Nothing that sets up the relationship between stylist and client for success more effectively than a clear, emotionally intelligent, helpful salon consultation. Beyond the basic “how much to take off,” it’s the stylist’s responsibility to help manage expectations of what can and cannot be done to a client’s hair, how long different processes take, and a realistic maintenance routine to ensure the client is happy and satisfied and comes to be a Forever Loyal Client.
“One inch to them is not the same as one inch to you.”
1. Communicate Clearly
If you or your client are not being clear during the consultation, there is zero chance of knowing if expectations are aligned. Vague, sassy language (“let’s do something fun this time!”) is dangerous.
Communicating clearly also entails active listening, so offer your expertise, but also really engage with what your client is trying to convey, especially if they’re having trouble articulating what they want. If you’ve got something in your head, it’s easy to blow by the fact your client might not be thinking the same thing.
Make sure you’re laying out exactly what the plan is and confirm with the client. One inch to them is not the same as one inch to you.
Even if you’ve seen your client for 10 years and they always get the same thing — give them a consult like it’s their first time, maybe they’ve been wanting to change things up for a while, but you never ask!
Also remember that communication doesn’t end when the consultation does. Talking your client through their service and beyond: stay in constant communication:
If it’s a new client learning how you work: “Here’s what I’m doing now.”
If it’s a new cut: “Here’s how you can style it at home”
If they talk about having trouble styling their own hair: “Here are the products you need to make this work”
(Pro-tip: Boulevard's Suggested Products feature in the Client Profile is perfect to underscore the importance of using the right products for the right look. Discuss the products during the service, then add to their profile. Once a product has been added to a profile, it will appear at the checkout screen, making front desk recommendations a snap.)
If they are wanting a dramatic change: “here’s how often you need to come in to maintain this look”
2. Set Expectations
All color and cut styles are not created equally, and it’s your job as the expert to tell it like it is. Be clear when letting them know that certain cuts require more time styling in the morning, certain color options require more frequent visits, and make sure they feel confident they commit. A client that can commit to every few weeks for a bleach and tone means they’re coming in two to four more times a year than with just highlights, but if they’re unaware of the commitment they’re signing up for, they could be seriously disappointed, or stuck with something that is unmanageable for their lifestyle.
When clients make the wrong choice for their lifestyle, they wish their stylist or colorist had warned them, they are looking for guidance when they sit in your chair.
“Taking a client for granted is the easiest way for them to just fade away. And then four months later you think, I wonder what happened to Susan? Give them that experience, every time.”
3. Craft a Bespoke Experience
The consultation is an experience, a moment that’s all about them. It should be special, and it’s part of what your all of clients are paying for— even your regulars. A common complaint by loyal clients is “I don’t receive the same attention as new clients!” Taking a client for granted is the easiest way for them to just fade away. And then four months later you think, I wonder what happened to Susan? Give them that experience, everytime. Make it memorable for new clients, and make it appreciative for existing clients. Use photos, notes, reminders and keep them all in the client's profile so you stay organized and can update the client's formula changes, life updates, wants and needs after every service.
4. Fantastic Consultations = Retention
A good consultation will help a client feel heard, understood, and valued. Why would you go back to a salon that didn’t give you what you want? It’s your job in the consultation to discern and confirm the services, products, and guidance, your client needs and expects to walk out with. Most people will not leave a bad review, they will just politely say thank you and disappear.
5. It’s a Key Part of Your Relationship
Above all, you should be aiming to build the foundation, or strengthen, a long-term relationship. Work on developing a rapport with your client, and building their trust. Make connecting with your clients easy through social media (also kept in their profiles), between visits. Beyond simply keeping the client, you want to be the type of person your client wants to tell all of their friends about.
Have questions for Shanalie about salon marketing, client relationships, or staff management? She’s got the answers. Hit her up at email@example.com.