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12 Tips for New Hairstylists and Artists

Building trust and improving salon experience
If you’re new to the hair industry and just getting your start as a stylist, you are about to embark on one of the most exciting and fulfilling journeys of your life. We mean it when we say that this is a time to celebrate!

That being said, in our time as educators in the hair space, we’ve seen many new stylists struggle with some of the same challenges over and over again. This can include anything from:
  • Building and retaining clients
  • Gaining confidence in your formulation abilities
  • Knowing when to use one process or technique over another
  • Setting healthy boundaries and keep yourself from burning out
  • And more

With this in mind, we wanted to pull together a list of tips that new stylists can use to start their careers off on the right foot.

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Tips for Building and Retaining Your Client Base

All established stylists know how important a steady, regular client base is for success. These are the people who you know you can fill your appointment book with; they’re the people who love your work so much that they keep coming back time and time again.

But building a clientele can be a challenge in the first 2 years after graduation. Many stylists give up during this time because they often have to work a second job until it's somewhat more consistent. Here are some tips to help you build and retain your client base.

1. Start a referral program.

Especially when you’re first starting out, referrals are going to be your best friend. Remember that the energy you put into your work will advertise itself when it walks out the door. Always make sure to finish someone’s hair in a way that will be a walking billboard. Most people cannot style their hair the way that you do, so you have really just one opportunity to make that impact on whoever they may see that day and say, “ I love your hair! Where did you get it done?”

Starting a referral program also gives your clients an incentive to pass business your way, which can be a big help when you’re just getting established.

2. Hand out your card to people you want as clients.

Don’t be afraid to do this. Saying something like, “ I love your style and have a great idea for your hair, here’s my card” is a warm way to make them feel welcome and excited. If you’re out and about, always make sure you have at least a few business cards with you!

The same holds true for your social media strategy. Reach out to potential clients on social! Yes, you won’t win over everyone, especially in the beginning when your page isn’t fully developed yet, but there is nothing wrong with trying! You may be pleasantly surprised at the business you’re able to attract in this way.

3. Start with a hair consultation.

Whenever you’re onboarding a new client or conducting a transformative treatment, you should start with a thorough hair consultation. This will help you understand the current state of your client’s hair, their goals, and the process required to reach those goals. Making sure each consultation is heartfelt and informative also lets the client know they are your number one priority, which can do wonders for retention. Being honest is what people are looking for, not big promises with no delivery.

4. Explain your process.

Client retention is a natural byproduct of your clients trusting you. A surefire way to empower your clients to trust you is to explain each part of your process. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Why would some things work better while other options might not? Taking the time to educate your clients is an easy way to help them feel heard.

5. Book the next appointment.

Once the treatment is done, you should end by booking the next appointment. This is especially important if they have had a service that requires maintenance or ongoing touch ups. It’s so much easier to do this while they’re in front of you than it is a few months later over the phone!

Tips for Managing Client Expectations

Social media has become a great tool, but has also caused a lot of big hair dreams without realistic expectations. Knowing how to talk someone down from the look that may not work for them and into something that will doesn’t have to be so painful. Learning to help set and manage expectations is an essential skill for stylists to develop.

6. Start with a hair consultation.

We mentioned this above, but it’s so important that we’re repeating it here! If you don’t think a certain technique or result is right for them, advise them on what WOULD look great so they can feel excited. Starting your appointments with a consultation is one of the most effective things you can do to help set and manage your guests’ expectations. Don’t skip it!

7. Use pictures.

Your clients might use different terms or words to describe their end goals. If you don’t know exactly what they mean, this can cause some confusion and potentially end badly. Using pictures for reference will help you remove this language barrier and ensure that you’re always giving your client exactly what they want, even if they use a different term for it than you would.

8. Talk time commitment.

Truly transformative services will often take multiple sessions to get a client from their starting point to their end goal, and this isn’t something that all clients will understand. That’s why it’s so important to explain the amount of sessions they may need in order to get to their goal, before you get started. This sets their expectations, but also gives them the opportunity to opt for something else if that’s what they’d prefer.

Tips for Improving Your Skills

Personal and professional development is important in all careers, and that includes the hair industry. Here are tips you can use to ensure you are always working toward becoming the best possible stylist you can be.

9. Slow down.

Doing things as quickly as you can is a very antiquated way of thinking. We are now in a time where it's not just a simple foil highlight or partial anymore. It is teasylights, balayage, foilyage, smudging, melting, and many different placements. Getting faster at something is great, but rushing your work will only make you feel unhappy with the result and let down. Both you and your client may end up disappointed.

10. Invest in education.

Furthering your education will help ease the stress of not knowing how to do something. School is so important for fundamentals, but not all techniques are taught there. One thing to know about the hair industry is that it is constantly changing and you absolutely have to continue taking classes. The more you know, the better your confidence will be! Something as simple as an online course can help you learn a new technique or strengthen your existing skills.

11. Charge what you’re worth

When stylists are first starting out, there’s a temptation to undercharge for your services to start attracting business. But doing so starts you off on the wrong foot! Instead, we recommend that you always charge properly for each thing you're doing and spend the time doing it properly. This will give you a healthier relationship to your work, while also giving you the “permission” to spend as much time as is truly necessary on each of your clients.

12. Always stick up for yourself.

Setting proper boundaries with your coworkers, boss, and clients is a good idea to start practicing early in your career. If you have trouble doing this, ask someone for help that has experience or your trust in this area. If you don’t stick up for yourself from the beginning, some people will get used to treating you this way. You do not need to bend over backwards or sacrifice your happiness to keep everyone else calm, cool and collected. Remember that not everyone may agree with you and that’s ok. You can have amazing relationships while still keeping your sanity. Find the crowd that lifts you up and wants you to succeed and you will absolutely get there!

Starting Your Career on the Right Foot

The decision to become a hairstylist is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever decide to do! The tips outlined above can help you start off on the right foot and ensure that you are setting yourself up for success.

Want more advice and tips to help you grow into the stylist that you know you can be? Sign up for our Living With Purpose One-on-One Mentorship, where Christine will use her own experience to guide you on your journey.

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