Smart Strategies for Successful Client Consultations

Read Time: 15 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: All Career Stages

One of the biggest mistakes that beauty professionals make is giving the same consultation to all clients. We get why it's enticing. After all, a "one size fits all" approach might feel fairer and more efficient.

But here's the thing: Every client is unique, which means they need a consultation that's just as unique as they are. This is true for new clients, but also existing clients. (We see too many beauty pros who jump straight to the "Same as last time?" question with their regulars.)

Plus, a great consultation can leave your client rebooking three, four, or even a whole year of appointments, which is great news for your income. Not to mention the potential for referrals. Happy clients love telling their friends and family about their awesome beauty professional.

So let's discuss strategies for performing amazing consultations that'll make your clients super happy—and your bank account, too!

7 Critical Components of Every Successful Client Consultation

How you approach a new client consultation will differ from the way you approach consultations with existing clients.

That said, both types share certain characteristics, including these seven:

  1. Start every consultation with a genuine compliment.
  2. Confirm what they've reserved for timing purposes.
  3. Ask a couple of questions that dig deeper. For example, if you’re a stylist, you could ask them how much change they’re looking to make with their hair. Have them rank it on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being little to no change and 10 being a complete transformation). Customize the questions to your discipline (we provide more ideas below).
  4. Discuss and confirm pre-booking.
  5. Share the plan for today and the next couple of reservations (including upgrades or upsells that you might have talked about).
  6. Review the investment with your client.
  7. Record the experience in your client's profile.

You might have noticed that it's mostly the beginning and the end of the consultation that remains the same for all clients. But everyone knows that the biggest opportunity lies in the middle—and that's where we'll have to make some adjustments!

"I genuinely believe a consultation is important because it delivers the ultimate salon experience, meaning exceeding our clients' expectations."

Shaunna Deal, Cosmetologist & Instructor

Consultation Strategies for New Guests

For a new guest, it's important that you take the time to:

  • Gain an understanding of their lifestyle
  • Gain an understanding of what they want to accomplish in today’s appointment

Here are some conversation tips (according to discipline) to get you started.

Haircut Conversation Tips for Stylists

  • Show me with your fingers how much length you'd like taken off today.
  • This style will take you about X amount of time in the morning. Does that work for you?
  • Do you like how your layers fall?
  • How do you want your hair to fall around your face?
  • How comfortable are you with X? Refer to the styling tools needed for the cut, such as a round brush.
  • Let’s discuss whether the look you want is achievable with your hair texture, type, or density. Communicate clearly if there is anything that won't look similar to what they're wanting.
  • Would you be interested in these products/trying this? Point out your own recommendations for upgrades and upsells based on the information you just gained.

For any new guest, you're probably not going to want to start selling them retail yet. Your main goal for this appointment is to get a re-book. However, you do want to set the groundwork for retailing later, because who knows what they'll want to buy after their second appointment with you! (This applies to all disciplines within cosmetology, not just hair!)

Need further incentive to have the retail conversation? Studies have suggested that when clients buy three or more products from a beauty pro, there's a much greater chance of the client returning for future services. Bonus tip: Make sure you keep good records of all purchases your clients make (keep this info in their client file/profile). This way, you can easily refer to it at subsequent appointments.

Color Conversation Tips

When referring to a picture or what they've communicated, you'll want to get clarity on two points: the formula and the application you'll use.

The questions that will help you with the formula are all centered around shade and tone:

  • What color services have you had over the last 1-2 years?
  • Are there any tones you'd like to avoid?
  • Do you like this overall shade or this one? (Refer to a picture.)
  • Have you ever had a tone in your hair that didn't seem to hold?

The questions that will help you with the application are all centered around the technique and placement of color on the head.

  • Do you want your hair color to be the same from top to bottom?
  • Do you like the top and the bottom of this color? (Refer to a picture.)
  • Do you like a bolder look with your highlights/lowlights or a soft one?
  • Do you like how solid this is, or do you like dimension?
  • Do you want your new growth area to be fully covered/lightened?
  • Do you like to be lighter around your face/hairline?
  • Do you have any interest in these products/trying this? Point out your own recommendations for upgrades and upsells.

Haircut Conversation Tips for Barbers

  • What can I do for you today? Remember, every guy is different. Some know EXACTLY what they want because they get the same thing every time. Others are open to guidance/suggestions from you.
  • Tell me about your lifestyle. What do you do for work? Are you in an office cube? Working in the elements? Traveling all the time?
  • Do you exercise/work out? Do you play any sports? Do you typically shower more than once a day?
  • Tell me about your current hair regimen. How much time do you usually spend styling your hair? Are you happy with the amount of time? Or do you want to spend less time? Would you be open to spending a little more time if we changed up the style?
  • What products do you use? Would you be interested in these products/trying this? Point out your own recommendations for upgrades and upsells based on the information you just gained.

