At the beginning of my career, I helped anyone with hair loss. It was about establishing myself and making money of course. I realized there are many facets of every industry including ours and that I couldn’t be a master of all. Nor did I want to be. I decided to focus on the areas where I excel.I don’t do wefts. I don’t believe they are healthy for the woman’s hair and can actually cause more hair loss, which creates a very unhappy client. Since there are only so many hours in the day, I made the determination that we need to focus on what we do best and do it really, really well. And for me, that is hair replacement for men and women with hair loss.
I rarely take new clients suffering from alopecia universalis or totalis. I almost never take a client suffering from alopecia areata. The alopecia clients I do take are those who are “over the hump” psychologically, have accepted it, and just want to do something about it. I can’t take the time to help people who are still dealing with it psychologically and still hoping against hope that it will grow back. And alopecia is the worst because it can cause deep depression and psychological problems. And at the end of the day, I’m a hairdresser.
Focusing On Your Core Business
We made the determination early on that we really needed to focus on our core business. Wefts are a perfect example. With wefts, you find yourself working harder, trying to do the wefts with less, being less profitable, and dealing with the internal issue that you’re ultimately going to cause the customer to have more hair loss.
There are similar downsides when dealing with alopecia and trichotillomania clients. You find yourself working harder with these customers and it eats into your time and brings you more aggravation than profit. While we all want to help people, in business it is sometimes necessary to understand that being a little bit selfish at times is a wise thing. You have to sit back and take a good hard look at yourself, your staff, and your business and think about what is best for you and your future, both from a personal and a profit standpoint.
So at the end of the day, I just made the determination as a business owner that I needed to keep my business model as simple as possible. And that is different for different people. But for me, I decided to focus on the things that made me happy and what I was happiest doing — helping clients with male and female pattern baldness. These were the people I really wanted to help. They were my perfect clients. They knew exactly what they wanted, and it’s repeat business.
Now, all that being said, when you are new to this industry, you have to try everything. Some people are really good when it comes to alopecia or trichotillomania clients. Others are fantastic and have a real gift in dealing with clients who are undergoing chemotherapy. There is a place for everybody in this industry. But for me, after 40 years in this business, I’ve come to realize who my ideal clients are, and I focus all my energies being the very best I can be every day and on helping them look and feel confident and self-assured in their appearance.
Where Is Your Passion?
If you expect to be successful in the hair replacement industry, you have to have one thing: passion. You have to care about your clients. You have to engage with them whenever they come into your shop. You have to make sure they are happy with the product and service you are delivering to them. You have to engage with your clients and build their confidence and trust in you to the point where if something isn’t right in their minds, they don’t hesitate to come to you about it.
Handling Issues Beyond Your Control
You have to care about your client and, more importantly, you have to deliver the right product. And let’s face it, you know in your heart whether it’s right or not. And if I have a system that is not 100%, I’ll tell the client right away. “This is not 100%. But until we can get the next one in, I’ll help you with it.” I’m always upfront with clients. I never let a client walk out not knowing that there may be a problem because the one thing in this industry you cannot do is let a client lose confidence in you.
Back when I first bought this business, I had a client who was very wealthy. He would come in twice a week and get a new system every two or three weeks. This was in the days when clients typically got a new system once a year.
The client couldn’t stand the previous owner because he would put anything on him. Well, I had this client in the chair and about a third of the way through the cut-in I just took it off and threw it across the room into the trash can.
He looked at me in the mirror and asked, “What’s wrong?” I said, “It’s not right.”
Now, I needed his money badly that day, I was going to have to charge my credit card to put enough money in the business to pay the bills. And ironically, the ex-owner showed up for his check for the month while all this was going on.
So, I put his old system back on him and he walked out front. The previous owner was sitting there and the client said, “What do I owe you?”
I said, “You don’t owe me anything. I’ll get you a new system and you can pay me then.” He sat and wrote a check for the new piece and the balance on the piece I had just messed up and he handed me the check. “You know, you’re the first person that’s ever been just flat honest with me,” he said. “I’m not only paying for the one that was wrong, I’m paying for the other one, too, and I appreciate you.”
He looked at the ex-owner as he walked out the door and kind of – well, it was just one of those moments when I realized just how critically important it is to take care of your client, no matter what the cost.