Keys to the Vault: Mathematical drivers of income


Chris Sulimay


[00:00:06] Okay, so this is great. So far you’ve been introduced to a little bit about the program and shared why you’re interested in maybe growing your business or at least you decided to tag along on this course. And then the second thing you did was set some goals, maybe you know, some short term or some long term goals, just something that was specific for you. And the third thing that we had you do was dove a little bit deeper [00:00:30] into this idea, we call “The few and the many”. And that was where we really took a look at some of the negative ideas that float around in some of our heads, maybe some things that are holding you back, as well as we took a look at what are some maybe new ideas that we can adopt or at least we can think about or help to get us through when we do have some negative ideas or some fears kind of holding us back and we wrote those down. So this brings us to the point where we start to take a look at [00:01:00] some what I like to call “The practical, the nuts and bolts, the mathematical drivers” if you will, to grow in your business behind the chair.

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You know, in this series what we’re doing is we’re taking a look at some of those big ideas that I learned when I was a young stylist, that took me some time to develop but once they did, it gave me a really fun and successful career behind the chair. And so, as we pass those on this next piece or this next idea [00:01:30] that I want to introduce to you is called “The Keys to the Vault.” And what that is, is really just again, those mathematical drivers, those actions and activities that we take behind the chair, that if you count them up and put them together, they really create the framework for your income behind the chair.

Really simple, they’ve been around since way before we traded money for services and there’ll be around way after I’m gone, certainly [00:02:00] and you are. And here’s what they are: That’s how to get a client to come back or returned client, how to get people to send in their friends referrals, and maybe nowadays, how do I gain some referrals off of social media? And then how do I make sure that that guest coming back comes back sooner, and I call that “Setting up a reservation.” So, to make sure that they’ve got an appointment booked either for one time or five times or the next 12 months out, but before they leave the salon [00:02:30] that I know for a fact that we’ve got another date coming up. And that’s the portion of the business that I call “The people” side of the business. And then there’s the performance piece, which is really about upgrading your clients as well as selling home hair care.

And so let’s just kind of jump right in a little bit. You know, again, I’m always going to reference that first seminar that I ever went to that I really, for whatever reason it clicked. I’m sure I heard some of these messages before [00:03:00] that first weekend, but for whatever reason- I either didn’t care or I just wasn’t ready yet to hear it and suddenly, about five years into my career, I probably started to want to make more money. I can’t remember if that was actually true or not, but I know I started to want to travel a little bit more and I know I got into some pretty expensive hobbies and so, I probably started to want to make more money and I knew that just flying by the seat of my pants wasn’t just working. [00:03:30] And here’s the deal. You’re going to develop a clientele faster in your first one, two, three years behind the chair for a couple of reasons: Number one, you’re brand new, you don’t have clients yet. You come out of cosmetology school and so everything you get, every piece of bread I give you is a new meal. And some of those people are going to come back, naturally. Really about three out of 10 in the beginning, if [00:04:00] we’re honest, and if you’re really good, maybe four out of 10. We want to get you to five out of 10 but the reality is this, that big explosive growth is going to happen in your first 12-18 months because you started out with nothing and now anything that you gain is a lot. But people in around their second or third year behind the chair, many of them start to plateau. And by plateau what I mean is they get to a point where [00:04:30] they start to see their business level off because they didn’t pay attention to the retention. They didn’t really work to turn every new client into a returned client. They didn’t really pay attention to- or maybe they were afraid to- ask the guest to make an X reservation. And so because of that, their clientele development stalls a little bit or slows up. On the second side of that, [00:05:00] if I just allowed anybody to sit in my chair and I did the work that they booked for, so you know, a call for a haircut, I did the haircut, they call for a color, I did the color, but I didn’t really pay attention to upgrading that guest service and really offering more options and opportunities as they sat in my chair, my service or my performance level has probably also stalled. Now this is a place in all honesty where most stylists, were going to find [00:05:30] themselves in their first 18-36 months of being behind the chair. And that’s when most people either will start to feel in their first rut or they’ll just feel like “I’m not growing.” It’ll start to feel dingy. Some people will leave the business, other people will be stagnant and not know how to fix it.

