The trick to managing client expectations

Who’s stared wistfully at a photo of their favourite star and thought, “I’d like my hair to look like that”? If we’re honest, probably all of us. But what happens when you’ve got a customer in your chair who wants to look like the next Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone or Ryan Gosling and you automatically know that the cut they’re asking for just isn’t going to work for them? It’s time to rein in their expectations, and then give them something better than they ever expected – the style that will make them feel like a superstar in their own right.

But how do you do it?

It’s all in the consultation.

When people pine for the same hairstyle as the latest hot celebrity, they usually don’t take certain factors into account.

1) the cut might not work for their face shape.

2) the cut might not even be feasible given the current length, texture or health of their hair.

3) a top stylist and make-up artist probably spent an expensive day (and a lot of pre-planning) to give the star that great new look, not to mention the photoshopping that might have taken place afterwards.

 4) a lot of ‘red carpet’ and ‘catwalk’ hair is designed for one appearance only, and it certainly won’t look that good again the next morning.

Those are only four of the reasons the client’s dreams aren’t going to work - we’re sure it won’t take long to think of many others.

But you’ve chosen this career because you’re creative, resourceful and you want your talents to make people happy, right? So, here’s what you do.

Stay positive and stay in control!

Your client is in your chair because they trust you to make them look their very best, so build on that trust by being sincere and honest. Reassure your client that you want them to look as fabulous as possible, but don’t be shy about telling them the reasons why the style they’re after won’t work. But be careful not to be negative about it. Stay upbeat and…

…offer creative solutions!

You might not be able to give your client exactly what they want but you can always offer a compromise, and if your compromise isn’t a million miles away from what’s in the photograph then you’re already ahead of the game! Accept the creative challenge and offer your client options that will suit their hair, their budget and their time frame.

Don’t be afraid to discuss money

Even if the style they want is possible, many celebrity hairstyles and treatments can cost the earth (and take more than one session to achieve). Find out how much your client is comfortable with spending and then agree the best way forwards. Who knows, you might be able to start the process that will give them their dream hair over several sittings.

As with so much in our industry, it’s all about effective communication. Stylists who are friendly, knowledgeable, and who can communicate honestly with their clients and build on the relationship of trust will always be able to manage expectations. Not only will your client be delighted with the results, and leave the salon feeling like the style you’ve given them is even better than the celebrity look they wanted. 

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