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The Girl ...
Tigi girl, 21.
Dedicated to Andrew Kalapaca & Steve Tcherkezian

Andrew at Toni & Guy
180 Bloor Street West
Steve at Other sites

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Fine Line
This post is again directed to stylists.
Have you ever had a client who always asks for the same thing....the client who is so predictable and you know the cut they are going to ask for the moment their name appears in the appointment book because they have not changed their look in years? Or perhaps you have this amazing stlye/colour idea that you would like to try on your client but have never mentioned this idea. As stylists you tred a fine line when it comes to suggestions, especially those that deal with change. You must be careful in that you are not always suggesting ideas to the point where your client feels that they are just your model and that you do not want to listen to their ideas and you also must be careful in that you try to suggest some change every so often to a client because they want it! I have a friend of mine who told me that she wished her stylist would "sit me down and tell me an idea just like they do in that TLC show 'A Makeover Story', that's what I wish she would do." So I asked her if she had ever told her stylist that she was ready for a change and she said no. So this sparked some ideas and some research and I found that many people want a change but do not voice it to their stylists for various reasons and some stylists do not voice their cut/colour suggestions for various reasons, so what are these reasons you ask, well you are about to find out
Why don't clients tell their stylists they want a change?
Some feel embarrassed, no honestly, this is the answer my friend told me when I asked her why she never voiced her desires for change to her stylist. She said she felt embarrassed because she felt that the stylist would think that she had no idea what she (my friend, the client) wanted to do to her hair. She did not want to appear clueless to her stylist, and for some people that is the case. For those clients that never change their style or always ask for the same thing they do so because they truly do not know what else to suggest or ask for.
Some have voiced their desires for change to their stylists only to get a small difference, like an inch shorter, this is hardly the change that some people are looking for. Sometimes when clients want a change and they voice it to you the stylist you too may not know what kind of change the client is looking to know you must ask. Ask the client what kind of change they are looking they want a new cut or just a variation of it...a big or subtle change. This is crucial, because if you just give them small variations when they are looking for a larger change you may lose them as a client because they feel you are not doing what they want, thus not making them happy.
Why don't stylists voice their opinions about change to their clients?
Ah, now this is where you tread the fine line, some stylists do not voice their ideas because they are afraid that the client will think that they (the stylist) are trying to have complete control over the clients hair. In truth clients do lose much control during a haircut or colour because the control lays in your hands - that of the stylist. You are the ones with the scissors cutting their hair, or you are the ones with the brush colouring the hair...the client has only told you what to do, but the moment you get to work the client really has no way of ensuring that you carry out what was discussed the client only trusts that you will. So in order to ensure that the client feels they have some sort of control the stylist may refrain from saying their suggestion.
Another reason is that stylists do not want to take the blame should the client not like the end result. If you suggest something and the client does not like the end result you are the one who has to fix it and the client can and probably will blame you, telling you that you are supposed to know best and you may lose that client. So in order to avoid that problem you simply do what you are told that way if the client does not like it they will not blame you. Although I have to add as clients we beg of you if the ideas we suggest will not look good on us PLEASE say so!
Now back to the fine line again, I discussed the part about the client feeling they have control and now to the part about you suggesting change to them, sometimes you need to suggest do not have to go about it abruptly but maybe subtly...for example, how about we try something new today like this...or about I give you some nice side swept bangs, they will really frame your face? Suggest the change in an idea, without being so blunt and saying " you've had this cut x amount of years you need a change" that is often to harsh for clients to hear, but hearing your suggestions(like those mentioned previously) helps us out alot. You do not want to always be telling the client how they should have their hair cut/coloured, you have to accept and acknowledge their wants and ideas too. But you should also realize that sometimes clients need a push for some change and sometimes they want to hear it from you. They want you to tell them something to change every so often. So don't suggest to the point where the client feels like they are your model, but suggest often enough that they feel you want to keep them fresh and up-to-date.
Also here is another little idea for you. Watch your clients....listen to what they tell you. When they come in and you are both discussing todays idea does the client often ask, what your opinion of their idea is? Do they want to hear you say"yes it will look great on you"? Do they look to you for suggestions, maybe asking what do you think I should do? This type of client has a bit more of an open mind and is looking to you for some sort of guidance, they are giving you the outline or direction and want you to fine tune the details. This is so very much me! When I bring in my ideas I often want my stylist's reasurrance and opinion on what I have suggested and I am very open to hearing what he has to say about it. I sometimes want to say "do whatever" or "what do you think would look best?" I sometimes want to give up the control to my stylist altogether because I'm not very good at coming up with style ideas, thankfully for me my stylist is wonderful with coming up with ideas and I can be honest and say up till know I have not had the exact cut twice, there is always a bit of variation and my stylist is very open to the idea of changing my style even if it is subtle.
Now there are other clients who come in and tell you do you or tell you an idea and want it done, they do not ask for an opinion or anything. These people tend to be a bit more closed- minded in the sense that they really know what they want or think they know anyways. They are not looking for suggestions but want done what they have told you and it is these people who can be dificult in terms of offering them a change or telling them your opinion of their idea. However if you know it will not work or look good on the client IT IS YOUR DUTY TO SAY SO...if you tell them it won't look good and they still want it, at least you have informed them. Despite the fact that these people often have specific ideas in their mind for their hair you can still suggest something, especially to the one who does not change his or her style at all (you know the ones I'm talking about) Sometimes you need to jump in and suggest the change.
So stylists offer your ideas to clients because this is what they want to hear, they want to know what you think, and clients alike need to start voicing their opinions for change! For those clients who have and do not get much of a need to find a stylist who is creative and will listen because it is obvious this stylist is not taking into account what you desire but be specific in terms of the kind of change you want...big change or subtle.
Just a small note since we are on the topic of change, stylists please DO NOT EVER change the plan without informing the client! This is a big no no! Always carry out the idea that you and your client have agreed upon, if you want to change the plan for example go a bit shorter, then tell the client, ASK for their permission before you go ahead because if you just change the plan without telling them they may be upset and may not have wanted that...for example they may not have wanted to go an inch shorter. This can also cause them to distrust you regardless of whether or not they like it. They may like it but they can lose some trust in you because you did not tell them and they may feel that the next time you may change the plan again, thus that makes the whole consultation or plan useless. If the client does not like the change well then you are just in trouble and you will lose the client, always ask before changing the plan. ;)
So stylists I hope this has helped you understand that clients want to hear what you have to say to them about ideas and that most clients are looking for your help in terms of selecting a style/colour. Now my hope is that you understand your clients a bit better and that you voice your suggestions to your clients and truly work together to achieve the change desired.

Tigi Girl. e-mail me at Archives |

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