Tell Salon Clients the Truth (Nicely)

Kathy Jager | July 10, 2011 | 10:12 AM

How do you tell a client that she needs a new 'do?

Often the worst problems happen with a new client. She walks in with that bleached blonde, fried out mullet that 20 years ago someone told her looked good. Or maybe not even then!

You're the professional, so do you say something? First you have to consider whether she likes it. Maybe the only reason she wears it is that nobody ever asked her if she was interested in something new! Sometimes a client continues to get the same old hair style year after year because it's what her lifelong hairdresser keeps giving her. She might be thrilled to make a change if only someone would ask.

probe and analyze

When a client sits in your chair, whether she's a new client or a regular, you should go back to the basics of a consultation. Ask probing questions to get a feel for exactly where the client is in her life. Most of the time people want you to make them change their hair style. They come for your expertise, and if you're not suggesting or recommending new things like a few highlights for spring, or a new bang, or a fun texture service, one of two things will happen: they will get the same old 'do, which will have your name on it since your clients are your walking billboards, or they will not come back because they are bored with your unwillingness to change.

tact and fact

Have you ever wanted to tell a stranger that her hair looked awful and you knew that she could look wonderful if she would let you get your magical hands on her precious head? With clients in your chair, you can do exactly that but without offending them. Get a client's attention by offering subtle suggestions that are comfortable for her personality. Show her visually what you are describing. Keep referring to how fabulous she will look and how great it will feel to show off her new look. Explain how the new color or tone will complement her beautiful skin, or how this hot new haircut will give her that spunky look she's been wanting.

trust and time

Most people want to hear what you have to say. Even if they don't do what you suggest right at that visit, they will go home and think about it. I find that most often a few days later they pick up the phone and ask to give the new idea a try. Clients need to trust what you tell them. The way you develop that trust lies in how you talk to them during the consultation. Speak confidently, and spend more than one minute on finding out what they would like for you to do.

Once you change a client's old look, you are guaranteed to change her attitude along with it. That opens up a whole new world of artistic opportunities, not only for that client but for all the rest of your clients as well! Challenge yourself, and see how proper communication can transform the looks you have been giving!

Catch up with author Kathy Jager at

Tell Salon Clients the Truth (Nicely)
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