Retailing for Stylists

I think that it comes naturally eventually with experience but we should try to get into that mode as soon as we come into the industry. As soon as you have some product knowledge (even a little) you should begin to share it with every client. I feel that the best way to begin is to remember that us as the stylists should be educating our clients about the importance of using decent hair products rather than going for the hard sell; this for me is the first rule to remember.


I believe that you should explain what the product does for their hair, how much you should use and how it should be applied, rather than just saying ‘ I just used this on your hair today’. Whatever it may be, actually explaining what you are doing with it is far more effective. To us in the industry it’s known as commentary hairdressing and for me it works best with styling products as the client can see exactly what you’re doing in the mirror.

If you explain what each product does and then place it in front of them and carry on working, 9 times out of 10 they will pick it up and read it and probably buy it. I believe any client will feel more comfortable with this approach rather than just recommending a product to them. They may feel that you are just trying to sell them something, rather than advising them on the best care for their hair. In my experience this can irritate people and they are more likely not to buy it on principle!


I find retailing slightly more difficult with shampoos and conditioners as in most salons as a Stylist you don’t shampoo your own clients hair. I feel this is where an opportunity for the Assistants to boost their wages comes in, but whether you are an Assistant, Stylist or a Saturday worker, every client that that lies back in your basin to have their hair washed should be educated about the condition of their hair.

This can be done through strand testing (take around 10 strands of the clients wet hair, wrap it around your fore fingers and gently stretch it. Good condition hair will stretch and return to its original state with ease, but if it’s hard and won’t stretch easily then it is usually because it’s lacking in moisture. If it’s too stretchy then it lacks protein).

This is a quick and easy test that you can do; if the hair is long enough you should be able to show the client what you are doing and explain why. If you’re dealing with shorter hair then you won’t be able to show them. You could bring over a hand mirror for them to hold if they seem really interested so that they can hold it and see what happening, but you can also just explain step by step what you are doing. You can also discuss the products that you are using as you demonstrate, detailing the reasons for your choices.

This could also be a great opportunity to upgrade to a conditioning treatment either at the back wash or to recommend for home use. If this is done in conversation and not in hard sell mode then the clients are usually quite happy to listen to your advice and hopefully will buy into your recommendations.

It may not be within that visit but they will have the knowledge, especially if you have actually shown them rather than just waffled on! The next time their hair is not feeling so good or not styling as it should they will remember your conversation and the knowledge you’ve given them and more than likely think they will have to try those products that you recommended.

Seasonal Displays

Christmas time is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the salon to boost their income on retail commission. During quieter days in the salon use your time to display items that could be seen as nice gifts. Decorate the window display, gift wrap a few groups of products and advertise that you will gift wrap the perfect selections for each individual order.

Basically make sure they are looking attractive and irresistible to the customers; catch peoples’ eyes and make them see them as the luxury gifts that they are! This doesn’t have to be limited to Christmas either; do seasonal displays and keep them interesting. Whether it’s a Hallowe’en display, an Easter display, or just a spring display - visual selling is the best way. If something looks good it’s far more likely to sell itself.


Obviously this might not be your decision but EVERYONE loves a good deal or a bargain; offers sell big time! Think of offer ideas that you can discuss in your team meetings. You may think it’s not your job to do this; I used to hate retailing. I remember thinking ‘I work here because I love hairdressing not because I want to be a sales person’! I thought it would put my clients off buying anything but with the experience I have behind me, these days it comes far more naturally.

I now see it differently; I see it as I said before as educating people rather than seeing it as a hard sell, as I really do think that approach is off putting.

Obviously we all come across people who won’t listen, no matter what. We all have the type of client that doesn’t really want to chat, they have come in to relax and just don’t want to talk at all! But at the end of the day thinking of good ideas to boost your income can never be a bad thing on any day of the week!

Always remember that all of our clients have come to the salon to treat themselves and relax so no hard selling and spoiling that for them!


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