The Retailing Dilemma

It seems like so many years that salon owners, manufacturers and educators have been trying to get stylists to sell retail product to their clients for home use, however, I have been following discussions on Linked In – the network for business to business people, and in many of the beauty groups there are always questions about retailing and “how can I get my staff to retail?”


As a salon owner, you are aware of how important to your bottom line those retail products are, so you need to have  a strategy in order to meet your retail goals and help your staff to get there.

OK  – it’s back to the numbers again. Remember from last week – “Numbers Don’t Lie”  often stylists think they sell lots of product, however take a look at your numbers and find  out where you really are.

  • What is your percentage of retail to professional income?
  • What would you like it to be?
  • What is your average retail ticket?
  • What do you think it should be?
  • Who is your best retailer?
  • Who is the least productive with retail?

Once you have these numbers, (and if you are not sure how to work them out, please feel free to contact me) you will need to run them on each of your stylists.

I am shocked that even the main teaching systems for the cosmetology industry still say that the recommended retail to service is 10%, when that should be the bare acceptable minimum. Ideally, your retail should run 25% to 30%. Does this sound shocking? Just think of it. Every single client who comes in to your salon uses shampoo. Most of them use styling products and many of them conditioners.  The average number of products that most stylists use on their clients is 5. Is it too much to ask that they should sell 1 or 2 products per client
Please remember that your stylists did not come into the industry because they wanted to “sell” shampoo! Most of them hate the word “Selling” so we have to make it something that is more acceptable to them. Such as Education or Service.

Are your stylists aware of how important that product is to the health of the salon? They just think you want to push product so you can make more money. Of course, however, they will benefit from a salon whose bottom line is healthy.

I am a firm believer in making all stylists aware of the fact that making sure their clients have product to use at home is part of their job.  It should be in their job description and should be part of the interview process. Don’t hire someone who doesn’t know they are required to sell product.

Remember that stylists only sell product that they use and like. If your retail is not moving, do a survey of each of your stylists and find out if they like the line, if they use it, what are their favorite products. If they are not in love with the line, then you need to find one they are. Make them part of the process of  finding that ideal line. If they choose, then they will sell, however, make sure that they understand that if you are going to go to the trouble and expense of revamping your retail to suit them, they absolutely MUST sell it! No compromise on this one.

Once you have established your product, you need to make sure that all of your stylists attend classes to learn the product and learn how to sell it. Talk to the sales consultant and the educator. If they give a class on the product, make sure it is interesting and hands on.  Stylists are visual and tactile. They need to get their hands in the product, use it, cocktail it and really see what it will do. Only then will they be able to talk enthusiastically about it.

Once this has happened, you need a system to make sure that the product is sold. Consultation is the key, particularly that final consultation that happens before the client leaves. Checking back with them, revisiting their home hair care routine and the product and actually asking them to buy. Get a retail expert to come in, have your staff role play, even though they may feel silly or uncomfortable. They simply have to get comfortable with the process.

Your receptionist must ask the client, if she has not already been told by the stylist, if the client was recommended product and close the sale. Often, having a receptionist as the back up works well if a stylist is not comfortable in asking for a sale. However, every single person in your salon should be comfortable with the following sentence:

“What would you like to take with you today?”

That is the money maker and should be incorporated into every single service at the appropriate time.

Marion Shaw is a salon business coach and consultant with  Salon Biz Essentials and owner of Busy Bus Publications. Also check her out on Facebook.  

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