Consultation 101: What You Should Be Asking and Avoiding

Salon Consultation
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On top of uncovering a client's beauty wishes, a successful consultation develops rapport and assures the client that they're in good hands. That said, there are a number of points you should be addressing, and some you should be avoiding during the initial consultation. We chatted with a few industry notables to get their top tips on nailing a consultation. 

What's one question you always ask?

"Every question is equally important. I let the guest talk, and even if they say they don't know what they want, I stay quiet for a bit so it forces them to tell me what they are happy with and what they're unhappy with."—Amanda Epstein, Matrix artistic educator

"What is it that you don't want?"—Ivan Rodriguez, BioSilk hairstyling ambassador 


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"I always ask how often they shampoo and heat style their hair—those two factors have the biggest effect on the quality of the hair and the longevity of the service."—Cali Trostel, Rusk master colorist

How long is your average consultation?

"I typically allow five-seven minutes for the consultation. Considering all visual aids available to hairstylists today—Instagram, Pinterest, etc.—the consultation can be expedited a bit."—Eric Fisher, Aquage platform artist

"My consultations typically take 15-20 minutes. There comes a point when you say too much during a consultation, and it's either because you are unsure or the client is unsure. Have confidence in your abilities and if the client is truly unsure, that's where we step in as professionals."—Amanda Epstein

How do you address a client's hair concerns during consultation?

"Diagnosis and initial communication allow you to develop trust, empathy and sometimes even a friendship that goes beyond being behind the chair. It's easy to address an areas of concern once you've reached that level."—Ivan Rodriguez

"I start off all of my consultations by asking clients to tell me one thing they love about their hair, and then one thing they really want to change. This often leads to their most pressing likes and dislikes so I know that those are the issues we should be prioritizing."—Cali Trostel

What's something you try to avoid during consultations?

"Always try to avoid interruptions. Avoid answering your phone or looking at the person next to you. Give 100 percent of your attention to your client, especially during the consultation."—Eric Fisher

"Always avoid putting the previous hairdresser's work down. Remember, this is a first impression. Do not ever lower yourself by belittling another person's work."—Travis Parker, L'Oréal Professionnel artist.

Do you factor in consultation time for your appointments?

"If it's a new guest, I will not book the consultation at the same time. Most people don't know what they want done, and if they do, it's usually not a one-step process. I will do a test strand at the time of the consultation, but it's important to get all of the facts and then we can book the appropriate amount of time for an appointment on another day."—Amanda Epstein

"I add on an extra ten minutes with each client for the consultation. It's important to have a good booking tool for organization."—Ivan Rodriguez

"I prefer to have clients come in for a consultation prior to booking them for an appointment. I typically do this during the processing time of another client."—Cali Trostel