How to get clients to come back


Chris Sulimay


Chris SulimayHey, there, you did it. You’re back! So,you’ve had a couple of lessons so far and you’re still coming back. That’s a beautiful thing. Very happy to see you again. So in the last segment, what we did was we took a look at the keys to the vault and we just gave you a snapshot of them. We took a look in the end that where we felt like we scored ourselves there and then we picked one [00:00:30] or two different keys that we want to spend some time working on. So now what we’re going to do is we’re going to take each key and we’re going to deep dive just a little bit on each one of them. That way we get to spend some time, effort and energy around it as well as I can share some of my personal favorite tricks or tips to help you make this easier and also to make it more fun.

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Here’s the reality of it, I’m laughing as I’m making these videos, because probably just like you, [00:01:00] one of the most comfortable places that I have on the planet is when I’m standing behind the client at the chair with the mirror in front of me and we’re working on their hair. So this is very much not second nature to me to do, that’s my comfort place. So with that said, all of the stuff that I’m sharing with you has a very relevant and real application as you’re working at your station and here’s the reality of it, there are a lot of different careers we could have chosen [00:01:30] to do. You chose hairdressing, I chose hairdressing. For me, I know a big part of that was fun. So even though we’re going over some material that I believe is very serious and will have a real serious implication on your financial success and your financial enjoyment behind the chair, I also want you to know this is very real, I use this stuff all the time when I’m building relationships with people and when I’m trying to get clients to come back; and when I’m maybe trying to share an idea that I have for their hair that [00:02:00] I really want them to buy into. So just so you know, it’s a little staunchly and it’s a little kind of rocky as I’m taking you through these video series. But the reality is, this is fun. This is stuff that you can use behind your chair and this is stuff that I use every day.


So the first key that we’re going to deep dive into is building a return clientele and getting a return client to come in. The reason why that’s so important and the reason why that’s a place that we’re going to spend time right now is because if you can’t get that down, [00:02:30] pretty much you’re going to struggle for your entire career.  I hate to say it that frankly but it’s just true. It’s just true. If you can’t get somebody to come back, the reality is, this is going to be a really hard uphill climb for you even if you’re a master at getting them to buy services and take you up on your offerings. The first thing we really need to do is learn to master how to get somebody to come back.

So how do we do that? Well, confidence is one of the first things I want to talk a little [00:03:00] bit about because we haven’t really mentioned and we won’t really spend too much time on technical abilities during this course. But I want you to know that as your skill level rises and as you practice your skill, your confidence will naturally get better and it will get easier for you to juggle different skills and manage different conversations and feel a little bit more relaxed as you’re working with your guests. So I want to say even though we are not going to spend a lot of time on technical abilities here, that growing your technical [00:03:30] skills as fast as you can and really practicing that is going to help you approach a guest with more confidence. It’s going to help you approach offerings with more confidence and when a client trusts you and they can see that they should respect your professional ability, it’s going to be a lot easier to get them to come back.


With that said, getting a client to come back wasn’t always my initial goal. In fact, I didn’t even know [00:04:00] that it was really important. So if we’re talking about goal setting and you’re looking to like, you want to know how many people should be coming back and what’s good to shoot for; here’s the deal, if you have repeat clients, like you’re already a stylist behind the chair, you already have a clientele and we’re just having this discussion, I would say that you want to make sure that you’re retaining or you’re returning 80% [00:04:30] to 90% of the people that sit on your chair. 80% on the low end should be coming back to you and 90% on the high end, it means you’re safe. Now, you’re going to be losing clients all the time. That’s just how this thing goes. People move, people meet a new hairstylist, people start dating a hairstylist, people die. There’s lots of different reasons why you’re going to experience some attrition of your clientele. That’s always going to be happening. So we always need to be focused on [00:05:00] 80% to 90% of our repeat clients coming back, then if you have a new client goal that I could share with you or give you, it would be 50%. Which means if you’re brand new and I’m the salon owner and I’m going to feed you clients, I want you to keep at least five out of every ten of the clients that I give you. Now that’s 50%, I’m going to tell you something, it’s an aggressive [00:05:30] goal. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but trust me when I tell you it is. The flip side is, when you can keep five out of ten new clients, you are going to grow a clientele like nobody’s business. So that’s your goal, I want you to write that down, “I want to learn to keep eight or nine out of ten of my existing clients and then five out of ten new clients.” [00:06:00] In the Salon 124 Group, we know this as the 50/80 rule and this is something that you’re going to want to write down, keep and start to look at and track as you work to get better getting return clients.


