic],” says Veronique Beaupre, owner of Local b in Montreal. “The way we work is we’ll match the client with the stylist based on the client’s expectation and budget. It’s not just about asking the client to go to whoever’s chair is free.”
As a Contessa award-winning salon owner, master stylist and educator for L’Oréal Professionnel, Beaupre says there continues to be a high demand for her services in the salon. However, she says it’s important to focus on bringing out your team’s strengths.
“I’m good at a lot of things but not everything,” she says. “Our team are all different and we’re strong because of that. We could all learn the same things, but for us it’s about having more tools under our belt as a team. I think the retention is better when you properly match the client with the right stylist.”
“I always think about personalities,” adds Wall. “If you know a client fairly well, you’ll know who they’re going to jive with on your team.”
While the idea of transitioning your clientele isn’t new, managing it during a pandemic sure is! For Wall, her province’s restrictions weren’t as strict as in other parts of the country. However, she still needed to implement measures to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including extending the salon’s hours of operation and shifting her staff’s schedules.
As a busy salon owner, Wella Top Stylist and educator for Great Lengths Canada, Wall also continues to maintain a regular schedule in the salon. While she admits that she wasn’t necessarily looking to transition any of her clients to her staff, the opportunity naturally presented itself during the pandemic.
“I can’t say I’ve ever looked at my clientele with the intention of transitioning some and not others,” she says. “If I have a full day booked and somebody wants to get in right away or their schedule no longer works with mine, that’s when I’ll start recommending other stylists.”
“Now, if a new guest calls the salon, unless they specifically request me then the rule is don’t give them to me,” adds Wall. “We want to build up our other stylists.”
Where to Start
Although Beaupre and Wall have different approaches when transitioning clients in their salons, the end goal remains the same: To build their team and business.
While a change in availability is often when you may begin thinking about moving clients around to other staff, you may also want to base it on the type of service they’re coming to you for. A prime example is root touch-ups, which are likely easier for another staff to take over as opposed to a specific haircut or colour correction.
For salon owners and stylists who want to begin transitioning their clients but may not know where to start, Wall says it’s all about communication.
“I think the biggest thing is being open and honest with your clients and staff,” says Wall. “Letting them know the reason they may need to be doing this transitioning—whether you’re overbooked or the available times aren’t working. Also, always letting both parties know that you’re always there and available for any questions or help.”
PRO TIP: If there’s a specific client or type of service you want to begin transitioning to your staff, Wall recommending including another stylist in your consultation and/or appointment to introduce them to the client and get them more involved. It will make the transition more comfortable for everyone.
To help clients feel more comfortable about working with another stylist, it’s also important to manage their expectations.
“Make sure you’re briefing the client on why [you think they’ll be a good fit with a specific member of your team],” says Beaupre. “At our salon, we share clients. If I’m not there, then I want my team is to be able to be there for my client. So in the salon we have open conversations about colour consultations and getting the best results. I think it’s great to have more minds involved and to work together.”
“I always make sure I introduce my client to whoever the staff member would be. I talk to them about their similarities, experience level and why I feel their level of expertise would match or be very similar to mine,” adds Wall. “Most of my clientele have been with me for quite a while. Not only do they know me, but many know a lot of my stylists, so it’s easy to start talking to them about perhaps having one of my other stylists take care of them for their next appointment. It helps reassure them.”
PULL-QUOTE: “It’s all about building the business and growing all of my other stylists. I always express to my clients if they prefer to stay with anyone else on my team—whether it’s because that stylist has more time or availability—it’s completely fine with me. I’m just thrilled to have them stay within my salon and business, as opposed to taking that elsewhere.” — Eryn Wall, owner, The Head Room, Paradise, Nfld.
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