An effective client consultation is the first step to providing an excellent service. It’s all about developing a solid, trusting relationship from the start so your clients are happy opening up to you, allowing you to work together to ascertain exactly what is best for them and their hair or beauty needs. There’s a right way and a wrong way of going about this, and below are six ways NOT to do it, and how to keep on NOT doing it.
Make it snappy
Everyone knows that time is money, don’t they? So if your previous client overran and you really need to hurry this one along to make up the time or you’ll end up working late – again – she’ll be sure to understand. Just in case she doesn’t seem to get it, make sure you keep checking your watch and phone while she is trying to tell you how to do your job, just so she realizes that you are a busy person who is doing her a massive favor by fitting her into your jam-packed schedule.
The right way: giving your client your undivided attention is essential in making her relax and trust you.
Spread a little misery
So your boyfriend/girlfriend has dumped you, you’ve been thrown out of your flat and your pet goldfish is sickening and might not last the week, just remember a problem shared is a problem halved. Clients will love to hear about any personal issues you are having as it gives them a chance to sympathise and lets them know you are a real person with real feelings. Then again, if sharing this kind of personal information makes you a little uncomfortable, and anyway, you really don’t want to talk about it right now, well that’s fine too; just don’t say anything. Keep the conversation to a bare minimum and wear a long face, just so the client and everybody else knows what a hard time you’re having.
The right way: A positive attitude leaves a lasting impression and helps clients to like you so leave your baggage at the door.
Save yourself from clients’ boring opinions
Why bother feigning any interest in what the client likes or dislikes? That’s just insincere, and no-one likes a phoney. Remember you’re being paid to cut her hair, not listen to her life story. And let’s face it, some clients lead lives that are just plain dull and uninteresting. A derisory snort when she ventures a particularly stupid opinion about music/fashion/last night’s X-Factor winner is usually enough to nip any boring conversation in the bud. Anyway, don’t forget the consultation is all about you in the end – you are the expert, and you know best what will work or look good on her. If she seems less than impressed by your expert advice, tell her to go and do her own hair at home and see how that works out.
The right way: developing good listening skills is as important as technical skills in hairdressing.
Don’t fear the moral minefield
People respect honesty and admire those who are not afraid to tell it like it is. So be sure to share your beliefs about what is right and wrong with the world. Religion and politics are always good areas to start, and if you have any friends who have been victimized by the local police because of a silly slip-up with drink/drugs/stolen cars/guns, all the better.
The right way: the salon is no place for religion or politics. Always keep your views to yourself.
Remember you are always right
Never, ever admit you may be wrong about anything. Clients will love your air of certainty and look up to you as someone who really does always know best. If the client has the nerve to suggest they might want a particular cut or colour other than the one you are recommending, simply smile and remind them which one of you is the professional. In the hugely unlikely event something might not go exactly as planned, you’ll easily be able to bluff your way out of it by employing your superior knowledge. And anyway, it’ll grow out eventually.
The right way: People instinctively trust others who accept they are not always right.
Accentuate the negative
Everyone likes to hear a good old moan; it reminds them their own lives aren’t so bad after all. So whether it’s your fashion disaster colleague who wouldn’t know a good haircut if it hit her in the face, your previous awful client who never stops going on about her boring children, or your slave-driver of a boss who expects you to work your creative fingers to the bone for half of what you’d earn at the much more stylish salon down the road, don’t be afraid to let your client know. Just be wary of letting them get started about their own problems (see point 3 above).
The right way: Focus on positive memories and experiences to gain your client’s trust.