One of the biggest questions you’ll have to ask yourself before you open a salon is what your clients want to get out of it. Sure, haircuts are an easy answer since that is one of the things they go for most often. However, that might not be the reason people will choose a small startup salon. After all, if people just wanted a simple haircut, they could easily go to a chain store like Great Clips. As for what specific types of clients want, I’ll try to cover as broad of a list as possible since there are many types of salons/barbershops. First, we’ll look at the general things people want.
The things clients want in a hair salon are:
- A Good Price and Deals
- A Sanitary Salon
- A Good Atmosphere
- A Sociable and Professional Stylist
A Good Price and Deals
In our world, people are always trying to find a way to save money. Prices are one of the biggest things people look for when choosing a salon. Since people have access to the prices of all the salons in their purses or pockets at all times, they don’t have to go into the salon or call ahead and ask. This makes putting your prices on your website or social media page a high priority.
Customers also like to think they’re getting good deals even if the deal itself isn’t all that much compared to what they’d normally pay. Thinking that they’re getting a good bargain is psychologically pleasing to customers. It gives them a dopamine rush.
However, a good deal doesn’t necessarily mean a low price. If a price is too low, customers will get suspicious. Whether accurate or not, they’ll think you’re desperate and not respect you or they will think you’ll be giving a lower quality product compared to someplace with a higher price. There’s a reason places like dollar stores have a sketchy reputation. The key to setting a price plan that is profitable and doesn’t turn off customers is to try to find a happy medium. You can do research to find what the best prices are. Start by looking at the prices of your competition.
A Sanitary Salon
While salons are places associated with beauty, if run poorly, there are less beautiful things that can lurk around a salon. There are obvious things like head lice. If you’re running a salon geared towards families and children, this can be a major concern for them. No one wants to have to quarantine their kid because they got parasites at the salon.
A poorly maintained salon can also be the source of other diseases. If you’re doing nails, there is a possibility of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis spreading. When dealing with hair and skin, there is also the risk of things like ringworm and pink eye spreading. Salon tools that aren’t frequently cleaned can easily spread bacteria from customer to customer.
Not only is this not what customers want, but it will also kill your business. Small businesses like salons rely heavily on word-of-mouth. Most people choose a salon based on what their friends and family say about it. You don’t want people telling potential customers that they had to go to the hospital for anti-fungal treatments after visiting your salon. You also don’t want them telling that to the media or worse, the government. A disease outbreak will bring a lot of attention that you don’t want. Take my advice and make sure you and your team keep your salon clean.
Making sure you do a thorough but reasonably fast job is a tough art to master but you will have to. People’s lives are busy and sometimes, people pack trips to the salon on top of everything else they’re doing. The last thing people want to do is to sit in the waiting area for hours. Particularly if they’re dealing with someone like a small child who may not like salons too much.
There are ways you can offer convenience. For starters, set things up so you can make appointments online or over the phone. This will help the customer make sure they aren’t waiting too long. There are apps that can memorize a returning customer’s preferences. This can save time on the first phase of a salon visit.
Secondly, be sure to have products for sale and make sure your employees know what to suggest to each client to suit their needs. For a lot of hairstyles, a normal shampooing routine at home isn’t enough. Many hairstyles require higher-end products that can’t be found at your local grocery store. A customer would have to order something online or go to a shopping mall. The latter can be a problem if your town doesn’t have a shopping mall. That’s where a salon having a variety of products at the counter comes in handy. People have the ability to buy the product the stylist recommended to them without having to wait a week or drive across town. This will increase your profit margins as long as you don’t go overboard.
If you’re dealing with a new employee, be sure to teach them how to do a quick but thorough job. It can take a few days for them to find their rhythm but once they do, it will be much easier for everyone.
What qualities are clients looking for in a hairdresser?
A Good Atmosphere
While salons are there to deal with skin, nails, and hair first and foremost, there are other reasons people will go to a salon. For starters, atmosphere. What a good atmosphere means varies between demographics so let’s go over some ways salons try to create an atmosphere.
Music and TV
Even though most people now have their favorite shows and music in the palm of their hand, salons and barbershops often use music and TV to create the kind of mood their demographic wants. If you’re running a salon geared towards families and children, you might have your TV to a show children might like but nothing excessively childish. Otherwise, older kids will be annoyed. Same thing with music. You should also keep parents in mind too. You don’t want them complaining that their kids learned inappropriate words and saw something they shouldn’t have.
Different ethnic demographics may have different preferences in TV and music too. If you’re trying to appeal to a Spanish-speaking clientele, you may want to have the TV set to a Spanish channel for example. Age can factor in as well. For older customers, turn on a network that features a lot of old shows.
Reading material is something you’ll want to provide, too. Try to cover as many different demographics as possible. Kids will like something like Highlights magazine. Women might like something like Women’s Health or People. Men might like car or sports magazines.
If all else fails, have a guest wi-fi password.
A word on politics
There have been some salons and barbershops I’ve been to where the owners loudly and proudly decorated their shop with political paraphernalia and talk about how much they like or dislike some politician or other. It made the experience tenser than it should have been. It’s always uncomfortable even if you agree with the politics in question. As a business owner, there’s no point in alienating half the people in your community. While it’s fine and typical to talk to your clients and each other about the issues of the day, indeed that’s what salons and barbershops are used for in some communities, an owner should never actively try to mix politics and sharp objects.
Instead, you should decorate your shop with things that bring your community together. Things like sports, pictures of the local high school doing some good deed that the press reports on, and other things that create a relaxed atmosphere.
A Sociable and Professional Stylist
Many people go to a salon because the stylist is friendly and nice to talk to. A lot of people actually trust their stylist for advice beyond haircare. You should seek stylists that have good soft skills Part of the salon experience is the conversation after all.
1. People like going to stylists for conversation but are there things I should tell them to not talk about?
Yes. You should instruct your stylists to avoid getting too involved with your clients or giving out advice that they aren’t licensed to give. While people like talking to stylists, there can be a point when getting personal can creep people out. It can also present a problem for the stylist if they give the wrong bit of information to the wrong client
2. In order to preserve a good atmosphere, what are some rules?
While you can’t stop people from talking about sensitive topics entirely, you can and should put your foot down if the conversation is getting too heated, too graphic/gross, or too personal. You should also make sure parents have control of their kids. A lot of customers end up going somewhere else if parents are letting their kids run wild.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Shawn Chun is an entrepreneur who has owned several types of businesses from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now creates online resources for those interested in starting a salon business. It is demanding work he loves to do it. Shawn says “I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive.”
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