So today we don’t have that excuse because I’m going to teach you how to fix it. I want to kind of give you a snapshot of each of these. And I’m going to [00:06:00] pull this right out of the book again, I’m doing this on purpose because I want you to know that you have a guide, you have a place that you can reference, and this book is just going to follow along. Actually my lessons are going to follow right along with the book. So you know that you can do this at work, at home. You don’t need to listen to my silly self-talk about this, you can use the book; However, if you’d like, stay with me and I’ll guide you through it. That said, I’m reading off of page 31 and I’m actually going to read just this straight [00:06:30] out of the book for you, because I think it’s important for us to define and really get to know clearly the targets that we’re shooting for.

So before we start that, I want to read this last paragraph on page 30 to you, just to give you a little bit of a frame of reference or some context on what it is we’re getting into. So here’s what it says, it says “The keys to the vault: Every story has plot points and behind every stylist career, the keys are directly influencing the amount of money earned. Understanding  [00:07:00] what income drivers are and how to improve them is the very simple foundation for any explosive career.” I know it’s a little silly, I’m reading out of the book. I get it, you’re not a school kid, but I take this really seriously and a lot of times sometimes we just put down things in the book that I can’t say any better. So here we go: “Returned clients: That’s a client that you’ve seen in the past and requests you- hopefully if you did a great job- [00:07:30] they’re somebody who you’ve already booked their next reservation.” So you saw them, they set up their appointment before they left, and now they’re back in your chair again, that’s a returned client.

What you want to do in the very beginning is focus. And I mean focus on growing a clientele full of return clients, so you never have to worry about, “Is the salon going to feed me?” or ”Is the economy going to be good?” or [00:08:00]  “I need to be in a place where there’s a lot of walk by traffic.” Not that all of those things aren’t important and all good, but when you can master turning a new guests into a returned guest, man, I’m going to tell you it is so freeing. I mean, if there’s one skill that I maybe by accident took very seriously, it was how to build a return clientele. And in all honesty, there’s no place that I’ve ever done hair. So I’ve done hair on Florida, I’ve done hair in Philadelphia, now Atlanta, there’s no place where [00:08:30] I ever go in the world where I don’t do hair, where I don’t think “This person’s going to come back to me, if I want them to” and we’ll get to that later. I’m very clear about the type of guest now that I want sitting in my chair. And so in the beginning you don’t really have much choice, you want to take what you can get, you want to learn to turn people into returned clients. But as you grow and develop, or if you’re a veteran stylist right now, and you’re trying to tweak your clientele [00:09:00] a little bit or evolve your clientele, what you and I are going to have much more serious conversations about the type of guest and the places that we ask for referrals and the clients that we ask for referrals. So we’ll get more clear, if you’re brand new, I want you to trust me on this. Just learn to turn everybody into a returned client. We can worry about tweaking it later, right?

So the second piece, I’ve already said it four or five times, you guessed it, it’s referrals. [00:09:30] Now, referrals is about taking one client or two clients and turning them into two clients or four clients or six clients. So it’s about learning to have those conversations with the right guests in a targeted fashion where you’re sharing with them either your salon loyalty program or your personal referral program, and you’re having a very [incomprehensible] conversation that, “Hey, you’re in my chair, I’m loving doing your hair, and oh, by the way, I’d love to meet some of your friends, [00:10:00] have I shared with you about our loyalty program before?” Or “Hey, do you happen to know that I have a referral program that can reward you for helping grow my business?” This is a very important skill to develop, because you’re learning how to sell yourself, and here’s the reality, I know you’ll hear me rant about this later on, or if you ever see me in person, we have all kinds of conversations in the salon. I believe there’s only really a few small sound bites that you have  [00:10:30] to insert during an appointment inside of what I call “magic moments” that will grow and develop and explode your clientele or keep you really stagnant. And earlier in the few and the many I talked about that 90% of the people have 10% of the impact and 10% of the people have 90% of the impact. And whether that number is a little bit off or a little bit jaded, here’s something that I can tell you straight: [00:11:00] 90% of your conversations with your guests have 10% of the impact. And if you really look at this, you know  I’m absolutely correct about this, nine times out of 10 you listen to a hairstylist and they’re talking with their salon client a lot of times about things that aren’t very important, but they’re fun to talk about. Most of that conversation is very social, it’s very casual and quite honestly it gives you very little of  [00:11:30]  an impact inside of your income or inside of even them coming back to you. But then there’s a few conversations about 10% of what you say that can have an enormous impact on your business. And so the few have these conversations in a very strategic place in order to make sure that they touch on all the touch points that I call “the keys” that we’ve talked about so far. So remember, now that I’m in a [00:12:00] conversation and now that I’m understanding that, hey, my clientele development is really based upon three things: Can I get someone to come back? Can I get them to send their friends? And can I get them to make an X reservation? Once I know that, I know there’s three very specific conversations- and we’ll get into this later- that I need to have during that appointment to [00:12:30] make sure that I’m always feeding those keys.

