Failed Consultations

Mar 23, 2019

There's one rule of thumb that we don't discuss when it comes to consultations and it is this:


Why is that?

Indecision, indecision indecision.  There is a difference between offering options to a client, and a client having too many ideas and is unwilling to decide on an option.  You will know these clients from their behavior:

  • Shows multiple pictures each with a different look.  Includes phrases such as 'I like this but I also like this.'
  • Needs constant reassurance about their choice.
  • Fusses with hair while talking, doesn't meet your eyes.
  • Indecisive even after agreeing to a look.
  • Might use industry terms to describe their goal but those words and what they want do not match up.

What is the best way to work with these clients? Start at the beginning. Instead of asking for pictures, ask how the client wants to feel. Younger? More modern? Happy? Bohemian? Sexy? Who doesn’t want to feel sexier…

If the client doesn’t know how they want to feel, be assured they know how they DON’T want to feel. ‘I don’t want to feel like a soccer mom’ is a phrase we hear often.

Avoid industry terms. This client does not care or even know what amazing technique you just learned in class. Keep it simple. Use feelings, use names of hues (opal, buttery, wheaty, chocolate) instead of what level you want to take them to. Don’t use specific measurements in a cut, use ‘collarbone’, ‘below jawline’, ‘shoulder blades’. Why? You are a craft hairdresser. We don’t go into restaurants and tell chefs how to make their entire meal. We don’t tell doctors what treatments to use.

If the clock is still ticking down and an agreement has still not been reached, remember to stay in control.  Sometimes these clients will require you to reschedule their appointment.  There have absolutely been situations where the client is so indecisive that they talk their way through the entire color consultation and the next client is waiting.  Stay in control. Control can mean saying ‘no’. This is not the end of the conversation; know the skills of the stylists near you and refer the client to them if it is within their specialty or reschedule the client on your books at a different time. ‘No’ does not have to be the final answer.

It's not called being a hardass.  It's called being a professional and refusing to be bullied into services that wont work.  Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, even the indecisive clients.  There is also a difference between being reasonable and being a doormat, and we give you permission to be open and honest with the client in your chair.


Kate Wright, lead blogger