4 Tips for Busting a Client Out of a Hair Rut

Rodney Cutler, working his magic backstage at the Taoray Wang NYFW show

I'll just get a trim. Let’s go with my usual highlights. Do exactly what you did the last time. Stylists and colorists usually follow these instructions to the letter, but let’s be honest, there’s that nagging urge to say: Try something new, it’ll transform your look. Yet, for some clients, pushing past these personal style boundaries can be a big mental challenge. To learn how to gently but effectively sway a client into trying a new cut, color or style, we talked with Rodney Cutler, (@cutlersalon) Redken Brand Ambassador. Here’s his tried-and-true method for busting a client’s rut. 

1. Talk it out. 
It’s all about planting the seed of change. Start having a conversation about a style, cut or color variation long before the client is ready to take the plunge. It’s about steering them towards an “in the future” hair suggestion. This gives the client time to think about the hair suggestion, without the pressure of an appointment. For example, if it’s the middle of the summer, pitch a change for the fall or winter—which is a great time for a client to change her look. This also gives you a few months to plan for the change—products and tools that you might need—while they’re preparing themselves.

2. Give ‘em homework. 
Ask your client to bring in images of some different styles she likes and can relate to in some way—whether it’s a celebrity with similar features or someone she admires. This establishes a style setting that she feels comfortable in, allowing you to work within that framework. Even if you don’t agree with her references, it sets a tone that you know she feels comfortable inhabiting.

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3. Learn about their life.
Sometimes people just aren’t in the right frame of mind for a change. As a stylist you’ve got to fully understand what your client is going through in her life. Is she at a point in her life where a change is going to empower her? Or will a change in her hair bring on an unnecessary new stress? Being in the right frame of mind is crucial, ensuring she’s really ready for a change. 

4. Pull the trigger. 
Once you’re done, make sure you reassure her that no matter what happens, no look is forever. Fully explain what she should be doing at home for her new style, cut or color—making sure she doesn’t experience “buyers remorse” later. And, set up a plan for the next six months. How often should she come in for maintenance? What changes can she expect as her hair starts to grow out or a color starts to fade? Prepare her for everything she could experience.

Cutler Brooklyn: Small Yet Mighty 

Rodney Cutler just opened his newest hair salon in Brooklyn, New York. And, with only 14 chairs in Cutler Brooklyn, this smaller-sized salon is a departure from his famed SoHo salon. “We’ve always tried to create salon space that represents not just our brand, but the neighborhood. This salon has a homey, Brooklyn-esque feel,” says Cutler. “When you look back to the early ‘90s, there were all these massive salons. If you didn’t have a monster salon, you weren’t taken seriously.” But now with social media, you have the ability to impact the beauty community without that “mega salon” presence. Cutler likes to think of the salon size variation almost like restaurants. “Obviously the guest wants the food to be great, but certain clients and staff members crave a big restaurant experience, with all that buzzy excitement—that’s Cutler SoHo. While other clients want a cozy, intimate experience. You can’t be all things to all people, and I think that’s okay.”

Photography: Courtesy of Redken/Cutler Salon

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