As a stylist, clients come to you for your perspective, expertise, and eye for what looks good. It’s wonderful when a client comes to you with a new style you know they’ll rock, but it’s not as fun when a client requests a style that isn’t right for them. So, how do you tell a client you don’t think a style is a good fit? This can be a sensitive topic and, if your opinion isn't carefully relayed, it could damage your stylist-client relationship. On the other hand, if you don’t share your opinion and complete the request against your best judgment, your client may not like the result and blame you for it. The good news is that you can share your opinions, guide clients to more fitting choices, and have them thanking you when they leave the salon.
First, it’s important to exude confidence in all interactions with your clients. People tend to be more accepting of recommendations from someone who appears confident and knowledgeable in what is being said. Always maintain good posture, smile, make consistent eye contact, and stay energized. Nobody wants to take appearance advice from someone who looks tired, nervous, or unsure. Your positive energy will rub off on your clients and they will likely be more open to suggestions.
Always be sure to complete a thorough consultation and listen well to what your client is asking for. This is a good time to read body language and adjust your tone to appropriately complement the client’s tone. Can you joke with your client, or would a more formal communication style be better received? Also, use this time to find out about your client’s job, family, activities, and other lifestyle factors that can affect the amount of time a person is able to dedicate to daily and long-term style maintenance and help determine if it is a good choice for your client.
It is also important to find out why your client is requesting a style. Is this a new client looking for something different? Did the idea come from a magazine or friend? Is the client looking for a fresh start after a breakup or job loss? If the client has been under stress or is upset, it may be wise to suggest waiting it out for a brief period to see if they change their mind. Think of this as a critical step in understanding the client’s request and guiding them in the right direction.
If your client hasn’t shown you a picture of the style in question, request to see one. A photo can provide you with a way to highlight why the style may work for the subject in the picture, but possibly not as well for your client. For example, “Notice this person has a heart-shaped face, so the cut works well. For a squarer jawline, I would suggest this style….” This is an alternative to saying no and can help build trust.
Similarly, if a client requests a color that isn't a good fit, you can explain how certain colors complement skin tones and complexions and suggest an alternative color scheme that may work better. Is there a warmer or cooler variation of the request that may better suit your client? Remember to focus on what you can do for your client, not what you can't do.
If you have a particularly stubborn client who is stuck on a certain cut or color and won’t budge, you have the option to decline the service or suggest another salon. Just make sure you aren’t using any discriminatory language in doing so. Most clients will take your suggestions, especially if you deliver them in a confident and caring manner. In the end, clients often appreciate your honest opinion. Make sure you always thank your clients for the opportunity to guide them!