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How to Choose a New Hair Salon (3)

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Investigate in Person
 
      Phase Two involves visiting the salons in person. Introduce yourself to the receptionist (or whomever greets you) and explain that you are looking to find a new hair salon and would like to just sit and observe things for a little while. You don’t need to spend more than 15-30 minutes at most to learn enough to know whether the salon is worth further thought.
 
hair salon client with rollers in her hair       Now, when you go into a salon and ask to observe, there are two things to be immediately wary of: If the salon manager or receptionist deny you the opportunity to simply quietly observe, you should ask yourself why they would do so. Are they trying to hide something? And if you find yourself suddenly under siege and the target of a high-pressure sales pitch, you should ask yourself if they are this pushy with someone who just walks in the door, how much pressure are you going to be under if you become a client.
 
      If you are simply allowed to have a seat and quietly observe, the first things to look at are how busy the hair salon is. If it is a weekend afternoon and the salon is virtually empty then you should ask yourself why the salon would be so empty at what should be a prime business period. Most salons do business according to the popularity of their work. A salon that’s empty at peak times probably means that the salon’s reputation is flagging.
 
      Of course, a salon that is packed with clients waiting in the waiting area could mean that the staff regularly overbooks its clients. If this is the case, you could find yourself feeling like a “walk-in” even though you have an appointment.
 
      While you are observing, you should also take a moment to look at the premises closely. Are the work stations clean and tidy? Even behind them and underneath? Are there jars with sanitizer liquid (the blue stuff) and is it clear, not cloudy? Do the brushes at the workstations have hair in them? If you see signs that the place is not being kept clean (there isn’t someone cleaning up behind the stylists, or they don’t clean up after themselves) or if there is signs of long-term lapses in thorough cleaning (such as accumulation of dirt and dust behind fixtures, etc.) you should consider that the concern with hair salon sanitation and hygiene may be lacking.
 
      This is doubly important when you’re talking about the condition of the tools and supplies at a workstation. The combs and brushes used are supposed to be cleaned between each and every client. Because of this, a stylist needs to have multiple sets of brushes for use, so that one set can be cleaned and drying while the stylist uses another set with a new client. If you see a stylist reusing brushes without cleaning them, ask yourself what else he or she is being slipshod about.
 
Interview the Staff
 
      Hopefully, after watching a while, you will have gotten some positive impressions of the salon and the staff working there. If you feel it worthwhile, ask the receptionist (or someone who can help you) if you can speak with the salon manager or the lead stylist if she is available. At this point, explain again that you are looking for a new “salon” and that you like what you’ve seen and would like to know how best to begin with the salon in order to develop a working relationship with a stylist. Some salons have independent hair stylists who have their own client lists, and in these settings, there can be competition for clients who are newcomers.
 
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