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How to Fire a Hair Client: 4 Tips

Empty hair salon booth
One of the greatest joys of being a stylist is when you finally start to attract your “tribe” of clients. These are the people who mesh with you on not only an aesthetic level, but also on an energy and personality level. They’re the clients who respect you, who value you, and who leave you feeling recharged after an appointment. These are the clients you want to fill your appointment book with.

The only way of making this goal a reality is to free yourself from the belief that it is your job to please everybody who walks into your salon. The simple truth is that you can’t make everyone happy; nor should you try! Sometimes, it’s in the best interest of everyone (you and the client) to let them go.

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Below, we take a look at some common signs it might be time to “fire” a client, and offer you some tips you can follow to make the process easier.

When is it time to fire a client?

There are a lot of potential reasons that you might choose to fire a client.

1. They ask for a service you don’t provide.

One common reason, which really isn’t the fault of anyone at all, is when a client asks for a service that you don’t specialize in or aren’t comfortable providing. For example, at SALT our stylists specialize in natural, lived-in color. Someone who wants vivid fashion tones wouldn’t be a good fit for our stylists. While that’s not to say that they couldn’t provide that service, it’s just not their area of expertise.

While you could bend your rules and try something different, it’s important to think about the possible negative repercussions. If things go wrong, for example, you’ve just burned any trust you’ve built with this client. And even if things go right and the client is thrilled, if this isn’t the kind of work you want to be known for, it isn’t helping you excel.

2. They don’t respect your time.

When clients repeatedly fail to show up for an appointment or cancel at the last minute, they are demonstrating to you that they don’t respect your time. Once or even twice could be forgiven, especially for a client who has otherwise been respectful. But you should establish some clear guidance in your salon policies about when you draw the line.

3. They’re just never happy.

No matter how many times you change something or try to make them satisfied, some people are just not happy with themselves and it will bleed into the rest of their life. If you find yourself trying to please a difficult client over and over again knowing that they are truly never going to be happy with the work that you do, it’s probably time to let them go.

4. They take advantage of you.

Someone who takes advantage of you, constantly asks for a cheaper price, or gives you a hard time about their final bill at the end of every session likely isn’t a good fit. You should never feel stressed about charging what you’re worth. If it doesn’t work for them, they are free to choose another stylist.

Tips for Firing a Hair Client

Once you’ve made up your mind that it’s time to fire a client, these tips can help you do so in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges or open you to the risk of a negative review.

1. Come from a place of calm.

The worst thing you could do is have this conversation when you’re feeling angry or heated at the client. If a client has upset you in some way (for example, by badmouthing your abilities or belittling your skills), don’t make the decision right away. It’s best to give it a night or day to calm down so you can think clearly. This also lets your emotions settle so that you can prevent yourself from appearing overly emotional when you do talk to them.

2. Write out what you want to say.

One of the best things you can do before any hard conversation is to write out the key points you want to make before you have the conversation. Pretend that you’re writing out a letter to them communicating the issue, but don’t send it. Read it a few times and think whether you need to make any changes. If you have a coworker whose opinion you value, you can even ask them to read it and let you know what they think.

3. Be honest.

Explain how your salon runs and the way you want your guest’s experience to feel. Explain that they seem unhappy each time, for whatever the reason may be, and that it may be best to part ways. Thank them for their time with you and wish them well. This does not have to be a dramatic event. Handle it professionally and try to take the emotion out of it.

4. Stand firm.

Sometimes, the client will respond by asking you to change your mind and take them back. It’s important that you remember what you want your business to look like. You want to feel so proud of the work you’re doing, not have a disagreement or stress each time you see a particular person’s name on your book. Standing firm in your decision may be awkward, but it’s important.

Opening Yourself Up to Positivity

The worst part about dealing with difficult clients is the way that it drains you of your energy and time, which you could be directing at clients who you know make you feel happy and fulfilled. While firing a client can be an awkward experience, sometimes it’s the only way to put you on the path you know is waiting for you.

Want more advice and tips to help you grow into the stylist that you know you can be? Sign up for our Living With Purpose One-on-One Mentorship, where Christine will use her own experience to guide you on your journey.

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