“How can I make this individual client happy?” is a question asked by every hairdresser, every single day.
The only way to find answers is an in-depth hair consultation – one of the most fundamental skills of the profession.
In the busy salon-life theoretically learnt consultation principles might, however, fade into the background.
NATULIQUE’s ABC of Hair Consultation features all important steps to refresh your skills for an encompassing hair consultation experience.
NEW: Listen to the blog
Why hair consultation?
Don’t consult just for the sake of it!
To be truly committed, you should be aware of the importance of client consultation
and the many benefits it can bring for you as a hairdresser and for your salon business.
Apart from avoiding a dissatisfied client, consultations can help you to increase rebookings and
customer loyalty, initiate good recommendations and online reviews, upsell retail products
or simply reduce the time between bookings – all of which are important factors for a thriving salon business.
Take your time
This is probably the number one rule of hair consultation: A good consultation takes time!
Taking all the time you need to find out exactly what the client is looking for will not only make them feel valued, but also pay off in terms of customer satisfaction later.
If you’re consulting a client for the first time, you might even consider booking a separate appointment for the consultation.
Moreover, a consultation should never be a one-time thing.
Take the time at EACH appointment to talk about your clients’ needs – circumstances like the client’s working environment might have changed after all.
Trust from both sides is the cornerstone of a successful consultation.
To build up a trustful, personal relationship, it is important to put your client at ease.
Start out by offering them a coffee, asking about their last visit or telling them something personal about yourself.
Many professionals swear by the simple gesture of sitting down next to the client. Talking to them by looking through the mirror is less personal and might even be intimidating.
Furthermore, it is important to explain technicalities in a simple way and, last but not least, give the client 100% of your attention.
Answering your phone or talking to colleagues during an appointment will make them feel unheard or not taken seriously
Transparency is important in several regards: First of all, you need to be honest about what is possible and what is unrealistic.
To avoid disappointments or raising false hopes, tell the client straightforward if the look they’re aiming for is impossible to achieve with their hair.
Second: Products. Give the client as much inside knowledge on the products you’re using, as possible. Tell them about the ingredients and explain how they benefit their hair.
Once you’ve decided on what to do, give the client a detailed description of your plan, so they can follow easily.
Last but not least: Talk about money. Be clear about the price before you start. This will spare you awkward situations when it comes to paying.
Talk less, listen more
Hairdressers love to talk – so says the cliché at least.
But during a consultation, good hairdressers should take a step back and listen.
Even if your client isn’t the most talkative one, listening to his body language will help you avoid false assumptions.
Shrugged shoulders or sparkling eyes will tell you more than words. “Maybe”-s, and “I’m not sure”-s are the warning sign for an unaccomplished consultation.
Don’t give up until you find the excited “that’s exactly what I’m looking for”. Avoid misunderstandings by constantly repeating what the client just said.
This will assure them you listened properly and confirm that you’re on the same page – once you’ve started working, it might be too late for check-backs.
But careful! Despite the importance of listening, never forget that YOU are the moderator of the consultation!
Don’t let your client take control over the conversation – that is where unrealistic expectations arise.
Ask the right questions
Questions, questions and questions – they are the alpha and omega of each hair consultation.
With the following examples, you have some strong opening questions up your sleeve to move the conversation in the right direction.
What do you like the most about your hair? What don’t you like about it?
What was the favourite hairstyle you ever had? Do you have a photo of that time?
How important is it for you to maintain your hair length?
How does your daily styling routine look like?
How much time do you spend on styling your hair each day?
Which hair care and styling products do you use?
Is there a cut, colour or look that you’d like me to avoid?
You didn’t get a satisfying answer to your question?
Don’t give up! There is always a way to re-frame the question in a different way.
For instance, it is always better to ask open questions rather than closed ones: That way the client is forced to elaborate on their expectations.
Analysis is key
The more knowledge you gather about your clients and their hair, the easier it will be to match their needs.
That’s why a thorough analysis of the present hair condition and its 5-year history is key for a good consultation.
“We examine nothing less but hair type, natural hair level, the percentage of grey hair, (previous) medication or illnesses, scalp condition and also the hair’s porosity and elasticity from roots to ends“, explains Claire from Claire Hair Boutique in Perth.
“All these factors play a role in how a certain colour can be achieved, after all”.
Apart from these technicalities, it’s essential to also take personal factors into consideration.
“I always ask my guests about their lifestyle, working environment and care and styling routines – especially if they have shown me a picture of a hairstyle they would like. This is to see whether it’s achievable and if they can maintain the look at home“, Claire says.
External inspiration doesn’t hurt
Nowadays many clients use Pinterest, Instagram or celebrity images to show their stylists what look they have in mind.
If the consultation proceeds a little cumbersome, take matters into your own hands and use tablets or print magazines to fire the client’s imagination, start a discussion or ensure you’re sharing the same idea.
Keep a record
“He who writes remains” – even if you have a trained memory, having a digital file about each client’s individualities is next level customer service.
Take notes and photos while consulting to keep sensitivities and allergies in mind or to keep track of improvements in scalp and hair condition.
Moreover, the notes will be helpful as an argument to draw on in case of complaints or as a support for your colleagues when you’re on holiday or sick leave.
Next to making the client feel heard and valued, an individual client file helps to customise their salon experience and steadily increase customer satisfaction.
Don’t let go too soon
Good hair consultation doesn’t end with the finished look.
To maximize the client’s satisfaction, advise, tips or even short tutorials on how to recreate the look at home are an integral part of the consultation aftermath.
This is also an unmissable opportunity to throw in product recommendations and increase your retail sales. “I always recommend retail products, but I am not pushy. I make it clear to my clients that I will not guarantee colour lasting without my retail products”, says Amanda Gath, NATULIQUE Master Educator.
A proven technique to get feedback and encourage rebookings are follow-up calls or messages a few days after the appointment. “I give the client a call or a message a week later to see if they are still happy about the result”, Amanda tells.
Practice your skills
Even as an experienced hair consultant refreshing your skills never hurts.
Simulating consultations in role plays with fellow hairdressers and salon team members will not only build your confidence during consultations but also give you the opportunity to learn new techniques from your colleagues that you haven’t thought about before.