It’s only natural that hairdressers may forget the excitement, dread, nervousness and expectation clients feel when they sit in the chair, waiting for their service to begin. “Having a conversation in the moments before a client’s service allows her to warm up and open up to you, revealing her vulnerabilities and insecurities,” says Rebecca Beardsley, owner of ShineForth Salon in Oakland, CA, and author of Self-Care for Hairdressers. “There are hundreds of consultation questions you could ask, and as you move through your career, your questions will get better and better. But let’s not be fooled—even the most veteran stylists need to be reminded of how to offer a stellar consultation.” This is especially true for those long-term clients who have become so familiar they might get taken for granted. But no matter what questions you ask, says Beardsley, ensure you’re actually listening to the answers. “If your client feels heard, she will stay. If she doesn’t, she will leave. It’s that simple.” We reached out to industry leaders who reveal their favorite consultation questions and the reasons behind them.
Q. “How much time do you spend styling your hair?”
A. This is key because it literally dictates what we should do. For instance, if someone lets their curly hair air dry, we would not promise them a sleek, straight shiny bob that takes 45 minutes to smooth out. Instead, we might do stacked wedge or square, layered cut to use the curl to dramatic advantage.
—Charlie Price, Founder of the Beauty Underground Artistic Team
Q. “When you walk into a room, do you like to turn heads and be noticed, or would you rather be subtle?”
A. This question connects with guest, ensuring them that you truly care about them. The answer gives the stylist direction in design as well as styling products. And what if the answer is “both”? Now you can teach styling options.
—Wayne Grund, President and Co-Founder of Surface Hair Care
Q. “How would you like your hair to feel?”
A. Every client wants a healthy scalp and healthy hair—but does a client want hair that feels smooth, curly or even beach-y? Knowing this answer assists with styling as well as retail. You can send your client home with the exact maintenance products that meet their needs. This discovery process is critical because it helps align the interest of the client with an outcome that encourages trust, fulfillment and a long-term relationship.
—Andrew Dale, Founder and CEO of UNITE
A great consultation goes beyond simple question and answer, says Rebecca Beardsley.
- Begin each consultation with a hand on the shoulder, which grounds your client, letting her know you’ve got this. This simple gesture also allows you to be present during the consult and focus on hearing her responses.
- Preferably be seated facing your client, or raise the chair so that the client is at eye level with you. Do not do your consultation while looking at your client in the mirror.
- When talking to your client, make eye contact and keep your arms unfolded.
Photography: Getty Images