Management Practices

A Consultation is More than Asking Questions

Stacey Soble | March 17, 2015 | 8:25 AM
Eryn Harrison, owner of Calm A Salon in Oakland, California, consults with new client Marsha Hiscocks.

To grow a successful business it is necessary to have a strong foundation. The consultation is the foundation for Eryn Harrison, owner of Calm, A Salon in Oakland, California, and a stylist for 18 years. Her entire staff is trained on what calls she calls, “The Art of the Consultation” giving them the skills and confidence to build and service their clientele and be part of the growth and success of the salon.

“The Consultation can be the most profitable time spent with a client,” explains Eryn. “The consult is all about fact-finding and establishing trust and comfort with a client so they are confident that they have been heard, they will be taken care of and the stylist is committed to their needs,” she adds. It is also a chance for the customer to have a vision of what they can be “under the guidance” of a capable and caring stylists and a salon whose priority is the customer’s satisfaction. 

These are Harrison’s guidelines for a successful consultation:

Be Your Dazzling Self: Smile, make eye contact and listen. You will make the client comfortable, relaxed and willing to open up regarding what they want and what they expect under your care.

It’s All About Them: Ask specific questions—not a lot of questions—so you understand their needs and expectations.  Make sure you cover the 4 C’s -- cut, color, condition and care.  Inquire about their home care and maintenance and lifestyle. Most importantly, listen!

Review the Salon’s Service: Acquaint the client with the services of the salon and your expertise (and enthusiasm) for meeting their requests. This should include the cost of services, retail products available and recommendations for between visits to keep the desired look.

Verbal Confirmation: This is as important as your first hello.  The client needs to give a “yes” that she/he agrees with what you have proposed and hopefully expresses excitement in begin to work with you. This will cause fewer misunderstandings, more pre-bookings and many satisfied clients.

Though Eryn stresses more listening than talking, interruptions are okay if you need clarification or if you see an opportunity to make a suggestion that will enhance the client’s result and experience. “We call this a passive push in the right direction,” Eryn says with a smile.   

 Learning “The Art of a Successful Consultation” is the basis for having many long-term, happy customers and a thriving, profitable salon. Eryn emphasizes, “For the minimal time commitment of 15 minutes with a new client it can have long-term and lasting rewards for both the client and stylist.”

Eryn Harrison has been a stylist for 18 years beginning her career in the beauty industry working after school at The Beauty Center Chain in her hometown of Oakland, CA.  She spent her early career as a stylist and manager at the Hair Tailor, a salon in Montclair Village prior to opening her own salon in 2005. Calm, A Salon will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in July and is located at 4179 Piedmont Avenue.

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