There is not one secret to retaining clients but a key factor, and one which I reinforce to this day, is the absolute necessity of delivering a great consultation to every client every time. It is, I believe, still an underrated part of our business. Time after time through countless surveys and questionnaires average or weak consultations have proven to be the reason why clients have left salons to try somewhere else.

But the good news is that the New Year brings with it a great opportunity to deliver a detailed client consultation under the banner of ‘new year, new you consultation!’

What I am suggesting here is a planned appointment of approximately 30 minutes where a stylist or technician has a full consultation with their client. This appointment does not have to be factored in with the client’s normal service; indeed, there is a lot to be said so the consultation appointment needs to take place separately to have the desired impact. There should be no charge for this appointment  – the reasons for that will come later.

When booking the ‘new you’ appointment, the client should be encouraged to bring in photos of their hair in good and bad scenarios. Also encourage the client to feel comfortable bringing in visuals of hair looks/colours they like and it’s really important that the client does feel reassured that you would like this information. All too often I get feedback from women saying that they feel ‘daft’ when presenting pictures to their hairdressers. It is our obligation to ensure we get the message across that visuals are actually helpful to us in understanding their needs.

The actual consultation appointment does not have to take place at a formal styling station.  The real point of difference of this consultation appointment is the fact that this is a discussion between hairdresser and client not an actual physical service, so feel free to engage with one another in a different setting. This will all add to an informal but professional approach to the consultation.

Within the consultation session it is imperative to find out the calendar of events the client already has in place for the year. Weddings, milestone birthdays, holidays are key to you giving the right advice when advising on appropriate hair services. This is a real opportunity to ascertain your client’s thoughts, needs and motives for the entire year. By providing the relevant advice based on your client’s information the chances of retaining that client’s loyalty throughout the year become significantly increased.

Finally there needs to be a structured hair planner put into place before the client leaves the salon.

I would suggest that as a nice touch a personalised year planner could be presented to each consultation client detailing the appropriate services throughout the year.

If using software all the information should be recorded and, where possible, actual appointments scheduled in. I would also be recording ‘gentle reminders’ for the client when appropriate services need to be booked either using your software facility or manually recording on the relevant appointment page.

Recent surveys tell us that the average women in the UK spends about £260 a year on hair cuts with significantly more women additionally spending  an annual £166 for their hair colour.

These are only guideline figures, of course, but even so with an average UK cut and colour client spending in excess of £350 per year on looking after their hair can you really afford not to make the 30 minute complimentary “new you“ consultation part of your Salon culture?