By Amy Burton – Revel Salon and Color Studio
Let’s face it – the first time you enter a new salon it can be a bit scary! I think it’s safe to say we have all had unpleasant salon experiences at least once in our lifetime. Glancing around, you look for the stylist with the best hair, the friendliest personality or the cutest clothes. All the while secretly hoping you’ll get the most experienced one, praying you don’t get someone who isn’t smacking on gum, half listening to your request.
No one wants a stylist chopping their hair off like it’s a race to the finish. You want someone who knows what they are doing. You’re not a smoker – so heaven forbid if you get the one who was just outside the front door sucking on a cigarette. You finally meet your stylist. Still uneasy, you follow her back to the chair, hoping you will walk out happy. We’ve all been there. Sitting in a stylist’s chair, staring in the mirror, completely at the mercy of their hand. It’s not fun. It’s often intimidating and stressful.
What can you do to ensure your salon experience is the best it can be? Whether you’re new to the area or just want a change, preparing yourself before walking in the door will make the experience more pleasant. There are salons on every corner, with more popping up each year. Not every salon suits every guest. Finding a good fit for you and your family can be challenging to say the least. In today’s world we have an abundance of resources available to help ease the pain of finding a new salon.
Online reviews are the fastest way to scope out salons in your area. It only takes a few minutes to read what others have to say. I suggest reading several reviews, both positive and negative. If you see great reviews peppered with a few negative ones, read them carefully before you dismiss that salon. Check the dates of the reviews and the responses from the salon management, if available. Look for salons with consistent reviews. All negative comments will certainly keep you away. If a new salon has only been open a short time and has an unusually high number of positive reviews, it may leave you wondering if they are real consumers or just lots of friends and extended family posting positive comments as a marketing ploy. Keep doing your homework to be sure the reviews are genuine and legit.
Don’t be afraid of new talent. Many higher end salons have “New Talent” service providers who are building their clientele. This doesn’t always mean they are the “newbie” who is experimenting on your hair. If the salon is progressive and has an apprenticeship program, chances are that “newbie” is more skilled and better trained than the veteran stylist down the street who hasn’t kept up on the latest trends and techniques.
Schedule a consultation. This invaluable service is not taken advantage of often enough. Most salons offer complimentary consultations so a new guest may ask questions and get comfortable with the service provider. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know the salon and the people who work there. Fifteen minutes in a stylist’s chair usually confirms whether or not you want to schedule services at that salon. A well trained stylist will take the time to listen to your needs, address any concerns and develop an action plan specifically for your hair.
Be honest. Don’t assume your stylist will never know you took the scissors to your bangs or put box color on your hair. Trust me – we can tell. Communication with a guest can be challenging. Not everyone is as forthcoming as they should be when it comes to hair confessions. Being honest with your new salon about the history of your hair will not only make the service provider’s job easier, it will greatly affect the outcome of the service.
Trust your stylist. If you’ve made the commitment to sit in a new stylist’s chair, relax and trust you are in good hands. If you have done your homework as outlined above, you should be more comfortable in the chair than walking in blind. Trust can be a hurdle that takes several visits to be gained. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and never assume your stylist is feeding you a line. A good service provider is well educated and knows what’s best for your hair. When product and service recommendations are made, take heed and listen carefully. Beautiful hair begins with well-designed services and prescriptive home care to support your new look.
Consider the cost of great looking hair. When you’re checking out a new salon, don’t let the prices scare you. The cost of services and professional hair care products doesn’t have to be an overwhelming obstacle. We all make daily choices with our finances. Some people choose to purchase flavorful lattes several times a week. Others eat lunch or dinner at restaurants five days a week. Some will only purchase designer purses and shoes. Hair is one of your greatest accessories. More often than not, it’s the least appreciated and most abused accessory we own. Bottom line – you get what you pay for and we choose where to direct our money. I’m one of those women who will give up high calorie lattes and mediocre meals out to free up the cash for beautiful hair and skin. It’s all about choices and priorities!
Ask about referral programs. Most progressive salons have many incentives for first time and returning guests. Ask the front desk staff what programs are available and by all means, take advantage of them! Referral programs not only afford the guest some nice perks, they help build each stylist’s business. Savvy consumers who know and understand the power of a great referral program often enjoy luxury services with little or no additional spending.
Leave your past experiences at the door. Just because you had the hairstylist from hell at another salon, doesn’t mean it will happen again. Don’t walk into a new salon with baggage from a nightmare encounter. Pre-conceived ideas and unpleasant past experiences often jade our expectations and set us up for failure before we even meet our new stylist. By the same token – don’t walk in with the attitude that your last service provider was a rock star and you’ll never find another one like him or her. It takes at least three visits for a stylist to really know your hair, how you care for it at home and what your specific needs are.
Try more than one stylist at the same salon. Sometimes it takes a few visits before you settle in and feel comfortable in a new salon. You may find you love the atmosphere but maybe didn’t care for the stylist. Or perhaps you love the stylist but your schedule has changed. Maybe you’re just curious and want to try another stylist. Whatever your situation, by all means, you should feel free to try another service provider at any time. Most people are afraid to crossover to another stylist in the same salon. If that isn’t an acceptable practice at your salon, then you are missing out. A well-run company with highly trained staff will think nothing of a guest sitting in another stylist’s chair. Not only does it make the guest feel more comfortable, it provides additional options if a particular stylist is unavailable at the time.
As a salon owner who also works behind the chair, I too, have experienced what it’s like choosing the right salon. Whether I have moved to a new area or I’m on vacation looking for nearby salon, I do my homework. I don’t have time to waste and I don’t need the stress. Finding a great stylist doesn’t need to be exhausting and frustrating. These days everyone is well equipped with technology, has a voice to ask questions and brains to make well informed decisions. Finding the right salon for you can and will be a pleasant experience if you want it to be!
REVEL Salon & Color Studio