July/August Magazine

Down to Business

How to Improve Your Client Consultations


By Kristin Sorensen

In any relationship, communication is key. In a client/stylist relationship that is even more so. The clients are paying a stylist for a service—the stylist needs to know what the client wants in order to give them a great client experience.

“Client consultation is huge, and so many people just skip through it or they barely listen. You really need to take your time with it,” said Connie Klitzke, a Designer Stylist at In-Style in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Stylists should know what clients desire prior to cutting or coloring their hair. That way, the stylist can give the client a look that makes them feel beautiful, confident and happy (and if they’re happy, they will come back)!

Ask Productive Questions

This is crucial. As a stylist, you need to be asking the right type of questions to give the client the results they want. Get the client talking!

The first question should be “What are you hoping to achieve with your hair today?”

“Usually, if you ask them what they want to achieve they’ll also tell you what they don’t want.”

Stylists should ask open ended questions, Klitzke said.

“If you ask a lot of yes and no questions, you miss a lot of information. The more you get the client to talk, the more comfortable they’ll feel with telling you what they want.”

Another important thing to do is get a client talking about what they don’t like. Knowing what they don’t like will help the stylist learn what they DO want.

Don’t interrupt the client while they are speaking. Interruptions may dissuade a client from sharing their ideas.

Stylists should be sure to keep visuals at their stations to clear up confusion. Visuals are objects that help the stylists and clients clarify the overall goal. Color samples can help identify a “caramel” color from a “honey” color. A ruler helps to measure out exactly how many inches the client wants to take off.

LISTEN Instead of Pre-Determine!

Stylists see the world, and the people in it, differently than people with an untrained eye. They see a person’s face and automatically know the perfect cut. They look at their eye color and know what color would make them pop. However, sometimes this vision gets in the way of a client consultation.

“I think a lot of stylists have their own idea already when you come in, like ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I want to do to their hair,’” Connie said. “They don’t listen to what the client wants because they already have an idea of what they want to do.”

That is why Connie’s best consultation tip is to “listen more than you talk. You have two ears and one mouth.”

To effectively listen to a client during the consultation, Connie suggested not standing behind a client and talking through the mirror.

“Spin their chair around and actually make eye contact. I think it is much more personal to make eye contact.”

Be Honest

Tell it like it is. If a client asks for a certain look, be 100% truthful with them about it. Let them know every detail about that look prior to creating it.

“Carrie Underwood is the most popular picture that I see,” Connie said. “People come in with hair like Snow White wanting to look like Carrie Underwood.”

Be honest, because giving your brunette Snow White client a mane of blonde Underwood locks can be a long process—or maybe it’s not even possible. Be upfront with them and let the client know exactly what they are asking for before creating that look, including price and time.

“Don’t let them think they are going to look exactly like that. If it requires a lot of maintenance or styling, tell them that because if they don’t have the time or the money for that, then something else might be a better option.”

Connie said to be honest with clients about the cost of a look, the amount of time it will require and what kind of damage could be caused to their hair.

Don’t Rush

“Don’t rush because it might be the only time you have to gain their trust. They need your guidance and your help, so really listen to them. Really, really, really listen to them.”

Stylists can, and should, be giving suggestions as needed. Clients may not have thought of layers or copper highlights instead of blonde.

By giving a suggestion, that may help a stylist give a client a look they will adore, and if they adore a look that stylist gave, them they will return.

Just Do It

Consultations are important! Be sure to ask a client the right questions, listen to what they have to say and be honest with them.

Don’t be afraid. Education is the key to confidence. Learn more on how to make clients look and feel their best with our education offerings.

Kristin Sorensen covers stories for The Style Garage. 

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