Working in the beauty industry means dealing with people, and let’s face it, not all people are for you. I have personally handled many difficult salon clients in my 28 years behind the chair.
Newer hair stylists and beauty professionals tend to get easily rattled by difficult clients and salon situations. Let’s detail the types of these less than desirable people and uncover coping strategies to try along the way!
If you feel we left difficult clients off this list, contact us with your story!
Have you had a difficult salon client tell you, “no one has ever done my hair right”? To me, this is the most difficult person to deal with, and trust me I’ve tried!
Chances are you won’t do it right, either. BUT there are exceptions to every rule…
Let’s say you have a curly haired client that has always just gone to quickie cut places, and now has the money to spend on quality services. This customer is the kind of exception that counts.
The red flags are there, it’s a matter of us seeing them. Things to watch for to spot difficult salon clients beforehand:
Giving a great consultation is the first place to prevent problems. If you don’t cover what they can expect, how much they will pay, what it takes to maintain their hairstyle or miscommunicate the time investment, the problems may be on you.
Service procedures and policies can easily be covered with signed agreements when they book their appointment. Have the client repeat what you have covered in the consultation, or just reiterate things that could potentially be an issue.
Outside of the socially awkward client, a rude client is tough to want to make feel and look beautiful. Jabs at your prices, unsolicited comments or advice on how to do your job all come off wrong.
Here’s what’s going on with these people: they have an unhappy life. Hurt people run around trying to feel better by hurting other people or being overly critical of others.
The best way to handle rude people? Don’t give the behavior any attention. Most of the time they will take the cue and carry on with other conversations.
One of my favorite people on this earth is consistently late. She is a dear friend and this is one of her only character flaws.
It’s not ok to be late, especially when it’s a pattern of behavior. BUT I started booking her at the end of my day, just because losing her as a client would have been worse than dealing with the lateness.
Then one day I squeezed a quick color in to process while I applied her color. Well, she was late and my client let her have it! She apologized profusely and took the fault on, even though this time she was running late due to car trouble.
My point is, setting strong boundaries is the best way to handle late customers. I never should have accommodated her and she would have respected me for doing so.
My last hairstylist did it this way… My color is always too yellow…It’s always cold in here…When are you going to be done?…This sure is taking a long time…My coffee is way too hot…You always cut my bangs too short…The traffic is terrible getting to this salon…Are you raising your prices again?
If you are in the beauty industry, I can guarantee you have heard several of these complaints. Complaining is also an indicator of an unhappy person, someone who is spoiled or has no control over their own life.
Get this in your head- these difficult hair clients are never happy and will drain the energy right out of your body. You can suggest a solution and they will complain more.
This is an impossible person to fix, either deal with their negativity or tell them you don’t feel comfortable that you can meet their expectations.
Keep it professional, suggest other things like a new hairdresser and make it about “your inability to satisfy their needs”.
Since this is closely related to complainers, the advice is similar. A customer who is negative about everything- their husband, their job, their house, the kids…
Scenarios like these are hard to hear. Sometimes, negative people just want to be heard. You quite possibly are the best part of their day!
If it’s within your abilities to absorb the negative energy, listen and nod your head and bring up topics that are hard to be negative about. Talking to these people just might result in making clients happy.
THIS client is the easiest to deal with of all difficult salon clients. When things happen that can impact other clients, you risk problems that can be prevented.
While I’ve never brought a dog into the salon, I have brought my kids. No, it’s not the most professional course of action but was out of need.
A great salon policy takes care of these difficult customers for you! Default to the salon owner on this or even possibly the landlord if you are in suites.
Make a consideration if necessary, but consulting with repeat offenders that bring anyone, (or animal), other than themselves to an appointment is against salon policy.
Loud people in general are head turners in close knit areas. Most loud customer complaints come from other clients, I have worked with high volume stylists too, and it’s the same deal.
Sure, it’s unpleasant but unless they are inappropriate, they are likely just happy to be in your business. There isn’t a ton you can do or say to quiet our clients who talk loudly, so this is one you may just have to deal with.
