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Hairdresser CRM September 23, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
Tags: , , , ,

I get my hair cut about every six weeks or so.  I’ve been going to the same woman for about two years now.  Every time I show up, she picks up the conversation right where we left off, six weeks prior.  How does she do this?

She sees a hundred or more people in those intervening weeks.  She has similar, if not far more engaging, conversations with all those people than she has with me.  Yet she remembers everything we were talking about and is able to resume a pleasant conversation for thirty minutes or so.  She also remembers how I like my hair cut, and notices subtle changes in how it has grown (or not).

I am pretty sure that my local hair salon is not running Seibel unbeknownst to me.  I do not see the various stylists pulling up salesforce.com on their phones moments before engaging a client.  They don’t even write anything down, for heaven’s sake!  Yet they have an almost elephantine memory for details about their clients’ lives.  And this is not unique to my current stylist; this seems to be typical behavior among the vast majority of hairdressers in the world.

They realize, of course, that this intimacy and sustained attention is what provides them the repeat business they need to survive.  Whether they are born with the skill or develop it over time, successful stylists know how to draw out their clients and remember what they hear.  Darwinian selection weeds out the stylists with poor memories, I suppose.

We could all learn a thing or two from them.  The foundation of good IT service is that old maxim:

People don’t care what you know, they want to know that you care.

Showing that you care means listening and remembering things that are important to your customers.  Dale Carnegie knew it; much of his advice involves understanding what is really important to people and then providing it.

My best vendors have hairdresser-class people skills.  They have taken the time to get to know me and my company, and they prove it every time we get together.  I don’t know how they remember it; I do know that it makes sustaining our relationship across intermittent points of contact much easier.

Bad salespeople could never cut hair.  They don’t take the time to learn things, and don’t try to remember what they do learn.  I’ve had salespeople schedule time for an intro call and admit that they do not even know what my company does.  Really?  You couldn’t spend five minutes with Google before heading to my office?

Social media tools make this even easier for savvy salespeople.  Like many other people, I am throwing out bits of trivia about myself all the time, through this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Facebook.  I have a Google-friendly name that makes web-based stalking easy.  It is not hard to put together a few facts to create the illusion of caring when you first meet me.

Cynical machinations aside, we would all do well to acquire the skills that are crucial to hairdressers.  Listening, remembering, and showing interest are the foundation of all our relationships, not just at the office.  Maybe your next leadership coaching session involves scissors and a smock.

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1. Steve Santana - September 23, 2009

I agree Chuck, I have a more in-depth relationship with Amazon than some of the sales people who call on me. Does Kindle do hair?

Like hairdressers, good sales people don’t need CRM either. Businesses do. CRM can help another hairdresser pickup where another left off but like with sales people, they’re not interested in sharing. They are “my customers!” If populated, a CRM system will provide insight into the habits and needs of a customer or segment of customers. What services are selling well and to whom? How firm is the forecast of future sales? Should we stock more shampoo or hand wax (if you’re into that sort of thing)? Great for the business, but does little to move the hairdresser or sales person toward their goals.

A good hairdresser and a good sales person sell a product and provide an experience. If either are bad, the transactions will stop. The sale starts with the first impression and after that Darwin takes over. Know your customer!

2. Krishna Moorthy - September 23, 2009


When you say you visit the same hairdresser every six weeks or so, would that be a “chain place” (like Great Clips) or a “boutique” hairdresser? Because their business model drives the “relationship model”.

The former almost always have some CRM system at their front-desk which allows them to store details of your last haircut. (Of course, that alone is no guarantee that a “#3 on the sides” will turn out the same every time!)

The latter category of service providers, the boutiques and the independents, indeed seem to be blessed with “elephantine” memory and who just seem to remember.

The conclusion is obvious – bring in easily replaceable workers, implement an off-the-shelf CRM and unleash the pain on your customers 🙂

3. Ernie Huber - September 24, 2009

Too funny Chuck. I was just in a week ago and she asked, so what is the next project now that your kitchen is complete.