Now, I want to share a little secret with you on how I very successfully and easily am able to get guests to come back so easy. I want to say it’s a secret but it’s no secret. It’s called “understanding human beings” and “understanding human [00:06:30] nature”. You see, for a lot of years I went to every class, every seminar, every possible thing I could do and I learned a bit of information from each person and I’ve come up with what I call the “five emotional focal points” that I use all the time as a strategy to do a couple of things: Number one, I want to rapport build with a client. When I say I want to rapport build with a client, what I really mean to you is I want that client to feel as comfortable [00:07:00] as they possibly can with me, as fast as they possibly can with me. So I do that by doing a lot of different things that I’m about to share. But the number one thing is I show interest in them. Recently, I was talking with a bunch of students and one of the people who was co-paneling with me said, “Yeah. Chris, he’s so good at making people think he cares about them.” I kind of laughed and I stopped her and I said, “You know that’s kind of funny  that you said that.” I said, [00:07:30] “Let me just correct a little bit of what you just said. I actually do care about somebody even though I don’t know them.” The reason why is because being a human being isn’t easy, we all know that. Going through your days sometimes can be stressful. I know when a person shows up to the hair salon, it’s a place where they’re about to have, hopefully, an experience where they can relax a little bit. But the truth is, for the most part, going to the salon is [00:08:00] actually a little bit of a stressful experience. Because I know this in my mind already and I believe it to be true 100%, when somebody walks through the door at the hair salon, I immediately have compassion and empathy for them. Because I know, A, they’re probably coming from a stressful day, more than likely. B, if they’re brand new to us, they probably feeling a little nervous. So I do care about them and I want to help raise their comfort really fast and lower their anxiety [00:08:30] really fast. Here’s how I do it, like I said, I use these points called the “five emotional focal points” and I’m going to share them with you now. So here they are, I’m going to give them to you in a snapshot and then I’m going to take you through them one by one.


Number 1, I always want to create a comfortable and welcoming environment. Now, I do this immediately when I meet a guest and I greet a guest I always say, “Welcome.” Now, I don’t know what you say. You might say, “Hello.” You might say, “Good afternoon.” You might say, “May I help you?” [00:09:00] I say, “Welcome.” Because the reality is, there’s not a lot of places that people are welcome anymore or there’s not a lot of places where people feel welcome anymore. So I want that person to know right away, this place is a comfortable place, it’s for you, you’re welcome to be here.

The 2nd one, is once I get that person comfortable and I know they’re relaxed; and maybe I’ve given them the salon tour, and I’ve taken care of their needs, maybe I’ve shown them where the restroom is; they possibly just came off the road or in traffic [00:09:30] and I’ve given them a space to just, whew, take a breath for a second. Now I want to start to have a little bit of fun. So I might enroll that person in some questions, I might ask them about how they got here. But then I want them to know, “Hey, we’re going to have some fun today. It’s going to be a comfortable experience.” I want to relax them a little bit. Here’s the deal, if you’ve had a client for a long time, it’s great that they feel welcome, they might even feel too welcome sometimes in the salon. But sometimes we [00:10:00] get in the same rut. We do the same things over and over again. So I want to add a little bit of variety even for my returning clients and I call that fun.

The 3rd emotional focal point is I want to make her feel like she’s the only one. Now I  say “her”, I did a lot of men’s hair for a lot of years, I no longer do men’s hair just because I prefer to work on ladies’ hair and I prefer to do high-tech, multiple service moneymakers. It’s just where I live right now. I think male clients are fantastic and I think you should do them and I think they should be about 30% [00:10:30] of your book. But with that said, when my guest is here, even if I’m doing a similar haircut that I did on another person or even if I’m doing the same style of balayage a lot lately, I want her to feel like the look that we designed is for her specifically and that she doesn’t feel like a clone and she doesn’t feel- even if I have a lot of clients there at a time, sometimes we’re working on multiple clients at a time, I get that. Even if that’s happening, I want [00:11:00] her to know that I’m with her for the time I’m with her and that she’s really getting that personal service.

Which brings us to the 4th point and I probably I’ve already spill the beans with this one. Care, you have to care. Here’s what I think is the sad truth and reality, some of you are so busy running around the salon, doing lots of clients that we sometimes don’t have time to really actually be in the moment and care about the guest. [00:11:30] So I want to make sure that I’m doing something during the appointment. It might be a little gesture. It might be that I know what she likes to drink when she shows up. It might be that just when I see her maybe looking a little uncomfortable with the color on her head that I check in on her. Just something that shows her that, “Hey, I know that you’re here, I know I’m really busy but I really care. I’m willing to go out of my way for you.”

