Breaking Up with Clients Is Hard to Do

Have you ever had that client who you dread coming in? The client who treats you as if whatever you do isn’t good enough? Or how about the client who is always late, making the rest of your day off schedule because you are trying to catch up? We’ve all been there, and it isn’t easy. We are in the profession where we love to make our clients happy and want them to love their new look when they walk out, but I think I can safely say  we can’t make everyone happy. So how do we do it? How do we put our grown-up pants on and throw the axe to relieve us of the mental strain some of our guests might put on us? Here are some helpful tips you can use if you are looking to break up with that particular someone. 

Step #1: Talk to them in person. I know, it may seem a bit uncomfortable, but you’d be surprised how facial expressions and body language can help you in this departure. I had a client who we’ll call Suzy. She was a lovely person, but no matter what I did, she always had a complaint about her service. The color wasn’t bright enough, there wasn’t enough volume, the blow dry wasn’t just right, the water was either too hot or not hot enough—you name it,. I dreaded the Suzy train every time because I knew there was always something that she wouldn’t like, and it always brought down my day. The last straw was when she took the brush out of my hand when I was blow drying her. I finally said, “Suzy, I have been so appreciative of your company for the past 5 years, but I think it’s time I recommend you to a different stylist that may be able to suit your needs better than I can.” Sure, this came as a shock to her, but I stood my ground and made it known I’d had enough and it was time to break up.  

Step #2: Thank them. As much as this may pain you to do, thank them for their time and dedication to you. For example, I finally said, “Thank you, Suzy, for your dedication to our appointments. I appreciate your time and the amazing conversations we have had. But as I stated, it is time we find you someone who can accommodate what you are looking for as I do not think I am the right fit.”  

Step #3: Let them know why. Always remember to keep it professional, even if you are frustrated in the heat of the moment. For example, “Suzy, I feel there is not any respect for my time. You have been coming in 15–30 minutes late every appointment. I understand you are busy, but I can no longer service you. Your tardiness affects the rest of my day because I have to play catch up with my other guests who arrive on time, and I can no longer accommodate your schedule. I understand this may be hard for you, but I have some recommendations for you that may be a better fit for your needs.”   

Step #4: Let them know how you feel. In this case, I said, “Suzy, I try my best every time to meet your needs and I feel like there is something that I cannot seem to get right. It makes me frustrated that I cannot accommodate your needs the way you would like, and I want you to be happy at the end of your service. This is why I will make recommendations for you to see another stylist.”  

Step #5: Stand firm.  A good example of this is the client who always bargains. Always wants a cheaper price, always says “it’s just a trim,” and doesn’t understand why 4 hours of work costs so much. In this scenario, I said, “Suzy, I charge the prices I do because they’re the set prices I have for my time, education, tools, and equipment. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a discount for the hours of work and supplies used.  I can, however, recommend a stylist or salon with a different price point that may be better suited for your needs.”   

Whatever your scenario or reasoning behind breaking up with a client may be, you’ll be happier for it in the long run. Although it may not be easy, it will free up your books to replace that client with one that you will enjoy having in your chair.  

Like articles like this or want to learn more about something else? Let us know!   

For more useful tools to help advance your career and knowledge, join AHP. We have education at your fingertips with our free online schedulingAHP Indie Stylist Magazine, Marketing Toolkits, and more!

Not a member? Join today and get access to all of the benefits we offer to support you and your career as a barber or cosmetologist.  

Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...