Skincare Conversation Tips for Estheticians

  • Tell me about your skin: What do you love most about your skin? If you could change one thing about your skin, what would that be? What is your main concern(s)?
  • Tell me about your lifestyle. Do you work in a climate-controlled office? Work from home? Spend a ton of time on the go or outside?
  • Are you currently pregnant/breastfeeding? Remind them that many treatments and ingredients are contraindicated during pregnancy.
  • Do you have any allergies? Have you experienced any adverse reactions to skincare products in the past? Emphasize that this is essential information! Give them a real-life example that they can wrap their head around. If a person is allergic to shellfish, for example, and you use an algae or seaweed-based mask, this could be bad for everyone.
  • Tell me about your diet. Are you following a special diet (for example, vegan or Keto)? Are there any foods you avoid? Any foods you love and eat a lot of? Assure your client that you’re not passing judgment; the info helps inform a custom skincare regimen.
  • Tell me any oral medications or topical dermatological treatments you are currently using.
  • Tell me about your skin care regimen at home.
  • What products do you currently use? Are you open to making changes to your regimen and/or learning about new products? If yes, you can point out your own recommendations.
  • What are you looking to get out of your treatment today? This ensures you are both on the same page with what their goals are. For example, are they willing to add any additional treatments, or are they just looking to relax with a pampering treatment?

“A perfect consultation includes the client feeling comfortable with you enough to express their concerns to you. When I know what the client’s desires are, I’m better equipped to help them reach their goals.”

Shari Tackert, Esthetician

Nail Conversation Tips for Nail Technicians

  • Have you ever had a professional manicure/pedicure before? Adjust this question as needed. See bullets below.
    • Remember, never assume someone has had a manicure/pedicure. First-timers might be unsure of what to expect. (It’s also possible it’s been a while!) Put them at ease by letting them know everyone has a first time in the chair. Let them know you’re going to ask some questions to get a sense of their lifestyle. From there, you’ll examine their nails and make some suggestions.
    • If they regularly get manicures, ask them how often. And ask them what brought them to your salon. If it’s a referral, this is good info to know! If they were unhappy with a previous technician, this provides an opportunity to understand what happened and to set realistic expectations.
  • Tell me about your lifestyle. Do you work? If so, what type of job? Do you exercise? If yes, how often and what sorts of activities? Do you have children? If so, how old?
  • Tell me about your nail care routine in between manicures.
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Have you ever had gels or acrylics before/are you interested in learning more about gels or acrylics?
  • What are your goals today? Do you have a specific length/color in mind? You can provide feedback/options based on the answers to the above questions and based on your evaluation of the client’s nails.

Massage Conversation Tips for Massage Therapists

  • Have you had a massage before or is this your first time?
    • If it’s a person’s first time, walk them through what to expect. Remember, first-timers need reassurance regarding clothing, privacy, and where you will be touching them.
    • If the person has had massages before, ask them what kind, what they like, and what they don’t like.
  • Tell me about your lifestyle. What’s your day-to-day life like? Do you work in an office at a desk eight hours a day? Or does your job require activity? What sort of activity?
  • Do you exercise? How often? What sorts of exercise do you do?
  • Are you experiencing any current tightness or pain in your body? If so, where?
  • Have you had any recent injuries or surgeries?
  • Are you on any medications?
  • Do you have any health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or other types of conditions that might affect circulation or issues with your joints?
  • Where are the biggest “issues” in your body today and/or what are you hoping to accomplish today? Some clients might want a relaxing massage. Others might want a deep-tissue massage that treats a nagging problem/injury. You get the idea. You need to find out what their expectations are and adjust your service accordingly.

Consultation Strategies for Existing Guests

For an existing guest, you should still take time to understand their goals: "Last time, we discussed trying X for this appointment. Do you still want to do that or maybe you have some other ideas? Also, what can I do to make your haircut/color/massage/facial/manicure even better than last time?"

Get in the habit of asking some form of the above to your existing clientele EVERY time they come to see you. And, of course, make sure you listen to their responses and that you work in their ideas, feedback, and suggestions. This level of personal attention will make it hard for them to ever go anywhere else.

At the end of the service, get in the habit of retailing current and new products through questions like the following:

  • The last time you were in, you grabbed X. How is that working for you? Refer to their latest product purchases. (This is something you should be recording in your client profiles. Make sure you do it after every appointment!)
  • What frustrations are you having with the way your hair is styling? Obviously, customize this question for your discipline! For example, “What frustrations are you having with your nails?” Or “What frustrations are you having with your skin?”
    • Note that you're not asking if they're having frustrations (which requires a yes/no answer). Instead, you're asking what those frustrations are. An open-ended question leads to more opportunity for you to share products that can address their issues—this is good for them and you!
  • It's been a while since you took home X. I can have that waiting for you up front when we're done so that you can replenish your supply. Sound good?

Bottom Line: Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Great Client Consultation!

The strategies outlined above will make your clients happy while helping you maximize your income. Remember, even though you should use this checklist for every client consultation, you'll want to customize it further since every client is different.

To get more detail on each step of this checklist, check out MiladyPro's Full Circle Consultation Course.

In this course, we'll cover the following:

  • Five high-converting details that keep guests coming back
  • How to communicate money-making points within your consultation
  • Effective communication with new guests to get new money rolling in
  • How to give guests who have established relationships with you a better consultation
  • How to minimize free redesigns by 70%
  • How to master the closing experience in a way that drives home the money touchpoints

By the end of the course, you'll not only know how to communicate with new guests to get more money rolling in, but you'll also learn how to give existing guests the most effective consultation (for both you and them). Get ready to watch your income soar!

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