Posts in Consultations
The Key to Nailing the Consultation Is Open Communication

The consultation is the single most important step in securing a potential client. This introduction sets the stage for all future interactions between your client, their stylist, and ultimately, your salon. And the key to nailing the consultation? Open communication and conversation.  

Bespoke Beauty Bar Owners, Alicia and Christian Blazevich, know exactly what it takes to seal the deal during the consultation. In fact, their knack for client communication is what makes them a Salon Today Top 200 Salon. After putting in their time at a four-year college, Alicia and Christian found themselves longing for something different, so they decided to switch courses and that’s how Bespoke beauty bar was born.

Ironically, both Alicia and Christian grew up with a soft spot for the salon environment. As a child, Alicia spent most weekends at the salon with her grandmother perfecting her perm, and Christian fondly remembers visits to the barbershop with his grandfather. The Blazevich’s both grew up with a deep appreciation for the community atmosphere that salons provide, which played a significant role in their beauty bar for their own salon.

Alicia and Christian opened Bespoke Beauty Bar with the intentions of highlighting each client’s individuality. They knew that the same old cookie cutter formulas simply wouldn’t cut it in their studio, which is why they put an extra emphasis on the consultation. By getting to know each of their clients and their own intimate relationship with their hair, the Blazevich’s and their team are able to tailor their services to meet each client’s unique needs. Alicia and Christian ask all of the right questions during the consultation—and you can too!

Put it in Writing

Contrary to popular belief, the Blazevich’s know that doing everything digitally doesn’t always mean it’s going to be done better.  Alicia emphasizes the impact of using a hand-written client intake form during the consultation. While a digital form might speed up the process, there’s a level of thoughtfulness that comes with writing something down by hand.

I mean seriously, how often are we asked to jot down our thoughts and feelings anymore? Alicia encourages salon owners to hand their clients a pen and paper during their first visit in order to prompt them to really process the questions and fill out the form authentically.

Make it Positively Personal

While the consultation should still ultimately be about the technical services your client is seeking, it’s important to include some personal questions when getting to know them and their individual needs. Not only does this help you match each client with their perfect stylist, but it also shows that you care about the person underneath each head of hair.

Alicia and Christian also suggest spinning the consultation in a positive light. During the first visit, we often focus on what the client is looking to change, what they don’t like about their hair. Alicia emphasizes how impactful it can be to shift the focus to what they do like, what about their hair makes them feel good.

Of course, we’re still there to tend to that unwanted outgrowth or make those color corrections, but by asking these questions and getting to the bottom of their wants and needs you’re letting each client know that they’re valued, and that you care about their feelings.  

Alicia also suggests that you ask each client about what they look forward to when coming to the salon. Make yourself aware of their favorite part of the salon experience and linger there during their service. For some, coming to the salon is a chore in and of itself, so don’t add the extra frills. For others, they might say they love the shampoo or simply being pampered, so give them an extra rinse or add some essential oils to amplify the experience.

Ask the Tough Questions

It can be tempting to wrap up the consultation after the more enjoyable “get-to-know-you” questions, but it can’t end there. The most important questions are the ones regarding maintenance and budget.

As a salon owner or stylist, the goal is always to send clients off with a new wave of confidence and incredible hair, but the key to keeping your clients is giving them the ability to recreate that same look and feeling at home. Alicia and Christian know that hair maintenance looks a little bit different for every client, which is why they take the time to ask the tough questions.

At Bespoke, they really break it down to understand each client’s level of ability when it comes to maintaining their color, their biggest challenges when it comes to styling, and their current product regimen. Alicia suggests that you start with the basics and work your way up. Ask your clients, “How much time do you spend on your hair in the morning?” And go from there.

Break Down the Budget

Finally, it’s time to talk about the budget. At Bespoke, the last page of their client intake form is the personalized Bespoke Beauty Plan, where they cover the cost down to the dollar.

Again, Alicia says it’s important to break the cost down by service. Does your color require an additional glaze or bonding treatment? How many times will you need to process? While this level of disclosure might sound daunting at first, Alicia and Christian argue that this kind of transparency helps build trust with your clients. Not to mention, it’s tremendous for bridging the gap between the client’s expectations and what’s actually realistic for their budget and level of ability. 