The 5th emotional focal point that I like to [00:12:00] kind of spread around a little bit is I want to share with people that I’m constantly growing. So you right now are sitting and you’re listening to me and I’m ranting about these five emotional focal points. But you’re learning something. Hopefully, you’re hearing this for the first time; or hopefully, if you’ve heard this from me before, I’m saying it a little differently and you’re picking something up. When I’m with a guest and I’m having the same experience as you, which I often do, I want to share with them, “Hey, I spent some time [00:12:30] over the weekend getting a little more skilled at my craft, I went to a class and here’s what they shared. I was thinking about you for this look.” Or “I was thinking about you for this new haircut.” Or “I think you’re going to love this new color process.” Then I want to pull up the picture and I want to show her “This is what I think would be good for you.” But the main reason why I’m doing that is I want her to know that I’m always growing and I want her to know that between this visit that she’s sitting in my chair and the next visit when she [00:13:00] comes back, I’m going to be a better hairdresser in six weeks when she comes and sees me than I am right now.

So it gives a reason to know that she’s spending her time, and effort, and energy, and money, with the right hairstylist and in the right place.


So those are the five emotional focal points. I’m always, always, always playing with those during the appointment. Sometimes an appointment is just about fun. It’s like, that person comes in, she’s feeling really comfortable, I know she’s [00:13:30] comfortable. I know she knows I care and so we have some fun. Other times, I need to check back in. Some of you are really busy stylists. You might have a client that you’ve been seeing for years and it’s been a while since you’ve had a consultation that was like a first consultation. You might need to stop with the fun and you may need to say, “Michelle, listen. I know it’s been a while since we’ve really talked about your hair. Do you think before we start our consultation that we can go through [00:14:00] all the questions that I asked you the first time you came in?” You’ll be surprised at how many people are going to take you up on that, and how many new looks are going to come up with because you are really able to dig back in and show that person, “Hey, look. I know you’ve been spending a lot of time here. I know you’ve been spending a lot of money here. I want you to know that I’m all ears and I’m ready to listen and we’re ready to make some changes if that’s what it takes.”


That’s the five emotional focal points. Now, I want to dive into a couple of different points. [00:14:30] Number 1, on that first initial one when we talked about creating a comfortable environment. So there’s this guy, his name’s Howard Schultz and he’s the guy that founded this little company that we’ve all been to called “Starbucks”. The reason why Howard Schultz founded Starbucks the way he branded Starbucks was because he noticed that when he would go to coffee shops in the United States, that it wasn’t much of an [00:15:00] experience. One time he took a trip to Italy, I believe, and he went and he sat in these amazing coffee shops, and ordered a little cup of espresso and sipped a little cup of espresso, and had a little sparkling water. The servers and the waiters and the waitresses, they didn’t throw them out. They didn’t urge them to leave just because they were drinking coffee. In fact, they made them feel very welcome, they refilled their wate and they just left them alone and left them to sit. [00:15:30] It got Howard Schultz to thinking, “You know, everybody has two different places basically where we feel comfortable. We feel comfortable at home and we feel comfortable where we work. But not everybody has a third place where they can just go and sit and nobody’s going to bother them and they’re not going to get thrown out.” They can order a $2 cup of coffee- or a $10 cup of coffee if you’re at Starbucks- and they can sit there all day long [00:16:00] and they’re welcome to be there. You can adopt this strategy and philosophy in your salon. What are some things that you’re doing at your chair, or in your conversation, or in your consultation, or in your greeting, to make a person really feel like they’re at home in your salon? Not to the point where it’s disrespectful but to the point where when they show up they feel comfortable there. They can relax, their anxiety starts to [00:16:30] release. So that’s point number one. Maybe something for you to do some homework on and something to think about. What are a couple different strategies or techniques, or maybe it’s just phrases that you can say to somebody to help them feel more welcome when they’re in your salon.


The second one, like I said is, have some fun. Add some variety, be a little spontaneous inside your appointment. Once you’ve been doing somebody’s hair for a very long time, [00:17:00] honestly, you can get bored and you can get tired and you can get in a rut. So change it up. That can be something as little as we changed our station today. We made sure we changed out the merchandising in the front room. I made sure to make an offering even if I thought it was a little off the wall. I might even ask, “Hey, when was the last time you thought about going all over blond?” Or “Would you want to grow your hair out?” Or “When was the last time you thought about a pixie cut?” [00:17:30] Now, I don’t want to scare somebody away. But every now and then, it’s interesting to ask somebody, “What’s on your mind?” Because a lot of times I think we just assume and so we do the same thing over and over again. Again over time, clients will disappear sometimes just because they felt a little bored and we didn’t even know it.

