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Retail, Retail, Retail! Unrecognized Potential.

I am sure you have heard the word retail more times than you can count in your life, but have you ever really thought of the potential that this one small word can have on your career? According to Pete Castellanos, Wella’s Senior VP of Sales for the Salon Professional Division of P&G, “70% of clients report that their stylist has not recommended a product in the past six months.” That’s a scary statistic especially since this is a multi-billion dollar industry. Also, according to Pete Castellanos, there is a direct link between retail and the success of a salon. Salons whose retail was only 5-8% of their business only broke even, retail of 15-30% were profitable, and retail of 30% of greater were leading salons!

Okay, so what does this mean in terms of dollars? According to SBDC the beauty salon industry is worth $56.8 billion. That’s right; you are working in an industry worth 56.8 BILLION DOLLARS and IBISWorld states that this industry is growing at a rate of 3.2% a year! According to SBDC, retail sales provide 5-15% of this revenue. That means that your retail sales provide $2.84 to $8.52 billion dollars of revenue per year. Now don’t you want a part of the $8.52 billion dollars? I know I do!

So now that I have got your full attention; how do you improve your retail skills? You can Google search retail sales techniques and you will be amazed at the amount of sites that will pop up telling you what to do to boost your sales. The first thing you must know is the product that you are trying to sell. What about this product makes it better than the rest? What are the key ingredients and how will they benefit your customer? Well, if I need to know what makes it better than others, what makes others bad? Know why other products are not healthy for your hair. Know what products have wax and build up on the hair, know what that wax build up does to the hair. Know what products have too much alcohol, etc. Learn about the products you do not want your clients to use. Did you know that there is a shampoo that uses the same main ingredient as industrial floor stripping agents? If your client is using this shampoo and you inform them that are using a floor stripping agent on their hair; I guarantee that you now have their full attention.

Great! I have their full attention……now what? Keep that conversation going. Show the client the products that you are using on their hair. Let them see it, feel it, smell it, and even play a little bit. Just using a product on your client will not sell that product. Your client must know what you are using on their hair, why you are using it, and HOW to use it at HOME. This is the second biggest area that we fail in our retail sales. We tend to get so busy and rushed we FORGET to educate our clients. And be sure to not only allow your client to ask questions, but answer their questions. We may know everything about that particular product, but our clients do not. Take the extra few minutes to answer all their questions. I like to have my clients repeat back to me how to use a product. This way I know that I told them correctly and they were actively listening to my directions.

Their hair is done and they look fabulous. Your client loves everything you did. You say your farewells and let the client walk to the lobby to check out with the receptionist. STOP!!!! Never ever ever do this during your career! You have not only lost all your retail sales, but you have also lost the opportunity to rebook your client! Always walk your client to the front lobby. This is where you ask for the sale. This is the number 1 area that stylists fail! I have seen it happen more often than not! The stylist did everything right during the entire appointment and never once asked or recommended products at the front counter. Do not be afraid to ask for the sale, the worst thing a client can ever say is NO. At home care is as important as in salon care!

There are several ways to ask for the sale and you must find the one that works best for you and your personality. Most stylists will just ask if there are any products they would like to take home today. This leaves the decision 100% in your client’s hands. The best approach that I have seen, and that I use  when working in a salon, is to anticipate the sale. I walk my client to the front lobby and hand their ticket over to the receptionist. While the receptionist is ringing in all the services performed I grab one of every product I used on my client and set it on the counter. My client got to see and hold these products while I did their hair and now they have them set directly in front of them reinforcing the value. After setting them down I go through them again stating this is what we used on your hair today, would you like my receptionist to ring them up for you. Now you have instilled in their mind that they are going to buy products and the sale is now in your control. The majority of the time your client will buy at least one item, and some will buy all. Being able to maintain control throughout the whole service and selling the product the entire time makes it that much easier to close the sale. And now that you are at the front counter you book their next appointment.

I have a slightly different approach with my color care clients when it comes to shampoo and conditioner. I only guarantee my color services if my clients are using a professional shampoo and conditioner at home that they purchased from the salon. I tell each and every one of them the same thing. If I get resistance from them I put it in terms of dollars. They just spent $250 on their hair color service and should invest in the proper products to take care of it. Going home and using dollar store shampoo is like throwing away $250. You have now shown them the value of their investment and 90% will purchase the shampoo and conditioner.

They are many other things that you can research while perfecting your retail techniques. One of the best ways to learn is by watching your fellow stylists. See what works for them and what does not. You will start being able to see where other stylists are failing. And with a salon paying you an average of 10% commission on all retail sales; you do not want the receptionist making your retail money. If your receptionist is selling your clients products after a service then you must improve your retail sales skills as you are not asking for the sale. You can also research personality typing and learn to sell differently based on your clients’ personality. This is a great skill to have, but first you must build up your core sales skills.

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