How to Create Boundaries in Your Salon & Take Back Control from Your Clients

How to set boundaries in a salon
When you work in a service industry like the hair industry, you are often taught from Day 1 that the client is always right. For many stylists, this lesson has set the expectation that you should always be seeking to please people.

But the reality is that some people, including some clients or customers, will never be happy. This can happen for a number of reasons.

First, some clients walk into a salon with the mindset that the stylist is there to serve them. And of course, this is true on one level: Clients pay us to perform a service. No client can ever pay you enough, however, to justify belittling you or disrespecting you.

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Another scenario that many stylists have experienced is when a client comes in when they are feeling bad about something happening in their life, and they expect an appointment to provide some sort of instant gratification. They think that a transformative service like a dramatic new color or cut can help them feel better about themselves. This works, sometimes. But it doesn’t work just as often, for the simple fact that stylists are not therapists, paired with the fact that some expectations simply aren’t reasonable.

Stylists are, more often than not, people pleasers. This means that learning to say no can be uncomfortable. It means that the idea of losing or even firing a client who is a bad fit can cause stress. But the fact is that by putting others ahead of yourself, you are setting yourself up for burnout.

As stylists, it is not our job to take on the responsibility of making others happy at our own expense.

If you continue to let people control your time and emotions, it will be very difficult to run a successful business where you are actually happy. You will constantly feel like you're living for other people.

Why Boundaries are Essential in the Salon

When stylists first get out of school, it takes some time to really build up a steady clientele. It also takes some time to find your passions and niche within the industry. This often causes new stylists to overcompensate: They double book themselves in an attempt to make more money and serve more clients, they do treatments that they don’t love because it pays the bills.

It’s true that at the beginning of anything you do have to put in your time and work hard. The problem is this becomes the pattern and you never learn to step back and create a more healthy schedule.

Boundaries get crossed constantly because of the nature of the beauty industry. This is why only about 10 percent of artists are making it as a career right now. Most stylists have a second job, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it's something you want to be able to choose. You never want to feel like you're forced to overwork yourself just to “make it.”

We don’t have to constantly give the parts of ourselves that make each day feel impossible. Protecting your peace and making a better schedule will help you stay focused on your goals. The sooner you start to do this, the better.

How to Take Back Control

The name of the game is all about setting up healthy boundaries, both with your coworkers as well as your clients. This will give you the opportunity to live a balanced life and pursue other passions outside of work, which should only increase your love for your job even more.

Some ideas I recommend to everyone include:

1. Have set hours that you’re working and turn off your phone during off hours.

People don’t need 24/7 access to you. Remember that if you are always available, they will always need you or contact you.

Someone reaching out to schedule doesn’t mean you have to answer right away. Sending a simple response like, “I will check my schedule when I’m back in the salon” lets them know you’ve received their message and takes stress off of you to figure it out while you’re trying to relax. If you have trouble setting these boundaries with one phone, you may want to consider a second work phone.

2. Stop cramming your schedule.

This is not beneficial for anyone. It rushes your work and makes your client feel rushed as well. Most stylists cannot properly charge because they have to rush their work. If you are taking the time to give someone all of your attention, your work will shine for it and pricing won’t even be an issue.

3. Charge what you’re worth.

If you are overbooked, it's time to charge more. Thinning out your clientele is ok. Keep the people that believe strongly in your work and will pay accordingly. Losing a few clients is worth it when working towards a healthier life balance.

4. Fire clients that always cause you stress.

There are millions of people available to reach as clients. There is no need to keep people who ruin your day or make you feel like your work isn’t good enough. Sometimes it's just not a good energetic match and that’s ok. There is someone for them too, even if that person isn’t you!

Want to learn more about avoiding burnout behind the chair? Download our free PDF below!

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