When a client comes into a salon for a beauty consultation, the process is largely the same as a consultation for any other business. You must ask questions and evaluate what you have to work with in order to know what the customer expects and what can actually be done. You must then communicate what you intend to do and how you will do it, ideally making the client feel comfortable enough to move forward with the service and come back to you again.

Why Do a Client Consultation?

Before working with someone for the first time, it's important to perform a client consultation. This can help ensure you are both on the same page and can help to make the client feel comfortable with you. It may take a while for a customer to warm up to you, but the consultation can go a long way, which will make the actual service go faster and smoother for both parties.

Take notes and save them in your client software program after she leaves so you have a history of what she wanted, what you did and how she seemed to feel about it.

When someone comes back for a return service, always conduct a quick consultation before starting just to make sure you know what the client wants at that point in time. Repeat consultations don't need to take a long time, but it can prevent misunderstandings and can keep your client happy. Always add notes in your software program after meeting with a client, even after the 50th appointment.

What to Ask

The focus of a consultation should be understanding what the client wants. The best way to do this is by asking questions. Your questions should vary based on the type of services you offer, but a few question ideas include:

  • How do you feel about your hair/skin/nails today?

  • How do you describe your scalp/hair/skin/nails/cuticles?

  • What do you like about your hair/skin/nails? What do you hate about it?

  • How do you care for your hair/skin/nails?

  • What do you do for a living? How about for fun?

  • What was your best look? How about your worst?

  • What celebrity's look would you want to copy?

  • What are your long-term hair/skin/nails goals?

  • What do you want to get done today?

Tips for a Great Consultation

Regardless of the kind of salon you run, there are some basic rules for consultations that everyone should observe to make clients feel as comfortable with you and as confident in you as possible. When performing a client consultation, always:

  • Shake hands when first meeting.

  • Maintain eye contact.

  • Actively listen, asking questions when appropriate.

  • Use your client's name throughout the consultation.

  • Sit at (or just below) the customer's level and converse face to face the majority of the time. Try to avoid talking through the mirror whenever possible.

  • Before touching his hair or skin, ask permission to show that you respect his boundaries.

  • Ask him where he heard about your salon. If he says a friend referred him and you recall that client, say something personal about that person to make it clear that you remember and care about your clients.

  • Make suggestions and use pictures.

  • Avoid using technical terms and visuals (like color charts) that the average person won't understand.

More Tips for a Successful Consultation

  • Be upfront when your client's expectations are unrealistic. If a client wants a thick, pompadour hair style but his hair is sparse and balding at the front, don't tell him you can do that or you'll set up false expectations that will result in disappointment.

  • Before making a major change, ask the client how brave she's feeling, even if the change is her idea. If she's not feeling confident, she might hate the end result solely because it's so different regardless of whether or not it looks good.

  • Always confirm what you and the client have agreed on and what the end result should be before moving forward with a service. This can help you avoid misunderstandings.