How to Sell More Retail as an Independent Contractor, Freelance Hairstylist or Salon Owner

Updated on May 7, 2020
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I'm a freelance hairstylist in Oregon. I'm an entrepreneur at heart and I want to help you be a successful cosmetologist!

Why It Matters

Connecting your clients with high-quality product keeps their hair healthier and makes it easier for them to style it at home. It’s also an incredibly effective method of increasing your income, whether you’re a salon owner, booth renter or freelance stylist. Besides just the quick sale, a client who purchases retail from you is actually 3X MORE LIKELY TO RETURN TO YOU, which makes it a great clientele building tool as well.

These seven easy-to-implement tips will help you increase your retail sales instantly.

1. Don’t Just Sell; Educate

We all believe our clients shouldn’t be using that garbage from the grocery store, and yet we let many opportunities to talk about why they shouldn’t be using it slip right past us. The shampoo bowl is a great opportunity to explain what sulfates and parabens are and why the shampoo from the grocery store will rip that fabulous color you just did right out of their hair. The end of the service when you’re styling is another great opportunity to not only sell product, but also to teach your client how to use it and achieve the same look at home.

“Hair that slays starts at the salon.”

— Redken

2. Suggest Related Products

Try and keep your suggestions to one brand. For example, suggesting a Matrix Total Results shampoo and conditioner duo, then a Paul Mitchell Smoothing Serum and finally, a Bain de Terre hairspray can overwhelm the client. It also might be a good idea (especially if you are a booth renter who supplies your own retail) to go all-in with one brand. I know how hard it can be not to get caught up in trends when the distributor stops by offering dozens of new lines, but if you educate yourself on one particular brand and really fall in love with it, you’ll be more equipped to share it. Early on I decided to sell exclusively Paul Mitchell retail instead of a little bit of everything and when I did, I saw my retail sales increase rapidly. Are there trendier products out there? Sure. But it’s stood the test of time and I love it.

3. Sell Only What You Love

Which brings me to number three: sell what you love. It’s so much harder to convince something they want something that you don’t use yourself. Speaking from your personal experience also increases the emotional currency between you and your client. You’re not just offering them a product off the shelf, but the one that’s in your own bathroom at home. Why wouldn’t they want that hairspray that’s making your hair look so shiny? And if your hair looks great (which it absolutely must, by the way) they’ll be able to see tangible results right in front of them, making that bottle of hairspray irresistible.

You’re not just offering them a product off the shelf, but the one that’s in your own bathroom at home.

4. Let Them Experience the Product

If you genuinely believe in what you’re selling and have conveyed that to the client, don’t just leave it on the shelf. Hand them the shampoo bottle with the cap open so they can smell it. Let them experience it with their own five senses and then decide whether or not to purchase it. When they hand the product back to you, set it on your station, slightly to the side (so they can still see what a fabulous job you’re doing on their hair). Ask them at the end of the service if they would like to purchase the products you used and talked about today.

5. Offer Exactly Three Items

Did you know that three is the magic number in selling retail? If you offer one product, you have a 50% chance of the client purchasing it. Recommend two products and your odds increase to 75%. But offer three, and the odds are 90% in your favor that your client will leave with one or more of the products you recommended. On the first visit, make sure your recommendations include a shampoo and conditioner and one more personally tailored recommendation. On their subsequent appointments help them add to their personalized collection with some styling products. For more information on the power of offering three products, check out this article from Summit Salon: The Power of Three - Retail and the Front Desk.

6. Give Out Samples

Once a client shampoos their own hair with a great, high-quality shampoo, it’s really hard for them to go back to Herbal Essence. The act of personally using the product at home is hugely addicting. If you have client who has declined to purchase, consider sending them home with some free samples. An easy and cost effective way to offer samples of every product in your inventory is to purchase small condiment containers with lids and send clients home with one full of shampoo and another of conditioner.

The act of personally using the product at home is hugely addicting.

7. Offer Product Consistently

As with anything, consistency is key. Don’t neglect to offer product just because your client bought some last time they were there. Keep track of which clients are buying what, and when they purchased it. If it’s been twelve weeks since you saw Sally and you don’t ask if she’s running low on shampoo, she may very well remember that she’s almost out while she’s buying groceries and pick up something from the haircare aisle. A little check-in to see if they’re almost out of something, and even to make sure it’s still working for them, goes a long way toward increasing their trust in you.

© 2019 Abigail Hreha

What are your best tips for increasing retail sales in your salon?

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