The third emotional focal point, again, focus on her. Here’s the deal folks, every one of us wants to feel important in some way. Even though [00:18:00] they know you’re a busy stylist, even though they know that you have other clients, they want to feel special in some way. So you can do this by actually focusing on that person. What I like to do is I like to share a  method I call, “what, why, how, how” with the person. Here’s what I mean by that. When I’m working with a guest, I’m always sharing with them,” Hey, this is what we’re going to do today on you.” After of course we’ve agreed to it and we’re past the consultation. We’re past all that. But now I’m actually doing the work and I’m sharing with them, “This is what I’m doing.” But now I want to share with them, “This is why I’m doing this on you.” [00:18:30] So I’m going to give you an example of this, I might have a guest in my chair and she says she wants a layer shape. “Oh, I’d like a few long layers” And I say, “Great.” Now, most hairstylist could very easily just go ahead and do some long layers, [00:19:00] but what I do is I let her know why I chose the length of the layer and what it’s going to do to her facial shape and facial features. I also let her know the shape of layer that I chose because it’s going to work with her facial shape or her bone structure and I just share that little tidbit to let her know that, “Hey, I selected this layer shape specifically for you. We’re going to drop that Courtney-fringe in there and it’s just going to ride [00:19:30] right across your cheekbones, it’s just going to look so seductive and your husband is just going to say, ‘Let’s go out for dinner tonight.’” So I’m sharing those things all the time. “This is what I’m doing. This is why I’m doing for you.” Then I might share a little bit is, “This is how I’m doing it for your hair texture.” So as an example if I have a curly-haired girl, and I select a certain tool to work with or I select a certain technique to work with, maybe I decide to dry-cut [00:20:00] her hair because it’s going to work better for her curls. I let her know that I don’t this for any person. “I do this specifically for your texture of hair because this works perfectly for you.” I let her know that through what I’m doing and why I am doing it, I selected it personally for her.

Then the final piece is, the how she can maintain it at home. So what, why, how I’m doing something and why it makes a difference for her, [00:20:30] and then how she can maintain her hair at home. What this does is it keeps the conversation around her and her hair. I want my guest to always feel like I’m thinking about everything that I’m doing. I’m very methodical for her, for her hair texture. That way I know that she knows that I put that little extra thought in there, I just didn’t sit her down and go on auto-pilot. At the same time, I want to do that [00:21:00] with care. Whatever that means for you, you’re going to have to explore that a little bit. Maybe it means I’m making more eye contact and really trying to get myself to focus in on good listening for her. Maybe it means I thought of her prior to her appointment and I just remembered that she had a certain event that was happening; or she had an anniversary, or I’ve been doing her hair for three years on this day. Whatever it is, every time somebody comes in, I’m making [00:21:30] sure that something during that appointment says, “You know what, I thought about you. I really care about you and I’m really here for you.” Because the reality is in today’s day and age, so many of the signals that we’re sending are “we’re here for us; for my artistry, for my career, for my salon.” But here’s the reality, without that guest,we don’t have a salon, we don’t have a career and we don’t have our artistry. [00:22:00] We may have artistry but we’ll be starving artistries.


Then the fifth emotional focal point is, again, share your growth. Here’s a little story for you. When I was about 18 years old, I started doing a lady’s hair, her name is Janine. That is her real name actually. Janine came in, she was a little goth kid at that time and so was I. I had a blue mohawk, I think, when I started doing her hair. Now I have a big fat bald spot on the back of my head. [00:22:30] But when Janine came in to me, I was young, I had a certain skill set. We did that skill set on her, she wanted her hair black and bobbed and I could do that. It was great. We started out a really long-term client relationship like that. So for 18 years, I did Janine’s hair and through her personal growth and my personal growth, she became an executive and she will finish college. I remember the first [00:23:00] time she came in and she said, “I’m thinking about maybe going a little bit lighter.” [chuckle] Remember, she had been black for like four years. It was this huge like, “Okay. So we’ll start to add some highlights.” But I would also share with her everytime I came back from a show and we evolved. We did a lot of different looks throughout the years. I can tell you, every now and again, she’ll still tag me on Facebook when she gets her hair done [00:23:30] just to let me know, “Hey, look at my new do.” It’s an amazing experience because through the years, I would always say to her, “Hey, Janine. I just got back from a class and I want to try something on you that I think would really work.” I believe because of that, I believe because I let her know I cared, that we didn’t let it get stagnant, that I always let her know she was welcome, that I was growing and I continued to develop. I believe because of that we had a great happy client relationship [00:24:00] for close to 18 years.


