Brad Johns, Clairol global color director and artisitc director of Avon Salon & Spa, explains the equation for gaining your clients' trust.

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In my 30-plus years as a colorist, I've heard all kinds of questions from clients expressing their concerns about the coloring process. Many of them find haircolor baffling: Will it damage my hair? Once I start coloring, will I have to do it forever? How do I take care of it? The last time I got my hair colored, it turned brassy; how can I trust my new colorist not to do this?

 Brad Johns
Brad Johns

All of us have heard these and other questions many times over, and it's our responsibility to know how to answer our clients skillfully and appropriately. Haircolor may be a mystery to clients, but as professionals, it's up to us to demystify the process for them and gain their trust. To do this, whether you're a new colorist or a seasoned veteran, the most important tools you have are your knowledge of your craft and your vision of what your end result is going to be. When you combine those tools with what your client wants and expects from you, then you have an equation that will create trust and bring success. But if you don't use your tools properly, you'll probably be confused, and so will your client. Following are a few examples of how I've used this equation to help address clients' concerns. I hope they can work for you.

  • MY HAIRCOLOR WILL LOOK UNNATURAL Visual aids are critical in the colorist's chair. If you're an experienced colorist, you know to reach into your toolbox of knowledge to figure out what your client means by "natural." For example, I can't tell you how many times a client tells me, "No red." Then I show her pictures and she sees red, and she says, "I love that!" Show your client pictures of work you've done or work you like, and let her show you what she loves or doesn't love. This way, you "marry" your ideas, and the equation equals a successful outcome.
  • MY HAIR WILL BE TOO DIFFICULT TO TAKE CARE OF It's up to you to let your client know she is in a safe space, inhabited only by her and the person who wants to do their art on her living canvas. You're creating a beautiful new accessory for her, and when you have the right tools, you know how important it is to show her how to maintain this new accessory. She would properly care for an expensive ring or belt; the same goes for her haircolor. So you remind her she wouldn't wash something delicate in excessively hot water, and that she'd use products that are specifically made for her accessory. And you also tell her when she should come back to you for a "tuneup." Don't just rush through this process—she'll know if you do.
  • IT WILL DAMAGE MY HAIR Trust only comes from having the right tools and knowing your craft; if you have these, you know how to go back to the canvas and fix a problem if it occurs. If a colorist makes a mistake and can't pull anything out of his arsenal to fix it, he isn't to be trusted. Believe me, I wouldn't trust a doctor who made a mistake and wasn't able to fix it.

Women have never had time and money to waste on poor service, and less than ever in 2005. Good colorists are busy, because they love their art, live for it, and get it. They're not in it for the money. They do their art, and the money follows. Their toolbox is full of knowledge and vision, and their clients keep coming back. By the third time I've seen most of my clients, they tell me, "Do what you want." If you don't hear that, then it's time to re-examine the equation.