Couple posing with photobook

Are people not taking you seriously because you’re a hairdresser?

Greg Clarke


Written by: Greg Clarke (pictured above with his wife Alison) is a 30 year hair industry veteran and is Founder of both Collage Hair Group and We Love Salons product distribution.

Are people not taking you seriously because you’re a hairdresser?

I recently hosted a business and practical skills hair seminar in Dublin. I was blown away by one thought brought to the table by Debbie Digby-Smith, a presenter on the day who owns  and runs six salons all over the UK.

“Guys, we do not have a good public image. No. I’m not talking about your clothes or your hair, I’m talking about what people think of us. Do you honestly feel we’re taken seriously as hairdressers?”. Silence fell on the room. Then one lady brought a reality to the table. “I became a hairdresser  because I hated school and felt like it was the only option for me out there.”

Debbie went on to ask a question that almost made me hide under the table…

“Face it. Do you honestly think it’s anybody’s fault but our own?.” 

Again… silence. Everybody in the room has hanging on her every word. They wanted the answer. The eureka moment. Believe it or not, that answer lay in the consultation.


What’s a consultation got to do with people taking me seriously?

In a short answer, it’s the difference between KFC and a Michelin Star restaurant. The wow experience. Both are successful. Both are profitable. But most importantly, both facilitate a very different experience. When’s the last time you turned to a friend and claimed, “I had an amazing meal last night in KFC!”. It serves a purpose – fast service, convenient food and low-cost.

The KFC experience will never work for a hair salon. That’s why daily deals almost destroyed the industry. Don’t get them thinking “Oh I like my hair and it was cheap!”. You need to get them singing “I just feel like a new person. This hair and the whole experience is wow.” In fact, you need to get them saying, “It’s certainly not cheap! But it’s SSSOOO worth it.. Can’t wait for my next appointment”. 

Some people want a deal. They don’t want to be wowed. Don’t lower standards or avoid what makes you passionate to facilitate these people. Raise standards to get big spenders in. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Nowadays, people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing!”. 

You can change that. Through education! It takes a lot more than just being a great stylist to be ‘wow’.



Firstly, lets talk about the consultation. Clients Google everything and come to their own conclusion. You have the advantage of having them right in front of you, in a chair. Here’s how:

The key steps of a real consultation

Don’t start off of by asking them what they want! Ask the following questions and do the following:

When’s the last time you were in a salon and had a cut (only ask this if they haven’t been in before)?

What bugs you about your hair? What do you find challenging ? 

Usually you’ll get something along the lines of, ‘It’s just not growing.’ or maybe a guy will say, ‘My hairline is receding, what’s the best way to hide it?’

Now, you’re in a different position. You don’t even know what they want yet, but you can already move onto the products.

“Really! What shampoo conditioner are you using?” or “OK, so you can actually use products that prevent hair loss. They basically work on something called…”

Rather than telling them what’s wrong, you’ve listened and you’ve presented the solution. Now you’re not a stylist. You’re a scalp and hair consultant that they look to for amazing advice.  They need you. Therefore, they have the utmost respect for every word you reveal.

So, you don’t just talk about what they want, you provide a recommended solution:

“How do you feel about the colour of your hair?”

Present them with a colour solution for example or bring them along the path to wherever you both want to go.

Now get the re-book from the start. Simply say something like, “OK, so what we’re doing here will really help. It takes time though. So today we’ll do X. Now I’ll bring you back in, in six weeks and we’ll do Y. Does this time on a Thursday evening normally suit you?”.


See the difference?

You didn’t just bring them in and give them ‘the usual’. You’re really educating them and solving a problem that may be of grave concern to their personal image.

That’s the difference. It’s no longer a hair cut. It’s a consultation and you are now the expert. You’ve just gained huge respect and provided you do a good job, you’ll get them back in six weeks. Go get ’em!

Clarke Collage Hair Group

Greg Clarke has 30 years experience in the hair and retail industry. He founded his salon, Collage Hair Group in Dublin in 2000 . He also served as President of the Irish Hair Federation for two years and is founder of the ‘We Love Salons’ product distribution group.  If you have a question for Greg, just drop it in the comments below and he’ll come back to you. Thanks for reading!