Is Double Booking Hurting Your Bottom Line?

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We all like to make people feel beautiful and make money! To make money we sometimes double, even triple book ourselves. But is that really the best?  Now, before you get all huffy puffy, hear me out. I am not saying you are 100% going to be losing money if you double book.  I am just going to share some experiences, thoughts, & tips on double booking.

I currently work at a spa & salon.  We literally do everything from nails, cavi-lipo, massage, spray tans, customize makeup, to medical services when our medical director is on site and everything in between. Seriously, we do it all & I believe we do it well.  One reason I believe it do it well is because we allow time.  For a women’s shampoo, cut, & style (blow out), we book one hour. We typically book 2 hours for cut and color.  Some instances we book more time depending on the client and the desired look.  I do not typically double book anymore. Though, there are times I do, under the right circumstances.  More on that later.  But first, let’s talk about why I believe SOME, not all, stylists are losing money by booking more in their day.

I’ve had new clients come to me (and to my co-worker) stating “I love my stylist but I am leaving him/her because he/she always does 1-4 people while I process. Sometimes my color comes out wrong and when I mention it, he/she just kinda brushes it off because he/she is TOO busy.” Stylists are too busy and are losing clients because of it. Their clients feel neglected.  I’ve heard from clients  that their stylist only works 2-3 days a week and tries to squeeze everyone in.  I’ve heard that the stylist was cheap and that is why he/she is always busy but the client is not happy (typically the client will spend the money if they get what they are looking for, quality).

How can you double book yourself and still maintain quality? First do not book during a bleaching process. It’s never a good idea to keep bleach waiting.  You may know that it takes Sally 35 minutes to process her highlights, and that it takes you 25 minutes to cut Steve, but this day Steve is a few minutes late, & wants to change up his cut. It takes you longer to cut his hair and now Sally has over processed. Try to keep your double bookings matching time wise.  And try to have your 2nd client come in about 15 minutes after the first. Explain they may have to wait a few minutes, but better if they wait than you having to wait and risking running over.

Do not book 2-4 people during a process time.  You will lose clients. That is the number one reason why clients leave. Not only do the clients  feel that they are being over processed and forgotten, but their services takes double, if not triple the amount of time, they can’t plan their day around their hair service, and they feel like a number instead of a human.

If you are having to squeeze everyone in because you have shortened your weekly hours, hire an assistant.  An assistant can rinse your clients and help out cleaning up, helping you keep on track and clients are still being attended to.

Raise your prices. Yes, you will lose some clients, but it typically all comes out in the wash.  If you have a co-worker who can take on the clients who do not or can not pay your new prices, then refer those clients to the co-worker.  Better the clients stay with the business than go elsewhere and your stress level is lowered.

If you are working limited hours but are willing and can open up some extra hours then do it. So if you are working 2-3 days a week to build and you’ve become overwhelmed by the demand, open up another day. Even if its just for 4 hours to start. Or if you notice that your mornings are bare but you are packed in the evenings, try opening up another evening. Come in later on that day, but stay later.

Block yourself a lunch when double booking. It’s typically an Olympic sport getting lunch in our business, so please do yourself and literally everyone else a favor and block a lunch. If you are doing hair between process times there is no way you can eat as well. No one likes a hangry hair stylist.

I do not believe that double booking is bad.  I believe that there are some stylists who are taking on way too much, and/or not educated on how to properly double book.  When I double book, I make sure I have time to eat somewhere in that time, because when Kari gets hangry, Kari gets HANGRY! I also make sure that the one I am squeezing in is a good client. Meaning, not a client who just calls and demands to be seen whenever he/she feels like it regardless of my time and my other clients’ time.  If it is a client who is constantly rude, no shows, etc, I absolutely do not work them in. If it is a good client who has an emergency or had to cancel his/her last appointment and is needing in, is willing to work around my availability, understands that his/her appointment may take longer because I am squeezing him/her into another client’s time, and he/she may not receive all the fluff (hot towel, arm massage), then I am ok with it.  I understand that every stylist has different views and booking process. I am only sharing what I have experienced, how I handle booking, and what clients have told me.

Double booking takes time to learn.. You have to get to know your clients and yourself. Do not starve yourself. Do not hold your bladder until you are crying urine. DO NOT throw yourself through hell. But at the same time do not make your clients wait for you. They give you money. So don’t make Sally wait an hour and half because you want to squeeze in 2 colors and a men’s cut. Be respectful to yourself and your clients.

