Thursday, February 9, 2012
Salon hoppers: Words of Wisdom
Recently, I ran into a hairstylist originally from Tennessee. She said that she likes living in the metro Charlotte, NC area, but as far as hair was concerned -- there are a lot of "salon hoppers." I had to laugh because she is right. People just hop, hop, hop from one chair to the next. It is frustrating to many hairstylists. Many single, professional hairstylists who want to enjoy some of the finer things in life have moved on to larger cities where there is more of a "social butterfly" demand plus more disposable income.
The seasoned salon owners know that our beauty industry has been in a decline for a solid five years or more. Smart salon owners with a large overhead sold their salons about three to five years ago nationwide.
Hair is a practice just like a doctor, attorney, and dentist. A client can go to a celebrity hairstylist and pay $500 for a relaxer service, but if the stylist does not perform relaxer services on a regular basis then the client may find that she could have gone to the "hood" and got the same look for $50.
This does not mean that the celebrity stylist is not good. It just means that stylist and the client were not a good match. Just like all doctors are not a good match. Lawyers are not all a good match. You get the picture.
Also, on a separate note, loyalty is important. Oprah has stuck with the same hairstylist through thick and thin. We all have seen Oprah's hair go through some highs and lows. Michelle Obama is sticking with her hairstylist as well and you know even she has had some high and lows as far as hair.
Clients looking solely for great "style"-they need to find someone who has the same style that they are looking for and the same hair texture and go to that hairstylist for that particular style.
Otherwise, if a client is looking for a hairstylist that cares about her individual hair texture, and the stylist goes to continuing education classes voluntarily to constantly improve their practice, then that is when you find a hair stylist that is a partner.
I have never met a perfect hairstylist. Those who are too closed minded to learn from others are the scariest hairstylists to me.
Also, as a seasoned stylist, I have learned if you talk negative about another hairstylist then you cast doubt on the whole hair profession. We all have the same state issued hair license. When I hear bad things about a hair stylist, I can usually figure out what happened without talking to the stylist. If the stylist is overworked or hungry, then they/we may make a mistake. They/we are human.
If you do not want a sleepy doctor performing surgery on you, then you do not want to be the last person of a 15 hour work day if you need a hair chemical. Mistakes will happen. Stylists must learn to schedule breaks even if it means charging more and booking less clients. I could go on and on about the hair industry, but the real salon scoop is to get to know the hairstylist beliefs, respect her pricing, understand loyalty, and give feedback. See if you can work with the stylist. Most of my clients have their own practice or business - they know that I work to find solutions and all I Do is hair and write about hair.
Finding the right hairstylist can be as simple as going to a "safe" "hole in the wall" establishment.
I have included a quick chart comparing hairdressers to doctors and attorneys. We all are regulated by a state Board. We all are in a practice where practice make perfect. We all can concentrate on a specialty such as colorist and haircuts.
Where hairdressers differ from doctors is that we typically do not accept insurance and there is no co-pay. It is totally out of pocket. Also, many clients expect hairdressers to "nail" it on the first visit; where doctors just keep you coming back for a new prescriptions until they find something that works.
Where hairdressers differ from attorneys/lawyers is that we typically do not clear a six figure salary. We can not raise pricing without losing some clientele.
Most medical and dental procedures have had multiple price increases. Hair service pricing in general have stayed the same for the last 20 years. Yet, beauty supplies have gone up. Gasoline has gone up. Housing and transportation has gone up.
For hairstylists, the passion keeps them in business. I just noticed another local salon/spa was running a flier promoting everything from "weight loss" plans to facials to "waxing" to "botox" to "massage" to "laser hair removal." "Haircuts" were the least mentioned service. No color service nor nail services were mentioned at all. I was totally blown away. This particular salon was known as a full service salon/spa/boutique. It now seems to be steering toward more "beauty and wellness." Probably a good idea. "Styling" can be so visually "subjective." Facials and massages are a "feel good" or not opinion.
Also, on a separate note, a few years ago, the Ratner company sold all of the hair salons in SC and NC to the Regis Corporation. Remember the "Hair Cuttery" turned into "Famous Hair?" Also, Salon Cielo also sold their NC and SC hair salons to Regis Corporation.
Between salon hoppers and the "family focused" lifestyle of the South, the hair industry in the South will continue to be lower paying than the more metropolitan areas of the United States of America.