Take full advantage of the first step in building a professional business relationship. Consultations create a rapport with clients and help you select the most appropriate services and treatments for each individual.
How would you feel if you went to see an attorney and he or she didn’t ask a few questions about your particular situation? What about an interior designer who didn’t take the time to find out what your favorite colors are? And would you trust a doctor who didn’t ask about the symptoms you were experiencing? While these industries are vastly different, there is one characteristic all service industries share — the importance attending to your clients’ needs.
A client consultation is usually your first opportunity to showcase customer service and professionalism in a face-to-face environment. Kristi Valenzuela, a salon coach with Crystal Focus, knows all too well the importance of servicing guests. “Consultations are not only for finding out about history, lifestyle, wants, and needs, they also demonstrate good customer service,” she says. “This is your first chance to be better than your competition. Let’s face it — consultations are becoming extinct in our industry. If you want to show up on your guest’s ‘radar,’ this is the perfect place to start.”
Before servicing a new client, what you would like to know is: What services have you enjoyed in the past? What would you like your nails, hands, or feet to be that they are not today? Do you have any medical conditions that could affect service options? Have you ever had any allergic reactions to cosmetic ingredients? How did you find out about us? What is your daily activity level like?
Valenzuela believes every client should have a consultation. “The questions would be relevant to the particular service or procedure the client has requested, so different questions or information may be necessary,” she says. “If the client has a few minutes before her appointment, it’s great to have her fill out a client form with questionnaire. But the information should also be reviewed by the client and technician together, one question at a time, asking follow-up questions based on her answers on the page.” Valenzuela also advises that salons take steps to protect a client’s sensitive information and says, “Take the same responsibility for these records as any doctor or dentist.”
No Consultation Means Lost Income
You understand the basic premise of why you should be doing consultations. But have you thought about what you risk losing if you don’t do one? Valenzuela’s specialty is to help salon professionals make more money. She notes, “The risk of not doing a consultation is the risk of not realizing your full profit potential. The consultation should be an opportunity for an additional offering — sea salt glow hand/arm exfoliation, paraffin dip, or a pedicure.” She makes a good point. Many clients look at our menus and can’t begin to choose the appropriate services, so instead of asking, they just order up a plain manicure. We need to help clients understand what services they might enjoy and why. The second risk, says Valenzuela, “is that you are taking away the ability to truly make a connection with the guest and build rapport. The consultation can make your professionalism shine and give you a greater opportunity for repeat business.”
Take time to look closely at your client’s hands, nails, or feet before you begin a service. Clients may have no idea that anything is amiss. If you should notice anything unusual, such as suspected fungal or bacterial infections, skin conditions, weak circulation, etc., gently point it out in a calm manner and make the determination if services can be provided at this time. If so, proceed. If not, guide them to the appropriate professional to make a diagnosis. We are not licensed to diagnose or treat, but we can certainly make people aware there may be a potential problem. Simply say, “I’m not licensed to diagnose or treat problems but it would make me feel more comfortable if you had this looked at before receiving services.” Clients will respect that you have their best interests at heart. If a client is unable to receive services that day, consider offering a voucher for a few dollars off services another day. It is a nice gesture and encourages the client to return.
Use our sample client consultation form or develop one of your own. The idea is to gather information that will help the salon deliver exceptional service. Delivering service also includes finding out which methods of communication are preferable to the client and then using that preference whenever possible. If your client rarely uses e-mail then alerting her of a special or upcoming opening may go unnoticed if included in an e-mail blast. Likewise, many clients increasingly use text messaging and prefer short notifications or reminders via text message. The point is to tailor your method of delivery to the client’s wishes. This may mean the salon will have several different customized contact lists. Most salon software can help you keep up to date with the technological aspects of contact lists.
It’s obvious the small investment of time we make in getting to know and guide our clients is well worth the effort. Clients come to you because you are the professional. If they wanted an amateur they could self-serve at home, but they want you! Give them the best you have to offer and they will keep your phone ringing with repeat business and referrals for years to come.
Click here for a sample client consultation form.