How To Talk About Updating Their Style

Kelly Cison | July 10, 2011 | 10:19 AM
Hesitant to broach sensitive subjects with your clients? Never feel tongue-tied again! Use expert tips from our comprehensive guide to talk to clients with professional confidence.
How To Talk About Updating Their Style

Most clients will tell you directly their hair concerns-whether she is bored with her cut, tired of fighting the frizz or facing thinning strands, says Joe Santy, a hair professional for 35 years and vice president of education for Dennis Bernard Inc. The best approach for all your clients is to jump-start the conversation during the consultation.

"I begin by asking three basic questions," explains Santy. "One: ‘What do you like most about your hair?' If you start off telling the client how you would update their style or what you would change, it breaks the rapport. But when you know what they like, it gives you a better idea of how to approach their hair.

"Two: ‘What do you not like about your hair?' Whether it's texture or color, you can then find your selling point, and off er the client a texture or color service. But make sure you know what they like first, so you lower the risk of off ending the client with your suggestion.

"Three: ‘What do you expect this cut or color service to do for you?' Many clients have unrealistic expectations. They bring in a photo of a hair style, then get upset when they don't end up looking like the model in the photo. Always find out the client's expectations."

For even more effective communication, Santy recommends that stylists read as much as possible to build their vocabularies and cultivate a professional image. One option is Santy's own book, Passionate Salon Professionals, written in conjunction with a psychologist, about the unique dynamic between stylist and client.

If a client is reluctant to open up about a sensitive issue, you can probe a little further. "I would ask, ‘Do you feel your hair is as thick as it was a few years ago?' Or, ‘How do you feel about hair color?'" says Santy. "Talk in terms of feelings to see where they stand with it." Never discount how a client feels about her hair, whether good or bad, since it will erode any trust. Consider any hair issues a revenue opportunity for you.

Thinning hair is one of the top categories in hair care today- think thickening products and treatments, extension services or layered cuts to add volume. Even clients who decline commitment- heavy services, like foils, may be open to more low-maintenance options. "I have a client who doesn't like color and she looks 20 years older than she needs to, but she's okay with it," reports Santy.

"It's individual to each person. But even she will get a glaze to add a nice shine to her hair." Whatever solution you find, it's important your client understands the commitment she'll be making to maintain her new hair. "Mention the appointment interval that you recommend before you begin anything," says Jessica Dodge, education director and lead stylist and colorist at Caruh Salon Spa in Seattle, Washington. If your client isn't aware of how to keep up with her new look, all your hard work will essentially be undone when she walks out the door.

Maybe all she really needs is just a little refresher to her look-but refuses to part with the '80s bangs or the '90s "Rachel" cut. Again, tactical communication is key. "I'll stand in front of her so I can see her face when I speak," says Janet Rabig, a stylist at Salon 37 & Day Spa in Algonquin, Illinois.

"I'll look at her face shape, her whole style, and say, ‘Have you ever thought about…' and suggest maybe a side-swept bang instead of a straight bang as an update." Even if the client rejects the idea, Rabig doesn't let herself get discouraged. "At least she knows I'm considering her style and working to keep her look fresh."

Showing off a "hair idea" file is a subtle way to encourage clients to consider a change. "I'll show them pictures I pull from magazines, something that is an update on what they already have," adds Rabig. "If they still say no, that's okay because I might have planted a seed. And it has happened that a few appointments later a client will ask, ‘Do you still have that picture you showed me? Can you still do something like that?'"

The bottom line when confronting sensitive topics? "Hair issues are only a problem when a stylist makes it a problem," advises Santy. "You should approach every client with the same enthusiasm." After all, he notes, the only thing that separates a good cut from a bad one is if the client likes it.

Also in the same series:

...Updating Their Style
...Breaking Up
...Other Services You Offer

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