Many hairstylists have a passion for growing their skill set and consistently changing their approach to cutting, coloring and more. But, how many beauty pros are challenging themselves to continually rethink how they communicate with guests or shape the service experience in their chair? One aspect of this experience that may be worth adopting is the perception that the salon chair must always be a place of constant chatter. The concept of the “silent appointment” as an option for clients is gaining popularity.
Andrew Carruthers: What is a silent appointment?
Tara Abramowicz: A lot of people think: silent appointments—how will I know what the guest wants? But, that’s what a consultation can be for! A silent appointment isn’t about not providing the full service—it’s about providing safety for guests who prefer their appointment to involve very little verbal communication. Plus, it oftentimes gives guests a chance to recharge their mental and emotional batteries.
AC: Most of us have been taught that we always need to be chatty with our guests. Why is this something we should offer?
TA: Honestly, why not? We’ve all been in situations where we feel like we’re forcing small talk. And, did you know that a lot of people “rehearse” what to say to us before they come? It’s a thing! Let’s take the pressure off of the clients who don’t want to converse and give them the opportunity to enjoy the salon experience the way they would like.
AC: I would think that especially with our long-term existing guests, it may be awkward to introduce this new option. What’s the best way to offer this kind of choice to clients?
TA: I hear this a lot, and I knew something needed to be done when I saw all the “silent appointment” memes going around on social media. That’s why I created the “Chat/Chill Card”—a card that sits on the station for a client to flip so they can let me know exactly what type of service they want. If you’re the stylist who, like me, always thought they could “read” what the client wants to do when they come in, you may be surprised. The clients I thought liked to chat the most oftentimes were the ones who immediately flipped the card! I was absolutely surprised, and frankly, it made me feel badly for all the times they probably wanted to be quiet but felt they couldn’t.
AC: How do stylists sell retail, prebook appointments, etc. if they don’t talk to the guest sitting in their chair?
TA: I have found it’s actually easier to sell product and rebook the guests when we aren’t having small talk, to be honest. It becomes about the art…the experience. The client’s senses are often more tuned in to the experience of the product and your styling prowess when there’s no conversation.
AC: This is great for guests and creating more options for them to shape their experience in our chair. In what ways does this help the stylist?
TA: I have found this helpful in many ways—one actually being preserving myself! When I’m not feeling emotionally responsible for entertaining my client, I’m much more creative and I have better time management.