Strengthen Your Salon Networking Skills by Marco Pelusi
Strengthen Your Salon Networking Skills
by Marco Pelusi
Like it or not, we have to continuously sell ourselves and connect with people for more business.
Whether you're just starting out in the salon business or you've been around for a while, networking is one of the most important and essential parts of the job.
It's a lot of pressure, especially if you're shy, and there's always a chance that you seem too fake, too desperate or too pushy. But if you keep the following dos and don'ts in mind, you'll turn more clients on than off.
Ask your clients for referrals. Word of mouth is the best way to get new business, so go ahead, ask your existing clients to refer you. They may not think you want nor need more business, so you have to speak up. Give them business cards to hand out, and offer them incentives, such as a discount or a free hair product whenever they're mentioned as a referral.
Make friends with the concierge. If you're near a hotel, offer the concierge or hotel manager a complimentary hair service. This fosters a new relationship and allows them to experience your salon. Each time a hotel guest asks about their hair, the concierge or manager may recommend you, which means you'll get lots of referrals.
Throw an event. A networking event always is a good idea, especially if it's focused on a local event or business association. You could offer complimentary consultations and samples, as well as food and wine, to guests. If you have a public relations (PR) firm, ask them to set this up. If not, post invitations on social networks, and ask friends and local business managers to help you spread the word. Be sure to give guests a special offer on their first visit back to encourage repeat visits.
Be a gracious host. When you're networking, display yourself in a positive, professional way. None of us are perfect, but how we present ourselves can lead to referrals. Always receive clients with warmth, and consider sending a thank you note after their visit. It doesn't have to be fancy; a simple email will do. If you let your clients know you appreciate them, they'll appreciate you back.
Air your dirty laundry. It's easy to get caught up in the idea that it's our business and forget we work in a service industry. But we have to remember people come to us to feel and look their best, so satisfaction must be guaranteed. If you're having a bad day, keep it to yourself. As my mom always says, even if the building is falling down, you must ask the client, "May I get you something?"
Hound your clients. There's persistence, and then there's annoyance. Whether you're sending follow-up emails or follow-me requests, try not to be repetitive or overbearing. People will just tune you out. For example, one follow-up email is enough. If you haven't heard back after several weeks, feel free to email once more, but with new information, such as a promotion or event you have coming up. Less is more.
Tune out negative feedback. The main reason clients don't return to their hairdressers is because they're not getting what they want. Consider it a luxury when a client tells you he or she didn't like what you did. The real problem is when a client does not give you a chance to correct the problem, and then tells his or her friends not to go to you. Encourage feedback in person, and then offer a solution. You might just win them — and their referrals — for good.
Building relationships based on professionalism and trust is the strongest key to success, in every possible way. This is particularly true in the beauty biz, where clients demand a personal connection. All we have is our reputation, and strong referrals are golden. So take the time to strengthen your networking skills — with clients, friends, friends of friends, business neighbors, hotel guests and just about anyone you meet — and you will create a constant flow of business to your chair.
Marco Pelusi is globally recognized as a leading haircolor authority, platform artist and educator, and celebrity haircolorist. Pelusi created the Marco Collagen Color Guard HairCare System, the collagen system developed for color and chemically treated hair. Marco is available for one-on-one intensive color training at his studio. For more information, visit www.marcopelusi.com.