Even though most products used in the hair and beauty profession are safe, if you use the wrong product on the wrong person, the resultant allergic reaction could be a disaster. It could mean serious damage to your reputation because the client be sure to tell their friends and family about their bad experience. It could even result in legal action being taken against you.
Patch tests help you avoid these problems by determining whether a potential client has an allergy to a product before that product is applied. Everyone in the hair and beauty profession – from individual mobile operators to large salon chains – understands the importance of these patch tests. Often, they are even a condition of salon liability insurance cover.
However, it seems a majority of hair and beauty businesses are not offering patch tests to their customers.
The problem is that although hair and beauty professionals understand the importance of patch tests, their clients don’t. In fact, not only do most clients not understand the importance of the tests, they view the tests as a major inconvenience. But if the subject is approached differently, clients can be persuaded to think differently about them.
The first thing to consider is how you talk to your clients about patch tests:
“I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to come in for a patch test before we can do your hair.”
Your client started off excited because they were anticipating being pampered. There may well be a special event that they were looking forward to. And you’ve just given them a hammer blow of negativity.
Instead, why not approach the subject slightly differently?
“The first step is your free five-minute product compatibility assessment.”
This works on a number of levels. First, people like free stuff. Second, a “test” is something you were forced to do at school, whereas a “product compatibility assessment” sounds like something that’s a lot more professional. Third, by emphasising that it will only take five minutes, you’re telling your client this isn’t going to be anything too onerous. And finally, “first step” tells them they’re about to embark on their journey towards their ultimate goal.
As well as having a positive attitude towards the tests, it’s also important to make sure that your clients know why you are carrying out the tests. You don’t want to scare them with horror stories describing exactly what can go wrong in great detail. But it’s important to show them that things can go wrong and that you want to do everything you can to protect your client. This is where the tests stop being necessary evils and start becoming marketing tools. You’re differentiating yourself by showing that you care about your clients and will do everything you can to make sure that they’re safe in your hands. And you’re not even charging for the tests because your clients’ wellbeing is more important to you than your profit margin.
And don’t forget that every time you make contact with a client it’s a marketing opportunity. When the client attends your salon for the test, why not offer them a free coffee? At that point you’ll have a captive audience that you can talk to about the other products and services you offer.
With a majority of businesses not carrying out patch tests, and the minority that are not taking advantage of the marketing potential available, a few small tweaks to the way you approach patch testing could result in a noticeable impact on your business.