To learn more about Bespoke Beauty Bar and the Blazevich’s knack for client communication, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 162. If you’re interested in more step-by-step advice on perfecting the consultation conversation, read our previous blog post on the Six Steps to a Winning Consultation.


One Way To Empower Your Stylists
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Does your salon encourage—actually encourage—stylists to say no to clients? If you’re lucky enough to be in a leadership position at your salon, you need to start encouraging your stylists to say no to performing services that just don’t feel right. I’m going to share with you when saying no is appropriate, a strategy for avoiding this situation, and how to say no confidently and kindly.

When To Say No

At my salon, Be Inspired Salon in Madison, WI, we teach our stylists that if a consultation takes more than 5-10 minutes, it is not the day for this service. At this point, the stylist should say no, and I’ll explain how to do this shortly. You’ve probably seen this situation happen when a client who has unrealistic expectations takes control of the consultation, and your compassionate stylist is too timid to say no and explain why this can’t happen today. Basically, the stylist is left feeling uneasy about the consultation, and there is no way that she is going to make the client happy. More often than not, the clients who have a shaky consultation will be the ones who call back to complain. Although receiving a handful of complaints is unavoidable, we could save ourselves a lot of heartache if we just say no from the beginning.

Try to Avoid It

Simply saying no is a great option when a consultation isn’t going smoothly, but there are other ways that you can avoid this situation altogether. For example, clients often bring in pictures of how they want their hair colored, and sometimes the stylist can’t do exactly what is pictured for various reasons. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, the stylist uses the client’s photo as inspiration and explains what she can actually perform during this appointment. While it’s great that the stylist is saying yes to what can happen while saying no to what can’t happen, the stylist often forgets to show the client a new photo. This is the fail. The only image in the client’s head is the photo that they brought in, so the stylist needs to show the client a new, inspiring, and beautiful picture of what will be performed today. If the client still isn’t understanding, even with the additional pictures, this is when you need to say no.

Another strategy to avoid saying no is by using the award-winning marketing tool: Meet Your Stylist. Meet Your Stylist is a customized tool that matches clients with hair stylists at your salon who are the best fit for them based on their personality, lifestyle, and relationship preferences. Above all, Meet Your Stylist gets the connection right the first time. When clients are uniquely matched with their stylist, the client has respect for you and your expertise because they have been prequalified to work with you. How great is that?

How to Say No

Now that we’ve tried several strategies to avoid saying no and decided when it’s appropriate to actually say no, how exactly does a stylist do this? Here’s your basic script, just add your own personality: “You know what, I just don’t think today is the right day. I really want us to firm up where we are headed with this look before we start. My fear is that I’m going to start working on your color, we put all this time and energy into it, and you might not be happy with the result. I don’t want that for either of us.” At this point, you can do what is right for you and your salon. You may want to refer the client to a different stylist, explain that you’ll be in contact via email with some new pictures, or even refer her to a different salon. It might seem scary at first, but you won’t regret saying no to a service that just doesn’t feel right.

If you’re a salon owner or manager, you need to train your stylists on when and how to say no. Then (and most importantly), you have to have their back when they come to you and explain why they didn’t perform a service on a particular client. The truth is, if you take care of your team first, they will take care of the clients. This is a win-win situation, so hopefully this has encouraged you to empower your stylists and build a fabulous team of professionals!

Do you have other tips about saying no, or want to share a troubling situation with other professionals? Share your thoughts on our private Facebook group; we all rise when we lift each other! To get more industry advice, make sure to follow Beyond the Technique and listen to the weekly podcast, including this topic: Episode 104.

Have You Said This in A While?

If you’re guessing that we are going to suggest that you say “Thank You!” more often, you are close, but no cookie! While you should always thank your clients for choosing you as their Stylist, we suggest taking this a step further to truly share the depth of your gratitude with your loyal clients.

This might seem scary at first, but do not worry! We are going to walk you through how to share your authentic appreciation with your clients and why it is so important.

How To Spill The Beans

Before you share a mini heart-to-heart with your client, it is important to look at them face-to-face. This means turning your client to face you in the chair instead of standing behind them (hint: try sitting on a cutting stool). Becoming eye-level with your client removes the feeling that you are in an authority position and instead makes the client feel like they are chatting with a friend.