You made me think about this a little more. The place I go now has an online self service appointment solution. It seems like they do the basics like send email reminders. However, now that they have me in their database, which I am sure can contain notes and my email address there a lot of other potential opportunities for them to improve the relationship management of THIS customer.

I will keep you updated if anything else develops. I may even make a few suggestions the next time I am there.

Thanks again for the thought provoking post.

4. Lynn M - September 24, 2009

In order to do any job well people (no matter rank or field) should do what your hairdresser does. We should all be good salesmen/women. For instance, why can’t my doctor take the time to review my chart a little before walking into the room? Sure, I NEED the doctor to cure my ailment, but I’m not feeling too great about the service I’m getting when he seems to know nothing about me from previous visits (or won’t even spend the time to review the chart for one or two minutes before walking into the examining room! After all, I’ve already been sitting on the table with the paper gown for 20 mintues, I’ll spare the additional two minutes in exchange for the feeling that you know a little about me!)

Dale Carnegie’s advice works for all people — not only salespeople but people making their way through life. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” should be required reading for every person at least every couple years (or as soon as you feel it wearing off). The bottom line is people want to feel listened to and cared about. Want customers? Want friends? Want to grow your business? Want good referrals? Want happy coworkers? Happy employees? Take the time to really listen…..it really isn’t that hard and the rewards are endless and they multiply!

Thanks for the wonderful post, Chuck.

5. Chuck Musciano - September 24, 2009

@Steve: You just summarized CRM: “Good salespeople don’t need CRM. Businesses do.” As others note as well, the personal experience is what sustains the sales experience and leads to success.

@Krishna: It is a boutique shop, although I have been to the chains that do little more than track my name and phone number.

@Ernie: Online appointments are great and I wish more places had them. It does provide the foundation for a deeper customer history, although I suspect that few hairdressers are running for the computer as they finish with a client. I look forward to your follow-up report. 🙂

@Lynn: You are right: Dale Carnegie knew all this long ago. While Dale espouses having genuine interest, most of us would be more than happy with fake sincerity, much like your doctor scanning your chart just before coming into the room.

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful feedback!

6. Lynn M - September 24, 2009

Hi Chuck,
I just want to slightly debate your reply (just a wee bit!) I don’t think people appreciate “fake sincerity” but making an effort (even a two-minute effort) shows that at least the doctor cares enough about making you feel at home to look at your chart. I would say fake sincerity is more when people (to use commonly known terms) a** kiss or brown nose or gush/compliment/and over-use your name to the point that you know he/she picked it up in some course or book on “effective people.” Fake sincerity will (and should) blow up in your face. You might get away with it once or twice but anything habitual is easily detected by most people. Fake sincerity is often more disdainful than not making the effort. I certainly don’t expect the doctor or hairdresser to remember everything about me considering how many people they deal with and how busy they are (I’m not a raving egotist!) but a small, honest effort is always appreciated. I agree with Dale Carnegie’s idea to be sincere. I think there is always a pathway to sincerity no matter how small.

7. Chuck Musciano - September 24, 2009

Lynn, I agree and was just being a bit sarcastic. I appreciate that the doctor takes the moment to remember me by reading his notes, and respect the fact that I’d have to do the same thing to keep up with so many patients.

I think we all have a problem with the fake sincerity. No one wants Eddie Haskell as a salesman! (“Lovely pearls, Mrs. Cleaver.”)

8. Amanda - October 5, 2009

I am a hair dresser and I have to say that I am pleased that someone has noticed the many hats your average stylist has to wear. we implement an online booking system at my salon, and it is true that there is a notes section, but 9 times out of 10, if we use it, it is for a color formula. the most record keeping I have ever done is writing down who referred whom. as for relevance to your topic, the hairstylist has to be a good salesperson as well. being able to be your therapist, stylist, colourist, etc has to be seamlessly wrapped into one clever little ball that cannot be obvious to be just one of those things. if our client leaves with a product (sales) then they are 95% more likely to return to us.

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