The consultation – why it is so important

Running a busy column doesn’t come without its challenges.  Hairdressing is a physically and emotionally demanding job, and maintaining a smile all day long can be exhausting.  The one part of a service we can never let slide is the consultation.  The consultation is the most important part of a salon visit.  We’ll go through why that is, and how to make sure you give the most thorough consultation possible.

Time

Time is always a problem. Ourselves and our clients lead busy lives.  Only allowing 45 minutes for a women’s cut and blow dry service does not give time for a consultation.  Realistically a consultation should take 10-15 minutes.  If you do not feel that you are allowing enough time for a thorough consultation, I strongly recommend you start doing so.

Prices

Extending your times by 15 minutes may seem like a lot, and may feel like it’s not cost effective.  This is certainly not the case.  You are able to charge accordingly for this extra time.  As hairdressers we can forget that our time is extremely valuable, and that is what we are charging people for.  That time sat down having a consultation is where we use our expertise to discuss what is suitable for a client, and take the time to understand what they want.  You will also find, in giving a thorough consultation you are less likely to have clients returning because they will always be happy with their hair.

Relationships

A successful hairdresser is one who builds a good relationship with their clients.  With this, they are able to come in and express what they want from you, and are not afraid to ask to make changes.  Client retention is a vital part of building a good column.  The consultation is so vital as this allows you to build the relationship with a client that will keep them coming back to you.  When you sit down and actually talk to them and listen, they are more likely to return to you directly if they have any problems with their hair.  The benefit of this is that you can fulfil the service, and avoid bad reviews.  After all, people are far more likely to tell friends about bad experiences than they are good ones.

How to give a thorough consultation

Now we’ve discussed the benefits, let’s look at how we can deliver a better consultation.  You may think you are already delivering this.  In fact, 100% of hairdressers feel they do a consultation with their guests.  However, only 7% of guests feel they have one.

Sit down

Often when hairdressers are portrayed on TV or film, they are stood behind a client, fluffing up their hair, asking “what are we doing today?”.  Please don’t do this.  It is intimidating.  Sitting down – more importantly sitting down face-to-face – with a guest, is much more comfortable for them.  If possible, make a space away from the mirrors in your salon where you can sit face to face with your guest.  If this is not possible, sit down beside them and turn their chair to face you.  Forcing eye contact will immediately help you break down any barriers.

Make sure you introduce yourself by name, and call them by theirs

The more you repeat their name, the more likely they are to remember yours.  If you work in a team of people this will benefit you in the future if they wish to rebook or leave a review.

Ask them how they are

I’m not trying to tell you how to have a conversation, but rather than simply going straight into their hair, try to have a general chat with them first.  Again, this will help break down some barriers and allow them to open up to you.

Read their body language

You can generally read someone by their body language as soon as you introduce yourself.  If someone is quiet and introverted, you may have to lean in closer and bring your voice down to their level.  If you have a more boisterous client, you will have to match them.  This is when our job becomes emotionally exhausting as we constantly have to match our moods to those we are working with, and do our best to bring them up.

Be confident

No matter how boisterous your client is, always stand your ground.  This can often be hard if you are a young hairdresser.  You need to be confident in your professional opinion.  I wish someone had told me this several years ago.  It can be hard if you are faced with a guest who is telling you with some very strong conviction exactly what they want when you know it’s not suitable.  Heck, sometimes it’s not even possible.  Social media is a blessing and a curse in this respect.  It can be so useful to get images and give clients a visual.  However, it can contain some very misleading images and create some very unrealistic expectations.

Manage expectations

Managing expectations is vital.  In a day and age where people are so used to being able to get what they want immediately; we are faced with a lot of frustration from guests not being aware of what is and isn’t possible.  A lot of the time this refers to colour, and the classic “I’ve been box dyeing my hair black, and I want it silver.”  This as we know is a serious challenge and can often take months and come with a huge bill.

When it comes to things like this, I often find it easier to sell myself short.  Not too much – enough so that they have confidence in my capabilities, but know that the end result may differ from the image they are showing me.  Be realistic in what you think is achievable, but always aim to deliver a bit more.  I always find quoting a bit more than it may actually be is a good safety net, or just make sure your client is aware of the cost of additional services they may require.

The rule of 3

This one is simple. Every 3 visits, ask them if they want a change.  I meet a lot of new clients who have left their old hairdresser because they got complacent.  Be sure to utilise your consultation time to actually discuss their hair.

Ultimately, communication and relationship building are key.  How you do it is up to you; these are just a few pointers to help you along the way.  In my opinion a salon visit is 80% about experience, and 20% about the haircut itself.  So, increase the time you spend giving that experience, and increase your pricing and profit accordingly.

Blog by Amy Senior – The Hair Bones

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