Terry Hawkins is a professional who specializes in transformational work, keynotes and short presentations for short and long term clients. She mainly focuses on working with businesses that deal directly with customers. She has been working with salons for over 15 years.
What does it take to be a stylist?
There are so many different angles to this amazing profession, and my specialty isn’t in the hair styling side. Mine is the customer/team connection aspect. Your styling skills, albeit the most essential starting point, are just one part of being an excellent stylist. There are a lot of stylists who, with good intentions, impose their own impression of what they think onto the client, but it’s really a two-way relationship. It’s about rapport, trust, and getting inside a clients’ mind to really see what they want to see, and anticipate how they want to feel. What kind of person are you? Are you likable? Are you gentle with your customers? Have you learned how to give an exceptional head massage? This is so critical. Did you know that you are actually pouring love into your clients, one at a time, by how you do your head massage?
What have you learned from presenting to the salon industry?
When it comes to presentations, my favorite kind of audience are hairdressers. They’re just gorgeous people who come with their hearts wide open. They’re a bit more extroverted and playful as well which makes for a wonderful high-energy exchange.
I’ve also learned that the salon industry has become more segmented. Working in a salon is about creating a transformational experience for the customer. I think that when you use the term stylist, there’s a disconnect between selling products and using products. Some stylists can be at the station doing hair all day long, talking about the products but not adding emphasis on the customer needing to take those products home. One of the greatest values a hairdresser can provide to a customer is to help them learn how to recreate their style and/or manage it at home. Stylists need enhanced skills to sell product from their chair. Unfortunately a lot of the time we learn through tribal knowledge – listening to others around us and just doing and saying what they say. There is a strategy and process to introducing product at the right time.
Isn’t selling complicated? Wouldn’t stylists rather just “do hair” than worry about “selling”?
I have worked with hundreds of organizations and we talk about this a lot. Some stylists can have their radar up and be afraid to sell, usually because they haven’t been given the tools, techniques and mindset to do it well. Because of this, the stylist can feel fearful of suggesting products. When a customer senses that fear (unconsciously), it is almost impossible to build trust. The brain cannot hold fear and trust at the same time. You either build trust, or you build fear. When fear sets in we start to spiral down we start doubting ourselves. That “voice” in our head starts: “What do they think of me?” “Do they think I am pushy?” “If they wanted a conditioning treatment they would have asked me!” And so, we shy away from offering all of the wonderful product resources we have in the salon, and the customer only gets half the experience. When we always make it about the customer, the suggesting becomes so much easier – but of course there is a way to do it well, and not! Our focus should be on making it easier for the customer to do what you as a stylist already does. Period.
So stylists hesitate to recommend products because of a fear of rejection?
100% they do. I say, it’s really not “selling” to them, you are giving them information they need to take care of their hair and image. There is a process to handling rejection well, but for now gaining commitment from them to take the products home can be as simple as asking for the sale. That’s where skill sets and mindsets are both required. I do believe if you have a highly trained team that come from a good intent, offer great value, and have solid morals in your business, then you’ll make the money. When you align those four attributes, the more money you are making, the more lives you are changing in a positive way.
Sometimes we hear customers share that they were disappointed with their service and the stylist didn’t do what they wanted. Just how critical are communication skills for salon professionals?
We all have ways of processing what we hear, see and feel. It can be easy to fall into the robotic questions: “What are we doing today?” The consult as we all know, is so vital, yet perhaps we don’t check in enough sometimes. It’s important to clarify, in detail, what you believe you have heard – continually ask along the way. “Are you okay?” “How is this?” Tune into their verbal and non-verbal messages. Look at their face for signs of approval/disapproval. We really do need to be fully present. I don’t how many times I have sat in “the chair”, and listened to two stylists beside each other carry on an in-depth conversation oblivious to the customers they are styling. Often I have thought, “Wow, did I come to actually just be a head you’re working on, while you have a social experience?” Read your client well. Some discussion might be okay to have like this but at least include the guest in it.
People are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. If they’re visually oriented, they can bring in a picture of the hairstyle or color they want. If they’re auditory, then talking and listening is the communication style that’s going to work for them. It they’re kinesthetic you really need to over communicate what you’re doing. It’s about their feelings, how do they feel about what you are doing to their hair?
