Getting Personal

Your longtime color client arrives for her regular appointment, and your conversation with her goes something like this: "What would you like to do today? The same thing as last time?"

If this sounds like you, it might be a good time to take a fresh new look at your color work, says Marcy Cona, creative director of color and style for Clairol Professional, and owner of the M.C. Hair Consultants salon in Spring Lake, OH. "Color is declining in a lot of salons, not in overall volume, but in terms of how often a client comes in," says Cona. "It's one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today, and I think it's partly because many of us are approaching our work the same way we've been doing it for years. We're taking the easy way, and not linking a client's haircolor service to their next visit."

 The right levels of balance and contrast help connect the haircolor with the haircut.
The right levels of balance and contrast help connect the haircolor with the haircut.

Taking ownership of your coloring services and personalizing them for each client, Cona adds, means more than viewing haircolor as just an expression of shape, balance and contrast. "You need to re-evaluate the importance of how haircolor has totally helped to transform your guests and bring the excitement and enthusiasm back into that experience to make it a very personalized color service for them," she says.

Ready to restage your approach to color? Cona offers the following advice.


"We have a concept in our salon that really influences all of our services, part of what we call our 'client cycle,'" says Cona. "It includes the warm welcome, the magical moment and the fond farewell." From the time the guest picks up the phone to schedule her visit, to the way she is greeted when she walks in the door, to the way you prepare her for the service, evaluate exactly how you are positioning the haircolor experience for her. Are you doing everything you can to ensure she would want to come back to you the next time?


During every service, surprise your guest in a personal, unexpected way. It could be as simple as giving her a special tip on drying, styling or finishing her hair, or suggesting that this time you're going to apply a glaze, explaining that it's a special finishing touch she'll love. "So often we get so busy, we almost forget there's a real person undergoing that service," says Cona. "It might be the only opportunity she has all day to really relax and enjoy herself. It's a disservice to her if we don't offer her that magical moment during each and every service."


Whether a client is seeing you for the first time or the 15th, make a thorough consultation part of every single experience—no ifs, ands or buts. "You'd be amazed how many times this doesn't happen," Cona says ruefully. "I've visited salons where the colorist is mixing up the formula before the guest has even changed into her robe." Don't let this happen to you, or you'll lose the artistry of the service, the personalization of the experience and, ultimately, the client. Instead, keep her involved throughout the service. Tell her you're using a lighter shade of her regular formula around the face to add brightness, or explain how you're placing the foils to give her more color balance or contrast. "It's allowing yourself to have a conversation not to a point where it's overly technical, but to where she comes to you because you recognize her haircolor as personal, not just a formula," says Cona.


Just as there is no easy way to deliver the same haircut each and every time, the same goes for color, and you have to recommit to your clients' trust each and every time. "When we get too comfortable, we sometimes start to lose interest in our work or in our guest, and generally, she'll find someone else she can connect to," Cona cautions. "Hair doesn't live separately and apart from the person, so if you're not respecting that, she'll get the sense you're not respecting her as a person. So never take that trust for granted."


Remember, you have an eye for color and a vision that no one else has, and that's why your clients come to you. They want to see what your vision is for them. So trust in yourself and recognize that you do have a gift that can really make a difference in the lives of your clients. In turn, those guests will be good to you, and your color work will shine and clearly grow.

Don't miss Marcy Cona's Professional Color Techniques class at IBS New York April 30 and May 1 ( In this hands-on workshop, Cona will take you through the six foundations of becoming a master colorist and dramatically change how you view color and the services you offer. Seating is limited, so call 800-427-2420 to reserve your space.


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