Do Hairstylists Have Hairstylists?
I love getting my hair done! When I travel I make an effort to book a hair appointment wherever I am going. I’ve had my hair done in Belize, France, Dominican Republic, Ireland, England, and most of the United States.
But you know what? I have learned that most hairstylists never schedule appointments for their own hair. Instead the experience is usually something like this:
- Get it done when you have a free minute at work, and when (by the grace of God) one of your co-workers has a free minute too.
- Coordinate to come in on a day off and do your co-workers hair while your own hair is processing.
- Or worse still, we sometimes take matters into our own hands.
Because of that a lot of hairstylists (especially seasoned ones) actually grow to hate having their hair done. And that is a problem. By not carving out time in your life to actually set up an appointment to get your hair done in a salon like a normal client you are missing our on a bit opportunity for professional development.
A Proper Hair Appointment will Enhance Professional Development
The reason hairstylists should have hairstylists has very little to do with looking professional, instead it has everything to do with feeling the “customer experience” from start to finish.
As a group, we spend our careers exposing ourselves to new techniques, and mastering our craft, but we rarely make a an effort to hone and evolve our customer service skills. We spend years working under the assumption we know how to treat and talk to our clients, because it seems to be working for us. But what if we’ve been missing the mark?
Think about it. Let’s say it’s been 5 years since you’ve had a proper appointment to get your hair done in a salon. If you are no longer sitting in a styling chair as a client, how on earth are you checking to see if your own chairside manner is keeping in the spirit with how you’d like to be treated? Or at least up to par with your industry peers? Without the actual experience you could be working with a handicap and missing out on a huge component of your job.
As we already know, the customer experience pertains to the details that have been drilled into us:
- Thank You Cards
But when the roles are switched, and you take time to be a client again you’ll actually gain some additional insight into the one thing we don’t focus on: The Small Details.
The SMALL Details You ONLY Learn When You Become A Client Again
This is what you haven’t been taught because it’s subjective to who you are as a client (instead of who you are as a hairstylist):
- What am I willing to pay extra money for?
- How do I like to be sold product?
- What will keep me coming back to this stylist?
- Does that salon seem clean?
- Are the tools being used in good condition?
- Is there anything I am pleasantly surprised by during my service?
- Did I learn something?
- What worked? What didn’t?
- Did I rebook before I left? Why?
The more often you become a client, the better you will be with your own clients. Regardless of whether the experience is good, bad, or indifferent, this exercise will bring you one step closer to relating with your own clients.
The Common Misconceptions
Misconception #1: Going to get a facial, a massage, a manicure (any other beauty service that’s not hair) will teach you the same lessons about the customer experience.
Actually, no. It’s like apples and oranges. Having other salon services will give you a general feel for what succeeds and fails in the service industry. But having a hair appointment, a service you do day to day on your clients, will give you specific feedback by showcasing the skills you currently use, and maybe some you never thought to use. Nothing will deliver this information in a more clearer, comparable, easy to digest way.
Misconception #2: I can’t go to another salon because I don’t have the time, the money, the patience, or some other excuse, to have another stylist do my hair.
You should really think about it and evaluate your priorities. Just like many of us come in on our days off to attend classes, and some of us fly across the country to learn something new, why should this be any different? This is education. Something as simple as booking a blowout with another stylist will help you develop your personal approach to relating to your clients. It should be a priority in your professional growth.
Misconception #3: I work for a salon has a policy against getting hair services done at other salons.
If this is actually the case, this is a perfect example of the bitter, mean-spirited, out-dated policies salons will sometimes still pretend like they can enforce. If you work for a mean-spirited salon, consider jumping ship. You should NEVER let someone control you, and that includes your choice in who does your hair. A policy like that is exactly why so many of us are compelled to compete with each other instead of collaborate.
The whole point of this exercise is to become self-aware and learn from each other. Learning from your peers is how you get better. And your peers aren’t just the people that work in the chair next to you, it’s estimated there are about 700,000 hair stylists and barbers in the US… those are your peers too. That’s a huge pool of talented people to start learning from.
Bonus: What Did I Learn This time?
Even though I’ve been in the business for like a million years now, I always learn something when I am a client. Here’s what I learned this time: The Good and The Not So Good
- The hairstylist is friendly and consults well. She wants to offer me new hairstyle ideas, but respects that I know what I like, AKA I’m not into having bangs, thanks.
- Her assistant gives me one of the greatest shampoo experiences I’ve had in the US. She wraps my head in a hot towel to do a scalp massage while the conditioner was soaking on my ends. I don’t do that for my clients, but I definitely might do it now!
The Not So Good
- The hairstylist opts not to use a cutting cape. Instead she has me slip a color robe on over what I am wearing. And honesty: I hate it. Even though I feel like it looks more flattering when I am seeing myself in the mirror during my haircut, the robe is not water resistant so my long hair is SOAKING my back during my haircut, and that means its SOAKING my designer blouse. I’m annoyed. Also, when I stand up there is hair ALL OVER me, and it inevitable drops into my nearby handbag. Gross.
- When I am closing out the sale and trying to rebook, I am met with opposition: “Do you have anything on June 21st?”, “Nope.” No alternative, no solutions, just “Nope”, after, “Nope”, after, “Nope.” That was kind of annoying.
I am re-booked to see her again in 6 weeks, and I’m sure I’ll learn a few more things then!
If this industry is indeed your passion, you need to make yourself available to learning new things. Throughout your whole career. In every possible aspect. There is always room to improve. If you don’t have a hairstylist or make it a habit to get your hair done in other salons it begs the question: Why do you assume your clients value your skills, and pay up for your services, but then you forgo the opportunity to value it yourself?
Giddy up, go book yourself a hair appointment!