Once you are face-to-face, share your genuine, open, and authentic appreciation for your client. If you’re drawing a blank, here’s a little help: “You know what? I just want you to know how much I appreciate that you continue to choose our hair salon and me as your stylist. It means a lot to me, and I’m really thankful for the relationship that we’ve built.” That’s it! We promise it is as simple as it seems!

Relationships: It’s What We Get Paid For

As hair professionals, we must never forget that our clients are our livelihood. One of the top three reasons that a client would leave you is because they think that you wouldn’t notice. Since we know that isn’t true, don’t miss the opportunity to take these special moments to let your clients know that you are very, very appreciative for them!

We are so lucky to be part of an industry that is rooted in building and maintaining fabulous relationships. As a Stylist, you really become part of your clients’ lives as they share with you their biggest secrets, thrills, and experiences. It doesn’t matter how great you are technically behind the chair; you must be able to show humble gratitude to your clients to build a strong following.

We all know how amazing it feels when someone tells you how much you mean to them, so pay it forward and pass along your sincere appreciation to your clients!

To get more industry advice, make sure to follow Beyond the Technique on social media and listen to our weekly podcast!

Six Steps to a Winning Consultation

Our contributor, Shana Dee, is a Georgetown, DC Master Stylist with over 16 years of experience in the salon and wedding industry. In addition to Shana’s numerous achievements, she worked with President Obama’s sister and sister-in-law for the 2013 Inauguration! Shana Dee truly believes in sharing her knowledge and experience with other professionals. Beyond the Technique is excited to share Shana Dee’s Six Steps to a Winning Consultation!

Step 1: Ask Direct Questions

Let’s start with an example of a bad question to ask a client sitting in your chair: “So, what are you wanting today?” While this question seems sincere and helpful, it is actually an ineffective question because it results in a rather vague answer from your client.

So, how do you avoid ineffective questions and vague answers from clients? Ask direct questions! By asking direct questions, you are ensuring that the client is expressing what needs to happen with their hair.

To make sure that your next consultation is a winning one, Shana Dee offers some examples of direct questions that she asks her own clients:             

  • What look are you wanting to change about your color?
  • What styles have you tried before? Longer or shorter?
  • When you are at home styling your hair, what areas do you struggle with?
  • When you are scrolling through Instagram, are you drawn to certain hair colors and styles?
  • What color have you had in the past that made you feel so gorgeous? This is Shana’s personal favorite!

Another strategy that Shana Dee uses to truly understand what the client wants is to ask about past styles, such as:

  • What did you like about the last color and cut that we did?
  • If you could change anything about the way that we did your style last time, what would it be?

Asking these questions makes the client feel like they’re in control of their hair, even though the Stylist is the one creating the look. Also, Shana points out that these questions allow you—the Stylist—to make it OKAY for the client to tell you if they didn’t like what you did before.

Shana’s final tip about asking direct questions during a consultation is, always try to stay away from negative questions such as: “Well, what color didn’t you like?” Stylists should always try to focus on positivity and keeping the client in a positive mindset!

Step 2: The Nonverbals

Many of us have heard statistics that most of our communication is nonverbal and, in fact, is conveyed through body language. To have a winning consultation, you must be conscious of both your body language and your clients’!

To ensure that Shana Dee can observe her client’s nonverbal cues, she never puts a cape on her client before giving a consultation. That seems simple, right? Shana recommends doing the consultation not-caped, so you can observe the client’s full body. When asking direct questions (see Step 1), Shana can observe if her client’s nonverbal cues demonstrate uneasiness or openness. If the client is nervous, they tend to close their body inward and become smaller. On the other hand, open body language conveys a feeling of relaxation and ease.

Another significant nonverbal cue is where you choose to stand during the consultation. While doing a consultation, Shana Dee chooses to stand in front of her client rather than behind the chair. Standing behind the chair places the Stylist in an authority position which can make it harder for the client to open-up and feel at ease. By standing in front of your client, you can chat with the client just like you were catching-up with a friend. Always remember that your nonverbal signals should make the client feel as comfortable as possible.

