Getting a great hair consultation

By Candice Zen (

This week’s blog post is all about how hairdressers and barbers go about consulting with their customers. Getting a consultation wrong carries a heavy cost to us – our customers may not be relaxed during the service and or happy with the end result. ‘It wasn’t what I asked for’ is what we often hear from customers when talking about haircuts they've had in the past. 

Maybe 50% of delivering a great service to customers is down to technical skill. We need to able to accurately assess the type of hair we’re working with and visualise, design and construct a hairstyle which flatters the customer’s features while accommodating their hair type. But before delivering, we have to, of course, get an accurate design brief from our customer.

Getting a good design brief and making a plan means first of all establishing a friendly rapport, questioning the customer, filtering information and coming up with a plan which respects the customer’s main priorities while putting in some ideas of our own.

Stages of a consultation
1.    Gathering information
The first question I always ask a customer is ‘what are you thinking about your hair’? 
This is an open question which invites the customer to just talk about their hair. I then analyse what the customer is saying, and often repeat back to them key pieces of information that they’ve given me. These might include statements like ‘I like the length on top’ or ‘I want more volume’ or ‘My hair feels very heavy’.  If the statements are very vague, I’ll have to go through a mixture of open and closed questions to provide ideas and then narrow down what the priorities are.  Sometimes customers are quite specific about what they want, and in that case, I’ll usually go along with that if I think it will look fine. If it wouldn’t look great, I’ll try to gently provide suggestions and steer the customer towards something which will be more suitable. 

2.    Coming up with suggestions
Putting together the information from the customer, with observations about a customer’s features and hair type, I will come up with a couple of options for them with reasons, and watch their expressions closely when these are proposed. If neither of the options seem acceptable, I’ll go back to stage one. Quite often we’ll reference famous people or films or even get a phone out to show a customer a picture.

3.    Confirmation of the plan
Once we’ve got close to an agreed plan, I’ll check through the hair physically and show the customer with my fingers exactly what is going to come off and where. This is to make sure that there are no surprises and to double check that the customer has agreed to what will happen. Once we’re both clear and happy, we can get going. 

It might sound like a lot of work, but it usually takes less than 5 minutes! I imagine a similar process is used by many designers who work to a brief. Looking forward to your comments!