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Persuading hair and beauty clients to have an allergy skin test is tricky.

So tricky, that over 70% of salon and mobile businesses are skipping them, according to a recent survey by BABTAC.

Yet with lawyers offering no-win no-fee personal injury claims and insurers becoming more rigorous, surely they are a no-brainer?

In this blog post I’m not looking at why you should insist on an allergy skin test – there is plenty of information out there from product manufacturers. Rather I’m looking at how you persuade salon clients that your insistence on a skin test is:

  • Because you care.
  • Because you are a professional.
  • Because you are a trusted advisor.

It all comes down to salon marketing. And a bit of conjuring.

With a sleight of hand it’s possible to magic the irksome test into a positive client experience.


Cast a marketing eye over allergy skin tests

You understand why it’s sensible to have an allergy skin test.

But your clients don’t.

They see it as inconvenient and unnecessary. An extra trip to your salon is a nuisance and difficult to fit into their hectic lives.

Worse, many clients view skin tests as something a salon does “to cover your back”. They feel it’s you being fussy. And of no real benefit to them.

So here’s how to turn this tiresome irritation into a vote winner.

(And yes, it is possible).


1. Solid marketing foundations pay dividends

First accept that some groundwork is called for. You can’t expect clients’ views to magically change overnight.


2. Don’t dodge the allergy test issue

No-one wants to be told last minute that they must visit the salon before their eyebrow tint or colour service.

Tempting as it can be, don’t be coy, and don’t beat around the bush. The sooner allergy testing is raised the sooner you can start to convert it into a salon positive.

So educate your team to be upfront about skin testing and why it is so important for their client’s safety.


3. Marketing toolkit for allergy skin testing

Understandably many hair and beauty professionals hesitate about broaching skin tests to their clients.

Make life easier for your team by providing clear information in easy-to-understand terms explaining the value of the test to the client.

3 ways to promote this tricky subject…

  1. How about a salon blog post explaining the potential hazards to clients and reassuring them about ease and effectiveness of testing? It’s also somewhere for your team to refer clients for more detailed allergy information.
  2. Now promote this article on your e-newsletter a couple of times a year and on your social media. Adopt a professional, rational tone of voice. Your marketing message is that you’re a caring, trusted salon who put your clients’ wellbeing and safety first. Your hair and beauty business is different. You stand out from the crowd.
  3. Endorse this marketing message with in-salon literature for your team to use. Weave the skin test message into a client leaflet packed with professional tips and tricks on maintaining your hair colour/fake tan for longer at home. It all reinforces your role as an expert and trusted hair and beauty advisor.


4. Take a positive approach to salon skin tests

  • Train your hair and beauty team to be helpful and encouraging. To talk about allergic reactions and the skin test in an honest and straightforward way to clients, then focus on the peace of mind it gives.
  • Words matter. Clients do not want to hear that “it is company policy” or “I don’t know why we bother doing these skin tests”. Get your team on-side.
  • Put the client emphasis firmly on their wellbeing and safety being paramount. Explain that as an experienced hair or beauty professional you would always have a test yourself before any colour service. A personal endorsement goes a very long way in reassuring clients as to the value of the allergy test.
  • Keep your language upbeat and positive. It’s complimentary. It’s quick. It’s painless.


5. Support your salon team with skin testing advice

Your team are in the frontline and appreciate guidance and support:

  • Educate stylists and therapists about the science behind allergic reactions and why a skin test is a sensible precaution. This gives them the confidence to speak with authority to clients and handle any awkward allergy questions.
  • Clients often feel the inconvenient (for them) skin test is for your benefit only. A back-covering exercise. To counter this, suggest your team talk about your salon’s ethos and the importance of client wellbeing and safety over profit.
  • We want clients to feel they are in safe professional hands. So remind your team to use clients’ names when discussing the test and remember to think about body language. This blog post is worth a read if you’re interested in learning more on salon body language.


6. Turn a necessity into a marketing opportunity

Okay, persuading someone to traipse into town for a 5 minute salon visit is not an easy sell, I’ll admit.

So what can you do to make it more enticing?

Wrap it up with some “What’s in it for me” and hey presto it seems less of a chore.

Salon marketing case study

Let’s look at a brand new client to the salon who wants to book in for a cut and colour. You’re worried (understandably) that insisting on a pre-appointment skin test will result in them cancelling.

Give this a go. Offer them a freebie 15 minute appointment for an in-depth colour consultation to meet their stylist, discuss what they want to achieve with their colour, chat about their hair condition and drop in that’ll you’ll also include a complimentary skin test at this consultation. This sounds much more like you care about them and are genuinely concerned they are wowed by their salon experience.

Accepted, you can’t take this approach for quick services like brow tints. Two salon marketing suggestions here:

  • Be flexible and let them pop in at a time to suit them, without making a fixed appointment, for the skin test or
  • If you want to sweeten the pill for a loyal high spending salon client offer a complimentary gel/Shellac removal at the same time or a quick file and polish to ensure they do make the effort to come in.


7. Show clients allergy testing is important

Finally, let clients see you making up your records. It shows them that you take skin testing and their well-being seriously. It confirms you as a hair and beauty professional.


And don’t forget black henna tattoos and allergy testing…

If you’re reviewing your salon skin testing approach then it might be helpful to read this useful post on the allergy problems black henna tattoos can cause.

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