As a stylist, it’s important to prioritize your well-being and the well-being of your business. This means pursuing a positive headspace, protecting your positive workspace and providing a positive experience for the clients who make this possible.
Unfortunately, some clients and professional relationships will interfere with your headspace, workspace or ability to deliver an optimal experience. When this is the case, ending the relationship may be the best thing that you can do for yourself, for the business and for the client alike. And while this may be easier said than done, we have some simple steps that you can take to ensure any confrontation is just as positive as everything else you’re aiming for!
1. Evaluate the Relationship Honestly
Evaluate the relationship and ensure you truly understand what’s making it not work and why you want to end it. This will make it a lot easier to have a conversation with the client, as well as avoid having to have these conversations in the future. After all, understanding what didn’t work will help you understand what DOES work and what to look for in a client! The following types of demands and interactions tend to drain most people of their energy and can ultimately lead to hairstylist burnout, so evaluate the relationship and identify pain points like those listed below.
Poor communication can lead to a bad relationship, as well as potentially harmful effects on your reputation! If a client can’t communicate their desired results, for instance, and is unhappy with the result, your reputation will suffer as much as their aesthetic!
Disrespectful behavior from a client can create an unhealthy work environment for you as a stylist and even have an impact on your mental health after the workday is done.
Unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved with their hair can lead to disappointment, frustration and even bad reviews.
Consistent disregard for your schedule can create scheduling issues and impact your ability as a stylist to serve other clients.
Differences in personality (whether it be something like a clear clash of communication styles or simply not feeling comfortable with each other) can lead to bad word of mouth, appointments that feel like they drag on forever and even anxiety or dread whenever you see certain names in your appointment book.
One of the best things that you can do before a hard or complex conversation is to write out any key points that you want to express. To do this, we suggest writing an actual email or letter to them (that doesn’t actually get sent) to communicate the issues. We suggest this because while a point form list will be easier to remember your key points from, writing an actual letter will help you dive a little bit deeper, as well as help you keep your composure during the conversation. Read it a few times over, and imagine saying it to the client.
3. Don’t Braid Blame Into the Conversation
Try to avoid blaming the client or getting emotional during the conversation. Instead, take a professional approach and try to express the issues in a way that frames the two of you being on the same “side.” For example, instead of telling the client that their communication style doesn’t mesh with yours (ultimately placing the blame on them), put the two of you in this predicament together and tell them that you have “noticed that we’ve had some communication issues that are making it difficult for us to nail the looks you want (and deserve!). I think it would be best if we found an alternative stylist for you who can better meet your needs.”
4. Be Strong and Stand Your Ground
Some clients may respond by asking you (or arguing with you) to change your mind. While this can make the process feel a little or a lot harder, it’s important to remember in these moments what you want your business to look like. You want to be excited each day and inspired by each appointment. Not only that, but you want to stand behind the work you’re doing, all the hair supply store products you use and the rules of your salon.
Anticipate, and try to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to scheduling a final appointment. Remember that the client may not have realized that there was an issue with the relationship and may be relying on you for an important event or occasion.
From here, consider offering a referral to another stylist who may be a better fit. This shows that you have good intentions and that you’re still invested in the client’s satisfaction and well-being, and can help to minimize any negative impact on your reputation. After all, this is a fresh start and a good opportunity for both of you to find the best stylist-client relationships you can!