The first thing I do on every haircut is to walk around to face my client and have a brief barber-client consultation. I have found that is perhaps the single most important thing I can do as a professional barber to avoid confusion and understand exactly what I am going to do on this haircut.
I am amazed at how many of my clients tell me that this is the first time a barber really tried to understand what they wanted before beginning the haircut. I have found it is hard enough to try and get a service the way my client wants it done—without skipping the barber-client consultation before starting to cut a single hair.
Next to your face, your hair has the most impact on your total look, so it’s important to know how to talk with your barber to ensure you’re getting the best haircut possible. The more comfortable you are (and the better you know) the person cutting your hair, the more open to communication you’ll both be.
A barber-client consultation helps to eliminate any guesswork about the haircut or style to be performed. It is especially important for the first time haircut when someone is new to the shop so you don’t do a taper haircut when they wanted it blocked. It is well worth the extra time it takes to clearly understand the customers goals before doing anything else.
The barber-client consultation is the time when the barber must determine just what it is the client is asking for. Phrases such as a “little off the top” or a “little off over the ears” are not specific enough for haircutting purposes. How is “a little” measured? Is it a quarter inch or one inch? Does “over the ears” mean covering the ears or cutting around the ears? These interpretations are just two examples of why the barber-client consultation is so important to both the client and the barber.
Once the new client has been seated and draped, the barber should be analyzing the client’s hair and scalp. This is the time for the barber to discover scalp conditions that may prohibit moving forward with the service, hair conditions that may require special conditioning or treatment, or hair texture and density issues that limit or enhance cutting and styling options. With this information the barber can make a professional judgement about what can or cannot be done in terms of services and the client’s expectations.
Some basic questions that can be asked before the actual cutting begins that will assist the barber in envisioning the desired results include: How long has it been since your last haircut? Do you prefer a similar style or are you looking for something new? The answer to this question can lead the barber directly to the cutting stage or to further discussion with the client about appropriate styles and options.
What is your usual morning routine? The answer will indicate how much time the client is willing to spend on his hair care. Are you having any particular problems with your previous cut of style?
Additional barber-client consultation questions should lead the barber to answers that help determine the length of the sideburns, the shape of the neckline, and whether or not the client desires a neck shave, eyebrow trim, or other services. With practice in doing a barber-client consultation barbers learn to ask specific questions that help to provide a clearer picture of the haircut of style the client desires.
The barber-client consultation is the responsibility of both the barber and the customer. Just taking a few minutes at the beginning of each haircut to have a meeting of the minds on exactly what it is that the customer wants in his haircut can make all the difference. Neither party should be in too big a hurry to make crystal clear the objectives of the haircut.
By doing this simple procedure the customer has the best chance of getting exactly what he wants from his haircut…and the barber has a much simpler job because his understanding of what the customer wants is crystal clear. Everyone wins from a simple barber-client consultation!