Identifying and Dealing with Sucky Clients

by Pam Stellema

in Customer Management

Identifying and Dealing with Sucky Salon Spa Clients

Every salon owner has them…sucky clients!

They make everyone’s life a misery with their poor attitude and lack of respect for your salon.  They make you feel like you say and do everything wrong but still, they keep coming back.  The dilemma lies in what to do with them.  Do you live by the old adage, “The customer is always right”, or do you pull up your big girl’s panties and move them along?  Well, that’s pretty much determined by your tolerance level and their level of misbehaviour.

Let’s take a look at what makes a sucky client and whether or not they’re worth keeping in your salon.

Sucky Client #1 – The Complainer.

You know which clients are the complainers – there’s always one or two in every salon.  They are the ones that find fault with at least one thing, or sometimes more, at every visit.  The air conditioning is too cold, they are too hot under the covers, your massage is too heavy or too light, the waxing is more painful than usual, the new price increase is outrageous, they don’t like the new aromatherapy candles you’re burning, the lights are too dim/bright for them, they preferred your hair when it was the other colour, and so on and so on.

This client is truly a pain in the butt but is generally very loyal to your salon.  You feel like inviting them to try the salon down the road (your main competitor) every time they are in, but generally, they spend reasonably well and are pretty regular.  So what do you do?  My advice is to grow a slightly thicker skin, understand the problem lies with the client and not your salon and just suck it up.  These people just don’t feel happy unless they can find something to complain about, but while they are spending on a regular basis in your salon, just learn to expect the odd complaint, smile sweetly and take their money.  Deep down, they really love you!

Sucky Client #2 – The Always Late Client.

The one good thing you can say about these clients is that they are consistent – consistently late!

It really doesn’t matter how many times you remind them that they need to arrive on time, they just can’t get their act together.  But the one thing you should remember is that it’s not just your salon that they run late at.  It’s everyone they make appointments with.  They drive you to distraction because you know for sure that no matter what time you book them in for, they’re going to be 10 to 15 minutes late for their appointment and that’s really going to throw out your schedule.

So, what do you do?  It’s simple really…you just book them in 15 minutes later than you tell them you have.  This way when they turn up 15 min later than they think they should have arrived, they’ll actually be on time and everyone will be happy.  You haven’t been kept waiting, your next client won’t be kept waiting and everything will still run on time.  If your always late client does happen to turn up on time, then she gets to wait the additional 15 min and she will either have to accept this or move on to the next salon.  Don’t let these clients ruin your day or put you out, play their time game and come out on top.

Sucky Client #3 – The No Show Client

These clients are my least favourite clients.  While it’s important to remember that everyone forgets an appointment at one time or another, these clients make a habit of not turning up with no or almost no advance notice, and then they ring up and ask to make another appointment like nothing’s happened.

These are the suckiest clients of the lot and can’t be tolerated under any circumstances.  They cost your business a great deal of money and add stress to your life as well.

The solution first and foremost is to make sure you have a clearly worded cancellation policy for your salon.  Put it everywhere – website, cards, service menu, promotions and in your reception area.  Not showing up for an appointment must have a consequence otherwise your clients don’t think you really mind.  You may wish to ask for payment in full or part for the missed appointment, or even decide to ask for non-refundable advance payments in the future.  Your no-show client won’t like this one little bit and will, in most cases, not return to your salon.

Is this a problem for you?

Well, it does mean that you have lost a paying client and that’s not a good thing, however, these clients generally cost you more than they make you and are better set free.  They generally cause enormous stress and angst because of their disrespectful behaviour and are simply not worth keeping.

At the end of the day, there will always be sucky clients.  It’s just life and business.  The one thing you must remember is that they generally make up a tiny percentage of your entire database. and therefore you mustn’t let their behaviour influence the way you treat the rest of your clients.  This would be a major business mistake.

And if you find that you are experiencing a bigger percentage of sucky clients than most, then perhaps you need to look at yourself.  Clients will continue to behave badly if you tolerate it and do nothing about it.  Perhaps it’s time to review how you handle these clients and start showing yourself and your staff the respect you both deserve.  Until you respect your business, your clients won’t either.

Oh, and on the topic of sucky clients…don’t be one yourself!

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Pam Stellema

Pam is an industry experienced coach, salon owner, speaker, author and copywriter.She works beside salon and spa owners to show them how to effectively grow their profits and remain in business for the long-term.
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