Navigating Troubled Client Waters in Web Design

Most of us know how important it is to maintain a good business relationship with the clients we deal with. To do this, we must build their trust and confidence to ensure a good business relationship and ongoing business dealings. Back in April, I wrote a blog titled “They Trust Me, Trust Me Not…” which talked about the importance of gaining and maintaining the trust of your clients.  At some point and unfortunately, you’ll come across a client(s) where the business relationship becomes as rocky as an everyday romance. Unfortunately, I am dealing with this issue right now with a client and in the process of deciphering what went wrong where, I’ve come up with some navigating tactics when the honeymoon seems (or is) over.

Realistically Set the Bar – What is absolutely essential is setting realistic client expectations.  Under estimating a projects complexity or scope can cause serious communication breakdown and seal the fate of your deal.  If you can’t meet an expectation, inform the client that there is no way the project will get done on time and within cost.   Hopefully your relationship is strong enough that they respect your craft and know that it is worth hanging in there until completion and possibly investing more cash flow into the project.  The flip side is that they are angry and/or frustrated – so what do you do?  You take responsibility for the oversight or incorrect projection and build confidence once again through honesty.

Give or only take? What do you do when you need the clients input on an essential decision and they just won’t do their part giving you information? Does it seem that you’re the only one trying to resolve an issue or find a work-around to solve a problem?  Then it may be time to confront your client (in a non-aggressive & professional manner of course) and find out why they’re not pulling their weight, what the hold-up is, etc. A great business relationship needs two committed & fully communicative parties and if one half isn’t fully invested, it will inevitably cause problems and the venture or business relationship may not be a successful one.

Keep the lines clear – Speaking of communication…we all know how frustrating it is to go through a “dead zone” while on our cell phones.  It’s the same in the business world- lack of effective communication about how a project will proceed, timeline for completions, and projections of cost, can cause serious problems in  your business relationship and your bottom line.   To ensure you & the client are on the same page, try asking rhetorical questions (The “question” is posed for the sake of encouraging the listener to consider what was said/the viewpoint) or my personal favorite, the “regurgitation” method.  This is basically asking the client to regurgitate/reiterate (“repeat a response after the cessation of the original stimulus” per Wikipedia) what you just said but they do it in their own words to help to confirm that you are on the same track and what you have asked or said is really understood.

Keep it business & not personal – Most of the time, difficult business situations that arise are often linked to communication.  As with our personal life relationships, most of the time you only get out what you put in.  I cannot stress enough that effective communication is essential.  Whether the client feels unheard or you can’t seem to agree on a point, ALWAYS remember that they are the client. Keep a professional demeanor, a level head and govern the words you say recognizing the power of them over your current and prospective business dealings.  Also have confidence in your talents and don’t let 1 clients displeasure cause a low hanging head.  Know that their disagreement on a matter has everything to do with the business and do your level-headed best to keep it that way.  Choosing to always keep it professional will command respect and they mght just use you again because of your stamina  & professionalism.

Word of Mouth – It’s been reported that “studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50% of business decisions.”  Wow!  So what that says clearly to me is that how you deal with the client, good or bad, has a profound effect on the success of your business as well as your future collaborative business efforts.  It may be a little hokey but I always remember, what they say is tied to what they think and that can cause the deal to sink.
So I’ve learned some valuable lessons and am encouraged to further hone my craft and become better at successfully navigating the client relations waters.  As I’m going up & down river though, I’ll keep these considerations pocketed in my life vest.






Top 5 Reasons Your Hair Salon Needs a Website

Maybe you’ve had a successful hair salon for years and your flow of clients is in and out like a Manhattan revolving door. Or perhaps, you just started one and are struggling to pack the chairs and fill the appointment book.  Regardless, both need a website.  It would seem that the latter would be more in need.  But here are the top 5 reasons why both do and how it benefits the one with the successful streaks AND the one that’s a little green at the roots.  Because the goals of a hair salon  aren’t to create just great client impressions when they walk out the door, but even before they get there or perhaps know that you exist.  How so?  Read on….

1st Show that You Are a Cut above the Rest ~ Perhaps you can highlight with the talent of Picasso or have the most stylish stylists in a 50 mile radius- if you don’t advertise it, word of mouth is probably not enough to keep your book of business on the incline despite a declining economy.  Grooming is one of the “extras” that many people can’t justify when the light bill is due and groceries are in need. In today’s tough economy improving the growth and profitability of your hair salon needs to be a high-priority and this is one tool you’ll want to have in the kit.  Having a website shows potential and repeat customers that you really mean business about your business.  It reflects another level of professionalism for clients and to the industry.  Remember, the goal is to create a great impression on a client both before they come to the salon AND after they see their reflection in the mirror.

2nd   Add Social Media Presence to Your Menu ~ Running a hair salon requires interaction with a lot of people and why not let that network work for you. What do I mean by that?  I mean getting people to Like You on Facebook, connect with you via Linked-In and chat about you on Twitter. With constantly changing styles, promotions, and products you shouldn’t have a problem finding topics to talk or Tweet about.  This is an ever-evolving industry and you can take advantage of that using the free resource of Social Media. Use it to show others that you are tapped into the most current trends in hairstyling, makeup, products or whatever your salon may specialize in.  And speaking of specialties, if you have one in particular-like you wax as smooth as a baby’s bottom or have a stylist who coifs with the precision of Edward Scissorhands-then Social Media is the perfect place to create hype about the talents in your establishment.

3rd Great Referencing Tool for the Trade ~ A website is a great place to let your work shine and the words of your clients work for you.  Often, word of mouth helps as much as it can hurt.  Letting others “hear” from current/past clients does influence decisions…especially in service-providing industries.  Most repeat customers would love say how Thomas keeps their true roots invisible or Shelly is a Shear-tress like no other AND see it in print!  No to mention that playing to a client’s ego in this manner, is also another way to keep their business at your business.  I mean this is an industry of vanity after all…

4th  Stylistas, the Cutting Floor to Web Design ~ A great look and feel website should engage visitors and compel them to spend time there.  You are in luck in this particular industry because the variety of website designs available can vary as much as shades of blond.  But you also have to know which to choose based on your demographics, clientele and other such factors.  Don’t forget that when selecting one, it should reflect both your vision for your business and the clientele walking through its doors. Keeping this in mind, don’t fail to have fun with it. I mean it isn’t a law firm for goodness sake-so you can push the envelope of creativity without seeming over-the-top.

5th  Picture Perfect Coiffing & Selling ~ Photo Galleries aren’t fabulous only in SoHo but can be just as spellbinding on the www while exhibiting your stylists’ work.  There are various choices to do so…like a slide show, a flip/style online book or even a Virtual Tour of your Salon while talent’s in motion.  It will be engaging and be a non-traditional way of showing off your talented team.

Decide Who Will Make the Cut
~ If don’t have a salon website already but are now convinced you need one, here are some considerations when choosing a website designer and/or company:

Find one that you feel understands your salons demographics and how to reflect it on the website.

Know that imagery will be crucial for your website.  So make sure that you have “web-worthy” photographs to showcase the talents of your team and use stock photography where needed to beautify the site.

Make sure they will write your content with commonly used keywords that are frequently used when searching for hair salons, especially in your geographic region.

At Design Theory, we’d love to help you take your business to the next level of design and success. As such, we now have great packages specifically designed for hair salons that will help you blow away your competition.