I hope this post finds you well. I hope you gain some insight as to why you may be losing clients (if you are losing clients) and tips on how to better double book!


5 Consultation Tips For Stylists!

As a stylist I have developed a few consultation techniques as a result of failing to thoroughly communicate with clients.  We’ve all been there. We all learn from our mistakes.  We also learn from other stylists’  mistakes and from them informing us of situations where they made a mistake.  Situations also occur when a stylist asks a few more questions or picks up on subtle clues.  Today I want to share some of my consultation tips that I’ve learned and fine tuned through the years.

First tip: do more than a 15 minute consult. A lot of stylists will say that if the consult takes more than 15 minutes, you should pass on the client as the client probably can not be pleased.  I have found that clients (whether they are new to the area and looking for a stylist or are a referral) don’t want to feel rushed.  When consulting on color, the client’s hair language is not our language and it can take some time to decipher what they want. I’ve had clients who have come in saying their hair was too brassy even though it was on the cusp of being violet.  Turns out, their definition of brassy is cool instead of warm.  In cases like this, the reason why the client has been to everyone in the tri-state area is because no one has taken the time to figure out exactly what is wrong. I personally book consults for 30 minutes. They do not all take 30 minutes, but I’d rather have more than enough time especially with a new client. During a consult, we talk about the desired look, the price for the current service, maintenance price, maintenance schedule, length of appointments, etc. After discussing it all, I repeat back our agreement and take notes on it all. I have found that not rushing through a consult results in fewer communication errors and can make the client feel more relaxed.

Use your swatch book! When doing a consult for color, I use my swatch book. I know a lot of colorists do not.  Let me explain why I do. I love red. To me, there is no such thing as too much red! But to someone else, gold might be too “red”.  I will tell the client “I’m going to show you some colors.  I want you to pick out colors that you like, whether you want to see it on your hair or not. If you see a color that you like but it’s too dark or too light, let me know.” We then start at the beginning and work our way to the back.  Typically clients will pick out all cool colors or all warm colors.  They will also inform you what levels are too dark, what colors are too warm or red, etc.  Many times I’ve had someone bring me a picture of a red color and then tell me they do not want red but love the picture. I show them the swatch book and ask them what is red to them and it’s typically gold or copper. I’ve also had a client tell me she wants “almost black but not black”. I’m thinking a level 4 (black not black), I show her the swatch book and she picks out a level 7.  Because she was light, her black was a darker blonde.  Had I not shown her the swatch book and gone with a level 4, she wouldn’t have paid or rebooked. I’ve had a client come in tell me that her highlights are always brassy, yet her hair was very cool. I showed her the swatch book and asked her what colors were brassy to her. She picked out all the cool colors. I asked what colors she liked and she loved the golds. She had a hard time finding a stylist because her hair vocabulary doesn’t match a stylist’s hair vocabulary. I nicely informed her that in the hair world, the word brassy means warmer colors, and that’s why she was having the issues. Once I establish what colors the client likes, I will pick out 2 or 3 colors, discuss with the client and then inform them that I will be mixing a couple of colors together to make the color unique for them and also to better fix whatever issue is happening.  More often than not, a client may really like one swatch but it may be too gold or too dark or too light.  Maybe the client likes a level 6 copper but wants  to see some gold in it as well. Or maybe your color line doesn’t have a level 6 copper but it has a level 5 and 7 copper. So your client may ask “this one is too light, this one is too dark is there something in the middle?”  I have also found that with pictures that clients bring, they still say ” I like this but it’s too gold,” or ” I like this but its too dark.” I’ll bring out the swatch book to see what “too gold” and “too dark” is to her.  For me, showing the swatch book gives me more information and helps me decode the client’s hair language.