Now, I know a lot of you have those same types of client relationships. So in this segment, what I want you to do is: A. I want you to focus on these things. I want you to ask yourself, “Could I make my returning guest experience better?” B. If you are a new person and you are growing a clientele right now, I want you to take these five emotional focal points very seriously, and I want you to ask yourself, [00:24:30] “Where in the appointment can I show this person that I care about her? Where can I show her that she’s welcome? Where can I talk to her about the fact that I just learned something new that I think is going to work for her?” And so with that said, now it’s time for action. So I’m going to give you an assignment. It’s straight out of the book, I’m working out of page 49, here in Shop Talk. So one of the things I just went on a major rant right now, I didn’t expect to do that, [00:25:00] but I’m feeling pretty good today, I’m all coffeed up. I want you to list three points that I just touched on that maybe were helpful for you or that gave you a little idea and I want you to come up with three different things that you’re going to try around these emotional focal points. Three different things that you are going to focus on in order to: A. Make a returning client’s appointment even better. [00:25:30] Or B. To help a new client feel more welcomed and on-boarded and cared about and taken care of while they’re in your chair. So I want you to list three little A-ha moments that you had, and kind of, what are three things that you might try.

Then the second thing is, you might need to create a script. So as an example, I’ll give you a little script that I’ve used thousands of times with new clients over the years. So when a new guest sits in my [00:26:00] chair, I would always look them in the face and I would say to them, “Hey, listen. Before we get started, I just want to let you know that I believe in lifetime clients and long-term relationships. It doesn’t matter to me if I take a 16th of an inch off of your hair or 16 inches. My goal today is that you leave feeling really happy. So in order to do that, would it be okay if I just ask you a few questions about your hair, that way I could get to know you and your style a little bit better?” I’ve said [00:26:30] that to so many people and here I am today, I didn’t practice it, I didn’t warm up. I just spit it out. But I’ve said that so many times. After every time I’ve said it: Number 1, I’ve gotten better at it and I believed it more. But number 2, I’ll watch the guest just feel whew, calm, and welcome. Then they know their part, now all they have to do is answer a few questions. And then though I’ll give them a segment [00:27:00] to share a little bit more. If there’s anything I’ve missed, I’m going to repeat it back to them. It’s going just to make them feel calm and comfortable. So you might need to make up a script. You can borrow mine if you like. “I believe in lifetime clients and long-term relationships whether I take a 16th of an inch off your hair or 16 inches. My goal is, I just want you to come back and be really happy with your hair.” But I think you might want to come up with something maybe that sounds a little less cheesy.

Then the third thing I want you to do is I want you to write [00:27:30] down three consistent actions that you’re going to start to do on a regular basis behind your chair to help illustrate these five emotional focal points.


That’s it! That’s return clients and that’s your assignment. Again, three Ah-ha’s, we want you to create a script. Then we want you to create three consistent actions that you’re going to take. Again just to recap, kind of our key takeaways are: Number 1, a return client is somebody who you’ve seen before. They’ve [00:28:00] asked for you. They’ve booked a reservation with you. It’s somebody that’s coming back specifically for you. Number 2, we want to shoot at a minimum for 50% of our new clients coming back. A minimum of 80% of our return clients coming back. Remember, it’s that 50/80 rule we talked about and that’s the goal we want to shoot for. So you can measure that over time, you can measure that over three months. [00:28:30] You can judge, “Okay. How many of my guests are return clients every three months or every six months maybe with balayage?” You might have to start to stretch it a little bit. But you can count off each month and you can say, “Okay. How many of my guests are return clients each month compared to last month?” So again, we’re shooting for 80% and above for your return clients and for your new clients, we’re shooting for 50% and above.

I hope you learn something during the segment. Again, go back and listen. I know I shared a lot of information [00:29:00] here. Of course as usual, the last thing I want you to do is I want you to shoot a little video, put it on our private Facebook page and I want you to say, “Okay. These were my a-ha’s when we were talking about the emotional focal points and returning clients. Here is the script that I’m going to try.” Maybe it’s in your consultation. Maybe it’s a greeting. Maybe you’re just going to say, “Welcome.” And then, “Here are three consistent actions that I’m going to try to add [00:29:30] to my regular appointment to help people feel more welcome, and to raise the probability that they’re going to come back.” Thanks very much. In the next lesson, we’re going to talk about your referral clientele and growing referrals. See you there.