The hair industry is one of the most intimate industries out there. As stylists, we directly interact with our clients and our guests on a daily basis. We talk to them, we laugh with them, we touch them. It’s just a part of the job!
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has turned the industry on its head, as we’ve all embraced social distancing to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. And while it’s working (yay!), the bad news is that virtually every salon and barbershop around the country has been forced to close its doors.
Are you currently unable to see your clients due to social distancing measures? If so, there’s some good news: You can still keep your customers happy and bring in some much-needed revenue—even if you can’t see your guests face to face—by performing a digital hair consultation.
What is a digital hair consultation?
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of making sure you perform a hair consultation before you do any kind of service or treatment for a client. It’s your opportunity to inspect your client’s hair, understand the canvas you’re working with, and ask important questions that help you determine your guest’s goals and the best course of action to get there. Skipping a consultation opens you up to potentially making mistakes that could ruin your client relationship.
A digital hair consultation is the same thing as a regular hair consultation, only it’s conducted remotely. Instead of having your client sitting in your chair, it’s done via Zoom, Facetime, or another video conferencing service. This allows you to start building that personal connection, which is so important, while still having those important questions answered.
Because you can’t physically inspect your client’s hair over Zoom, a digital consultation will also typically involve your client sending you a number of close-up photos of their hair prior to the consultation, so that you can review the hair’s condition and think of any additional questions that might need to be asked during the call. You should be sure to tell your client specifically what kind of photos you’ll need ahead of time.
Questions to Ask During a Digital Hair Consultation
1. Tell me a little bit about the history of your hair experiences.
This question is designed to help you figure out whether or not your client has had any past hair trauma that you need to be aware of. By understanding what has gone wrong for your client in the past, you’ll be better able to avoid those same issues yourself.
Be on the lookout for phrases like:
- “Nobody ever listens to me.”
- “I’ve never liked my hair.”
- “I never get what I want from a treatment.”
These are key phrases that you should dig a little deeper on to get more information.
2. How often would you like to visit the salon, and what does your hair routine look like?
This question serves two purposes.
First, by understanding how often your client likes to visit the salon, you’re able to choose the services and treatments that will last for the most appropriate length of time between visits. If your client wants to visit the salon once every three months, for example, you might use a different kind of color compared to if they’re willing to visit every three weeks.
Second, this helps you understand how your client handles her own hair on a daily basis. How much time does she like spending each morning doing her hair? What styling products does she use? Does she curl or straighten her hair? All of these details can be used to inform your recommendations and process.
3. Can you tell me about your color history for the past two years?
If you’re going to effectively treat your client’s hair, then you need to understand their color history. If you don’t know what’s in their hair, then it’s impossible for you to come up with a game plan that you know will work for them.
Attempting to lighten hair that has previously been treated with permanent color, for example, might result in blorange hair, or a warm band—typically not the look that your client is going for.
4. How do you feel about [SUGGESTION]?
Understanding your client’s goal is an important part of the puzzle. But instead of relying on the client to tell you what they want, don’t be afraid to make a suggestion that you think would be exceptionally nice.
“I always like to plant the seed,” says Jamie Sea. “I take all of the information I was provided and then I create a solution and approach the next question like this, ‘I really appreciate you letting me know all of this information! This really helps me! I am sure you have a goal in mind, but I have a really great idea that I think would look amazing on you!’”
This puts you in a position of authority, which can help you build trust with the client and also help them understand a potential path forward that they may not have otherwise considered.
5. Can we look at some inspiration together?
Looking at photos of hair inspiration with your client is one of the best ways for you to understand their goals and make sure you’re fully aligned on expectations.
Words can mean different things to different people, especially if you’re talking in the language of hair but your client isn’t. A photo will show you exactly what your guest wants to recreate, even if the words they’re using are different from the words you would use.
Similarly, if you suggest a service or style that is different from what they originally requested, having a photo to show them can be an effective way of building their support and enthusiasm to move forward.
6. Let’s discuss investment.
Once you’ve come to an agreement with your client over the type of service to be pursued, it’s important to make sure that you’re aligned on the amount of time and money they’re willing to spend.
Nobody likes talking about money, but it’s an important part of the job. After all, you don’t want to sell yourself short! Start by breaking down the steps involved in getting them to their goal so that they understand exactly how much work will be involved, and then let them know what the final expected range of costs would be. By being transparent, you’re building trust and also avoiding sticker shock.
Finally, you should confirm that they’re okay with the costs. If they aren’t, there may be an alternative that you can suggest that will still get them close to their desired results, but within budget.
7. What’s the most important thing you leave with after the appointment?
If they aren’t okay with the level of investment that you’ve outlined for them, then your next step should be to determine what the most important result is for them to achieve. That will help you craft an alternative solution that would still leave them happy. That goal could be grey coverage, it could be points of brightness around their face, etc.
For example, you might say: “Okay, that’s perfectly fine! What is the most important thing you leave with at the appointment? And is there a specific number you would like to stay around?”
8. Would you like to reserve an appointment?
After you’ve agreed on a goal and a level of investment that matches their budget, you should guide them to book an appointment.
It’s important to let them know how long the treatment itself is likely to last, so that they can block off enough time in their calendar and choose a day that will work for them. It’s also important to note whether they are working towards any specific date (for example, if they’re getting their hair done for a wedding) or if it will take more than one appointment to get them to their goal.
Obviously, social distancing complicates matters of scheduling. While we may like to think that we know when this will end, it’s difficult to know when we’ll be back to business as usual. If you’re booking an appointment with your client during the lockdown, make sure that they understand that all dates are tentative given the circumstances, and that they may need to be adjusted outward if necessary. They should understand.
It’s All About Communication!
A hair consultation, whether in-person or virtual, is all about communication. By understanding the goals and aspirations of your client, you will be better able to serve them and make them happy—a win-win for everyone!
While it’s always helpful to see the hair in-person before you begin working on a client, a digital consultation can be a great alternative if you have no other options.