The art of the colour consultation

If you’re a half decent hairdresser – and I’m sure you are – then I’ll bet you think that each of your clients has a consultation, but do your clients realise that?

My friends at L’Oreal Professionnel recently shared a fact that ‘97 out of 100 hairdressers claimed to give a consultation with every client at every visit’. That sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?

Rather alarmingly only “7 clients out of 100 surveyed say they ever had one!” though. Talk about a massive disconnect in perception.

It represents a rather exciting opportunity for you, though, because there are a million women out there who say they would come back to the salon if they could get their shade right. So all we need to do is hit the mark.

So many colourists overlook the consultation with phrases like the ‘same as last time?’ and ‘I’ve already mixed your shade’ replacing the open-ended questions you need to be asking, but it’s an incredibly important part of any colour service.

Recently I decided to review my consultation process. I’ve had an issue with people booking in and then not showing up, which wastes my time and costs me money, so I decided to start charging for the consult. The payment can be redeemed against the service if the client choses to book in.

When something is free it often has no value to the client, so I chose to emphasise the value of this aspect of colour and it’s been really effective.

All new clients must come in for a consultation, which also allows me to do a skin allergy alert test (so it kills two birds with one stone so to speak!).

What does my colour consultation look like you might ask? These ten steps ensure that I nail exactly what the client wants from her service on each and every appointment.

  1. I always greet the client with a handshake and introduce myself. It’s gracious and a smile never goes amiss.
  2. I always offer to carry their handbag to the consultation chair. It shows respect and makes it clear that I am here to look after her.
  3. I always sit on a stool next to them, but slightly lower than them for the initial consult. If you are looming over the client, it can be intimidate them, but I want her to be relaxed so we can talk freely. This is a great time to offer them a drink. Hair colour is emotional and many clients come with a whole host of stories about what has gone wrong in the past and ideas of what they are looking for – don’t miss the opportunity to hear that information.
  4. I’m a huge fan of Pinterest and have many boards from Balayage to red, blonde and brown with all varying tones. A picture tells a thousand words and gives the client a massive choice of ideas to discuss. To be honest. I’m usually surprised if a client doesn’t bring in any images herself – it’s the 21st century guys!
  5. Don’t just ask the basics, like ‘what do you want?’, ask leading open questions such as their time and money commitment to their hair. Someone might not realise the costs and time a certain look would accrue. I always ask what their fantasy hair colour would be too.
  6. In this fast-paced world, clients often think they can go from A to Z in one sitting; the reality is different. I don’t have 8 hours to spend on one client and as Tracey Cunningham explained in American Allure it took her 2 years to get Khloe Kardashian from sultry brunette to her super blonde, so do talk about the journey and manage their expectations.
  7. Always be truthful about what can be done in one appointment and talk about the journey of the colour service. It’s really important to fully quote the price too.
  8. These day consumers are so up to date on all the latest hair trends and buzz words, so you need to be too. It’s essential you know the difference between balayage and ombre; a babylight to a classic foil; strobing to contouring, we shouldn’t be caught out by something that has just arrived or a micro trend.
  9. Give your clients the advice that they need, because they want to hear it. As a top colourist in London, I can recommend someone to cut it – and let her know if it needs cutting first (after all the placement of the colour should be dictated by the hair cut) and I can diagnose the right shampoo and treatments. We are the professionals and we should know what’s right for that client.
  10. Finally once you’ve agreed on a plan of action you can then do your skin allergy alert test and then go book the appointment with a clear vision. Don’t forget to make sure its 48 hours after the allergy alert!

If you think you and your clients could get more from your colour consultations, you’ll love my new Beat The Box balayage course. Get ready to up your client communication and make your clients fall in love with their bespoke colour service.

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