ShopTalk sought business advice for new stylists from Ron Hawkins, Mitchell’s Hair Styling Academy’s educational director. Hawkins, a stylist since the age of 14, has won more than 800 styling awards and honors, and was inducted into the National Cosmetology Hall of Fame. Here are his edited comments.
Q. What is the number one thing a beginning stylist should do?
A. Find a salon that best suits their personality and offers an environment where they feel comfortable working. Moving from one salon to another is not a good way to establish a clientele.
Q: How does a stylist determine if a salon is a good fit?
A. Stylists need to interview the salon as much as the salon interviews them. Find a salon that offers continuing education opportunities, so they can continue to develop their skills. Also, some salons rent booths to stylists and others take a percentage of sales, anywhere from 40 to 50 percent. Usually, it is very difficult for beginning stylists without a clientele to afford a booth rental salon because they don’t have the clientele to support it.
Q. What is the best way for stylists to promote themselves?
A. Through exposure and word of mouth, such as fashion shows, charity events and social media. Also, when you are able to please clients, they will be able to promote you.
Q. How should stylists market their business?
A. Newspaper, social media and doing promotions within the salon.
Q. What traits does a beginner stylist need for a successful business?
1. Dedication. Put the time into your business. Hours in the salon business can be long, usually more than 40 hours a week. 2. Skills. Constantly work to be the best you can be, learning new techniques on cutting, styling and coloring. 3. Creativity. It is very creative business. Be able to design the perfect cut and color for the client. 4. Personality. Hairdressing is a very personal business because of the close contact. You are in the “people” business.
Q. How long should it take for a stylist to build their clientele?
A. Average time to build a new business is two years. People have to find out about you, and you have to build your reputation.
Q. Should stylists be concerned with continuing education?
A. Absolutely, they should take advantage of every advanced class they can. In our business, trends and styles are ever changing. So are the products we work with. It is important to keep up with these changes and trends. A lot of continuing education opportunities can be found at area salons, beauty supplies stores and on the Internet.
Q. What are some common business mistakes that new stylists make?
A. Not taking the time and understanding the need and desires of the client. Also, being able to relate and give exactly what the client desires in cut, color and styling
Q. What is your advice for dealing with an unsatisfied customer?
A. Offer to make changes that will satisfy the client. Also, take the time to find out exactly what the client is dissatisfied with.