Gotta Style Blog

The Hamburger Theory

The Hamburger: A little bun, a little meat, a little bun. Delicious and satisfying. It’s the perfect balance of soft and fluffy combined with meaty and satisfying.

Think of the way you talk to a client like building a hamburger. You start off with some warm, fluffy conversation. How’s your day going? Enjoying the weather? Got any plans for the weekend? This is the warm up to the exchange you’re about to have with your client over the course of the appointment. It’s important to spend at least 5 minutes in casual conversation with the client to build rapport, understand what they are looking for, and get them comfortable.


So you can get to the meat!

When a client is in your chair, you have a golden opportunity that’s not to be wasted. A butt in your chair is a prospect you want to turn into a repeat customer. It’s someone who has prequalified themselves by walking in the door of the salon looking for a haircut. At this point, you know three things:

  1. They have hair;
  2. They want something done to their hair; and
  3. The time slot and location works for them. -you have their undivided attention
It doesn’t get much better than this. You have a shot at earning this prospect’s future business. If you think about the lifetime value of a client, you’re not about to give one haircut, you’re about to earn the next 100 haircuts. That’s a lot of future income on the table.


After you’ve spent a few minutes getting the client comfortable, you can then dive into some research questions. These are the kinds of probing questions that will let you learn about the client, their family, their job, their income level, where they work, how many coworkers they have, etc. You need to get to know your client for two reasons.

  1. People want to know you genuinely give a shit about them.
  2. People will open up and you can learn a lot about them.

Giving a shit is good in general because it makes you a decent person. And learning about a person can open up all kinds of doors. The goal in the first appointment is to learn enough about the client to know how their life works. It’s the beginning of a relationship. It will also enable you to ask for a follow up appointment that works for them.

Questions to ask include: 

  • Do you live or work in the area? This will help you understand the geography you’re working with. For example, If the Salon is near their office, you’re dealing with someone who probably wants to get their hair done during a lunch break, or on their way home from work. If the Salon is near their home, they are likely working their appointment around personal scheduling concerns.

  • Are your married? This will help you assess future referral opportunities. i.e. You can suggest they bring their spouse in on a hair date next time. Consider offering a discount on the first cut. This is called Business Development, by the way. Think of it as an investment in a new client.

  • Do you have children? This will help you assess other scheduling limitations. I.e. Kids soccer games or dance classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings? Probably not a good day to schedule a haircut. Or possibly a great opportunity to get the kids hair done while they're already out of the house? Just ask. 

  • What do you do for a living? This will help you understand their working schedule.  If they're an office worker, they are probably working a traditional Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. Evening and weekend appointments are going to be the norm for them. If they’re a sales rep, they may have breaks between sales appointments during the daytime or they may travel out of town. These considerations can be important when scheduling in their next appointment around your availability.

  • Are you going on any holidays soon? This will help you understand if there is an obvious opportunity for an appointment. Most people want to look their best before heading out on a holiday so pre-booking an appointment prior to departure is an obvious choice. Going to a beach resort? Making an appointment ahead of time to touch-up faded colour when they get home is a must!

The Hamburger wouldn’t be complete with another piece of bun. This is the final feelgood (soft fluffy) part of the conversation. This is the part where you tell the client you enjoyed the conversation, and that you’re looking forward to seeing them again. It’s the part where you give them a compliment about how great their hair looks. It’s the part where you make them feel good about the experience so that they will want to book a follow up appointment.

Lastly, the key to the Hamburger Theory is note taking. You should be using some form of Client Relationship Management (“CRM”) tool. It can be as simple as a notebook, or something technology enabled like the Gotta Style App. By logging what you learned about the client, you’ll be able to revisit those notes before the client's next appointment. This will make sure you don’t cover the same material twice because, let’s be honest, you will see a lot of clients between now and their next appointment. We’re not computers so note taking is critical to remembering important details. And more importantly, the client will really appreciate that you’ve remembered. A simple question like: How did your daughter’s dance recital go? Or how was your trip to Mexico? Will go a long way to growing your relationship with the client.

If you think of every client interaction like a hamburger: A little bun, a little meat, a little bun, you’ll be bringing some deliberate structure to every conversation. And when the conversation is targeted to learn more about the client's life, and you’re recording (logging) what you’re learning in a CRM tool, you’ll find that the client relationship grows significantly faster. This will turn clients into centers of influence who refer their friends and family to you. One prospect can turn into not only a repeat client, but also a great source of referrals!


That's it for lesson three. Your action step is to make your own list of Hamburger Theory Questions to use with your clients. If you come up with any originals, please share them in the comments below.  And if you haven't already downloaded the Gotta Style App, give it a try! 

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