Now, the bottom half of what I call the “keys to the vault”, the performance half, really has two and then one extra. So there’s three more points that we’re going to cover, but there’s really two points that we focus on as we’re growing in our performance. And that’s: Number one, how to make an upgrade offering. And [00:13:00] there’s two different types of upgrades. There’s a higher cost upgrade, that’s where a guest sits down in the chair, maybe they’ve just booked for a haircut, and during that consultation we have a conversation with them that gets them excited about maybe having a higher ticket service. So a chemical service or a hair extension service, Something that turns what looked like a regular appointment into a real multi-service or high dollar appointment. [00:13:30] And so there’s a higher ticket upgrade or a higher cost upgrade, and then the second type is a lower cost upgrade and these are a little less risky, but they’re a little bit easier to practice on as you’re learning how to make new offerings. Now, how we introduce these conversations into our guest visit is basically by sliding in one liners and asking better questions throughout our consultation and then getting to the [00:14:00] point in that conversation where we’re able to offer the guest some other options that they hadn’t thought of yet. And when we start to practice making upgrades over time to our appointment, this becomes a habit. And so I want to give you a little sample, this little story.

I was probably about 18 or 19 years old and I was my brother’s assistant at the salon. And so, to [00:14:30] tell you the truth, the only thing I was really interested in at that time was doing a little bit of hair, having some fun, and then going out and partying at night. That’s pretty much all I wanted to do. My brother, however, has always been really focused, he loves to work, he works long hours. And so he would sometimes take a later appointment at night and I would be so angry because I knew he was going to turn this person into a multiple service client, [00:15:00] even if they had just booked for a haircut. Well, over the years, as I started to develop my own clientele, I realized that I had gotten myself into the habit of not making extra offerings because I always hated staying so late at the salon. Hey, listen, I’m shooting you straight right now, this sounds terrible when I think back on it, but I want you to know this is reality, right? You might be in a stage in your life where you just don’t see [00:15:30] the importance yet of these particular skills. But let me tell you, a couple of years down the line when I realized, “Hey, wait a minute, why am I still so broke and these people in the salon are making a lot more money than me?” I had to realize that what my brother was doing was actually the right thing to be doing. And so I started to adopt those skills and I started to listen better and develop those conversations. And this was really a big part of that transition from [00:16:00] those  lower 200-300$ days into eventually it became very normal for me to have four figure days behind the chair and it was all due to understanding that once I could get a client to come back and send their friends, and I started having intelligent conversations with them about their hair, about their self-image, about different services that I can offer to make them love their hair better, man, it just took off.

So the [00:16:30] next piece that I finally added at the end was to learn how to sell home hair care. And to be honest, just like many people out there, in the beginning, I didn’t really see the value in this. The breakthrough came when my brother hired a stylist and her name was Donna. Donna was one of the most successful hairdressers that I ever worked with, probably the most successful hairdresser that I ever worked with. And when Donna came to the salon [00:17:00] she brought with her what I called “the swarm of clients”- I think I wrote about this in the book, I’ll have to go back and look, but- I would watch Donna work on a daily basis and she would do so many services on her clients in a day. And that was impressive to me, but my brother already kind of worked like that, so it was impressive, but I had seen it before. However, the one thing that I had not seen before was somebody who [00:17:30] sold as many products as she did. And so one day I finally asked her like in the back room as we were having lunch, maybe I was having a long lunch and she was just walking in to stuff some food in her mouth and get back out there, And I just asked her like, “Why do you bother selling so much shampoo? You don’t really get much money for it.” And you know, I just didn’t see the value in it. And she said- I’m going to paraphrase now- “The more that I talk with my [00:18:00] guests about their hair, the more I know that I’m having a good conversation with them and the more I know they’re going to take care of their hair better at home. So my work is gonna look better and they’re going to love me all that much more for it.” So what she taught me that day was that the hair care that I stand behind, that I represent and that I sell in my salon, helps me to have my client have better hair days and in turn builds [00:18:30] trust. It also keeps me from talking about really social conversations that don’t really make much sense to talk about. And ever since that day, I’ve taken very seriously learning how to sell hair care, as well as learning how to sell hair care for more than one reason, not just for my guest’s hair, but also to make sure that her experience is really professional while [00:19:00] she’s with me. So learning to sell hair care, will keep your conversations on point.

