Marketing isn’t just about attracting clients into your salon or aesthetic business, it’s about converting them into loyal, high-spending clients. What happens at their appointment, and how they feel as they walk out of your door, will largely decide whether they return.
Mastering the basics of body language will help your hair or beauty team deliver a better, more personal experience and improve loyalty and retention. Deliver a better salon experience for clients, body language expert Allan Pease says:
“Anyone can teach themselves consciously to read the signals”.
Sloppy body language damages salon profit - Your team, especially the younger members, may assume that because they work in a friendly, vibrant salon atmosphere it’s acceptable to use the same body language they do at home or socially. But they are not at home. They are at work.
And inappropriate or thoughtless body language can make clients feel uncomfortable, ignored and unimportant.
Body language is the outward reflection of a person’s inner emotions. No matter how friendly the words, if a therapist or stylist is feeling anxious, bad-tempered or bored their body will send signals which a client may well pick up on. When communicating with our salon clients, we all use 3 elements and they are not all of equal importance,
Research by psychologists at Harvard University showed women are far more alert to body language than men and much more likely to spot the contradiction between someone’s words and their body language.
Given most salons, clinics and spas have mostly women as their clients this makes it more important than ever for your team to be aware of the subliminal messages they are constantly sending out.
Our body language should build rapport with your client from the start, put them at ease and get them to trust you.
To do this your own non-verbal communication needs to be right from the moment they first see you. As you walk into reception to greet your client you want to convey a sense of quiet confidence, not arrogance by any means, but openness and authenticity.
Let’s look at the simple (but not always easy) ways you and your team can do this:
Easier said than done when you’re not having a good day (and we all get those!). But a genuine smile, where both your eyes and mouth are engaged, shows interest in your client and pleasure at seeing them.
How many times have you stood at a busy bar and felt invisible – the bar team seem intent on looking at anything other than you? They are avoiding eye contact with you because it’s a really easy way for them to communicate the message:
“I’m too busy to deal with you right now.”
Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what hair and beauty clients are saying, and it shows you are listening.
This is especially important during the consultation at the start of the appointment when you’re building rapport, so your client opens up to you, talks about their beauty concerns and start to trust you.
Body language experts recommend aiming for around 60 – 75% eye contact during the initial salon consultation. Any less and you signal a lack of interest in your client and their problems. Anymore and it feels like you are staring and is a tad unnerving.
As a beauty or hair professional you understand the importance of listening to your client.
But you also need to show your client that you are actively listening to them.
These positive non-verbal signs reassure your client you’re engaged and attentive, especially during client consultations.
Avoid negative cues such as leaning backwards or keeping your hands in your pocket – both can signal a lack of interest, disrespect and even dislike.
Encourage someone to continue speaking and open up to you by nodding your head using clusters of three small quick nods.
Research shows that people will talk three to four times more than usual when the listener nods in this manner.
On a first appointment, or with a difficult client, the last thing you want is for your body language to reveal you’re feeling intimidated or anxious. On the contrary, clients need to see you as an expert and a safe pair of experienced hands.
You give the game away if you slouch, drop your chin and hunch your shoulders forward. Whilst fiddling with your hair, biting your nails or fidgeting with jewellery can come across as tense or nervous.
To disguise these emotions, and appear confident to salon clients, simply:
Hands and feet reveal true feelings
A backward flick of the hand looks dismissive when a client suggests or asks something. While entwined hands or wringing your hands are signs of discomfort, as are hands that:
Your mum probably drilled into you that pointing with a finger or thumb is rude. Instead, adopt open hand gestures with the palms facing up. Having your palms slightly up and outward says open and friendly.
Comforting as it can be when faced with an awkward client, don’t cross your arms and legs as it appears defensive and sends ‘closing down’ messages.
Think about this particularly when you are doing the initial client consultation and may be feeling apprehensive.
Do your feet wiggle, waggle and fidget? You’ve mastered the confident posture, your head is nodding and your hands open, yet there is one giveaway we often overlook when we’re stressed…
…our jiggling feet.
Our feet reveal our true feelings as we curl, stretch and twiddle them disclosing our stress, boredom or apprehension.
Keep those feet still!!
What if a client questions or challenges you during an appointment? Perhaps they don’t like the treatment results, query your qualifications or experience, or the price?
In this situation it’s hard to stay in control of your body language which is desperate to switch into defence mode. But the worst thing you can do is look or sound defensive as this simply validates the client’s complaint.
First, empathise with their concern, and then suggest your solution. While doing this, the most important thing is to ensure your words and your body language are not contradicting each other.
Avoid placing a physical barrier between you and your client. Holding a hairdryer, mug or product bottle in your hands creates an obstacle in the space between you.
When you have to hold something, keep your hands around waist level.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re likely to cradle the obstacle higher and closer to you, reinforcing the barrier and signalling your discomfort. Take a quick look in the mirror. That hairdryer clutched to your chest looks less relaxed and in control than if you were holding it loosely at waist level.
Many stylists will immediately sit their client in the chair and do the whole consultation standing behind me talking via the mirror. If the stylist had come around to the side to make more eye contact and feel more connected to the client, this would be far more impacting. So simple but believe me this would make a big difference.
Think about it. The client would have to shout to be heard as the stylist is behind the client.
It can leave the client feeling like they didn’t care and can be very impersonal. So always pull up a stool and face your client. Always put yourself in a clients shoes and think how would you feel!?
Research shows that we prefer people who we perceive to be just like ourselves. Mirroring is a technique for building rapport by making yourself more like the other person.
Mirroring needs to be done subtly and discreetly otherwise it becomes mimicking and causes embarrassment or offence. It’s more about matching their level of energy, intensity and engagement rather than movements.
As well as their gestures and expressions you can adapt your behaviour to mirror your client’s temperament or energy levels. For example, if they are reserved and quiet try to behave in a similar way and avoid being seen as brash or invasive.
Respecting client’s personal space can be particularly tricky for beauty therapists and aesthetic practitioners as sometimes you just have to get up-close and very personal to carry out the treatment.
When you have to invade their personal space, be particularly conscious of your body language and tell them in advance what you’re going to do so they are prepared.
While you don’t want to invade their personal space, the right touch can instantly create a bond. We can be a touch-phobic society so stick to the safe zones of shoulders and arms.
If you’ve ever caught yourself listening to a salon client with crossed arms and a pursed mouth, or sneaking a quick look at your watch or phone during a consultation.
Remember, You are saying rather a lot more than you think!!
Leave customers with a fantastic experience and feeling like you care…