An Esthetician's Guide to the Client Consultation

By ASCP Staff

The client consultation is your opportunity to build a relationship with the client and determine exactly what their skin care needs are. Often the consultation is skipped or rolled into the skin analysis for reasons like a lack of time, a sense of urgency to begin the treatment, feelings of discomfort with paperwork and conversation, etc. Put aside those concerns and take the time to learn as much as you can about your clients’ general lifestyle, their home regimen, what their skin care concerns are, and what they hope to get out of today’s treatment.

When done right, a thorough consultation is a chance to turn a first-time customer into a loyal, repeat client. So much information can be garnered from a client’s intake paperwork and initial conversation before you even look at their skin.

Your client indicates they use a multi-step system

This is a great conversation starter for retail. It’s also an opportunity to discuss their skin care goals. Do they have holes in their regimen that you can fill? In-office treatments only account for about 20 percent of the change clients will see in their skin. If your client is used to applying multiple products, they probably won’t shy away from an additional step. Are their products working for them? It’s possible their routine needs to be simplified or altered to meet their goals and create change in their skin. Get them on a good home regimen and treatment plan to meet those goals.

Your client indicates they use bar soap to wash their face

Never make your client feel bad or embarrassed about the choices they’ve made. Instead, use this opportunity to educate them about the effects of bar soap on the skin. If they hope to achieve specific skin care goals, lay out a treatment plan and show them what products they need in order to make those goals a reality. Someone who sticks to a simple routine may not be open to multiple steps, but slowly introducing 1–2 products and a simple treatment plan that they can commit to will benefit the health of their skin and get them rebooking.esthetician performs ultrasonic skin exfoliation

The consultation is also an opportunity to upsell products and treatments. While conversing with your clients, listen for cues from your client such as, “My skin has been feeling really tight and dry.” Offer an exfoliating treatment you can add to their facial or suggest a retail product that can be reinforced during the treatment and again at the end of the appointment. This is not a hard sell—it’s just an introduction of ideas.

A good consultation not only provides the esthetician with valuable information, but it also benefits the client. A thorough consultation will leave the client feeling they are in the hands of an expert who genuinely cares, is interested in them, and has the knowledge required to meet their needs.

Where do estheticians go wrong?

  1. Missing the opportunity to take control: Lead the conversation and set realistic expectations. Make sure the client understands what can be achieved and how long it will take. Do not allow the client to lead the consultation.
  2. Asking the wrong questions: Use open-ended questions to generate the conversation and gauge what the client’s needs and wants are.
  3. Failing to understand the client’s lifestyle: Does the client work outdoors, smoke, have young children, or travel frequently? All these traits will affect the type of treatment, post care, and retail your client receives.
  4. Assuming you know what your client can afford: Believe in your products, your treatments, and your self-worth. Assuming something is out of budget for your client can mean loss in revenue. If the product or treatment will benefit your client and they can’t afford it or don’t want to buy it, let them be the one to tell you.
  5. Failing to listen: Your consultation was spot on and you asked all the right questions, but if you aren’t really listening to the client’s needs and wants, you have a breakdown in communication and lose out on a repeat client. Sometimes what you think the client needs is not what they want.
  6. Not being covered against litigious clients: Clients sue estheticians and skin care professionals for countless reasons every day. Be sure to protect yourself and your business with esthetician liability insurance as part of your ASCP membership!