Beautiful Online Consultations with Corinna Tolan
Known as the ‘master skin genius’, Corinna Tolan is the owner of Monica Tolan beauty and skin clinics in Ireland, and a guru of online skin consultations. Here, Corinna let’s Timely in on her secret to achieving success and growth during lockdown.
When, and why, did you start offering online consultations?
Four years ago. At that time, online consultations were unheard of and, if I’m honest, a lot of people in the industry laughed at us and said the concept wouldn’t work.
Monica Tolan’s has always been leaders in the field. My mum, who the company is named after, started the business 40 years ago, and continuous innovation has been fundamental to our growth and success.
There’s always been a gap in the market, in terms of people that aren’t able to get to a salon but still want to be seen and treated. There just hasn’t always been the means to do this. We saw the opportunity and took it. We had clients who, for whatever reason, couldn’t get to us, but really wanted a consultation. We listened to what clients wanted, and we responded by beginning to offer online consultations.
I knew we were doing something different to everybody else, but it was, and still is, very important to me that professional skincare is accessible to as many people as possible. I knew how good we were, and that we could easily make concise changes to a client’s skin via a virtual existence. So, that’s what we started to do.
Were your online consultations initially free?
Absolutely not! I put huge value on our time and on our expertise, we don’t work for free. When you do something for free, you’re indicating to the client that you are providing something that isn’t worth paying for. If you don’t place value on what you do, then you can’t expect the client to.
Providing online skin consultations has not only kept members of my team employed during lockdown, it has also meant that our clients have been able to experience some real positivity in the midst of this difficult time. It’s an incredible feeling to know that COVID-19 related salon closures don’t stop us from being able to see, and help, people.
How should a practitioner prepare for an online consultation?
For starters, you need to believe in yourself and believe in the service you provide. A great tip is to constantly ask yourself the questions that make you most uncomfortable, and to find the answers. That way, you’ll never end up in an awkward situation with nothing to say.
Make sure that you are the most knowledgeable person. When you educate your client, you empower them, and you empower yourself. You need the best professional knowledge, and you also need to know about, and understand, the client and their skin.
It’s essential that clients complete a consultation form prior to their appointment, and that you give yourself enough time to properly analyse the information they have given, and to use it to plan the direction of the consultation.
How should a practitioner begin an online consultation?
The first thing I do is make my client comfortable. We always start with a little chat. I ask them what’s rocking their world and how they’re doing. Then, the most important thing is to make sure you know what your client is expecting from you, and from the consultation. This is essential if you want to deliver an on-point service. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t know and understand what the client’s expectation is of you, you will never meet it.
Start with a question along the lines of “tell me why you booked this online consultation to meet with me this evening? What is it that you hope to achieve?” If that question doesn’t get the answer that you’d hoped, then simply say, “if I had a magic wand right here, right now, what would you ask me to do with it?” You’ll find that they may not even know, but when you ask that question, they start thinking, and it starts to become clear.
Do you have any tips about asking clients questions during an online consultation?
Start with the information they have already given you on their consultation form and ask them questions that expand on it, or give clarity. There are obviously key questions that need to be asked in every consultation, but after that, I tend to keep the questions quite open-ended. If you fire a lot of questions, or very direct questions, you’ll find that people give the answers that they think you want to hear. The key, where possible, is to keep questions just vague enough that they elicit a detailed and honest response. Their responses should direct your questions. You can’t be too formulaic as every person will lead you differently.
In all my years as a practitioner, I have never done the same skincare consultation twice, and I’ve never given two clients identical treatments. Treating the unique needs of every client starts with, and includes the questions that you ask them, and the way that you use their answers.