We all know that one of the most important skills a hairdresser needs is the ability to chat comfortably with your clients. You need to put them at ease and reassure them they’re your top priority, even on those days when you might be feeling a little stressed out and not really in the mood for a chin-wag.
Making small talk is something that some people are better at than others, but the good news is that it’s a skill that can easily be learned and everyone can become an expert at it with a bit of practice. So here are our five top tips for making small talk seem effortless:
Remember it’s all about them, not you, so be curious. Ask questions and get to know the person sitting in your chair. You’ll know from the very first moment of meeting them, when they tell you what they’d like you to do with their hair, whether they’re feeling like a chat or would just be content sitting quietly in the chair while you work your magic. If the cut or colour they’ve asked for is a departure from the one they’ve currently got, that’s a great opportunity to ask them questions about why they’re making changes to their style.
Don’t be predictable!
How boring are questions like ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What do you do’? Most people love talking about themselves, but a ‘What do you do’ question probably won’t inspire them to reply with anything more than a blunt answer. It also sounds like you only asked that question because you had nothing else to say. Instead, ask them something that will almost guarantee a thoughtful reply. A breezy ‘How’s your day been so far?’ can be an Open Sesame to a great conversation, and your client’s response could lead them into talking about things you never expected. People love to offload when they trust who they’re talking to!
Drop them a compliment… but make sure it’s genuine
If they’re looking particularly smart or stylish, smiley or healthy (maybe they’ve got a fabulous tan: ‘You’re looking great! Are you just back from holiday?’) a sincere compliment can immediately break down the barriers and put your client at their ease. It also shows you’ve noticed them and that you’re truly interested and engaged.
Keep it light
If the small talk is running out, it’s fine to ask about their favourite TV show, a current event or a piece of local news - but be sure to keep it light and positive! This isn’t the time to be discussing the latest earthquake, or how close we might be getting to nuclear war! If your client was reading a magazine when you collected them from the waiting area that could also be a big clue about what they’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to reference it because everybody loves some celebrity gossip!
Don’t talk about yourself and avoid negative conversations at all costs!
This haircut isn’t about you, it’s about them. If your client asks about you, keep your reply brief and turn the conversation back around. Also, don’t forget to smile and occasionally make eye contact (even though it will mostly be via your reflections in the salon mirror). Your tone of voice, positive body language and exceptional manners are everything. Put these top tips into practice, and your client will already be looking forward to their next visit even as they’re thanking you for a fantastic hair design and walking out the door!