Working as a professional hairstylist can be a challenging profession, especially when you're first getting started.
In those early days, you'll probably have plenty of skills and a fair bit of experience, but you'll also be a relative unknown.
How can you get the word out? What does it take to establish a steady flow of clients who will make sure you can pay your bills?
If you're looking for answers to these questions, then you're in the right place, because today we're going to be talking about how to get more clients as a hairstylist. We even consulted with an award-winning hairstylist to make sure our advice was both practical and valuable.
So put your scissors down for a second and switch to a notepad. These are tips you'll want to keep in your back pocket as you forge your career.
We have to start out with an obvious one: if you want to get more clients, then your styling skills need to be top-notch.
No hairstylist starts out as an expert. That takes time and a whole lot of real-world experience. But from the start, you should have a firm grasp of the basics, as well as all the tools you'll be needing, especially if you're planning to do some freelance work.
You need to understand proper shampooing and conditioning, sectioning, teasing, multiple varieties of braiding, and so much more. You should also have a good idea of what the currently popular styles and techniques are.
It's not a bad idea to keep up with fashion and beauty sites, as well as follow other stylists or even models on social media.
The customer is always right, and if a customer asks you to do something that you just don't know how to do, then it's unlikely they'll be coming back to you in the future.
Speaking of customers, let's talk about how to keep them happy.
Obviously, clients come to hairstylists for new looks, but they’ll return to stylists with whom they feel comfortable.
Clients will have their own preferences when it comes to how you communicate with each other and whether or not to engage in small talk.
When you're working with a customer who is also a prospective recurring client, one of the best things you can do is to take note of what they want and what their personality is like.
The main goal here is to understand exactly how the customer would like their hair styled, but it's also an opportunity to learn what they like in a hairstylist.
For example, if you try to strike up a conversation and the customer only responds with brief, curt answers, it might be a sign that they don't like chatting with their hairstylist.
Over time, try to keep track of the needs and wants of specific clients. If it's taxing your memory, then you can jot down basic notes about each client.
This approach also extends to general customer service. Customers can be difficult. Sometimes a bad mood has to do with the immediate situation, and other times it's caused by something in the customer's personal life.
You might not be able to put them in a good mood, but at the very least, don't upset the customer further. Getting into an argument with a customer, however minor, isn't the way to win new clients.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you can establish a sense of trust and comfort between yourself and the customer, they'll be much more likely to come back for more.
Hairstyling is a highly personal profession, and it's common for a hairstylist and a client to become close, especially if the client has been coming to them for years.
And this also means that personal referrals carry a great deal of weight. When someone is looking for a new stylist, they'll probably search around online, looking for salons in convenient locations, but this person is most likely to trust word-of-mouth from a friend or relative.
So yes, you may attract some new clients through an online listing or by maintaining a website that showcases your work, but one of the best ways to gain new clients, bar none, is to receive referrals from existing clients or maybe even other stylists who can't accommodate certain clients anymore, for whatever reason.
Referrals are the natural result of doing good work and building trust with your current slate of clients, but you can also be a bit more active by mentioning to some of your best clients that you're open to taking on new clients.
The more clients you earn, the better the odds of spreading even more positive word-of-mouth.
The next tip comes from Kiyotaka Tsutsumi, a highly accomplished expert hairstylist and founding member of the MEY hair salon in New York City. He previously worked with a number of renowned salons, including UKA, Hair 432, and Album Hair in Tokyo, as well as Tokuyama Salon in New York.
Tsutsumi has represented salons in media coverage and has also styled a number of celebrities for events and television. He has also competed in numerous competitions and earned multiple awards, in addition to styling clients for advertising campaigns for brands like VIP Jeans, Gelato Pique USA, and bon Bricolage by Reiko Hosenji.
Needless to say, Tsutsumi has gained a large number of clients throughout his career, and when speaking with us, he emphasized the importance of offering a highly personalized experience based on a number of factors.
"It's important to understand not just their hair. We also have to understand their fashion, makeup, and even their occupation, and then propose hairstyles that take these factors into account."
This is an extension of the customer service standards we discussed earlier. Taking these factors into account, as Tsutsumi suggests, represents an opportunity to go above and beyond for the client, offering exceptional service tailored to the individual.
This is also just a great way to retain clients over long periods of time. With trust, the two of you can collaborate to create incredible looks.
As we mentioned at the start, getting more clients as a hairstylist is the most difficult at the very beginning of your career. But if you're doing good work, then people are bound to notice.
Just remember that, in the early days, you have to be your own biggest fan. Be confident, trust your abilities, and treat every customer with kindness.
With time and dedication, you'll build a client list to be proud of.