Client consultations are your first opportunity to build a relationship with your client. Not only are you getting important information about your client, but it is also your chance to convey genuine interest and show your client they are in capable hands. And don’t forget your regular clients, they benefit from a consultation too.
Getting a client consultation right can be the difference to between a happy client or a bad outcome. Most poor results are the product of poor communication.
A thorough consultation will help your client to feel comfortable, after all, you will be providing
The following tips are highly recommended to provide a thorough consultation which benefits you, your client and your business.
Meet and Greet
Greet your clients with a handshake, body contact establishes warmth and friendliness. Always address your client by name, take their coat and lead them to the consultation area. Make a concerted effort to use your clients’ name throughout the consultation as using a clients name makes them feel more important and valued.
Sitting in front of your client is much more intimate than standing behind your client and looking into the mirror. Looking at your client through the mirror allows too many distractions and does not feel personal.
Avoid gowning your client straight away. This allows the client to feel more comfort and gives you the benefit of evaluating their body language. Some clients may be nervous or intimidated so take cues from their body language and tailor your consultation as needed. Plus, you can also take this opportunity to get a sense of your clients’ style of dress.
The art of non-verbal communication is essential for both you and your client. The use of the technique called SOLER is a great way to demonstrate interest and engagement. SOLER is used worldwide in professional settings and is a great baseline to improve your listening skills.
S = Sit Squarely
Sit squarely to your client. This shows interest and gives your client your full attention.
O = Open
Open posture. Avoid crossing your arms and legs. Open postures convey a welcoming and friendly environment.
E = Eye Contact
Shows you are interested and not distracted.
L= Lean Forward
Leaning forward shows you are actively listening and what they say is important to you.
Stay calm and avoid fidgeting to show you are focused on your client.
Using this technique during consultations can increase the responsiveness and engagement of your client.
Another helpful technique is to lower your chair slightly than your clients so your client does not feel intimidated and will be more open to stating their wants and needs.
The most important key to any consultation is listening. Listen to actually understand your client, don’t just listen to reply.
As stated by the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “You were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason, so we can listen twice as much as we speak”.
To understand your clients’ goals it is important to keep language simple and avoid using technical jargon. This may confuse your clients, as they may interpret what you are saying as something completely different.
Make sure you and your client are speaking the same language. Using visual aids can really help to clarify what your client is thinking. Encourage clients to bring pictures of a colour or style they are considering. Looking at colour charts with your client can also ensure you and your client are on the same page.
Some clients may be anxious or even just introverts who find it hard to speak up about what they really want. If you sense your client is this personality type it is very important to tailor your consultation to allow extra time to allow your client to feel more comfortable. Speaking in a more sensitive tone may help and be mindful never pressure a client into making a decision. In this situation, you run the risk of the client not returning.
Once you have had a thorough chat with your client, it is up to you as a professional to let your client know what is achievable. Quite often clients have unrealistic expectations that just aren’t possible to achieve. A good stylist will always be firm when a style or colour is just not achievable.
Many factors come into play when deciding on a style or colour. Be honest with your client, whilst being as sensitive as possible about the limitation of their hair. You may need to explain issues such as texture, length, volume, condition, density, hairline, crown or scalp health. It is also imperative to take into account the clients face shape when discussing styles. Often clients do not consider this factor when choosing a style. A good stylist will also suggest styles that help to minimise any prominent facial features, although, you need to be super tactful when addressing these issues. A more positive way is to steer a client towards a style or cut that will enhance their overall look.
Make sure your clients’ expectations are also in-line with their lifestyle. Too often clients lust over a great style that needs daily straightening, curling or blow-drying but just don’t have the time to achieve this on a daily basis. So take into account their lifestyle. Do they need to wear their hair up for work? Are they regular swimmers or surfers? Are they a busy mum who doesn’t have the time to do a blow-dry every morning? High maintenance styles are sometimes just not practical. A thorough consultation will uncover all these important details and make for a happier client and dispell any unrealistic expectations.
Some stylists feel awkward talking price but you really shouldn’t. You are providing a service that you are trained and specialised in. So be confident that you are charging what you are worth. From a clients point of view, it’s extremely important to discuss the price before undertaking any treatments. It is also worth discussing future prices for upkeep too. There is no point giving a client a full set of blonde foils when they can’t afford the maintenance. A good stylist should always discuss prices whilst being realistic about the financial upkeep the client should expect at future visits. This is also a great time to discuss the products your client uses and if there will be any specialty products they should factor into their upkeep finances.
Get Staff on Board
Consistency is key in any business. Make sure your staff are trained in the art of consultations. Junior staff may feel awkward or have just not developed the skills to provide a successful and thorough consult. Be a mentor to your staff to increase their effectiveness. Role-playing with staff is a great way to improve their technique and boost confidence. Consider printing out the SOLER listening model and displaying it in the staff room. Remember, your staff are an extension of your business so the more highly trained they are, the more your business benefits.
Client consults are a very valuable part of every spa or salon. Here are some of the benefits to mastering a client consultation.
- Fewer complaints
- Happier clients
- More referrals from happy clients
- Clients feel valued = increased client retention
- Easier to upsell products to a happy client
- More postive online reviews
- More social media exposure from happy client selfies
So Next time you are feeling rushed and can’t be bothered to do a client consult, just think of the benefits to your business and how your business will excel in the long term.