Despite your best efforts to make your client comfortable, there are times when a client is reluctant to open up and will appear nervous. In these instances, Shana Dee recommends putting these insecurities on the table and asking some more direct questions--surprise! For instance, if you noticed that your client’s fists were clenched or they were fidgeting with their hands, you could ask: “I noticed that your hands were clenched when we were talking about that. Are you sure that you’re comfortable with me cutting your hair that short?” By noticing these nonverbal indications, Shana is giving her client the opportunity to change her mind, or reassure Shana that she is nervous, but wants to take the risk! Shana Dee reminds us that: “When you let the client go into what they are not saying, that is when you find your gold mines of information.”

Step 3: You’re a Stylist, Not a Savior

Learn how to say no! As a stylist, you’ve done consultations and thought: “I can do it. I can do it.” Then, you look at the hair a bit more and realize: “Wait, nothing can save this!” Shana Dee insists that you must learn that some hair cannot be saved, and being a professional means saying no sometimes.

Stylists have said it a million times: “You can’t take dark brown hair and turn it to blonde in one day.” Sometimes, clients will try to bully you into performing a service that you are not comfortable with by saying things like: “Well, so-and-so did it at Salon XYZ. How come you can’t do it?” As a professional, Shana Dee reminds you to feel comfortable and confident in saying no and referring the client to another salon.

To explain why a client’s hair cannot change from dark brown to blonde in a single day, Shana Dee shows her clients several pictures of Khloé Kardashian’s transition from dark brown hair to blonde. Even with the amazing colorist, Tracey Cunningham, working on Khloé’s hair, it took about three steps over a year’s time to make the transition. Showing the pictures helps demonstrate the why behind taking color one step at a time.

Shana Dee reminds you that: you really do know what is best, and you should recommend what you think is best for the client.

Step 4: Compliment, Compliment, Compliment!

This is Shana Dee’s absolute favorite step to a winning consultation! She loves this step so much, that she recommends all stylists compliment your client within the first five seconds of seeing her. For instance, when you see your client waiting for you, you can greet her by saying: “Hi! It is soo good to see you! I love your hair! Tell me how you styled it today; it looks so pretty on you!”

By immediately complimenting your client, it creates a conditioned feeling of positive energy as soon as they see you. Plus, it always gives your clients something great to talk about when they are out with friends! As the saying goes, people will never forget how you made them feel.

But, believe Shana Dee that the chance to compliment your client does not end in the waiting area! When you finally go behind the chair to touch and move the hair, there is another great opportunity to compliment. The first thing that Shana does is say: “Oh my gosh, your hair is just so pretty! I love it! Look at all this shine that is still in your hair. You do such a good job of taking care of it at home. Are you still using that shampoo and conditioner that you got last time?” Not only is this a great compliment which boosts your client’s confidence, but it reminds them about purchasing more shampoo. Complimenting is a win-win for client and stylist alike! The opportunities to compliment are truly endless—simply endless!

Step 5: Money, Money, Money

You’ve got to talk about money! Shana Dee’s best money advice is to get comfortable with your own ability to talk about money. She believes that being comfortable with money has nothing to do with our clients, but everything to do with the way that the Stylist feels about money.

One strategy to become more comfortable talking about money is to educate your clients about how much certain products and services cost. Shana quickly points out that this does not mean rattling off a list of the prices for toners and hair color. Instead, she demonstrates to the client how many steps it will take to reach their desired outcome.

To do so, she uses another nonverbal gesture—your hands! Shana Dee suggests getting out your hand and saying: “So, you want this balayage. We’re going to hand-paint, then we’re going to go through and add some low-lights.” Is your hand still out?! Then, start counting off: one, two, three, with your fingers. “Then, I’ll have to rinse and tap your roots to blend the color really well. Finally, we are going to tone that. That’s about four steps to give you the gorgeous color of your dreams. Does that sound about right?” After your client agrees, you say “Ok, so for those four steps, it is going to be this price_____.”

If your client hesitates about the price, tries to haggle with you, or seems uncomfortable at that price point, feel comfortable referring her to another Stylist that better matches her needs. If Stylists at your salon find themselves in this predicament, you should check out one of Beyond the Technique’s sponsors: Meet Your Stylist. Meet Your Stylist is a one-of-a-kind survey on your salon’s website that matches clients to your stylists. Your new clients will be paired with her top three matches at your salon who are also in her price point. Suggesting that your new client fill out the Meet Your Stylist survey ensures that both you and your client are comfortable with money!

