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A Man’s World: Five Tips for Building Your Men’s Business

mens feature crop 1A

As a salon owner or busy stylist, it’s easy to focus in on your high-ticket clients: women. Their haircuts are more expensive, they come in regularly for color and they need lots of products to maintain their look.

But don’t discount your men as a profitable clientele. While their haircuts may be lower priced, they come in way more regularly than females—sometimes as often as once a week or every two weeks. And they might not need seven products to maintain their look, but they use shampoo and at least one styling product—and go through them quickly.

Ronnie Pryor

Ronnie Pryor

Ronnie Pryor, owner of two Source Salons in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area (Wilton Manors and Flagler Village), says his male guests account for almost 24 percent of his clientele, which is an additional $87,000 in service revenue and $17,000 in retail—a profitable segment of his business.

If you’ve found your salon isn’t attracting as many men as you’d like, try these five tips to lure them into your salon and watch your revenues rise.

1. Evaluate Your Environment

A salon filled with feminine décor, images of women’s haircuts and a wall of pastel-colored retail is not going to scream, “welcome, men.”

Pryor says his salons feature neutral décor so everyone feels at home.

“We look more like a finished, modern, cool apartment with a Zen feel in one of our locations,” he says. “The other location feels more like an old factory.”

A modern, neutral décor is great, but first you need to get men in the door. To entice them in, make sure you have visuals or signage visible from the street or sidewalk that lets them know you cater to men. Whether it’s a window display of products or images of current men’s looks, they’ll feel more comfortable about walking into your business if they see you’re catering to them.

The retail area is another key space where you can welcome your male guests.

At one time, Pryor created a men’s domain for products and watched his clients head straight there every time they came in.

“But we eventually spread their products across the salon so we could cross-promote male clients into skin and body care,” he says. “We didn’t want them to be too pigeon-holed.”

The Aveda products Pryor carries make it easy for him to retail to men as the scents and product design are gender neutral.

At Source, male clients will also find an array of magazines to interest them, look books and imagery of men’s cuts.

“We make our own look books for men and make sure they are cleaner looking,” says Pryor.

Some salons even serve their male clients beer. It’s all in the little details—like women, men want to know you care about their specific needs and preferences.

2. Mind Your Marketing

You’ve got your signage, a men’s menu, stylists who are retailing to their male clientele—your salon is a haven for males, right? It’s not as simple as, “If you build it, they will come.” Men need to be lured in with ongoing marketing efforts just like your female clients.

Using your website and social media is key to building your male business. Invite clients to join your salon’s social networking sites, enticing them with special offers, promotions or events that let him know you are targeting him specifically.

Pryor even uses male clients for before-and-after shots on his social media pages. He says sometimes they have to be nudged a little more than female clients to participate, but a great cut is a powerful tool on Instagram, so he encourages his stylists to ask their clients permission to use the images.

Speaking of female clients—they’re another great marketing tool to get men into your chair. Invite women to purchase men’s services and products for Father’s Day, birthday gifts, and Christmas. Once you’ve got him in your chair, make him a client for life. Men are more loyal than women, so treat him right and he’ll stay.

Pryor and his staff say to their female clients, “Send your husband in so you can be the ‘hot couple.’ You don’t want to be better looking than your husband!” In the South Florida area where they are located, this always gets a great response.

Special events for men are another great marketing tool. Focus in on the weeks around Father’s Day or even create a holiday event for him. Offer gifts he can buy his wife as well as special deals to take home for himself.

3. Speak the Language

Communicating with your female clients is second nature, but how are you conversing with your male guests? Are you changing your language during the consultation?

Pryor recommends keeping your vocabulary male-friendly so the man in your chair is completely comfortable.

“Don’t say ‘bangs’ or ‘fringe,’” he says. “Say ‘perimeter’ or talk about the geometry and structure of the haircut.”

He also advises using male celebrities as examples when trying something new to give clients a visual. It’s important that both the stylist and client are very clear on what is going to happen.

As for thinning hair, Pryor approaches the topic with a matter-of-fact attitude.

“I always say ‘we,’ or ‘our hair thins as we get older’ when talking about bald spots or thinning areas,” he says.

“It’s important to have a good vernacular so they don’t feel like you’re pointing out a flaw.”

4. Retail and Services

What does your service menu look like? Is it filled with a long list of color treatments, mani/pedi specials, and blow-out bar prices? That’s enough to make any man turn around and walk out of your salon before he makes his first appointment.

Create a menu just for your male clients and display it front and center so any guy who walks in off the street can see he’s welcome right off the bat.

Not sure about the latest trends in men’s styles? Bring in an educator to get your staff up to date.

A service menu for men is a good start, but male clients will also enjoy a little pampering during their visit. Complimentary services can be a lure for male clients, and free services like beard trims can bring more opportunities for retailing and explaining how to duplicate the style at home.

Pryor has found a great retailing opportunity in every male service. Source stylists do a consult, shampoo, cut and then a rinse and hot towel at the bowl where they also use a facial toner.

Most men have never used a toner before, love how it feels and—drawn to the earth-y scent of the Aveda product—they buy it.

When his clients are ready to check out, pre-booking is a breeze.

“Men want the same time and same day all the time,” says Pryor. “If they have a nice, tight, clipper cut they come in once a week or every two weeks.”

5. The Color Conversation

Depending on what part of the country your salon is in, color may or may not be a service your male clients are interested in.

But regardless of where you are, remaining sensitive to the fact a color service may make a man uncomfortable is key—they should be discreet, quick and subtle.

“If you don’t know how to make hair color neutral to ash, don’t do it,” says Pryor. “You CANNOT let any gold show in a man’s hair color. It has to look completely natural.”

In South Florida, which Pryor jokingly calls “one of the vainest places on Earth,” Source sees a lot of men getting regular color services.

“We do it at the station, but while they’re processing we have a little waiting room that’s off to the side away from the windows, so they can go have coffee, make calls, etc.,” he says.

While not all salons see as many male color clients as Source, Pryor says men are changing. Source is seeing more and more males, from lawyers to bankers to boaters, coming in for fashion-forward looks and hair color. This is good news for the whole industry.

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