How To Talk About Cheating

It's tough to give a guest your time, energy and expertise, just to find out later that she's used box color at home-or even visited another stylist. But client "cheating," which has happened to every beauty professional, is not always a bad thing. In fact, it can be a learning experience, says Santy. "It's a way for you to find out that you're not pushing the right buttons with the client."

Most salons today encourage their guests to try out different stylists or spa techs, since their entire staff is considered to be working as a team. Client-sharing has always been an ingrained part of the culture at Caruh Salon Spa, and Dodge credits it with long-term client retention. "Clients leave a salon when they don't feel comfortable trying different providers," she says. "We don't mind them switching providers as long as it is under one roof."

What if you end up losing a client for good? It's nothing to be ashamed about, insists Santy. "You can't make everyone you come in contact with happy. It's not possible." And sometimes it's not even about you. According to a statistic he cites, two out of 10 clients leave stylists for their own reasons and through no fault of your own.

If a client continues to come to you for a professional service-but DIYs it at home for another-you'll want to address it gently. To discourage something like box color, for example, Santy suggests performing a free color service. While the client is in the chair, offer it this way: "The next time you need color, I'll do it for free and rebook you for another appointment. If you like it, you'll come back and pay for the next one." If you have the right abilities, he says, they'll likely get hooked on the professional results they get with you.

The best strategy to prevent clients from "cheating" in the first place? Staying current on your continuing education. "I always try to keep my skills up to date so that when a client is in my chair, I know they're getting the best of me," concurs Rabig of Salon 37 & Day Spa.

Not only is stylist education critical, but client education is becoming ever more important as well. "We all need to become better at offering a higher level of home styling maintenance education," says Dodge. "We need to tell clients how to do their hair at home-starting at consultation and talking about it behind the chair-so they can love their hair all the time." A client who loves their hair will be a client for life.

Also in the same series:
...Updating Their Style
...Breaking Up
...Other Services You Offer

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about