Here’s an example of a communication disconnect I experienced once in the salon. I went in wanting foils. Instead of doing foils all over, she put in a base color. When I told her I was upset about it she said, “I wasn’t sure if you wanted to spend the extra money to get that many foils.” Just ask me! It was an example how as a stylist you can accidentally make judgments about what the client wants. Ultimately, it’s not your place to decide, it’s the customers. I think over communicating is always the best option when deciphering people’s needs.
What do you look for in a hairstylist?
I look for someone who makes it all about me. I cannot stand it when I have a stylist who constantly talks about themselves, through the whole salon appointment. A little bit is fine – but not constantly. I can also a private person, so I love it when they can read me well, and not force the conversation.
What other advice do you have for stylists on how to act professionally in a salon?
Here’s a personal example that I hope has some valuable takeaways. I went to my stylist for a service and another stylist started chatting to her about my hair. Together they talked back and forth with each other, the other stylists actually saying, “I wouldn’t have done that because the hair doesn’t sit flat.” It was like I wasn’t even there. I felt somewhat offended, and then doubtful about my stylist. So here’s my advice: don’t discuss your client in front of that client. Stop having conversations that don’t include the customer, and NEVER discuss anything you’re unhappy with regarding the salon and those you work with. That just creates such a negative, gossipy feeling for the customer, and it happens way too often.
Get to know every client, and don’t ignore them. Suggest how to look after their hair. Teach them. Let them know about the products you are using on their hair, in the moment, and demonstrate how you are using it. When you present the information this way, you’re not pushing a product on them, you’re helping them.
Being a stylist really is an honorable career isn’t it? You provide a very personal service to clients all day long.
Absolutely! Make it completely about the other person. Look at your stage…we as a hairdressing industry are one of the very few industries where someone gives you permission to physically touch them. There are a lot of lonely, hurting people in this world. The kindness, and gentleness you allow to come through your fingertips, may be the reassurance and support they need that day.
We hear how scalp massage is all the rage for men in barbershops, but do women like it too?
Most definitely they do, yet look at what happens in the salon? More often than not, we put our most inexperienced person in charge of washing the hair. Not all salons are like that, but I would really place huge importance on this role, even if they are still an apprentice. This is the “connection” piece. We need to teach the art of massage, and be able to pour love through our fingers – lovingly massage their scalp, in a healing way. We need to “check in” with them. Is it too hard, too hot or cold? Make an emotional connection during this part of the service and you will begin to take hairdressing to the next level. I think the hair wash and scalp massage is the most important job in the salon – it should be like a ritual.
What advice would you give someone considering joining the salon industry?
I would tell them to go for it, and if they’re scared, just jump! Live in the beating of their chest! When our heart is pounding the fastest, our life is about to change in a powerful way. What do I mean by that? Every day of my life my heart beats fast. It may be nervousness, fear or hesitation, it could be excitement. But listen to this. Never let a feeling make you move away from what you want. Sit in the feeling, and do it anyway. Like Susan Jessers says in her book: Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. A hairstylist is simply one of the most beautiful careers on the planet, because you get to change peoples’ lives chair by chair, day by day. There really are only two times in life: now and too late!
What’s your last advice for us for those of us who stop what we want to do, because doubt creeps in?
Fear is oxygen for doubt, and we all feel it at times. Life is about moving forward regardless, and continually learning as we go. Even when we have those really tough moments… they usually always precede something wonderful. It’s the ebb and flow of life … we never, ever fail. We just get “feedback”! It’s what we do with that feedback that will determine whether we progress or regress. Hairdressers are changing lives everyday. If ever you’re having a bad day, go make another person’s day brighter. What this industry does is SO important. You are helping to heal hearts, through creating beautiful hair! You can’t get much better than that!
Terry Hawkins is an award-winning speaker, entrepreneur, author and founder/CEO of People In Progress Global. Terry’s dynamic, transformational presentation style and her powerful, action-based messages have made her the most in-demand speaker throughout Australia, and she now continues her journey as a resident of the USA. www.TerryHawkins.com | www.PeopleInProgressGlobal.com | Facebook.com/TerryHawkins1 | Twitter.com/TerryHawkinsUSA