We all know that client consultations are very important, but did you know that it is actually a legal requirement to perform a consultation before every treatment, even for regular clients?

Did you also know that failure to do this could invalidate your insurance and  leave you in hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt should they make a claim against you.

Keeping records of client consultations is essential for protecting you, your business and your clients alike.

It’s all too easy to forget the importance of client consultation…

When it comes to regular clients, it’s all too easy to skip the consultation all together, after all, you know them and they know you, right? Wrong – it only takes something going wrong on one of their visits and they have a lawsuit against you. Allergies can also develop suddenly, even when a client has had no previous reaction before. Not only would this damage your reputation but it could ruin your business. So why are a large proportion of salons so relaxed about it?

Why is it so important to complete client records correctly?

As well as the legal implications, a client consultation is important for keeping a client’s record card up to date. After all, skin, hair and nails can change over time, and if your client has been visiting you for years then chances are they won’t be in the same condition as their first consultation. We have previously discussed the importance of creating a client database where we recommend the best practices in storing client information.

During a client consultation, there are a few important questions to ask to ensure the treatment you are giving is both safe and meets your client’s expectation. Not only this, but a good consultation makes the client feel as though they are being properly listened to and cared for, which can only improve their experience in your salon.

Here are some of the most important things you should get to know during a client consultation:

  • Have they had any bad reactions to any hair products?
  • How do they manage their hair/skin at home – are they a low or high maintenance kind of client?
  • What is their lifestyle like – do they need a quick and easy routine or do they have the time to style themselves every morning?
  • What type of hair or beauty products do they use at home?
  • How do they want to leave the salon today – with a new look or are they maintaining their previous style?

Of course, one of the most important parts of a client consultation is a patch test – for any treatment where product is applied directly to the skin, this must be carried out before every appointment. Each client record should be completed correctly, including the patch test form signed by the client. Any reaction should also be recorded and the record should be referred to before another patch test is carried out.

Related: The Benefits of Creating an Efficient Client Database

So what makes a good client consultation?

Good communication

Client consultations should ensure there are no misunderstandings over what the client wants and what the treatment will involve. This is why good communication is an important part of any consultation.

If you are a hairdresser, you should always start by having a good chat about what look the client wants to achieve. This is important, as if you skim over the consultation your client could be left unsatisfied at the end of the appointment – that dreaded moment when the client isn’t happy with your work can easily be avoided with good communication!

Encourage clients to bring in photos of what they would like their hair to look like. Explain to them how this will be achieved – it may mean losing a lot of hair length, significantly changing the colour or introducing a new hair care routine. Are they comfortable with this? Do they have realistic expectations of what you can achieve with their hair during the appointment?

Similarly, if you are a beauty therapist, a consultation is just as important. Once your patch test has been completed, make sure your client understands the process of the treatment, what the results will be and what aftercare they will need to follow. It’s important to keep a record of everything you discussed in the consultation to refer back to if they aren’t happy after the treatment.

Related: How to make your salon successful and pitfalls to avoid

Put clients at ease

Put your clients at ease – from the first consultation to every one after that. How you talk to your client is just as important as what you are saying, so pay special attention to your tone and body language!

You want to make sure your clients feel comfortable and enjoy their appointments with you. A good, professional consultation is an important way to help build up a relationship with your client which will increase the likelihood of them becoming a loyal returning customer.

So, client consultation isn’t just important for safety and managing expectations – it’s also part of your customer service. You can use your records to keep note of anything to follow up with them in their next appointment – how did they get along with the products you recommended? Did they find their new shorter length easier to manage? Not only does this help you tailor their style more and more, but makes the client feel valued.

More on how to make clients feel welcomed within your salon

Confidentiality

As hairdressers and beauty therapists you are in a position of trust. Clients trust you with their most important information, and it is vital that this information is stored correctly. Not just from a client sensitivity point of view, but data protection is your responsibility and if it gets into the wrong hands a client is well within their rights to make a claim against you.

In 2018, new GDPR laws came into play that have strict guidelines on how you can store any of your client’s information. Read our guide on How GDPR Will Affect Your Salon or Barber Business here.

You also need to ensure that any data you do keep is secure and isn’t at risk of theft or fraud. Again, we have a guide to preventing your salon from being vulnerable to data theft with more information.

Technical issues aside, confidentiality also applies to the salon. If your client mentions something sensitive during the consultation, don’t let them hear you repeating it to another client or colleague – not only could this upset them, but they are likely to tell friends of their unpleasant experience.

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