Hate selling retail? You’re letting your clients — and yourself — down

Hate selling retail? You're letting your clients — and yourself — down.

I’ve had some bad hair days in my life. Really bad. Hair that would make you cringe. Hair that made me go out and find a new stylist. Looking back at the horrible photos, one thing stands out: the cut usually wasn’t bad, the color was OK and the hair was not neglected. So, what was the problem?

Bad product choice.  

Think about it.  When clients use the wrong products, chances are high they’re going to be unhappy with their hair.  And guess who they’re likely to blame? They might not know the difference between bad product and bad hair services, so they may well blame the stylist and not the product.  

This is the risk you run when you don’t educate your clients. (Notice I said “educate” and not “sell.”) They might end up feeling unhappy with your work even though you’ve got fabulous cut and color skills.

Despite the obvious benefits of selling retail there seems to be a deep seated hatred among some stylists towards it. Some even view selling product as harassing their clients.  The opposite is true. You are in fact doing your clients a disservice if you don’t help them to find the right products for their hair.

So how do we deal with this? Shift the focus from product sales to product education.  

By prioritizing product education you ensure clients understand why they should choose a particular product and how is it going to help keep them looking their best.    When you focus on education the sales happen naturally, without that icky, slimy salesperson feel.

Don’t wait for your client to bring up the p-word, make a habit of incorporating the product discussion right into your service. While styling their hair talk through with them what products you are using and why.  They want to know.  After their service make the products available at the front counter for them to purchase. Make it easy for them.

Worried your clients can’t afford your products?  You should still be helping them with their product choices, it simply means your current products might not be appropriate for your clientele.  Re-evaluate what you carry to ensure they are high quality and priced appropriately for your client’s budget.  A salon in suburban Detroit shouldn’t carry the same products as a salon on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.  Your clients will feel much better supporting your local, independent business than they will padding the pockets of Walmart, Costco or Superstore and their hair will thank them for it.

When your clients are using the right product you’ll make sure they’re looking their best, keep your reputation strong and have a positive impact on your bottom line. Retail products have a much higher markup than services and will really help increase your take home pay.  As an added bonus studies show that clients who purchase retail are more likely to be repeat customers and repeat customers have higher sales per visit.

According to Tara Main of Salon Skipper, your retail sales should equate to 20% of your service sales.

If you are generating $1000 per week in service revenue, you should also be selling at least $200 in retail product. This is the goal for best practice in our industry. If you are not able to do this you may need more product knowledge, more sales coaching or just need to start talking about the products you are using- if you choose to use a root lift product on fine hair to create volume, tell your client that. If they have fine hair, they are most likely wanting volume and would appreciate the info. You are their stylist, you are the one who knows their hair best and you are the one who should be prescribing their homecare products.

I challenge you to spend a month focussing on retail education not sales.  Do it right and you’ll ensure your clients look and feel great and your skills and business is shown in the best possible light.  As a bonus you’ll have a better paycheck at the end of the month.  Who can complain about that!


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