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Difficult Clients

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

About the author:

LeeAnn Miley is a salon owner based in Hastings, Nebraska, and the President and Executive Director of The Sovereign Stylist. Her personal experiences led her to advocate and educate stylists on proper worker classification. LeeAnn’s blogs are typically focused on tax compliance, worker classification, and general business practices. LeeAnn believes that laws and business are powerful entities when one has knowledge of them and has dedicated herself to spreading such knowledge to the industry she loves.

"Our industry is built on loyalty and customer satisfaction. Difficult clients should be handled with a vigilant, professional approach."

You are not going to please every client, this is the customer service industry and we work with people of all sorts. Some clients come with a sense of entitlement and disregard to our profession. The following are examples of difficult situations and how to deal with them.

Children in the salon:

This can be a touchy situation. No one wants to tell another how to parent their child, much less be the one told how.

Try approaching unattended kids in the salon by posting a sign that says children are welcome ONLY when receiving services. This says that you don’t hate kids, we just don’t want them hanging around.

When asked why you have the policy always explain that it is a safety issue.

Habitually Late Clients:

First try explaining, politely, that you have other clients and when one person is late for their appointment it causes you to run behind for other appointments.

Now, mind you, a lot of the time these people have a total disregard for time and lack respect for the time of others. They aren’t going to care about you running behind and will probably see it as your problem, not theirs.

You can try scheduling them 15 minutes before the actual time you can take them. Personally, if a client is 15 minutes late, I reachedule them. This shows that your time is important.

If you have repeat offenders tell them that you will take them strictly on a walk-in basis only.

No Call/No Show & Late Cancellations:

This is where every stylist & salon needs to have a concrete policy in place and follow it. This policy needs to be posted everywhere, so that clients are aware of it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule it to post weekly on your business social media outlets

  • Print it off and put it in a fancy frame on your station

  • Set it to print out on your receipts & invoices

  • Add it to your website

  • Remind your clients after they make EVERY appointment

I believe in giving everyone a free pass. Life happens, things come up and appointments are forgotten. If it happens again here are some ideas of what other stylist do:

  • Require a deposit- This can be invoices to the client via email using Square, PayPal Business or QuickBooks. When a client shows up for their appointment, simply subtract the amount from their ticket total. If they don’t show up, or cancel again, send them a receipt for the deposit which you will be keeping.

  • Credit card on file- The majority of stylists and salons use some sort of software system which allows you to do this. I do NOT recommend this method unless you do. Writing credit card information on index cards & physically filing it away is a huge liability.

If the client doesn’t show up or cancels again, send them a receipt for the agreed upon amount you discussed beforehand.

In an interview, a Square customer service supervisor recommends charging a flat fee versus a percentage of service. He said that a lot of times these charges are disputed and more often than not, when a percentage is charged, the stylist has lost the chargeback dispute.

  • Rebooking fee- If a client does not show up for an appointment or cancels late, charge them a fee to get back on your appointment book.

Simply invoice them a fee via email like discussed before, once they have paid the fee, you can put them on your schedule.

Reminder, this is a fee, not a deposit toward services.

Doesn’t like their cut/style/color

Stay calm and be patient, this happens to all stylist. As long as you’ve done your best, which you should always strive for, you shouldn’t worry.

This is they type of issue that can be avoided by making sure your consultation is on point. Gently remind them that you did exactly what was agreed upon during the consultation. Try to get the client to explain what they don’t like about the style. Remember that constructive criticism will only make you a better stylist.


Wedding parties can be a huge money maker for stylist, but also come with a huge headache. This is where a good wedding contract comes in handy which all brides must sign.

Here are some things a wedding contract should address:

  • What services each bridal party member is receiving

  • Deposit requirements

  • No Shows or cancellations

  • What will happen if a bridal party member doesn’t like their hair

  • Services, including gratuities have to be paid in full 30 days before event

When brides see a contract they see that you take your business very seriously and that they will be taken care of.

Price Gougers:

Chances are you’ve had clients complain about your prices. Your first reaction as a stylist would be to get offended, but sometimes, clients think this way because of preconceived notions about the industry and the value of your services.

Before you get in a huff, take the time to uncover why they feel this way, sometimes it can save you a potential headache client. Negotiating is not a bad thing, after all, some clients just do business this way, but there may be hidden meanings to what they actually mean when they accuse you of high prices.

Your client sees value as two things:

  • It’s a great price, when the value is higher than the fee.

  • It’s too expensive, when the fee outweighs the potential value.

If you’re charging a premium price for your services, you better be offering a better-than-average result. While you want to make as much money as possible, you have to charge what is appropriate for the value of your service.

After all, your potential client can always go to Google and find 20 stylists that are a cheaper alternative, in a few minutes. If you never have clients tell you that you’re too expensive, you’re probably not charging enough.

Never lower your rate immediately after hearing “you’re too expensive” from anyone. If you offer a lower discount rate, they will automatically think they can negotiate an even better price by pushing you harder. If anything, hear what they have to say about why they believe your prices are too high. Take the time to uncover the real reason why they are apprehensive towards your rate.

Ask them what their budget is & what they can afford and try to come up with a happy medium.


Creating policies is one matter; enforcing them is another. Don’t apologize for having policies, apologize if someone is upset, but not for the policy itself. Stress that the policy is for the well-being of your business environment. When worded this way instead of as a reprimand, people are generally more willing to accept the message.

In general, I recommend a firm, straightforward approach. Look clients straight in the eye, and be kind. And, no matter how tempting it is, refrain from going into the back room after the interaction and unloading in front of staffers.

Be Prepared to lose some clients

Sometimes, no matter how diplomatic you are, not everyone is going to understand your reasoning. Be prepared to lose clients. The stylist & salon owners interviewed for this article, all said they would rather lose a client or two if the cause is for the better of the majority of their clients.


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