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It’s not you, it's me. Well, actually, it’s kind of both of us.

The relationship between a hairstylist and their client is a lot like a romantic relationship. That may sound crazy to hear, but let us explain. Both relationships take trust, commitment, and follow-through. They both typically flourish with solid communication, similar availability, and common goals. If you remove one of these elements the relationship isn’t as strong and one, or both partners, may feel unsatisfied. So, what happens when two parties aren’t aligning and conflict persists? Do we hold on for dear life or do we take the plunge and admit when it’s just not working?

In the early years of a hairstylist’s career there is an agency to fill your books, make money and be busy, busy, busy. We go above and beyond to make every client happy, even those that may never be. We book redos when we did a great job, we let last-minute cancellations slide and we negotiate our pricing to fill our chair.

As time passes, our skills improve, and our books fill, we raise our prices to reflect those changes. Some of us specialize and others move to salons more their speed. This inevitable growth comes with so many benefits, but also a few challenges. What happens when our clients don’t grow with us? Maybe our aesthetic doesn’t meet theirs, maybe our pricing doesn’t fit within their budget, or maybe we never really vibed in the first place. Whatever your reason for moving on may be, try this formula for transitioning on from a client who may not be the right fit.

 

Some of you may know this as the ‘sandwich’ method, we like to call it a ‘highlight/lowlight/highlight’. But guess what? It works. Will some still get upset? OF COURSE, but one flustered moment is better than a lifetime of angst-filled appointments. 

 

Most importantly, do not argue back. You made your point and at most you can follow up with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  Know your worth and live your truth. When you feel happy, excited, and positive about work and your clients you will attract more happy, excited, and positive clients. You deserve your full rate and appreciative clients who respect your time and knowledge … and every client deserves a hairstylist who truly ‘gets them’.

  1. Write them a thank you. It seems simple, but it turns out our parental figures were right. A nicely worded thank you goes a long way! If they are a new client who you can already tell won’t be a good fit then thank them for contacting you. If they are an existing client, thank them for their loyalty and patronage. Depending on their generation, decide if text, DM, email, or handwritten note is best. But personally, we recommend something you can screenshot.
  2. Place the decision on you, not them. Use ‘I’ statements. This shifts any blame and makes a person feel less defensive. For example.

    “I will not be able to complete your color correction within that price range.”

    “I do not seem to be able to accomplish your goal in a single appointment without a redo.”

    “I have had to raise my prices due to my overhead.”

    “I am not currently able to do house calls.”

    “I can no longer take last-minute cancellations and will need a nonrefundable deposit to book in the future.”

    “I want you to truly love your hair and I don’t believe I am able to do that for you.”

  3. Wish them the best. Suggest another salon (if you feel comfortable), and thank them again.

 

Some of you may know this as the ‘sandwich’ method, we like to call it a ‘highlight/lowlight/highlight’. But guess what? It works. Will some still get upset? OF COURSE, but one flustered moment is better than a lifetime of angst-filled appointments. 

Most importantly, do not argue back. You made your point and at most, you can follow up with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  Know your worth and live your truth. When you feel happy, excited, and positive about work and your clients you will attract more happy, excited, and positive clients. You deserve your full rate and appreciative clients who respect your time and knowledge … and every client deserves a hairstylist who truly ‘gets them’.

 

Written by: Nicoletta