I always say that for a client, meeting a new stylist is like going on a first date. I like to use that analogy because I think the two experiences are very similar. The client is nervous, she is hoping she says all the right things, and that you guys click, because no client comes to you hoping it is not going to work out. They hope that you’re going to be their person. Please keep that in mind. You on the flip side are hoping you’ll have a really great time together, that the client has that kind of hair that you really like doing and you want to build that long-term relationship too. With that analogy to think about, what can make or break a first date? No matter how hot or how good looking the person sitting across the table from you is, no matter how fancy the restaurant is, or even if they pull out all the bells and whistles, the relationship is not going to last if the conversation sucks, or if there is no trust that can be built. If the communication is not there it’s just going to be a flop. As a stylist our consultation is the ultimate communication and trust builder, there is nothing else. You can do the best hair in the world, but if your conversation skills lack and you can’t have a good consultation, or if in the first 15 minutes of meeting you a client isn’t fully confident you get them, or think this is going to be a great long-term experience, they are likely not going to come back for a second time. The consultation can really make or break it. Consultations are also the difference between retention and referrals vs. re-do’s and a failing business. Your consultation can really make or break your career.
I think a lot of stylists skip over this read, and think oh yeah, I’ve done consultations before. I guarantee each and every one of you reading this have never heard this strategy before. You have never seen consultations explained this way no matter how many consultation classes you’ve taken or the tools you have tried out. So, let’s dive in.
We all come pre-wired and predisposed to learning in one specific way or another. You’ve probably heard people talk about that before maybe as far back as elementary school. There are four different learning styles and most people have the natural tendency to think that they are hands on learners. Only 25% of the population are in actuality hands on learners and the other 75% learn another way. All of your clients, and you are wired to learn in one of the four ways. I want you to understand the four learning styles because the client sitting in your chair learns in one of these four styles better than any of the others, and the only way to ensure that the consultation goes flawlessly is actually by hitting all four of these styles in one way or another through the process so that you can be 100% sure that your messaging is coming through loud and clear to the guest.
I want to remind you the purpose of a consultation. The goal for us is to listen to what the guest wants, almost like taking an order at a restaurant. We also want to offer advice based on personal opinion or expertise so that we can get on the same page and meet in the middle. Most of you reading this blog don’t like to just be order takers, or do the hair your guest requests even if it is a bad idea. They’re coming to you because you are the professional, so you should be offering that professional advice. Then there is the middle ground between what the guest came in asking for and what you as the stylist believe is the best plan. When we are working to get on that same page with our guest there is an element of learning happening there. If you aren’t speaking to the style that the client understands best they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. So, if in your mind you have the perfect plan, and you explain that to them, think they’ve got, and in their mind the client could be like I hope this lady knows what she is talking about because I have no idea what is going on right now. A lot of the time the client won’t tell you if they don’t know what is going on. If we improve our consultations and communication it is never going to be an issue in the future. When most stylists consult they speak in their own communication style, and naturally we’re all really great at speaking in our own style. Alternatively, others are kind of going through the motions based on other consultation techniques they learned at a class somewhere, but they don’t understand the logic behind it. The key and most important part are that you have to understand the logic behind what you are doing and the tools you are using. I want to give you the logic so that your communication is going to soar and all of your consultations are going to kick some serious ass! I want to share with you the four key elements of every consultation to ensure that you and your guest are 100% on the same page. Each of the key elements is wrapped up into a learning style, some of these are going to be familiar while others are brand new.
Learning Style Number 1:
The first learning style I want to discuss is visual which is also known as spatial. A visual learner likes to see pictures, and images, they have a better spatial understanding when they can see the world around them. A visual learner is an I’ll believe it when I see it type of person.
Learning Style Number 2:
The second style I want to discuss is an oral learner. An oral learner prefers sounds, auditory and musical sounds alike. They prefer music, but sound would also count as hearing the sound of your voice. The more that you can speak to them the better.
Learning Style Number 3:
The third style I want to discuss is the verbal learner-linguistic. There is a difference between oral and verbal learners. A verbal learner prefers words in both speech and writing, verbal learners are actually great at reading content and comprehending it. They’re also great at taking notes, and when they do it really cements everything into their brain. They like speaking and learn through speaking.
Learning Style Number 4:
The fourth style I want to discuss is the physical, kinesthetic learners who prefer to use their body. These are the hands-on type of learners, where sense of touch really makes a difference.
Reflecting back to those four key learning styles I want you to try and place yourself and see what fits most with you. I am going to dive deeper into each style and talk about how you can start incorporating all four of these elements into your consultations because every single guest you have sitting in your chair is either a visual, oral, verbal, or physical learner and consultation is a teaching and sharing technique. The more we can get on the same page with each guest the better our consults will be.
Let’s start with our visual learner, somebody who’s a visual learner wants to see examples of what you are talking about, and not just one. The more examples you can show a visual learner the better. Showing them the little details is something they need to really understand what you are talking about. They are going to do best if they are able to show you examples and you in turn are able to show them examples, because they communicate much better through looking at something rather than talking. They won’t understand what you are talking about until they see it.
Then we have somebody who would be more in tune with the oral learning style. For them they are going to be very in tune with everything that’s coming out of your mouth, and they’re going to match your tone. If you are going into a consult and you are not really feeling it, low tone, and low energy, you have already blown it before you even opened your mouth. They’re never going to come back. They want you to be high energy, they want to feel that positivity through your voice. You need to smile through your voice, they want to hear that happiness in your voice. They want to be all in on the conversation-don’t be distracted. If you get distracted and pulled into a side conversation or consultation with an oral learner you are screwed they are done for. They want to have 100% of your attention for that consultation, you have to be all in with no distractions. They will also want to hear you recap the plan several times. You must explain exactly what the understanding is, exactly what the plan is, at least two times so it really cements in. They are also going to find comfort in you knowing exactly what they want, when they verbally hear a recap it is going to give them the greatest peace of mind that they have finally found someone who understands what they are looking for.
