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How the Complete Consultation
Changes Everything

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Corinne Kleinberger, owner of As You Like it Salon in Bonita Springs, Florida, had a revelation when her business was failing back in 2012.

We were at our lowest and it was either change everything or we weren’t going to make it,” she says.

So Kleinberger hired a stylist with a great reputation for understanding and executing the Aveda culture and turned her Concept salon over to him for one year.

We needed to change our culture and guest experience,” she says. “And it started with one of Aveda’s 11 points of difference—the 5C consultation.”

The 5 Cs

The 5C Consultation is part of the expected experience when any guest visits an Aveda Concept salon. The idea is simple: stylists must address cut, color, condition, commitment and cost in the consultation—every time.

The 5C Consultation: 
Cut, Color, Condition, 
Commitment, Cost

Kleinberger was aware of the 5C Consultation but hadn’t implemented it, and instead was relying on simply asking guests, “What are we doing today?”

But when it came time to overhaul her business, the consultation was the first place she started. “We saw a big difference in our performance and our level of guest satisfaction instantly,” she says. In fact, that first year of revamping her culture, Kleinberger’s business grew more than 58 percent.

At first, the new consultation was heavily scripted and discussed in weekly meetings and huddles.

“We couldn’t even remember what the five ‘c’s were in the beginning,” says Kleinberger. “But if you do it every time, it becomes part of the conversation.”

Kleinberger even had the five “C”s printed out at the bottom of the travelers that went with each client so stylists always had a cheat sheet. As the stylist looked over the client’s past history, the consultation guide was right in front of them.

Kleinberger also noticed her clients observing their stylists making notes and could tell guests felt like they were really being heard.

“We’re called ‘As You Like It,’” she says.

“We want to provide what our clients really want. Just because they are in for a cut doesn’t mean we can’t talk about color. So now we ask questions like, ‘Are you loving your color? Not loving it? What are your challenges?’”

Starting the conversation about color on a day when a cut is scheduled ultimately leads to new business, Kleinberger maintains.

As soon as you talk about their color, they’ll get excited about it,” she says. “The stylists can make suggestions based on their reaction and even if there’s no time to do a color service that day, the guest can pre-book another day.”

As for “condition,” the third “C,” Kleinberger says there is always a conversation to be had and questions a stylist can ask: Is the hair shiny? Not shiny? Is it limp? What is the client’s lifestyle? Does she wash it too much? Is she a swimmer?

“We can add the service they need that will benefit their hair,” she says. “Technology has improved so much that they can see a real benefit within five minutes. But if you don’t tell them, they aren’t aware of these treatments.”

“Commitment” is an easy transition in the 5C conversation. Stylists simply need to find out where their clients stand in order to give them the best treatment for their lifestyle.

We ask, “How often do you want to come in? How much time do you want to spend on your hair every day?” she says.  

“We don’t want to give them a cut that has to be maintained every three weeks if they can only come in every six weeks or give a cut that takes 45 minutes to style when they need a wash and wear style. It’s only going to lead to disappointment.”

The final “C”—cost, can also lead to disappointment and upset if not properly addressed, says Kleinberger.

“The worst thing you can do is surprise someone at the end of a visit. If a client was planning on a $100 bill and leaves with a $250 bill, that’s not fair,” she says.

To make sure this never happens, cost is addressed in the consultation. A stylist may say, “Your hair looks thirsty and we have a botanical treatment that will improve hair up to 70 percent within five minutes—it’s $15.

Kleinberger says, “It’s respectful to give them the option and all the information. Then we can circle back at the end of the consultation after they’ve had time to think about it to see if they’re interested.

“Educating the client and really listening is key,” she says.

Keeping Consistent

Continuing to motivate her stylists to do the 5C Consultation with every client, every time has been easier than expected. At this point, it’s ingrained in the culture and Kleinberger has a continuous conversation with her staff about As You Like It’s points of difference.

However, there is always someone who says, “I’m not a salesperson,” when pushed to implement the 5C consultation, retail goals, prebooking and other benchmarks.

“But if you’re coming from a place of pure intent and providing benefits to the guest, it’s not selling,” says Kleinberger.

“I went to a place where I have my nails done for two years and had no idea they did facials. I would’ve loved a facial! You have to let clients know what’s available to them and let them make the decision,” she adds.

“And if you have pure intent, the sincerity of feeling comes across to the guest and they understand and trust you have their best intentions in mind, and you’re not just telling them anything to get them to spend.”

For the salon’s staff, the benefits to them have been just as satisfying as for their guests.

“Now there is no getting three-quarters of the way through a haircut and realizing the guest wants something else or they meant something different,” says Kleinberger. “Time-wise, services go smoother, too. Guests really appreciate being educated on what they need to support the haircut. There’s no pressure—just an explanation of what the stylist recommends and how it will benefit their hair.”

And better results at home lead to more referrals for the salon. “It starts with that consultation,” says Kleinberger. “It has helped retail, referrals, and prebooking. The consultation really affects everything.”

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  1. Another really good article, the consultation and the closing/summary are a focus of ours too.

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