Education: Advice for Beauty Pros

How to Get Rid of Problem Clients Without Hard Feelings

11.15.2019

We’ve all been there; whether they are habitually late, disrespectful, or never satisfied, problem clients add unnecessary stress to the job and often leave stylists feeling trapped. And while parting ways with a client isn’t always ideal, sometimes it’s the best option for everyone involved.

Follow the advice below for making the transition as smooth and professional as possible.

Look for Alternatives

Before deciding to let go of a client, consider all the options. Stylists just starting out may benefit from holding on to challenging clients while they build up their clientele. Further, stylists can often avoid firing a client by taking a more creative approach to the problem. Ask yourself: “Do I really need to fire this client, or could there be another way around the problem?”

For example, instituting a no-show fee can motivate clients that routinely miss their appointments to show up or call ahead if they can’t make it. Or, for clients who are never satisfied, consider asking them how to improve their experience. An approach like this keeps the client-stylist relationship intact while still (hopefully) resolving the issue.

Try opening a dialog with something like, “I noticed that you don’t always leave happy. Is there something I can do better?” Sometimes an open and honest conversation is all it takes to release the negative energy and move forward.

Unfortunately, in some cases, there may be no other option than to part ways. When that time comes, prepare to have that conversation by keeping the client’s best interest in mind.

Focus on Improving the Client Experience

The “I think we should see other people” conversation is never easy, but focusing on the client’s experience keeps the conversation neutral and blame-free. Remember that the goal is to uphold a professional relationship without hard feelings, so avoid placing blame or making the client feel bad. Let them know that you recognize that their experience could be better, and you are doing them a disservice by keeping them as a client.

Consider who might be a better fit for them. Show them that you truly put thought into improving their experience with a relevant referral.

When worse comes to worst, and all else fails, be respectful and honest. Saying something like, “I’ve thought about how I could improve your experience, but I don’t feel that I’m a good fit for you. I recommend you look for another stylist that better suits your needs,” tells them it’s time to move on without any harsh feelings.

What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Take the Hint

If a client continues to book your services despite your recommendation, there are a few other options to discourage them from booking you while still keeping things professional.

Downsize

Let the client know that you cannot handle the volume and are sending the overflow to stylists that you have carefully selected. Consider how the new stylist could add value for the client to put a positive spin on the switch: “Alexis has a lot of education in foil highlighting and would do an excellent job on your hair.”

Be Honest

In worst-case scenarios, be honest. “I recognize that we struggle to see eye-to-eye, and I think we’d both benefit from you seeing someone else, so I will no longer be providing your services.

Letting go of a client never feels right, but sometimes it’s the best solution for both parties. At Salon Only Sales, we recognize the criticality of stylist’s wellbeing. Problem clients put a strain on the stylist.

Approach the situation professionally by considering all options and evaluating the best course of action. In managing the situation, try to keep the conversation neutral and avoid blame by focusing on improving the client experience for a healthy and graceful exit from the relationship.

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