And then the final piece, the final key, once you’ve mastered the first five that I just talked about, So returns, referrals, reservations, upgrades, home hair care. Once I’ve mastered the people, the performance, now there’s that final piece and that’s pricing.  [00:19:30] Do you know that some of the busiest stylists out there grow to a point where they can’t fit in any more people, they can’t do any more services and for some reason they never have a price increase or a price “adjustment” as I like to call it. So if you’re a stylist who’s very busy and you’re listening to this and you’re saying, “Oh Chris, don’t talk to me about referrals, [00:20:00] don’t talk to me about setting up my next reservation. I can do that with my eyes closed. Every one of my clients gets highlights, everyone gets balayage, everyone gets baby lights, they get it all. They buy the shampoo, they’ve done it all.” My next question to you is, well, when are you going to have a price adjustment? See, because your clients have told you that you’re a deal and they’ve told you that because they keep coming back and they keep coming back in drones, they bring [00:20:30] their friends. And so over time, the only possibility for you to open up some space on your appointment book is to have a healthy price adjustment. Now, if you’re brand new and you’re still developing a clientele and you’re not getting all the referrals that you want and your clients aren’t booking their next appointment, I want you to focus on that first. I’m talking to the people right now who are starting to [00:21:00] see some real progress when it comes to the keys. So they’re taking  a look at, “I’m becoming more full on a regular basis with client, I’ve learned to make offerings that my guests are taking up, I’ve learned how to sell my hair care, and now I’ve reached a point where I need to open up some space on my appointment book so I can grow to a higher demographic.” And that is when we start to [00:21:30] look at pricing as your next level opportunity to continue to grow in your career.

Okay, so listen, I’ve covered a lot so far in this 20 or so minute video. Here’s your assignment moving forward: Number one, I want you to pick one, like your first top priority of all of the keys that we just talked about. What’s the one that you need to work on over the next two weeks to 30 days. So some of you [00:22:00] pick up things a little faster, some of you just needed to hear it again, and it’s like, “Okay, I know what to do.” Others of you will need to practice, So maybe it’s like making a hair care offering or asking for a referral. I want you to focus on one skill for at least the next 14 days, and I want you to just really make sure you’re focusing and tweaking that with every appointment. Then what I want you to do is create a plan around that. So how are you going to get [00:22:30] better at that skill? Maybe it’s you need to write a script. Maybe you need to grab a partner and practice, maybe you need to do some product knowledge, maybe it’s a skillset thing, maybe you went down the list and you said, “I’m okay on all this, but I’m struggling a little bit on my haircutting or I’m struggling a little bit on my foiling or balayage,” whatever it is,  I want you to take the next 14 days to get better at that, and then I want you to exercise that consistently. So for the next 14 days, [00:23:00] you’re going to be working on as long as continuing this course, but you’re going to commit to one or two of these skills that you’re going to get better at and really do something about. Then what you’re going to do is make a video. That’s right. Not going to let you scrimp on the video, you don’t get to get out of trouble here. I want you to make a video and I want you to share in that video one minute, 60 second video. “Hey, these are the top [00:23:30] two skills that I’m going to be focusing on and here’s what I’m going to do about it.” So I’m going to make a script, I’m going to get with a partner, I’m going to do basically whatever it is that you’re going to do, I want you to go onto that Facebook page, I want you to make a video say, “Hey, my name’s Chris, I’m working on referrals and here’s how I’m going to go ahead and do that for the next 14 days.” So again, this just gives you an opportunity to share it with a community to have us cheer you on. I’m really looking forward to seeing these videos, [00:24:00]  and again, thank you for taking this session. I hope you learned a lot from this. And again, see you soon on the Facebook page.