What I Discovered Teaching Hair Stylists in Asia
My hair stylist Tony is wonderful. When I go home to the U.S. he is the second appointment I make after booking my flight ticket. He’s chatty, inquisitive and very charming. He begins each experience in his chair with a recap of what we decided upon last time for my hair. He asks how the style is working for me and how well my products are serving my needs. He spends a lot of time examining my hair and asking about my general well-being. When he makes product recommendations I listen and follow his advice. Although he is booked solid, he never appears to be rushed and I trust him implicitly.
He is my ideal of what a hair professional should be, so what a wake up call I had last week.
What I discovered while training stylists in the luxury sector of Hong Kong is that they are not taught to conduct extensive consultations with their hair clients. It simply is not in the curriculum of their schools. They even place a gown on their new customer prior to having a conversation. It’s impossible to understand the personal style of their guest if they are covered up.
Conversation is basically, “Do you want your hair cut? How much?”
Let me stress that they are technically excellent. Their cut and color is beyond reproach.
Needless to say, home care recommendation is not their strong point. Yet all of their guests use products.
This experience reminded me of spa therapists in China who are not taught in their schools to conduct a guest interview before performing their service.
In the U.S., stylists are taught that there are no less than 10 critical questions which must be asked to understand the needs of the customer. A strong informed consultation sets the platform for everything thereafter; giving the customer exactly what they want, and of course recommending proper hair care products.
Products and understanding how to use them is critical to looking good on a daily basis.
Consultation is engagement. Engagement is everything.
My stylists underwent training for two hours per day for five days. Two days in the classroom and three in the salon. Two days of theory and then day three of real life consultation role-play. Initially, consultations were stilted and uncomfortable. By the next day we were rolling! The stylists were chatty, animated, demonstrating the use of products, styling tools and recommending home care for each guest when appropriate.
They were fabulous. I’ll check back in next week to see how much sales increased. I anticipate great results.
If retail is sluggish in your salon it could be that the same issues exist as in your spa. Product training is not the answer. Engaging more effectively is.