How to Weed Out the "Bad Clients"

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Many beauty professionals consider interacting with clients the most rewarding, and most challenging, aspect of their work. Serving clients should make us feel good about ourselves, professionally and personally. And when clients arrive late or miss appointments entirely, criticize our work or complain about our prices? We may understandably feel angry, insecure and disrespected. That’s not conducive to building confidence or a successful business.

Every client is a relationship; some will flame out within the first and only appointment, while others may last through hundreds of appointments over decades. Building relationships with clients requires effort and we must allocate our resources wisely. Because consumers/potential clients far outnumber us, we hold a tremendous advantage: the power of choice. Rather than advise you, as many would, to provide better service, I encourage you to provide quality services to better clients.

It’s not reasonable to expect that every person who contacts your business will become one of your best clients, any more than every person you meet will become a trusted friend. Choosing to refuse service or refer elsewhere may seem incompatible with providing “good” service. But do you know what’s truly incompatible? The misguided notion that we’re obligated to serve and please everyone. No one can demand service from you, though some may treat you as if they could.

As John Woods, customer service consultant, said, “The purpose of a business is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between itself and those that it serves.”

Communicating what your salon offers to and, equally important, expects from clients encourages compatible potential clients to contact you, while discouraging others from wasting your time. Bad clients are not worth having. Before clients can behave badly, evaluate your contribution to the problem. What are your salon policies? What’s working and what’s not? What’s the incentive for good behavior when you keep rewarding bad behavior?

Within an industry that often treats professionals and clients as disposable, we need to respect ourselves and value our clients. Reflecting on my clientele, I keep this in Ayn Rand quote in mind: “I don’t build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.” Clients form the foundation of your salon business; the stronger the foundation, the stronger your business.


Licensed since 1992, Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. works as a manicurist and owner of Precision Nails, an exclusive employee-based salon in Carmel, CA. Beyond the salon, she advocates for the beauty industry, consults with salon owners and manufacturers, mentors educators, organizes events, writes savvy articles and advises California's Board of Barbering and Cosmetology and attorneys as an expert witness.