Do you have a client who continually crosses personal boundaries? Does this client refuse to adhere to the policies and guidelines you’ve set? Has your client thrown tantrums or walked away without payment? Are you regularly being disrespected by your client? Are you at your wit’s end on how to deal with a bad client?
How to get rid of a hair client:
- Decide on the when and where
- Be discrete
- Be appreciative
- Use a neutral tone
- Suggest alternatives
- Let them go
Every stylist has had a client that pushes their buttons to the max. If you are currently dealing with a bad client and wondering how to “fire” them, this article has been written with you in mind. Don’t shred your license and toss your scissors in the garbage just yet. Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get down to how to fire your lousy client in the most professional way possible.
Why should you fire a client?
There is a plethora of reasons you might choose to terminate your stylist-client relationship. A few reasons you may opt-out of servicing a client include:
- The client asks for a service that you do not provide: This is one of the most common reasons for dissolving a stylist-client relationship. It isn’t really the fault of anyone at all. When a client asks for a service that you do not provide or are uncomfortable providing, it is best to refer that client to someone better suited to the task.
- The client refuses to respect your time: If a client continuously fails to meet at designated times or regularly cancels at the last minute, they’re essentially letting you know that your time isn’t important to them. One or two missteps can be dismissed, especially with a client who is otherwise respectful to you and your staff. Still, you need to be clear when letting your clients know salon policies regarding late and/or canceled appointments.
- The client is disrespectful to you or your salon team: No one, not even your highest paying client, has the right to be rude to you or your salon team members. Suppose a client is verbally (or physically) abusive or is constantly making your fellow stylists feel bad. In that case, it’s time to let that client go.
- They’re never happy with the results: Some clients are never satisfied, regardless of what you do. It has nothing to do with you or the services you provide. It is simply a problem within themselves that they’ve allowed to spill over into their everyday lives. If you keep finding yourself going above and beyond to please a difficult client to no avail, it’s likely time to move on.
- They take advantage of your kindness: If a client constantly attempts to take advantage of your kindness, regularly asks for discounted services, or gives you difficulty about their final bill at the end of every visit, it’s time to cut the cord. You should never be made to feel stressed about charging what you, your time, and your services are worth.
- The client is costing you money: If a client is regularly returning partially used products or is constantly asking for a redo of services, they are costing you money.
How can you deal with unhappy clients?
How to properly (and professionally) fire a client:
Once you’ve made up your mind that it’s time to file for divorce from your client, these steps can help you to make the best of a potentially terrible situation (and avoid any negative blowback):
Decide on the “when” and “where.”
The when and where of firing a client will ultimately depend on the customer and why you’ve decided to sever your relationship.
Of course, face-to-face conversations are best so that you can fully explain your reasons and avoid miscommunication, but it may not always be possible. Don’t send a “Dear John” letter or email to your clients. If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, pick up the phone and call.
Discretion is the name of the game.
Public breakups are never fun for the involved parties (onlookers get a kick out of tears and screams) and should be avoided at all costs. If you are letting a client go face-to-face, do it privately. Prepare for your breakup before your client’s appointment (or scheduled meeting) by setting up a private area where you two can speak.
Show appreciation for their business (even if you don’t mean it)
This client has driven you to drink and made you want to shred your license. They’ve been the cause of numerous ranting sessions that might have even involved tears. They have made you question your passion. They won’t know that, though.
The first sentence to follow, “We need to speak privately,” should be “Before we speak about anything else, I want you to know that I am so thankful for the business you have given me.”
Showing gratitude (even if it isn’t genuine) for the client’s business will soften the blow of the incoming news and decrease the chances of a negative interaction.
Use neutral language to properly frame the breakup
Use neutral language to not place blame on your client and to communicate the break up amicably. Make it clear that there is no chance of reconciliation. Do your best to make it seem as though the split is genuinely their decision.
“I’m concerned that I’m not meeting your expectations. I believe that another professional would be a better fit for you, and you deserve it. We’re having communication problems, and while I appreciate your business, I really want you to be happy.”
Suggest another stylist or salon
Once you have expressed that you two are not a good fit for one another, tell them that they will be happier with a stylist who can better suit their needs, tastes, and personality.
Let the client know that you genuinely are sorry that things could not work out between you (even if you’re really dancing a joy jig on the inside) and that you do wish them the best.
Again, thank the client for their business and tell them to have a great day.
The final cut
The worst part of dealing with problematic clients is the way it leaves you feeling — drained. While breakups can be awkward, sometimes it’s the only way for you to be able to get back to the passion and enjoyment you find as a stylist.
1. What if a client doesn’t understand why the breakup is happening?
If a client doesn’t understand why you no longer wish to maintain a stylist-client relationship, simply tell them. You don’t have to become mean or nasty, but simply let them know how they make you feel and what they do to make you feel that way.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Shawn Chun is an entrepreneur who has owned several types of businesses from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now creates online resources for those interested in starting a salon business. It is demanding work he loves to do it. Shawn says “I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive.”
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