Have client bring in multiple pictures! I also like for clients to bring in pictures.  When I have a client who wants a new look, I will tell them “Bring me at least 4-5 pictures. You are not going to find one picture that has the cut and the color. If you see a picture of someone with all over blonde, but you like the color of blonde bring that and let me know that’s your highlight goal. If you see a picture of a girl with shorter hair but you like her bangs, bring that to me.” This is very helpful because I can’t be told “I like her bangs but I want them shorter and more to the side, and I want more highlights than she has also more lighter and maybe more cooler….” and the next thing you know, what she’s describing is nothing like the picture. And if you do the picture, she won’t be happy because her highlights are lighter, and if you do what she describes she won’t be happy because it does not look like the picture.  When she brings in multiple pictures she can’t focus on how the model in the one picture looks.  A lot of clients want to look younger and more fit (don’t we all), so they bring in their ideal look. The ideal look isn’t just about hair, it’s the whole package. Having clients bring in multiple pictures not only helps nail down the exact look – length, bangs, layers, base color, highlights, and low lights – but also helps keep the client focused on the hair of each picture instead of the model’s body. If the client does not bring pictures or they have only one picture with multiple things they want different, I will ask questions about how they want to style it. “Do you want to blow dry this style?” “I know you said you wanted to wash and go and you want more volume. In order to get the volume you want like in this picture you will need to use a root lifter and blow this dry.” “Do you still plan on blow drying this new style the same way as you blow dry now? If you want this look, you will have to style it differently than you are used to.” Clients see a picture and think “oh I love this!” but maybe their schedule doesn’t allow them to spend an hour blow drying and curling a new style. Or maybe they’ve always blown their hair back and now they want a style that has to be blown forward.  They may not realize that it has to be blown a different away or may not be able to blow it forward since for 30 years they’ve blown it back.  I also ask “How often do you want to come in to maintain this look?”. If she wants a root to end blonde, but only wants to come in every 12 weeks, I need to explain why we need to discuss a different color style. I may discuss ombre, or highlights under her part line.
I want to make sure that no matter what look I create for her, the client can style it at home.

Talk about pricing during your consults! If it’s a corrective color, figure the price at a higher point.  If you estimate that if would cost $200 if all goes right, figure what that price might be if all goes wrong. Or add an extra $100 to the price. I may figure the color will be $200 but I will quote at $300. I will say “I’m going to figure high for the service, $300. That will be the most it will cost. ” I do this because I have, in the past, quoted a firm $200 and then things happened that I didn’t expect. But, since I had already quoted a firm price, I couldn’t charge any more. The extra $100 is a safety net for me as the stylist. Quoting high for the client prepares her and her finances for the service.  If you do not talk about price prior to performing the service, your client may not be prepared to pay $250 and will be upset. If everything is absolutely perfect until she goes to pay and she is unprepared for the high bill, the perfect experience is now a sour one, and the chances of her coming back will be slim. If you quote her $300, and she informs you that she can’t spend that in one appointment but her budget allows $200, you will need to have other options for her.  Instead of a full head of highlights & lowlights, you can suggest either a full head of highlights or a partial head of highlights & lowlights.  Do not let her walk out of your salon without giving suggestions for alternatives. Don’t confuse giving other options with lowering your prices.  Giving other options is just that, suggesting other services in her price range. It is not doing $300 worth of services for $200.  After pricing her for the big service, give her prices for future appointments.  It may cost a client $300 to fix her color and have her leave with a base color, highlights, and a cut, but it may only cost $150 for a root touch up and cut 6-8 weeks after the big appointment. Let her know that. She may think you will charge her $300 every 6-8 weeks and that may be a turn off.  She may be willing to pay the $300 for the color correction if her maintenance price is less.  Inform her of how long it will take for the first big service and then maintenance services. It may be she can’t schedule a 5 hour color correction on a Friday, but she can schedule her 2 hour maintenance appointments on Fridays.

TAKE NOTES! Please take notes! Write down what her hair looked like when she came in for her consult, her desires for her color and style, your plan of action, the estimated price for the initial first service, future/maintenance prices, estimated time for service, etc. I have learned the hard way about writing down prices.  Please write down the prices you discuss with your client.  This keeps you and her honest.  I’ve had clients say that I told them it was a certain price when I know I did not but had nothing written down.  If you decide to charge for a partial highlight but take the foils down to her hair line in the back because she has very fine, thin hair, write that down to jog your memory. Write down how her color looks prior to the service, after the service and her reaction.  If you haven’t had the experience of someone being so in love with their hair that they are crying tears of joy and hugging you, only for them to talk to your salon manager or owner the next day demanding their money back, you most likely will at some point in your career.  Having notes that she was happy helps your owner and manager handle things in a better way that may not involve in a full return (depending on your salon’s policies). You can never take enough notes. Seriously. If you only take away one thing from me today let it be the note taking. Note taking covers your butt. It jogs your memory, it keeps everyone honest, it helps you formulate, etc.

These are just things that I’ve learned over the years that work for me.  I hope these tips are insightful and helpful to you!

If you are a stylist and have other helpful tips please leave a comment!