So, then we have those who are more verbal learners. Very different than the oral learner a verbal learner actually needs to keep talking. The verbal learner wants to talk themselves, because when they’re able to speak and say things that’s going to cement it in their head a little bit more. You need to keep this type of guest talking. You want to get this guest to spit out all the details and you do this by asking questions, you ask what they like and also what they don’t like. A verbal learner needs to be coerced into continuing to talk so that you can both get on the same page. For these types of learners, you need to remember it is equally important to know their likes and dislikes.
Then we have the physical learner, and this type of person wants to feel really physically connected and they want that through eye contact. We want to look at them in the eye and not through the mirror and be truly eyeball to eyeball. Get in front of your guest, if you have a stool that you can sit down at eye level with them, this is the best. If you bring out something like a swatch book encourage them to touch the swatches and really make a choice for themselves. Allow them to touch their own hair, if you are doing a cut have them hold their hair so you can show them where the cut will be. This kind of confirmation for a physical learner is everything. Getting them really involved in the process is huge.
A good consultation is a partnership 100% of the way, and if you can’t get on these four levels with each and every guest and make sure they actually get the information they need to feel comfortable with the plan, you’ll end up with a redo, a refund or no retention if you can’t get these things down.
So, let’s pull it all together and make your game plan:
Guest walks through the door you greet them immediately. Greet them with a huge smile, a handshake or a hug. Do what works for you. As you walk up to them and you have a smile in your voice you have already appealed to the visual, physical, and oral learner.
Guest sits down and you sit down with them eye level if possible and if not, you stand in front of them, remembering to be eyeball to eyeball. What you are going to start doing here is working through your list of consultation questions. You should have a list of at least 15-18 questions in your brain that you routinely ask each guest. If you are in my Thrivers Society program I give you the consultation overview with a major checklist cheat sheet of all the questions you should be asking. If you are not a part of the program yet I encourage you to still make a list of 15-20 questions that you’re going to run through with each of your guests to make sure you hit all the touch points. When you are asking your questions, you want to be sure you are doing so with a huge smile and warm tone because that’s really going to be great for the oral and verbal learners.
As a guest starts to mention what they have in mind I want you to pull out a look book. Some sort of printed book that your guest can flip through, or scroll through on your phone. It needs to be a visual resource that you and your guests can go to during the consultation to get to what the guest is looking for. Ask the guest to hold the book or the phone and to go through and pick out pictures that they like. This is going to be both for the physical and visual learner. If you’re just showing them pictures you are only appealing to the visual learner, but once you make the guest an active participant in the experience everything is going to be enhanced and you’re going to meet the needs of both the visual and kinesthetic learner.
When a guest shows you a photo they like, ask what they like about the photo and if there is anything they don’t like. This question appeals to the oral, the verbal, and the visual learner. Based on the picture they show you can now show alternatives if needed, this is great for the visual learner. From here you can ask questions about the new photo and get them talking about it, this is great for both the oral and verbal learner.
Now when you are doing color, always use a swatch book or color ring, every single time. There is no scenario in a consultation where one of those tools doesn’t come out. This is very important for the visual and physical learner-they have to have it. They don’t understand any other way, going through magazines will not be enough. Having something a guest could look through, feel through, point to, and touch is really going to help you get to where you need to be for that guest. By doing this you are going to cover the visual and physical components for each guest.
If a guest comes in and wants just a trim. Hand them a mirror, turn them around so they can see the back of their head and show them what one inch means to you by combing through their hair. This gives the guest a super solid visual and a guest who is a visual learner can really understand that. Use you comb as a guide to give your guest a visual on what you will be doing, even just feeling that comb go through their hair is going to be great for a physical learner as well.
At the end of the consultation you’re going to say OK, so my understanding is that this is what we are achieving today. Here is when you will begin your recap, you will show a swatch again, talk about the process of what you will be doing, talk about the colors you will be using, show multiple swatches if necessary, discuss the cut that will take place, reconfirm the length of the cut and the style. Once you have recapped everything that is going to take place you want to place your hand on the guest’s shoulder and let them know that is your understanding of the plan and ask if there is anything else they would like to add or change before getting started. That confirmation for the verbal and oral learner is everything.
Often when consultations go bad it’s because the stylist ended up dominating the conversation. Verbal communication is very common in consultations in the salon, some visual though it is often fairly weak. There is very little partnership in the consultation process, I rarely see a stylist who is truly trying to get on the same level and communicate in the way that a guest understands. The more you can nail this down and start incorporating all four pieces the easier your life will get. Your consultation allows you to teach your client what is possible for them. This comes down to their learning style and the only way to communicate effectively is to hit all four points.
If you have ever had a client leave unhappy or call for a redo, generally speaking this is due to the consultation. Even though you may have felt you were on the same page you weren’t, there was some kind of communication breakdown. The more time you spend in your consultations pulling out information you will see a decrease in unhappy guests looking for redo’s.
I have decided to include for you today everything you need to create your consultation kit. I have suggestions for everything I want you to be walking out with every time you consult with a guest. Make sure you head to brittseva/012 to receive your consultation kit cheat sheet, so you can really start putting it together, practicing, and putting it into play for your business so you can get your consultations nailed down.
TO HEAR MORE ON THIS TOPIC TUNE INTO THE THRIVING STYLIST PODCAST EPISODE 12. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW.
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