How to manage colour clients’ expectations

How can I manage my clients’ expectations?’ I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked that question in the last year or so, but it’s no exaggeration to say it’s the key topic that comes up every time I teach a class.

No matter what level the balayage course  is or where it is in the country I’ve been hearing the same concern.

The problem is that our clients have access to more information (not all of it true #fakenews) than ever before, they’ve seen more filtered images than ever before (#fakehues) and as a result they’re more demanding than ever before.

It’s really important that as an industry we stand tall and proud and remember that we are the experts. We do have the real knowledge (not just the snippets that have been picked up in blog posts or YouTube videos); we’ve been on the courses and we’re constantly upskilling, so we shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘NO’ where appropriate.

There are a couple things that we can do to help manage client expectations and for me that has to start with the right colour consultation. You can read my top tips for a perfect colour consultation here. I had a real breakthrough when I decided all new clients would need to come and have a paid for consult before booking with the cost offset against a future bookings. You also have to ensure the consultation is thorough, direct, to the point and engaging.

The second is to recognise the types of client groups that visit your salon and then to deal with them appropriately. These are the types of clients whose expectations I have to manage:

The ‘Do Anything You Want’ client
We don’t often see this type of client anymore, but I’m not so keen on that response: I always feel the need to dig a little deeper, after all I’m sure she wouldn’t want jet black. This type of client always makes me think twice, so it’s back to the question of how she feels about her hair and really listening her likes and dislikes. This type of client should have done some homework before her appointment in terms of what she’d like to look like.Thank goodness we have Instagram and Pinterest at our finger tips!

The Slightly Neurotic Client
I love these ladies, they are usually only neurotic because they have had a bad experience with a colourist and are now very keen to manage the situation and not have another fiasco. I like to get to the bottom of what’s gone on in the past and work with them to gain my trust. I know that we might not be able to do everything she wants the first time round, and am okay with that, but she might not be, so that’s where you have to start the conversation about the colour journey. The colour journey is really a commercial hair colourist’s lifeline. There is only so much you can do in an average booking of 45 mins, but by committing to the consultation appointment system you can offer a detailed game plan of what you can do on the next and future appointments.

The ‘This Is What I Want’ or ‘I’ve Seen This On Instagram’ Client
Love it or loathe it, social media has produced a world of filtered hair dreams; overly lit, overly filtered, face tuned, slimmed, you name it it’s been done. Trying to convey that to a client is probably the biggest hurdle for commercial hair colourists. The Instafamous hairdressers – who do one client a day – can achieve more than we can, so we might need to break it down into visits; if the work is actually possible. Black to blonde will not happen in a day! This is where we have to stand our ground and explain why somethings just can’t be done in a day. Many clients don’t understand that the look might have taken a few days or that wefts, filters and a ring light have been used. It is up to us to take them through the journey of if it’s achievable, what it would entail, how long the journey could be and how must it will cost. This is managing a client’s expectation. If they say ‘no’ to your advice, let them go to another salon.

The Regular Client
Often the client who has been loyal and with a colourist for sometime. These are the clients we should always be checking in with, always asking how they feel about their colour, never have their formula mixed up before they arrive, always offer them a tweak of their formula even if they don’t want it. These ladies make us successful and should not be forgotten. Quite often a few pieces here, a lighter hairline or a refresh glaze can make the world of difference, and a happy client.

Knowledge is power, so keep updating your skills and keep refreshing your clients looks. For more insights on the perfect consultation and how to convert clients who are using box colour check out my innovative new balayage course Beat the Box .

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