Sitting in the Hair Salon…What in the “H” takes so damn long?‏

Karen GaryBlog Series Vol. 1, Karen Gary

Hair SalonIt’s Saturday afternoon and you are an hour into the time honored ritual of getting your hair done – and by getting it done I mean…waiting. And waiting. You have read the magazines, chatted up with the lady next to you and sadly, watched people come in after you and leave before you. A long running joke in the Black community is about spending all day at the salon, with a large portion of that time spent glancing at your watch. Why does it take so long? What can consumers and stylists do to cut down on the wait?

Well, I’m a stylist so I can give you the inside scoop on what really goes on behind the scenes at the hair salon. I’ve been doing hair for more than 20 years and have seen it all so let me break it down for you:

The Causes


Did you know a lot of stylists have full-time jobs outside of the salon? Well, it’s true – and that can lead some stylists to jam all of their clients in at the same time. Also, some stylists simply spend too much time on their phones or dealing with other issues.

We are all guilty of over-scheduling, burning the candle at both ends and trying to juggle other issues during work, I’m sure you’ve done it to, only no one is sitting in your chair waiting for a wash and curl!

2. Poor time management.

Some stylist aren’t as fast as others. Others are just perfectionists. Neither realizes how often their time management issues affect their clients and/or their reputations.

It’s not always the stylists causing the delay, there is another group that can throw a schedule into chaos —

3. Pushy Clients.

Clients can be a little pushy. They always say, “All I want is [insert service].” Unfortunately, while most stylists really want to accommodate their clients with their last minute needs, their attempts to do so often end up backfiring – which can push the entire day’s schedule off track.

Another way clients can throw a stylist’s schedule off track is to come in late or come in early and attempt to be seen behind or ahead of their scheduled time.

Problem Solving

So enough on the “why’s” you have to read the last three months of Hype Hair while you wait. What can you and your stylist do to stop the crazy cycle?

For Clients:

Clients can practice good manners. Be on time for the appointment, call if you are running late and accept a reschedule if you are going to be too late. Going in on the receptionist hurts everyone in the long run, you’re appointment interferes with others. Likewise, don’t expect to be serviced earlier if you arrive more than 15 minutes early for your appointment. If the stylist is ahead of time and wants to take you great, otherwise, remember the appointment was set for a reason and that reason is to get everyone in and out looking gorgeous as quickly as possible.

Clients can ask their stylists about their slower days and book appointments on those days if possible. Also, prior to arriving for your appointment, ask your stylist if they are running on time. That way, you will know what you’re in for before you arrive. If you love his or her work, you may just have to be patient.

If you can’t avoid the busiest times in your favorite salon – evenings and weekends – try to work with the salon, as its personnel may be able to work together as a team to accommodate your schedule. You may not get the same stylist, but you may end up with a glam squad that makes you feel comfortable, no matter who you’re with, each time you show up for an appointment.

For Stylists:

Your stylist has a responsibility to develop a better understanding of their own procedural productivity and execute a strong scheduling strategy. In other words, they should know exactly how long it takes to perform each service and schedule accordingly.

They should also know how to make adjustments for clients whose hair will take more time. At my salon, we aim for clients to leave the salon happy and within an average of 90 minutes, but I have other clients who, because of the thickness or length of their hair, take a little longer. I make sure to communicate that to them, the person scheduling my appointments, etc.

Finally, stylists with full books should invest in an assistant.This is a complete win-win as they will, simultaneously, help a new stylist while more effectively accommodate their clients. The price of the investment is worth it.

For both clients and stylists the most important thing is simple communication. Remember, the relationship between stylist and client is sacred and without communication, no relationship can survive. We stylists love doing hair and we love our clients. We don’t know there is a problem unless you talk to us and we can work it out together!


To learn more about Karen, check out her bio.

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