Successful Consultations Require Confidence


Let’s talk about the client consultation. The consultation is perhaps the most important conversation you’ll have with a potential client—it sets the stage for all of your future interactions—but don’t let that scare you!

The consultation is the best way to establish trust between you and your clients. Your first-timers are coming to you with their heart, or in this case their hair, in their hands. So, meet them half way, listen to their needs, and work with them to find a solution—after all, you’re the expert!

Howard Hafetz will tell you that the key to a successful consultation is simply, confidence. Sounds too good to be true, right? But Howard can tell you from years of experience, there is nothing more reassuring than having the expert take control of the situation.

We introduced you to Howard on our Beyond The Technique podcast, but if you missed his previous interviews we’ll give you a quick recap: Howard is the CEO of Art of Business, the former President of PBA, and the founder of Salon Today Magazine. Howard is also the brain behind the concept of “psy-cosmetology,” a new form of thinking which helps professional cosmetologists increase their self-esteem and ultimately lead a more successful life and career. Howard preaches confidence, and he’s here to instill a newfound confidence in all of you!

It’s Not What You Say, It’s What the Client Hears

If you ask a stylist for their definition of the consultation, most of them will say it’s about how you communicate. Well, Howard is here to tell you that it’s not what you say that matters, it’s what the client hears. Or rather, what they understand.

Howard likes to play with analogy that effective communication is a lot like playing a game of catch. If you’re throwing something out there and nobody is catching it, well, that’s pretty ineffective, isn’t it?

Howard emphasizes that if you really want to up your game as a stylist, your communication is where it counts. And the best place to start? The consultation, of course!

For the Newbies: Competence Translates Into Confidence

Young stylists tend to struggle with confidence the most. When it’s your first time behind the chair, it can be unfortunately easy to sink into those self-deprecating thoughts: Am I good enough? Do I really know what I’m talking about?

Howard reminds us that the answer is always yes! As a new stylist fresh out of beauty school, you’ve put in your time and received all of the education necessary to make you successful.

Howard recognizes that as younger stylists, you won’t have much behind-the-chair experience to play on during the consultation, so he suggests that you pull out that education of yours and tie in a few terms you learned from beauty school. Break down the science of hair for your client during the consultation, as long as you do so in a way that is both well-informed and digestible, you’re sure to gain their respect and, perhaps more importantly, their trust.

Confidence Is Comforting

Now, we’re not recommending that you fake it for your entire career (trust us, you won’t have to!) but, confidence can be easy to emulate in the moment, whether you’re feeling it or not.

Howard emphasizes the importance of posture in coming across as confident. Confident people stand taller and square their shoulders, this literally gives off the appearance that they can take on any challenge. Not only does a confident stance make you appear more confident to a potential client, but it also makes you feel more confident. They call it a power stance for a reason, right?

Touch Builds Trust

Physical contact is one of the quickest ways to build confidence with a client. We’re in one of the few industries where human touch is actually encouraged, so take advantage!

Howard encourages stylists to make physical contact with their potential clients during the initial consultation. Putting a hand on their shoulder as they tell you about their hair is one of the most comforting things you could do, not to mention, it’s a sign of good listening. This simple gesture is very settling, and it helps to build that personal connection quickly, quite literally letting your potential clients know that they’re in good hands.

What About When It’s Not Going the Right Way?

Even if you’re doing everything right, the reality is not every consultation is going to be successful. Howard calls to mind those occasions in which a client calls after their appointment to admit that they don’t like their haircut or they feel their stylist missed the mark with their color. Likely, the issue started with a failed consultation. 

Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned pro, there are so many variables and you simply can’t promise everything. So, Howard challenges us all to think about how we can predict the end result and what we can do to be proactive about our client’s expectations.  

Ultimately, the most important step is to make sure that you’re leaving room for accessible communication during the consultation. You should always be asking questions and repeating the client’s answers back to them to make sure that you’re both on the same page.

Quick Tip: This is where photos come in handy! Everyone has a different idea of what “shoulder length hair” is, right? So, instead of guessing, ask your client for a picture of a haircut they love. Of course, if we’re talking color, it’s important to educate your clients on whether their expectations are realistic. Filters are our worst enemies when it comes to color, so don’t be afraid to let your clients know when a color is simply unattainable.

At the end of the day, the best consultations come from stylists who know how to converse with clients in their own language. Your confidence translates directly to your client’s confidence—so bring you’re A-game to every consultation.  

If you’d like to learn more about gaining confidence and conviction when it comes to the consultation, listen to the podcast that inspired this blog, episode 165. If you’d like to really dive into communication, check out our recent blog post, The Key to Nailing the Consultation is Open Communication.

P.S. Are you going to be at America’s Beauty Show this year? We’d love to have you on one of our Spotlight Podcasts! Reach out to us at with the subject line: “Shine the Spotlight on Me!” We look forward to chatting with all of you!

Samantha Georgson