As always, being a professional means being able to express your price and being okay with it. Shana advocates for sticking to your standard, understanding your value, and knowing what you are worth.

Step 6: Educate

Clients don’t know, what they don’t know. Shana Dee loves educating her clients and believes that all Hairstylists should deliver their knowledge in a way that can be easily understood.

A common example of this type of conversation is when a client who has dark hair wants blonde hair. After the client explains her request, she adds: “But, I don’t want any red in my hair.” Like Shana Dee, hair colorists know that as soon as you lift the hair, the underlying pigment is going to be exposed, and that color will be a combination of straight-red, red-orange, yellow-orange, or yellow.

To educate her clients about color, Shana explains that color is on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is black and 10 is blonde. Then, she will look at her client’s hair and say something like: “You’re a level 7.” Then, she plays a quick learning game with her client by saying something like: “When I open up your cuticle and lighten it up, there’s an invisible color in there and guess what color it is? Well, it’s red!” When the client continues to insist that they don’t want any red in their hair, you can say: “But, your hair already has red in it.” In this easy example, you are educating the client about hair color, and you will not be blamed for red in the hair.

When you’re telling a client no, tell them yes at the same time. Even though you’re saying no to what they think they can have, you are saying yes to the possibility of what is going to look amazing on them!

Try Shana Dee’s Six Steps to a Winning Consultation and share with us your results—we are sure they will be great! Shana Dee encourages everyone to follow her on Instagram @hairbyshanadee, so she can “start lovin’ on you!” To get more industry advice, make sure to follow Beyond the Technique and listen to the weekly podcast.

Listen to the full interview with Shana Dee on Episode 45 of Beyond the Technique’s podcast.

What Your Clients Should Expect at Their First Visit

We all have expectations of what experiences we have when we shop at our favorite stores. Think about Sephora as an example. You know when you enter the store there will be someone there to greet you and offer you a mini basket. The lights will be bright, and the techno music will get you excited to have fun while you’re shopping.

Nordstrom’s does that quite often as well – they have a live DJ with techno music, and there is definitely something to that. It increases the heart rate, and by nature that makes us excited.

When you sit back and think about what your clients should expect when they walk in the doors of your business, what does that look like? What does it sound like and feel like?

The reason we come to expect this particular experience from Sephora is because that franchise has intentionally developed that plan as a process for each and every experience. What if you treated your company like a franchise, so there was a systemic process that your customers could rely on, regardless of whether it was their first visit or their thirty-first visit?

And if you’re thinking, “Well, we’re not a franchise…”, let me encourage you regardless. Even though you might not be a corporate owned company, you can still mimic their smart business practices.

There is a reason that these large companies are successful. Big businesses are just small businesses who did it right. So realistically, it will take time and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

A great book I’d like to recommend is called “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. In it she discusses what she calls “adult rules”, and one of her adult rules is, it’s hard to make things easier. That’s so true! But once you do, your salon will begin to work like a well-oiled machine.

So what should your clients expect at their first visit?

While you’re working on a front-end process – which can typically take up to a year to become perfected – you should also be looking at your clients’ expectations. We recognize that every stylist or artist is creative and unique. But there should still be expectations that your clients have for your stylists, regardless of who they are.

You have to look at your creative department, your artists. Your clients should expect similar consistency, regardless of which stylists’ chair they’re sitting in.

So, what follows are the three main expectations that your clients should have on their first visit to your business.

1. They should expect you to have a vision

I think this is surprisingly a struggle for a lot of hairstylists. It’s a little hard for me to relate, just because this is one of the main reasons I entered this industry. I could look at someone and envision the hairstyles, hair colors and the makeup that would look the most attractive on them. I just naturally had a knack for that sort of thing – even things like styles and fits of clothes, colors, what types of fashion and patterns would look particularly good on someone, etc.

But while that aspect of it was very natural to me, what was not natural for me was the execution. I could see clearly how something could look, I could visualize the end result, but I struggled with all of the steps to actually getting there.

However, there are also the other group of professionals out there who are great with the execution. They’re precise workers, they know every step they need to take…but they struggle with the vision.

But remember, we’re called upon by our clients to offer our expertise. They’re looking for us to have a vision for them. And I get it: as professionals we are eager to please! But try to avoid asking your client, “Oh, what are you looking to do today?” You should already know because they have an appointment booked! So if they’re reserved for a hair color service, there isn’t a mystery to it; they want to get their hair colored. I hear this all the time and it frustrates me!

 You already know what they want: a hair color, or whatever it may be. But first and foremost, you need to start with a consultation, or a discovery session. That session is where you can identify what they struggle with their hair, what they love, and so on. [Check out the blogs on amazing consultations!]

Offer Your Vision

Here’s an example: You have a client named Nancy. Nancy is booked for hair color. Nancy has fine textured hair, naturally dirty blonde, with highlights that have grown out. And you’ve discovered that her hair is in fairly good condition, and she loves being blonde. But she doesn’t love how light her highlights are. So, from there you can say, “Based on what I’ve heard, it looks like you’re looking for natural balayage honey blonde, versus a platinum highlight. And that might not be clear, but let me show you examples of my work or some Pinterest photos that mirror my vision of your hair color for today.”

 And after you show her the pictures, you can follow up by saying, “Is this in line with what you were thinking?”

 That is absolutely the best question for people with supportive personalities, who are uncomfortable with “taking charge”. Some artists will be more dominant and have no trouble taking control, and saying, “We have to go this route. This is the hair color that will look awesome on you.”

 But any passion you bring to the table will excite her! Typically, unless she’s the wrong fit for you, she’ll think your ideas and passion sound awesome, and will be on board with your vision.

And in every consultation, one person is going to take control, it will either be you or it will be the client. But you are the expert. You should be the one in control. They should expect that you have a vision for them.

2. They should expect that you have a solution for them

You cannot find out what solution to offer if you don’t listen. You have to pay close attention when you speak to them; what are the underlying desires and messages you’re hearing from them? This is really going to feed off of the “vision” question from before. If a client comes in with a problem – which happens all the time – they should be able to rely on you to offer a great solution.

 And when you can offer great solutions to anything they’re concerned about, they’ll become amazingly loyal clients. Here’s an example: You have a client named Dan. He’s looking for a new haircut that’s easier to style. He tells you that he doesn’t have much time to blow-dry. And he really doesn’t know how to incorporate products. And he also reveals that his head itches, particularly in the winter with his dry skin, and it gets embarrassing if his dry skin is falling on to his shoulders. These are his frustrations. Your response could be, “From what I’m hearing, I recommend styles like [these]”, and you show him some of your own examples or examples online that inspire your vision. Maybe you show him some sporty, short cuts, and let him know that they’re as close as it gets to a “wash and wear” style, very low maintenance.

 And you also let him know that you’ll be using an exfoliating cleanser, followed by a rich, reparative moisturizing conditioner. You recommend that Dan uses the same vigor during the cleansing process on his own, as you’re using during your appointment, so that the dead skin can slough off of his scalp and the new skin can be rejuvenated. You also recommend that he uses some conditioner, because while this may be an added step in his morning routine, it will also bring some added relief. Ask him to use the conditioner and the cleanser faithfully for one month, and let him know not only will you follow up at his next visit, but that you’ll contact him – in the way he prefers – and follow up to make sure that he’s thrilled with the results. You should then also offer Dan a complementary clean-up in between appointments so that he’ll stay looking fresh.

 So here’s the outcome. Dan leaves with products that are the solutions to his challenge, along with an awesome haircut that won’t require a lot of styling, and a complementary clean-up booked for the future. He also leaves with two additional appointments booked: his next two future haircuts. Dan leaves, and is most likely thinking about how glad he is that he found your salon.

And if you want to make Dan’s life even easier, you let him know that he can always have the same day and time with you if he wants to, just by setting up recurring appointments for the rest of the year. And then you can send email reminders, and a list of the dates he set up.

All of this will make it easier for your client, ensures their loyalty, which of course is great for your financial security. You’re creating a demand by offering unwavering customer experiences.  

3. They should expect to be informed of the upkeep requirements

This can sometimes be oddly uncomfortable to talk about. But there’s also something much more uncomfortable if you don’t tell a client about the upkeep and maintenance plan. You might then run into that person in public, and of course they’ll be excited to see their hairstylist out and about. And maybe they’ll tell their friends or the people around you, “Oh, this is my stylist!” But what if they look terrible?! And the people around you look at you like, “I don’t know if I’d go to you if that’s the work you do…”. Because the person you’re talking to hasn’t done any of the upkeep or maintenance, and now their hair looks bogus. This is a dramatic example; I know ;)

All of you know what I’m talking about. You have clients that only come in every so often, and they love your work, but they need to receive your information about the specific maintenance plan for their hair!

