Ask the Experts: The Best Way to “Fire” a Bad Client?
Whatâs the best way to âfireâ a bad client?
âIâve have had to âfireâ clients,â says Adam Broderick, owner of the two Adam Broderick Salons and Spas in and around Ridgefield, Connecticut, âbut itâs not so easy. The emotional cost to the salon owner and stylist is huge. Itâs disturbing and heart-wrenching every time.â
Your first step, Broderick says, is to figure out if you can save the relationship. For the chronic canceller, for instance, âThe computer really helps to separate fact from fiction. Itâs easy to document the cancellations or tardiness, and we can call her and let her know that we will only accept her appointment if she leaves her credit card, which will be charged 50 percent if she doesnât show up.â
Dealing with the client who is abusive and complains persistently about the quality of work, yet returns to demand constant do-overs requires some empathy. âWhat you have to realize is that many clients are reacting to fear,â says Broderick. âThey are afraid they donât look their best and want to blame someone. Unfortunately, that someone is often behind the chair.â
When it gets to the point when you just want it to be over, âIâve found that the best thing to say is, âMaybe we arenât such a good match anymore,ââ says Broderick. âSaying it this way also gives her an out, which is often the best way to handle the confrontational or unreasonable client.â The goal is to be non-aggressive and to soften the blow.
Of course, there are those people that are outright hostile. âI had a client that was so abusive I had to ask her to leave,â Broderick recalls. âShe refused. When I told her I was going to call the police, she said, âGo ahead.â When I called her bluff and picked up the phone, she finally left.â
After the clientâs exit, Broderick realized he had to get right back on his feet and not let the disturbance affect his staff and the clients who witnessed it. âBottom line, I have a business to run.â
The key, he says, is to anticipate as many situations as possible. âCommunication is most important. We all know there are clients that are unreasonable. As you become more skilled and have more experiences, you learn to read between the lines.
âThe upside is that for every client that doesnât work out, we have thousands of success stories...the wonderful transformations and the great friendships that develop with our clients. Interestingly, even those that seem like theyâre not going to work out sometimes turn out to be the best!â