If you’re an independent stylist and you want to be successful, you need to set boundaries with salon clients. The whole reason you started your own business in the first place was to have more control over your schedule and make more money — but without proper boundaries, you can kiss that freedom goodbye.
Even if 99% of your clients are supportive, kind, and respectful, that 1% will slowly suck the life out of you. That’s why it’s best to set clear boundaries from the beginning — easier said than done right? It’s true, you’re in the beauty/barber industry: a huge part of your job is pleasing people. And the reality is, most of us were taught to be nice more than we were taught to boss up.
Here’s how you should think about it: If you don’t set boundaries, you are hurting your business AND you are doing your clients a disservice. Without boundaries, your client experience suffers and your services suffer. Here are a few tips that will help you set the boundaries your business needs.
MAKE YOUR BOUNDARIES CLEAR
When first-time clients book, send them an email with your salon or barbershop’s guidelines. Make them short and friendly. Try to focus on how these guidelines will benefit your clients rather than your business.
For example, if one of your guidelines is:
Don’t talk on your phone.
Write something like this:
“My salon is designed to give guests an escape from daily life. In order to get the most out of your service, I ask that clients do not use their cell phones or laptops in the salon.”
This will set a foundation for any conversations you have to have in the future when your clients try to test your boundaries.
No-Shows and Late Cancellations
Time is money. Setting clear boundaries around no-shows and late-cancellations is essential. If you are flexible, clients will push back. Don’t let someone else’s lack of planning become your problem and stress for the day.
- Appointment scheduling apps like StyleSeat make it easy to set your own policy and enforce it.
- Your policy will display on your booking page and when clients book within 24 hours of an appointment time, they are informed that they will be charged a fee if they cancel late.
- If clients don’t show up, you can charge them for your time.
Setting boundaries teaches clients how they should treat you. You want to build a clientele that’s willing to work with your schedule — not against it.
After Hours Phone Calls/Texts
You can no longer think of yourself as just a stylist. You have the duties of a business owner, manager, and receptionist — you are in charge of setting your own business hours and sticking to them. Include your business hours in your initial welcome email and make it clear that you will not be taking phone calls after your closing time. Make sure to change your voicemail to let clients know when they should expect to hear from you.
- Being “busy” doesn’t equal success. Work smarter and focus on results.
If you are exhausting yourself by answering clients all day long, you won’t have the energy to give them an amazing experience when they’re in the salon. If you are worried about losing clients, think of it this way — none of your clients are recommending you to their friends because you answer your phone any time of night and text them back right away, they are recommending you because they love the experience you provide in the salon.
- No matter what you’re being paid, you aren’t being paid enough to be someone’s on call assistant 24/7.
Apps like StyleSeat allow clients to book and reschedule their own appointments so you can focus on the clients in your chair. But, there will always be a few clients who insist on calling and texting. Block off some time in your schedule every morning to answer client inquiries. If you are consistent, clients will form a habit and they will either stop calling after hours or they will be perfectly comfortable waiting to hear back — consistency is key.
DON’T BREAK YOUR OWN RULES
When you’re new to the independent life, you’ll be tempted to bend the rules. You’ll deal with a few late cancellations, after hours calls, and rude clients if it helps build your clientele. If you aren’t comfortable enforcing strict rules at first, it’s still important that you understand your boundaries for yourself. Take a minute to think about “how far is too far?”
Ok, you’ll forgive a client for not showing up one time. But what if it happens again? How many times will you tolerate this behavior before you do something about it? Pick an exact number, write it down, and don’t cave. Clients who do not respect your business will just end up costing you money in the long run.
You have to lead by example. If you want clients to stop calling after hours, stop answering the phone after hours. Once you break a boundary, you are inviting clients to do the same. You are showing them that if they push hard enough, you will cave. It can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but with the right coaching, your regulars will not only learn to respect your boundaries, they’ll grow to love the new structure and consistency it brings to your relationship.
- If you find that you’re stressed, short on time, and not as productive as you’d like to be — setting new boundaries could be the answer.
Take some time to brainstorm the main issues you are facing with your clients today and what it would take to solve them. Once you have a clear idea of what you’d like your new boundaries to be, send your clients an email update with your new policies and remember to focus on the positive. Let your regulars know how much you appreciate them and how these new policies will help you deliver an even better experience then they’re used to.
For more business tips, check out these articles: