About the author:
LeeAnn Miley is the President and Executive Director of The Sovereign Stylist. Her personal experiences as a stylist and salon owner in central Nebraska, led her to educate stylists and salon owners on the legalities surrounding worker classification. LeeAnn’s blogs are typically focused on the rights of beauty industry professionals and general business practices. LeeAnn believes that laws and business are powerful entities when one has knowledge of them. She has dedicated herself to spreading knowledge to the industry she loves.
Hairstylists suck at setting boundaries. We've all seen the client horror stories. From the client that texts the stylist all night to the client that consistently forgets to bring their credit card. Knowing how to set boundaries with clients is the key to having a positive vs. negative career behind the chair. It's critical to find enough of the right clients and create loyalty between you and those high-quality clients that make doing your work a joy!
Why Is It Important to Set Boundaries With Clients?
As a beauty professional, whether a suite owner, booth renter, or employee, it is essential to know how to hold your own. There is a happy medium between being a pushover and ensuring your clients will book again in 6 weeks, which can be hard to find. Sometimes stylists allow problematic behavior to continue for fear of upsetting or losing the client. Unfortunately, this precedent can lead to more significant problems.
This article will give insights into establishing healthy boundaries with clients, which ultimately can be the difference. First, let's show why it is crucial to set boundaries. Chances are, depending on how long you've been in the business, you've experienced a few rogue clients, but once you get those first few under your belt, you've conditioned yourself to learn from those situations no matter how traumatizing they were. Lousy clients here and there actually can make you a better business person because, with each one, you learn your limits, condition yourself to look for red flags, and establish protocols to stay away from them. Most importantly, you'll also know why setting boundaries is important because stress, anxiety, headache, and reduced profitability aren't worth it.
So, what exactly do I mean by “boundaries” anyway?
We often forget that you and your client work together; you’re not working for them. Boundaries are how you protect your time, investments, licensure, blood, sweat, and tears...most importantly, your sanity, from clients who bully their way into getting what they want. To set clear-cut boundaries, you must first remember why you got into this industry, to begin with. Most of us want to bring beauty into the world. When you allow clients to walk all over you, you will enable them to show their ugly side, which means more work to bring out the beauty.
To set the tone for your relationship with the client, you’ll need to make the client aware of your boundaries from the start. Then, depending on the boundary, you can let them in on your policy, for instance, on your webpage, a contract, or by creating an onboarding process.
Examples of Boundaries to Set:
Respect your own time. Set your business hours and stick to them. Clients need to adjust their schedules. Be selective about going outside your regularly established operating hours and charge a convenience fee for your time.
Stay in control of every situation. Whether it’s texting back and forth to set up a client’s appointment, consulting at the actual appointment, or wrapping things up after the final touch of hairspray, YOU are the professional. YOU are the one who is in control of this relationship. Communicate clearly and give ample opportunities for the client to ask for further clarification. Sometimes clients need a reminder that they are coming to you for your services. You have something they want; it can be uncomfortable to remind them of this; however, they might need a firm reminder.
Say NO and mean it. This is a difficult skill to master in life, not just in your salon business. Learn to say no to clients who take up too much time and energy to make room for those who respect your craft. Another time to learn to say no is when conversations with clients in your chair become too personal or inappropriate.
Be done with guilt. A client who doesn’t like your boundaries may use manipulation or guilt to change them, and a different stylist may better serve those clients.
Don’t feel bad for setting or enforcing your boundaries. Your professionalism establishes you, the beauty professional, as a business owner who takes pride in the relationships they build with their clients. A relationship built on mutual respect builds trust and sets your business up for success.