Is persuading your salon team to up their game when it comes to client consultations like wading through treacle?
‘My clients have been coming to the salon for years – I know what they want – they don’t want a consultation and frankly, I haven’t the time to do one.’
“Yep, of course, I always do one”
Thought they might.
Upgrade your client consultation skills to boost salon profits
Cloud cuckoo land?
No. Just persuade your team to do a winning consultation with every client, on every visit.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Terrific consultation skills will result in wowed clients, less complaints and glowing reviews. They are one of the best salon marketing tools you have.
In this post I’m looking at:
- How to persuade your team to improve their client consultations
- And proven tips and ideas to help them perfect their skills.
Client consultations are win-win for your team
It’s worth reminding your team why a consultation works for them. Not just for their client.
An in-depth consultation improves the chances of a client:
- Feeling valued.
- Recommending you to friends.
- Rebooking as they leave.
- Booking an upgraded treatment next visit.
- Deciding to try colour.
- Buying a retail product.
- Reducing the time between appointments.
- Giving you a glowing online review.
All of which, directly or indirectly, leads to more money in your team’s pockets. Not to mention, in your till.
If your team skip the client consultation they increase the risk of the client walking out of your salon door feeling underwhelmed, disappointed and empty-handed.
Client consultation training tips for your team
I like to start with an audit so I understand the current salon culture when it comes to consultations. So before any training I’d suggest you run a client questionnaire, observe your team at work and ask yourself:
- Does every client receive a consultation every visit?
- Are they asked about their last visit?
- Are clients told about the products being used on their appointment today?
- Do clients feel they receive advice on hair/beauty care at home?
- Does the client feel their problems and concerns are fully addressed?
Now you’ve a better idea of how your hair and beauty business is currently performing on consultations.
(You’ll find tips and ideas on getting feedback from hair and beauty clients, and a free ready-to-go client questionnaire in this blog post and all my free salon marketing resources and tools can be downloaded here)
When it comes to educating your team these are the main areas I’d look to cover:
1. Listen hard. Learn much.
This is the very essence of a successful client consultation.
You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.
Pin your ears back and really listen to what the client is telling you. And, just to be clear, thinking about the fact you’re running late and need to get them to the backwash is not listening.
Listening to your client also means you avoid making assumptions. You’ve known your client for years so it’s easy to assume you know her and her concerns. But she may not have tried colour or a CACI treatment in the past because she couldn’t afford it. Her circumstances may now have changed and you’re pushing at an open door. She now wants you to raise the options and discuss how you can help her achieve her goals.
2. Salon consultations build trust and client relationships
Strong client relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. And body language is fundamental to creating trust. Always sit down for salon consultations. Why? Because if your client has to look up to you they may feel a tad intimidated. Those standing up always look more powerful to those sitting down.  Sit on the same level. Not too close – you’ll invade their personal space. And avoid folded arms and legs.  An easy trap for hair stylists to fall into is using the mirror to talk to your client. Standing behind the chair and talking at your client in the mirror doesn’t give the impression you care, and seems impersonal. It’s also far too easy to get distracted with your own appearance and twiddle with your hair instead of fully focusing on your client consultation. So always pull up a stool and sit facing them.  Use their language, not hairdresser or therapist jargon, to instantly reassure your client that you understand them. Your aim is to put them at ease and draw out their anxieties and concerns.  Match the body posture of the person you’re talking to and the gestures they use. Again, by mirroring or matching them they will feel more comfortable and assured with you.  And most of all use their name and smile.
If you’re interested in learning more about salon body language try this blog post.
3. The right questions for a hair or beauty consultation
A winning consultation begins with you getting to know all about your client.
Don’t be too afraid (or too lazy) to ask wider and more personalised questions so you understand why they want things a certain way: time constraints, sports fanatic, fashion-lover, wears glasses?
Ask open questions rather than closed ones to truly understand what makes your client tick.
Open question: How do you feel about your skin’s condition? This type of question cannot be answered yes or no, but instead encourages your client to talk about their concerns and desires.
Closed question: Do you like the way your skin looks around your eyes? This calls for a straight yes or no answer and doesn’t tempt the client to tell you more.
You want to uncover what the client sees as her weaknesses and strengths, so you understand what to avoid. If a client tells you she loves a natural look then suggesting an HD Brows treatment may suddenly seem inappropriate and you can change tack.
Asking questions allows you to stay in control of the consultation too, so unrealistic client expectations don’t arise.
#GrowYourSalon tip: Make notes as you talk to your client. It reassures them that you really are taking notice of their concerns. Imagine talking to your doctor. If he didn’t take any notes you’d be worried he’d forget what you told him. It would eat away at your confidence in him.
A structured questionnaire or simple consultation checklist can help ease the pressure on your team, especially for spas and aesthetic clinics where health and safety and record keeping is crucial. Just remind your team to ask broader questions outside the questionnaire, otherwise it just comes over as a box ticking exercise to safeguard your back.
4. Up sell your salon services with client consultations
Developing your team’s consultation skills enables them to add value for their client whilst up-selling services.
Educate them to sow a seed. To suggest and explore options.
If a client always just books a cut and finish, ask what her thoughts are on her natural colour. See where this leads.
Then offer your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Try introducing a different means of communication with, “Let me show you what I mean…”
Visual aids are key to a great consultation too. Look Books on your tablet speak a thousand words. Your client is immediately reassured that you and she are talking about the same thing. Before you know it, you’ll be booking her in for her first colour appointment.
5. Check, check and check again
The consultation is the time to check you and your client are both 100% clear about what you are going to do. It’s too late once you’ve picked up your scissors or tweezers.
Be clear too about price in the consultation. Check your client is happy (especially if you’re up-selling) to prevent awkward situations when they come to pay.
“I’m not sure” is a difficult little phrase in a client consultation.
It’s certainly not one to be relied on. Is the client really unsure or just being polite? Are there unanswered questions buzzing around her head which she’s embarrassed to ask? The impact on the price for example?
Give her the time and space to ponder – at the backwash for example. Then run through your suggestion again. If it’s not a clear yes then leave it. Just make a note to raise it next time the client is in so you can answer any concerns or explore other alternatives.
6. Consultations sell salon retail
If you want your hair and beauty retail products to sell like hot cakes then consultations are the answer.
By establishing the client’s concerns at the beginning of their visit you can then tailor the conversation throughout the service around how/what products will resolve their problems.
Ask about their hair or beauty care routine at home. This is your perfect opening to introduce retail recommendations.
7. Role play builds confident consultations
I find role play is a powerful way to boost confidence in less self-assured therapists and stylists. It’s a case of practice makes perfect.
Get the team to pair up and then run through different salon or clinic scenarios.
Measure and reward
As with all salon and spa marketing activity measure the effectiveness of your client consultation training and see what it’s adding to your bottom line.
- re-booking rate
- retail sales per employee
- average retail invoice
- number of complaints
- number of online reviews
- average service invoice
There are more ideas and tips on measuring your salon or spa’s performance in this blog post.
Reward those stylists or therapists who have reached target and mentor those who need to build more confidence. I prefer to reward those who have seen the greatest percentage gain as this gives more junior and less experienced employees an opportunity to shine.
Just remember: A client consultation handled brilliantly is salon marketing gold.