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Hair > Articles > Consultation 101: Time for a Change

Consultation 101:
Time for a Change

By: Angie Manson

A new client eases into your chair sporting a bleached-out, fried-up mullet. Twenty years ago, someone told her it looked good so today, all she wants is a retouch.  Another client with long, lifeless locks that clearly don’t suit her requests, “Just a trim!” Do you have the heart—or the cajones—to tell these customers that it’s time for a change?  Don’t forget, you’re in the business of change, and if you don’t at least offer to keep your clients current, someone else will.  It all starts with the consultation, so here are a few tips for setting those “stuck-in-the-past” customers on the path to beautiful change.

Just Ask!
According to Kathy Jager, author of As the Chair Turns, it might just be that the only reason someone wears an outdated style is because nobody ever asked her if she was interested in something new. “Sometimes a client continues to get the same old hair style year after year because it's what her lifelong hairdresser keeps giving her,” she says. “She might be thrilled to make a change if only someone would ask.” If this is the case, says Jager, go back to the basics and ask probing questions to get a feel for exactly where the client is in her life. “Most of the time people want you to make them change their hair style,” she notes. Suggest a few face-framing highlights. Recommend cutting off length and adding layers or creating a fun texture or fashionable fringe. If you don’t propose new ideas, one of two things will happen: clients will get the same old 'do, which will have your name on it since they are your walking billboards, or they will not come back because they are bored with your unwillingness to change.

Positive Reinforcement
Ruth Roche
of RARE Salon in New York City says that when a client is adverse to change, keep the conversation positive no matter what. In the case of a client desperately needing length removed, but determined to keep her length, be sure to connect with her as a person instead of just a “head.” “Come around to stand in front of her and ask her what she likes about her hair,” Roche advises. If she asserts that she likes her length and seems uneasy about change, compliment her on her texture or color to make her feel more comfortable, then get down to business. “Let her know you like her length too, then before saying anything else, spend a little time trying different parts, looking at different lengths of layers around her face or making pretend bangs,” she suggests. Then let her know the truth, plain and simple, that her hair grows about ½-inch per month and will get split ends if she doesn’t cut it. So after six months her hair may technically be three inches longer, but she’d have to cut two inches of split ends especially if she flat irons or curls it regularly. Let her know that a trim or cut is in her best interest and see how the conversation goes from there.

Picture Perfect
Nicole Leal
of The Doves Salon in Santa Monica, CA says that once your client has agreed to an updated style or color change, show her pictures to demonstrate exactly what you mean. If you’re dealing with a client who’s nervous to begin with, the last thing you want to do is make her feel even more uncomfortable. “Pictures speak louder than words and reduce the risk of misinterpretation,” Leal says. “They help the client better understand layers, volume and movement and what their hair type can achieve.” And after giving your client a completely new look, don’t let her walk out the door without knowing how to style it. Provide an in-depth blow dry lesson and give her some tips and examples on several different ways she can style her hair. It creates more excitement about her look and promotes more product options for home use. 

A Little Patience 
Even if your client doesn’t take your advice on the first visit, she’s definitely going to think about it once she gets home, Jager says. “I find that most often, a client will call a few days later and says she is willing to give the new idea a try,” she claims. Clients need and want to trust what you tell them, so speak confidently during your consultation and don’t suggest change just for the sake of change. Spend time really trying to understand how to improve their overall look. Keep referring to how fabulous she will look and how great it will feel to show off her new look. Explain how the new color or tone will complement her beautiful skin, or how this hot new haircut will give her that spunky look she wants. “Once you change a client's old look, you will change her attitude along with it. That opens up a whole new world of artistic opportunities, not only for that client but for the rest of your clients as well!” says Jager.

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