We get some expert tips for helping hairstylists maximize their consultations.
When it’s time for a new cut or colour, clients need to be fully aware of the commitment required for achieving and maintaining their desired results.
As stylists know, the most effective way of ensuring that you and your clients are on the same page is through consultations. Since consultations have come a long way over the years, it’s important to make sure that you are up to date on the most current methods. We got some sound advice from the pros.
“Consultations can help you form better relationships with your clients,” says Sean Godard, international performing artist for Redken. “Sometimes clients can find themselves stuck in a rut with their stylists. Even though they may not be open to asking for it, they are still seeking some sort of change.”
Ask the Right Questions
“What are we doing today?” may be your go-to question for clients the minute they sit down in your chair. But there are many more questions that should be asked to ensure that you are addressing all of your clients’ needs.
Redken’s Art of Consultation program uses a detailed questionnaire to determine factors such as colour history, hair condition, style, daily routine and maintenance. “It’s a tool we put together for stylists that helps create a conversation and helps them understand what questions to ask the client,” explains Godard. Stylists ask their clients to fill out the form either in person or by email before their appointments.
Consultations can also be an effective way of getting to know your clientele. “Rapport is huge,” says Marc Galati, international platform artist for Joico and co-owner of Headlines Salon & Spa in Stouffville, Ont. “Clients are coming to you for hair services, but you have to get to know the client and create an experience for them, and that experience starts with a consultation.”
Don’t Skip Consultations with Returning Clientele
Consultations have tremendous value for both new and existing clientele. “The number one reason why clients leave you is because somebody else has changed them,” says Rowena Berry, national business development manager for Schwarzkopf Professional Canada. “Consultations provide opportunities to touch base with your clients to make sure they are still happy with what you’ve been doing and to recommend change.”
Schwarzkopf Professional’s ASK Education for Hairdressers has developed seminars that focus on consultations and how they connect to client loyalty and retail. “The service cycle starts with the consultation,” says Berry. “If you go to the doctor’s when you’re sick, your expectation is that he or she will prescribe what is best for you. If you’re the hair expert, the consultation is the only way you can ensure that you’re delivering the best service to your client in every way.”
“Consultations should be for every single visit and every client—all the time. Even Mrs. Smith, who’s been coming to you for 50 years, may be looking for a change. If she is, it’s good customer service to give her the extra time she deserves.” ~ Marc Galati, international platform artist for Joico and co-owner of Headlines Salon & Spa in Stouffville, Ont.
Taking a visual approach to consultations, Wella Professionals has developed the Style Vision by Wella app, an interactive tool available to stylists and clients. The app provides an image gallery from the brand’s collections and social media, allowing you to create your own moodboard.
“I’ve seen a lot of stylists using Pinterest boards to gather images,” explains Sherman Wong, education manager for Wella Canada. “The Style Vision app is very similar, but has an element that shows you true colour swatches so it’s no longer just about the swatch book. You can also add your own images, which makes it a lot easier so you don’t have to pull up so many different things on your phone. You can go through it with the client and determine if it’s the hairstyle or colour they like. It makes it easier to distinguish.”
Berry says visual aids are critical for ensuring that you and your client understand each other’s vision. “Not being on the same page is the biggest mistake we can make,” she says. “That’s where pictures come in handy. People have mixed opinions about using a colour chart because it’s a technical tool for the hairstylist, but it really is a visual guide in terms of the tones that the client is talking about and the tones you have in mind.” Berry adds that it’s important to stay on top of celebrity hair colour trends because “clients relate to it.”
Don’t Aim Unrealistically High Just to Please
The two main factors to consider before helping clients take the plunge are budget and time frame. For that reason, Godard says consultations are your game plan. “At the end of the day, if we quoted them one thing and it ended up costing more or we told them we would be able to achieve something but we don’t get anywhere near that result, the client ends up feeling defeated and frustrated and sometimes looks at the stylist as not being educated enough or not understanding how to create their vision,” says Godard. “Under-promise and over-deliver. It’s always easier to say that it might not happen and set them up for that, but if you get there you’ll look like a rockstar.”
Quick tips for mastering your consultations.
- Avoid getting technical: “Use language that entices emotions,” says Berry. “Instead of saying ‘A 7-0 colour would look amazing on you’, say something
- like ‘This colour would look beautiful with your skin tone because it’s a rich, chocolate brown.’ People buy on emotion so it’s important to make it relatable to the client.”
- Be realistic: “Find out what is achievable in one visit and give clients a realistic timeline for achieving their goals,” recommends Godard. “A lot of times, stylists and clients feel defeated if they don’t get to that colour right away.”
- Make time: “A lot of stylists try to bill consultations into service time, but sometimes that’s not always ideal, especially for new clients,” says Wong. “Stylists should think about billing consultations separately and deducting the cost from the service. It’s not about making it more expensive; it’s about how you treat and look at consultations as an integral element of delivering wonderful service.”
- No means no: “Booking is a big factor,” says Galati. “A client may ask for colour but show you a picture of an icy blonde and you don’t have time to do it. Make sure your stylists know it’s okay to say ‘no.’ You can’t rush this. Give your stylists confidence to let their clients know if it was booked incorrectly. If you promise someone the world in two hours and you fall short, they are going to be disappointed no matter how great you think you did.”