And if they don’t agree, you can’t really control that. Some people might even agree, but then slack on upkeep or cancel right before a scheduled appointment…these things happen. But for the most part you have to get used to those types of conversations, even if they don’t make you feel totally comfortable, because they deserve to know how to maintain their hair.

Here’s one more example: Your client wants to go from blonde to red today. And let’s just assume you have the extra 3-6 hours available to make that happen! Prior to jumping in, you need to stand firm that if the client is open to this change, they need to also be open to the upkeep. They need to be aware of the necessary color protection products they’ll need to leave with, the rebooking dates, and the costs to not only continue, but also any demands in the future if they decide to be blonde again! So, just make sure they’re very aware of these things. Not to discourage them and make them change their minds; you want to get fired up with them!

“Okay, that sounds awesome! Just want to make it clear, if we do this today, there are some steps we’ll have to take. You have to be willing to come in in three weeks to do another round of semi-permanent hair color to freshen it up!”, or whatever the process is that you’ll be doing. Get excited about it with them rather than discouraging them.

If you truly think it’s a bad idea or a bad fit for them your best option is to show them some great alternatives. Then get them fired up about those options.

Or do it in baby steps. Start with one small step and then if they like that, take it a step farther. Be on board with what they like and what you think will be best for them.

So even though this conversation can be a cause for contention, it doesn’t have to be terrible! I recommend that you write down what you’ve recommended so that they’ve heard it from you verbally, but they’ll also have the reminders in writing. And you could email it to them, message it them, hand them a written note, etc. Just keep in mind that you should also have a copy for yourself as well.

Once you tell them verbally and give them the written reminder, they’ll be able to see how seriously you’re taking it. They’ll see that you’re a professional and you really do have a personalized plan for them. If someone puts that effort in for me, I think “Wow, I see what they’re doing and I totally respect and trust them.”

But let me also tell you this: Writing it down is as much for your benefit as it is for theirs. You know how busy you can get! So if you tell Dan or Nancy something today, you might totally forget what you said by the next time they’re back.

And most Point of Sale computer systems, where you book appointments and collect payment, are so savvy that there should definitely be some area to write notes. So you should be equipped to do that; just be on top of that for each client. That is taking it to another level, the master level.

Just remember that those who are masters of their craft take years to develop themselves. This journey you’re taking towards mastery, is a gift!

A Recap

The three things your clients should expect at their first visit are as follows. One, that you have a vision for them. Two, that you have a solution. And three, that you inform them of any upkeep requirements.

In the end, it really comes down to phenomenal communication. Great communication trumps some areas you might lack in skill-set. I really believe that relationships matter more than expertise.

Have you ever had a haircut from someone who was extremely talented and gave you just an amazing haircut, but you didn’t connect with them?

Now you’ve had a haircut from someone else. And even if it wasn’t the most flawless haircut you ever had, it was an amazing experience, and you left thinking about how awesome that stylist was. More than likely you’ll choose the hairstylist you connect with over the one that gave you better technical results.

Keep that in mind. It often comes down to basic communication, your ability to connect with someone and give them an amazing experience. People love to work with professionals who they believe hold similar values.

If you want to make sure that the right clients are sitting in your chair, check out MEETYOURSTYLIST.COM. It is the only tool available to stylists that provides you as an expert, the control to choose your own clients. You should definitely check it out and read some of the testimonials. I am thrilled to talk about it as an opportunity, because it’s been huge for the salon that I own. 

When No is the Right Answer ~ Consultations

Friends, we are day makers. We want to make others happy and be a positive resource for them. But we could all agree that there have been times when you should've listened to your gut and refused to proceed with an appointment. We must be careful that our desire to make a sale or perform a service does not trump the time when it's necessary to say "no".