Body language can do the talking for you here, especially when it makes other clients unhappy. These such clients rarely have a clue to the volume they truly project.
By keeping the conversation very professional, you can limit oversharing. To me, it doesn’t matter if clients overshare, it’s a sign of a good relationship and trust.
For some, sharing too much gets awkward and uncomfortable. To deal with these overly open customers, just change the conversation or don’t react when they say things that are too colorful.
Yeowza, this is the worst! Working in a barbershop or men’s grooming lounge means you are more likely to experience this nasty part of salon service.
Not to say women can’t be inappropriate, it’s just MORE likely with male clientele and it’s happened to me. These clients clearly have no boundaries or respect.
The only option here is to not see them again and ban them from the salon. No stylist should have to be made to feel uncomfortable from perverts and sexual innuendos.
Ever get a difficult salon client who brings in photos of multiple, totally different hairstyles? Yeah, me too. These salon clients just need you to take the lead. The indecisive client lacks the confidence to make decisions.
Have patience, give them a little time to waffle around, and let them know a decision has to be made. YOU are the expert here, give your best tips and let them know you need to get started, in order to stay on time for other clients.
If you don’t feel comfortable performing the service, don’t! At the very least, do the same thing you did last time or just give them a light trim. The objective here is to have them pay you and send them out the door, happy- not to be their therapist.
Ever get more advice from a client on how to do their hair than you ever want or expected? THEY have the solution for literally everything because their sister or mom or bestie does hair.
These clients are usually the ones to ask for a refund. Or bash you to their friends. Or criticize a good service.
Knowing what to do here is a matter of how much you can put up with. In my experience, unless you knock it out of the park, this is not a long term client.
Stay calm with these difficult hair clients, explain your level of expertise in their service request, (briefly), and listen. Most of the time they just want to be heard and they will like your service. If they don’t love it, they will move on to another hairdresser.
There’s nothing like messing up or making a client unhappy to ruin your day! It happens to everyone, and this is just one of those aspects of doing business in the industry.
Before you offer a refund, try to make it right. The best thing you can do is offer a solution and allow the client to come to the decision.
Do not over apologize unless something happens that’s out of your control. Try to make it right, get paid and if there is a lesson to be learned, learn it.
Mistakes happen. Things go wrong that are out of your control. You can’t make every hair customer happy. Concentrate on the clients you do make happy and accept this is just part of a career in hair.
Complaints and bad reviews are just part of the business. Most of the time, you won’t hear a complaint, the client just simply won’t come back.
If you got a bad review online without a complaint this warrants a well thought out response. One of my favorites is the response salon owner Jo gave to a ridiculous client situation, pictured below.
Be kind when responding to customer complaints and bad reviews. Offer a solution and don’t get nasty. Hold your head high and learn from every bad salon experience you have.
The longer you are in the business, the more savvy you will get when handling difficult clients and situations.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention these inconvenient client traits.
Oh my, you are so important that you need to chat with your mom, friend, cousin or whoever on the phone while I’m trying to work on your hair! Seriously, this is irritating but not a reason to sound the alarm unless it goes on too long.
If you can’t get access to their hair, stop what you are doing, stand there and wait. They will figure it out or possibly tell you to keep going. It’s up to you to decide if pushing this issue is important or taking a break from talking is better.
I feel like I had SO MANY clients like this. I would ask for them to hold their head still, nothing changed.
Even pointing their head in the right direction, (somewhat forcefully), didn’t send the message, long term. The only thing I found that worked was letting them know I may draw blood if they moved their head.
Complaining about price or being overly price conscious is not a good thing. There are plenty of salons, coupons and unlicensed stylists to help these clients.
Pricing should be clear and easy to understand. Give easy access to anyone and everyone who is even the slightest bit price concerned.
A good consultation, prior to performing the service should minimize these penny pinching customer complaints.
Dealing with difficult customers is part of doing hair. I hope you found this blog to be informative, entertaining and a relief to salon client stress!
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Yours in service,