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Dealing With Difficult Clients

You’ve made big sacrifices. You’ve weathered many financial storms. Your business is no longer just surviving but it’s seriously thriving. You’re feeling pretty darn good about your success because you’ve worked your tail off to get there. If you’re booked solid and business is booming, you’ve officially earned the right to pick and choose your clients. One of the biggest obstacles is recognizing which clients to keep and which ones to cut. It’s your business and you get to choose to work with the good ones. This is your work space and you get to choose who gets invited to participate in it. For the very health of your business, you want to stack your books with the clients who appreciate you, value your work and bring out the best in you. And for the exact same reasons, you want to prune back the clients that don’t.

Obviously, you are not going to be able to bond with everyone, 100% of the time. Each relationship you have in your life (your partner, your parents, your kids, your friends) can be both wonderful and complicated. The relationship between a nail tech and a client is no exception. However strong the urge, you just can’t hide from difficult clients. You have to find a way to deal with them directly in a tactful way and find some common ground. The nail business is a service industry, right? Every day when a client walks through the door, you have no idea what kind of mood or personalities you’ll encounter. Do not expect to have perfect robot clients with perfect personalities; unless you are secretly a robot without feelings, too. Everyone has a bad day, the nail pro included.

A difficult client is someone who exhibits an EXTREME and CONTINUOUS disregard for your CLEARLY STATED salon policies. Is this person always critical of my work? Is this person always late? Does this person have difficulty paying? Does this person always cancel at the last minute? Is this person an emotional vampire that always causes you anxiety? Would you consider paying this client, out of your own pocket, just to stay away? Just a few things to think about.

CAUTION: As a courtesy, use a sign that states your salon policies and when you confirm the appointment gently remind them of those policies. You must clearly communicate and directly address your client with your expectations. This should be done face to face or over the phone (no matter how obvious it might seem to you). Once you have had that hard conversation, now you can officially move them into the “difficult client” category. Then and only then, can you start sharpening the blades and cut that insanity out of your life.

Because we tend to share a lot of ourselves on social media, a lot of nail pros might fall into the trap of thinking we should be able to put certain clients on blast for bad behavior. Please don’t. When you feel your fingertips flying and tapping out some venom; please put your phone down immediately. Walk away. Take a breather. Become aware that someone else’s bad behavior has gotten the best of you. Their nasty behavior has literally invaded your brain and your one job right this moment is to fend it off. Stop it in its tracks. If you want the upper hand, do not reward their bad behavior with your own bad behavior. It can affect the way your clients see you and cause them to question your professionalism. Trust us, it’s not a good look on you and it’s horrible for business.

Once you’ve identified a difficult client who gives you nothing but disrespect; get ready to let that client go. As satisfying as it would be set the client on fire with verbal abuse, we ask that you take a different approach. The goal is freedom from this toxic relationship and the best way out is with a calm and emotionless breakup conversation.
The conversation is the breaking point. It is your one time warning. If you’ve found yourself here, things have gone down and it’s not a one off. It is a consistent problem.

“I just want to have a conversation with you really quickly. I’ve asked you many times to be respectful of my time. It seems like you’re not happy with my work. Is there a problem?”

“I know that you’re aware of my lateness/cancellation/fill in the blank policy. I really have to let you know that I have a firm policy. Two missed appointments over three months and I will not rebook you. I need you to be on time. It’s stressful and it’s not fair to me or to my other clients. I have respect for your time and I’m on time for you when I come in. I just want to make sure we’re clear. I’ve had to have this conversation with a few other clients, too. It’s for everyone.”

So if that same client shows up again and is late. The relationship would be over officially over, even if they ask for a second chance. The only appropriate answer is no; assuming you’ve given them many second chances already. At the 10 minute mark, you should be on the phone and let them know their appointment is cancelled. Moving forward, you will not be able to take them. Something you could say, “I’ve really appreciated working with you. I think you would be happier to go to place that can accommodate your schedule better. I’m sad that it didn’t work out here. ”

For the constant complainer, the script can look like this: “I don’t feel like you’re happy with my nails. You complained during the entire service and when you came back.” Sometimes that is all a difficult client needs to be put back on the right track. A well-timed conversation can actually stop a behavior. It happens but don’t count on it.

Before you burn any bridges, it’s good to understand that your business can go away just like that.
Over here at YN, we operate on 25% out of fear and 75% passion and curiosity. Never take it for granted. It takes one small stupid thing and all of it can go away.

**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “TBT Dealing with Difficult Clients”. Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full interview here: