Let’s talk about a real fact that every hairstylist will face. No matter who you are, how good your styling abilities are, no matter how accommodating you try to be, if you stay in this industry long enough, you will lose customers. It’s just the way it is. There is not always a rhyme or reason for the loss, but it is certainly a fact. Clients come, and clients go. So, the question is–how do we handle it?
Over the years I have managed this in different ways, and my understanding of how to handle client or stylist separation has changed as I have grown in the industry. I had to truly learn how to process the loss. First, I had to understand, although admittedly it took me some time, it was not always my fault or something I did wrong. Sometimes we form strong bonds with our clients, and we become somewhat hurt when they decide to leave us. Sometimes our clients become true friends, and not only do they stop coming as clients, they also end the friendship. Please realize that sometimes clients simply don’t want to be joined at the hip. They treat our services as if it were restaurant week–they want to try all the vendors at a discount price. Whatever the reasons, it is important for stylists to maintain their good graces and take it with ease; after all it is truly part of the experience. The clients who are in your rotation right now will not be there forever! For some, that’s great news if we are being completely honest. Not everyone who sits in your chair is the most desirable of clients in the first place, and you may be more than happy when their cycle of time runs out. After all, not all personalities mesh well in a relationship. Best to separate before things get a little complicated.
Sometimes people have a few favorite hairstylists, and they want to enjoy the best of both or even the best of three worlds; and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. The client may have a braider, a weave specialist, a traditional hairstylist and whomever else. Many of my clients see me seasonally; I may see them only in the summer months. I have had clients over the years that have come to me for years, go somewhere else, and then ask to come back. I have had some leave after years and never come back. I have had clients that I had to simply tell them that I did not think it was a good fit, and I would not be able to do their hair. At times, I referred them to someone else I felt would be more accommodating to their needs. Either way, nothing is etched in stone that says clients and stylists will relate well and go the distance. At the end of the day these are business decisions on both ends—yours and the clients.
Again, I ask the question–how will you deal with it when it is time to say goodbye? The one thing you must understand is that if clients do not come and go, you will not be able to make room for new clients and new experiences. Imagine getting locked into the same old routine of hairstyling with the same customers repeatedly—day in, day out. You would not be challenged, and there wouldn’t be much room for growth. New clients bring about new experiences. As stylists we sometimes get bored doing the same thing; as clients they sometimes get bored and want a change. The most important thing is to keep your A-Game. Do not lose a client because you didn’t put your best foot forward. If you do lose a client because you didn’t do your best, then learn from that and move forward. From that time on, lose a client because the time has simply come–it is over. At least you know that you did your best, and sent them on with your blessings. Don’t do what I used to do–get sad and rack my brain to figure out what I did wrong. Now I respect that it’s just business. Nothing lasts forever. I was compensated monetarily for my services and the time shared with my client. Remember clients come and go but your talent and skills last forever. You will always have a client if you love what you do and have the talent to back it up.
At the end of the day, keep it business first; think of it as a service that you render and get paid for and that’s even if it is a family member or friend you knew before starting your stylist career. You and your client may have good conversations and sometimes share personal stories, but you are getting paid for a service and your time. It is not a social gathering even though that sometimes happens along the way. Don’t let it get a little tricky. For many years I didn’t believe in client/stylist friendship, for me it was either-or. I was young and inexperienced and didn’t know how to create balance between the two. You must assess your own personality and see what does or does not work for you. As I have evolved I still set boundaries, even though I do have long term clients that have become like family to me. A few have even stopped coming to me regularly and have found other stylists, yet we still have a familial relationship. I do not compromise my prices, my professionalism or level of service because of the relationship. Even though the relationship is close, I still understand that the professional relationship has its place and that is “first.” All that said, remember, neither is guaranteed to last forever.
What I am relaying in this blog has helped me to not grieve the loss of a client—it’s quite alright. My client received a service, and I was compensated for the time we spent together. Now a space is created for new clients and new experiences. If you do your best work and stay innovative, you can be relieved of the pressure of what you may have done wrong. If you stay in demand, someone will be happy to take that vacant spot. Your talent will always keep you working. Whether your clients are walk-ins or if they become long-term friends or are family, give your best service as though each time is the last time; and you will never feel sad or guilty about them moving on. Seek more of the services you enjoy doing and not attaching a face or body to who should be sitting in your chair. Love what you do, not who you do. It is okay to be fond of your clients. I have met so many awesome people along the way, and it is all a part of this amazing human experience. But never become so attached that you can’t let them go–especially if you have done your best.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU CAN LOSE A CLIENT, AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU:
- They move out of town.
- They don’t have the income anymore.
- They make seasonal hairstyle choices.
- A family member or close friend can give them what they want to save money.
- They have time schedule restraints.
Sometimes the reason you lose clients have absolutely nothing to do with you; sometimes they do. Either way, keep your chin up and put your best foot forward. If you love it, the people will come! Out with the old and in with the new is the cycle of life.