Now that you are established, do you still get or even want walk-in clients? The answer should be a resounding yes.
If you have been a hairstylist for a while, you are probably like most of us in that you enjoy a regular clientele. It is comforting to know which clients will be in, what color formulas we need, and what our day looks like. How did you build that steady clientele? Strictly from referrals? While that’s an excellent way to establish ourselves, you probably had some walk-in or call-in clientele in the beginning.
Because we will naturally lose clients over time due to people moving away or not needing our services anymore, we all need to replenish our clientele from time to time.
Walk-In Clients vs. Referred Clients
A walk-in client is different than a referral because the referred client has advance knowledge of you and is not walking in cold. Whoever referred the client to you has paved the way for a great experience—after all, that person wouldn’t send you a referral if he or she did not like your work.
When you get a walk-in, welcome that experience and prove yourself like you did when all your clients were new.
How to Handle the Walk-In Client
Remember to get back to basics when you have a walk-in client. Really take time with the consultation, standing or even sitting in front of them, not just looking at them in the mirror. This puts a personal touch on the consultation.
You want to make direct eye contact, smile, and really listen to their concerns and desires. Once you have decided what service will be performed, make sure the client is aware of the cost. Walk-ins sometimes do not get a chance to look at a price menu. You can respectfully let them know what you will be charging, so they are not surprised when checking out.
You can say, for example, “Did anyone discuss our prices with you?” There is no need to make them feel uncomfortable about the cost or imply they can’t afford you. It is simply a courteous thing to give them a heads-up because they are new to your establishment.
Make New Clients Feel Welcome
If you have a brand new client in your chair—some walk-ins may be regular salon clients who haven’t attached themselves to any particular stylist—it is a good idea to put a cape of a pre-determined color on them when you are getting set up.
If you have established this pattern in your salon, then everyone can see that this is a new client, and that person should be welcomed properly. Maybe the manager makes it a point to say hello, or other stylists welcome them with a nod or a thank-you.
When you finish the service, make sure your new client gets a mirror in hand to see their new style clearly. At this point, you should reiterate what service was performed. We should always compliment the client’s hair! A client wants to know that they look good. Hearing it from us is the first step to them feeling great when they leave.
It may feel like you are bragging about your own work—and yes, you are! Celebrate what you have done to make this client look and feel great. That’s why we’re here.
Look to the Future
At some time during or after the service, you should discuss products with your new client. You want them to be aware of the right products to use to protect their investment in the service you have just given, and you should know what they are currently using.
Offer what you have in retail without pressure or judgement, and let them decide what works for them. While everyone has their own sales style, and you need to do what works best for you, I recommend not getting too pushy with a new client in this area.
You will do better to establish a good rapport with them, and look toward a relationship for the long haul. Once you have trust and credibility with the client, product purchases will naturally follow.
Ask for What You Want
Ask your new client for a referral! The best way our clients have of rewarding us for a job well-done is the gift of a new client. Don’t assume that the new client, or any client for that matter, knows that you want more new clients. What may seem like common knowledge to us isn’t always such with a client. (I’ve actually had long-term clients ask me if I do men’s cuts. What? Of course I do men’s cuts. What that told me was that I hadn’t communicated properly with that client, and probably many more clients.) Be careful making assumptions, and always ask for what you want. When asking for referrals, I like to offer the client a bonus for doing so, and also a financial incentive for the new referral to come in. This is a hotly debated area in our industry, as some stylists prefer to not discount their services. I respect that, but the other side is this: It’s a small sacrifice to make to retain a client. Other than great work, which only happens when we get the client in the chair, a financial incentive is one way to encourage a client to give us a try. It could be as low as 10 percent off their next service; or it may be a free product or low-cost service like a deep conditioner. Perceived value is critical here, and it pays to reward our regular clients, not simply focus on the new ones.
Embrace the Opportunity
The next time you are rewarded with a walk-in client, see it for the wonderful opportunity that it is!