Aside from being able to pass a state board exam, there seems be be quite a bit missing from what enthusiastic "new professionals" must KNOW before embarking on a successful salon career. I know schools must adhere to a curriculum, and that instructors are under
pressure to teach students to pass tests and to graduate. They have much on their plates, and many are wonderful at what they do. It is not easy to understand the way "next gen" people learn. Some wonderful tenured instructors often adhere to the traditional way of doing things as they always have.. and which were largely very successful; thinking:
"If it's not broken, don't fix it". I contend that things seem to be Very Broken... and in need
of alteration.... We are teaching a NEW KIND of individual. How can we best reach them, inspire them, and obtain their interest and attention? Reading long paragraphs does
not often interest the video enthusiast. Their phones, social media and digital friendships are of key importance to them. Getting them up to work in pairs, role-playing various salon scenarios, and getting them comfortable with talking to live, in-person humans who will become salon clients is critical to a new salon professional's survival. Can charm and charismatic behavior be learned? -- I think that to a degree, they can be.
I recommend that some very important people skills be presented to students
before graduation, and to new people joining a salon staff. Teaching this can be fun.
We must avoid placing people in situations they cannot handle due to lack of practice.
Do you think that the majority of new professionals know how to create a friendly
sense of "welcome" when a client enters a salon? Can they "read" a person's mindset.. is the person: Comfortable? Anxious? Upset? In a Hurry? Casual? How do they present themselves? Posture, speech, dress, body language. HOW does this new professional create an air of confidence and kindness...imbuing trust with a paying client? What words do they use?
Has their school taught them the finesse of how to escort the client from the salon reception area to the chair? Do graduates know how to seat the client and unlock the chair? Can they correctly cape and drape the client for services? Do they know how to assure client comfort?
What about the details of offering a beverage (if available), and transition the client into the hands of the senior person who will be conducting the appointment? This "From the Door to the Chair TRANSITION "sets the tone. It is that a crucial "ballet" that is the preface to a successful salon appointment. Conducting a proper shampoo and experience "at the sink"
is often missing.
AND.... when there is no "senior stylist" and this new professional (who passed the state board),will be conducting the service.. Do they KNOW HOW TO DO THIS? Now comes
the conversation (which many call the 'consultation).
Asking "What do you want".. is NOT the way to begin this necessary chat. Whether the client is there for a shampoo and condition, a hair cut, a hair style, color, highlights, a corrective service or a smoothing treatment... That new salon pro must feel confident and able to provide a great (rather than just an "O. K") service.
Being asked to do something which is not a mastered skill is heartbreaking for a person who is trying to become successful. Clients spend time, money.. and TRUST. They return to a stylist when they feel that their hair looks great, that the visit was pleasant and
that it was worth their time and their money.
How happy a new pro is to "be their own boss" and to "open a suite". Are a sufficient number of them PREPARED to succeed? Working independently is WONDERFUL when skills are in place, when stylists feel confident; when they know how to greet and care for a client.. and when they LOVE doing this. Independents are wearing the hat of an artist as well as
that of a business person. Can they endure criticism? Rude people? Tight schedules? and
at times, even failure?
How can I help? How can YOU and All of us help? Our industry NEEDS new, excited, skilled and energetic graduates to enter and to remain in this business. Professionals who carry knowledge, passion... and self-discipline to serve clients .. with success and joy. Let's all think about this. I have a basic "Hair Curriculum" I would love to share at schools. It is NOT about products, or services (that comes later).. It is about human hair, how each part of the hair and scalp function, about creating a relaxing, curated experience for the client, and about the basic "hosting and relationship-building:
assets this next generation must master BEFORE they pick up a comb,, brush, roller, blow dryer, shampoo, color or
other chemical treatment. Creating a WONDERFUL SALON EXPERIENCE .. that "client
relationship", coupled with knowing how to produce a great result.. generates the success and income new people need in order to remain in this wonderful.. yet challenging business of beauty! B