Illustrations by Katrina Peterson The client is always right, yes? Well, actually, no. From time to time, your salon will encounter one of those clients who isn’t happy no matter which service provider she sees. You can refund her money and suggest a different team member, but she still isn’t happy. She might complain about your parking, your front desk staff, your décor, your coffee, and your retail products, in addition to her service. Your attention is demanded to resolve the issue, which means you have to tactfully comfort and support your staff while trying to appease this client. And when you finally figure out there’s no pleasing her, you have to find a way to cut her loose while minimizing the damage.
Kitty Tierney, owner of Impressions Salon and Day Spa in Mequon, Wisconsin: “We did immediately fire a new client once when she came to the salon and said she did not want one of them (pointing to an African-American stylist and using a very prejudiced term) doing her hair, so we asked her to leave by saying, ‘We don’t want anyone who thinks that way in our salon.’ The staff cheered.
“If someone is mean and unrealistic, I’m going to deal with the client personally. But if a client does something like bounce checks, I’ll take action, and I’ll require she uses a credit card. Of if she’s a constant no show, I’ll send her a letter saying something like, ‘Carrie loves doing your pedicures, but out of the six you’ve recently booked, you’ve only showed up for one. Carrie has lost ‘X’ dollars due to your cancellations. In the future, please make appointments on same-day only.’”
Byran Nunes, owner of Blo in Raleigh, North Carolina: “Again, this is a fear-based problem. When all we do is complain outloud about the client, all it does is involve an audience (your staff) who has nothing to do with the situation. Generally, these clients have given you many opportunities in the past to handle these situations, and often they are acting subconsciously because this behavior has been rewarded somewhere in their past. It takes a very centered and non-threatening person to establish proper boundaries.
“We coach our team to establish the rules of playing in the sandbox with the guest. This is not a publicly traded company that is going to reward demanding, unreasonable and rude behavior. Examples of this are clients who are constantly late, don’t show or cancel at the last minute, as well as guests who are consistently trying to manipulate salon incentives to benefit themselves or who constantly negotiate pricing. And, clients who are never happy with the final result, but who refuse to participate in a proper consultation. When clients are rude, I get involved right away. Blo is an extension of my home, and they are invited to my home. We let them know we aren’t the right fit for their needs.