For my hair industry friends in particular, the rule of thumb is this: if you and your client aren’t able to agree on a plan within fifteen minutes, then today is not the day. It may not be their day or it may not be your day. If their expectations aren’t in line with yours, then you must be confident and you must encourage your colleagues to be confident in saying, no. “No, you cannot go from brunette to platinum today”…

Have you ever sensed your client's apprehensiveness and proceeded anyway? You felt like you performed that service perfectly and yet the client's reaction was not the excitement and validation you were hoping for. Doesn’t that hurt the most? When YOU KNOW you were flawless in your execution?! We get it...

Friends, be honest with yourselves because if you get that gut feeling you might be setting yourself up for failure if you choose to proceed. Instead, be confident and communicate why today isn’t the day to proceed in that direction.


Give your client options for the future! Get them fired up about ideas you're going to send them so they can offer you feedback on those ideas. Send them your top three picks to choose from. This results in them choosing from what YOU have pre-qualified. Therefore, you are in control!  Yes, this is going to take after-hours time.  But, who does that?  Not very many professionals are committed to going above and beyond, so when you do it's going to make you the rock star!

Implement the Perfect Consultation!

Once you’ve created your perfect consultation questions for new clients and existing clients, let’s implement these lists for all staff members. It’s about giving the professionals all the tools they need to be successful. By implementing a consistent consultation system, you’re creating a phenomenal experience for your clients regardless of who they visit at your business. We all have times of unplanned sick days, vacation days or maternity/paternity time off. If some of the staff is awesome at communication and some are not, this becomes a disservice to your clients. So let’s do this together to ensure everyone’s success!

Here’s an example of one salon’s consultation plan for brides-to-be (download it here):

The Perfect Consultation - Step 3

Existing Clients! Friends, as a reminder this should take less than 10 minutes. Here are simple question recommendations to ask your existing clients at each visit.

  • What are you struggling with your style? What are you loving about your style?
  • Are the products you’ve purchased (name them) working for you as expected?

Are you able to make recommendations on prior use or new recommendations based on their feedback?

  •  Goal for today?

Again, this is your opportunity to share your vision, plan for today and plan for the future. When looking at pictures, please remember that what YOU see may not be how they see it. Ask them, “This is what I see, is this what you see”?

BODY POSITIONING-when executing these questions that you create, please consider making eye contact with your client face to face instead of face to mirror. You are deemed more confident and more trustworthy if you look at someone in their eyes.

KEY: make sure that all staff members are consistently asking the same questions.

The Perfect Consultation - Step 2

What are questions you’d want to ask every new client? Keep in mind this will need to take less than fifteen minutes. Here are examples of questions we’d recommend you ask new clients.

  • What are your struggles with your style? What are you loving about your style?
  • Tell me about your daily routine? What products and tools are you using? Have you done this routine today?
  • Are you coloring your hair?

We know you know…we want to discover what the client has been doing.

  • What is your goal today?

What inspires them? Do they have pictures? Is their idea of red the same as yours?

  • Do I have any restrictions today?

You want to find out if cutting more than 1/8” is going to send them through the roof!

  • What are your maintenance expectations?

This is your opportunity to advise them on their upkeep to enforce your ability to rebook their next appointment.

Interjection point: Propose your vision or plan of action to the guest along with your future plan!

  • Do you have any questions for me before we begin?

BODY POSITIONING - when executing these questions that you create, please consider making eye contact with your client face to face instead of face to mirror. You are deemed more confident and more trustworthy if you look at someone in their eyes.

KEY: make sure that all staff members are consistently asking the same questions.

The Perfect Consultation - Step 1

Industry friends, this topic is so very important. We can probably agree that the majority of services gone wrong are due to a failure in the consultation. We want to share with you what the very best are doing so you are successful. First, if you can create a consistent system to your consultation that everyone at your salon or barbershop participates in, you will build amazing confidence with your clients!

Start by brainstorming what you’d want to discuss with each client depending on the service they’re receiving. Remember that what they’ve reserved may not be in their best interest or yours. To discover what the best route for today is…you’ll want to ask the right questions!

Here’s an easy starting point. Create lists naming all service categories your business provides. This may include Haircutting, Hair Coloring, Waxing, Bridal Hair, Bridal Makeup, Treatments, etc… Now, create a category for new clients and existing clients. Once you have you lists created, the creative brainstorming fun can begin.


Questions to ask New Clients for ________________service?





Questions to ask Existing Clients for _______________service?





And so on! Stay tuned for more steps to the perfect consultation!