How to Fire a Client
This topic is a bit touchy. Many of us may have fired clients before, or have always wanted to, but struggle with having that uncomfortable conversation and don’t know how to begin or what to say.
What makes a bad client?
First, it may be time to fire a client if they are consistently disrespectful. Everyone has bad days from time to time, but you know there are also the clients that seem to be having a bad day every day. It’s a little difficult for me to think of a personal example, and I think that’s because I have a very strong personality and people know not to treat me poorly. But I have had other Stylists who are more timid and loving, whom clients seem to consistently take advantage of and be disrespectful to.
They might say rude things about the stylist when others are around. For example, “The last time was just awful, my hair did not look good.” They go out of their way to put others down. Besides the attitude, they’re often the people who don’t really respect your time. For example, the clients who are always canceling or rescheduling and who assume that you’ll automatically come in whenever they need you. You might also have clients that don’t reschedule regularly, but get upset with you when you can’t schedule around their very particular schedule. I know plenty of Stylists who will do anything for their clients, but that is not a good give and take relationship. You deserve respect just as much as they do.
There are also the clients who consistently return the products you recommended. We had a woman who came to our salon, who would always buy products, try them out, and then return them. It was getting to the point where she’d try to return products she’d been using for five months, which was ridiculous. Eventually, I looked at her purchasing history and noticed her pattern and told her that since the products didn’t seem to be a good fit for her, my team didn’t feel comfortable selling her products any longer and we discontinued that service for her. She replied angrily, and it was definitely not a comfortable conversation.
But you really need to decide if it’s worth the effort to continue with a frustrating client when you could be focusing on all of your other amazing clients. There are just some clients who may need to be fired, because they’re never satisfied or they have a bad attitude.
Most of this can be prevented if your consultations are precise and confident. Consider having consultations as an entire salon, so that you’ll all be on the same page and there is no lack of clarity for the expectations of each visit.
But if you’re really struggling, it may be time to break up with the clients who are disrespectful, always canceling, always returning products, and never happy with their results.
Identify and Categorize Types of Clients
I’ll use A, B, C, and D as our example clients. “A” clients are the ones who totally love you, the experience, everyone there, and your products, and they’re probably the ones that set up a full year of appointments in advance. They trust you and get you tons of referrals.
Your “B” clients are consistent. They continually re-book and buy products here and there. They’re awesome to work with and you’re always excited to see them. They’re cordial and easy to get along with. They may not be buying as often, but they’re still involved and they’re generally great clients.
The “C” clients are the ones that visit two or three times per year and don’t often buy products from you. They don’t usually rebook, but they probably tell you that they might book again. They’re the clients who you enjoy during their appointments, but you haven’t really been able to build an intimate relationship with. You’re not thinking about them all the time, but they do fill in the blanks of your schedule.
Finally, your “D” clients are the ones who are never on time, always reschedule, return products, are never happy, aren’t friendly, and make everyone unhappy when they’re around.
What if you were to completely let go of all the D clients? What would happen? I believe you’d then have more time and energy to give to your A, B, and C clients. I’d recommend putting 80% of your time and energy into your A clients, because they buy everything and refer everyone. They are the best possible clients, so they deserve the majority of your time. B clients should also get your time because you may be able to turn them into A clients. Therefore, 15% of your time should go to B clients, and that last 5% should go into your C clients.
But that really means you have to get rid of the D clients, because they take away the opportunity for you to book more A and B clients.
Be Assertive and Make the Tough Decisions
Try making a list and categorizing all of your clients. Then communicate with your D clients, via email, on the phone, or face to face. It’s always nice to meet in person, but they might not respect your time enough for that to be a good option for you.
You have the right to be assertive. I strongly suggest that you stand up for your rights without infringing on the rights of others. I realize that some of you put up with the D clients because you need the customers and don’t have enough. I encourage you to make the right decision for you, whatever that may be.
But ideally, you want to have a solid clientele, so you can avoid putting up with the people who aren’t making you feel great about your job.
Remember that you may lose a little bit of money by getting rid of your D clients, but you should focus on how you’ll be able to replace those clients--with better clients, or other productive work.
When it’s time to let them go, an email could say something like this, “Hi [name here], I’m writing to let you know that I am no longer going to be able to take care of your services. I wish you the very best. Take care.”
It doesn’t have to be a big defensive argument. Just be honest and let them know that you don’t think it’s the right fit. Some clients might get angry, but at least you won’t have to deal with their consistent negativity in your business anymore.
Your best clients deserve more of your time. I understand that this can be uncomfortable, but think of it this way: you’re saying “no” to the bad clients, so that you can say “yes” to the amazing clients!
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