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The Thin Line between Love and Respect

by Tera Thorne

In the service industry it can be incredibly difficult to walk the line between providing excellent customer service and just being taken advantage of. Especially when first starting out. We tend to bend to the will of our clients because we need them to pay the bills.  Finding the perfect balance can be difficult.  You need to respect your clients while somehow ensuring that they will respect you.  So, here are a few tips on how to get your clients to both love AND respect you.



You can’t enforce your boundaries if you don’t know what they are.  Create policies that protect your time and money.  Policies addressing late arrivals, cancellations, no shows, and insufficient funds all ensure that your client will respect your time and your business.  Make sure your policies are fair enough that you feel comfortable enforcing them.



Posting your policies will clarify your boundaries but explaining your policies to your clients will help them understand how their behaviors directly affect your business.  Most clients will respect your policies and your time more if they understand the reasons why.  This same approach can also increase your sales and client loyalty.  The more educated a client is, the more empowered they feel in the relationship.


Consistency defines your business. Established businesses are successful because the client knows exactly what to expect when they walk through the door.  Time and money are too valuable to gamble on whether or not you’re going to receive good customer service or not.  This idea applies to all aspects of your business including your policies.  If a client knows you and you don’t enforce your policies, there is nothing stopping them from taking advantage of you.



Studies show that it costs 5-7 times more to gain a new client versus keeping a current one.  Communicating your appreciation of their continued patronage can be done in a number of ways that are easy and of little to no cost.  Simple gestures such as sending out birthday cards or making follow up calls after services can speak volumes about how much you value your clients.


Make yourself standout by turning your basic services into luxury ones.  If they came in for a cut and color, offer a free makeup touch up. If makeup is not your forte try offering a conditioning treatment or a neck and shoulder massage while their color processes.  These small offerings show your clients that you appreciate them and are willing to give them a little something extra for their time and loyalty.  Chances are they will return the favor by tipping you better and you will recoup your losses.  To be safe you can build the added cost into your service pricing.



If you have the time and availability, be open to helping your client out under special circumstances.  We create our business hours for a reason but a client who knows you will sacrifice a little bit for them will repay you in the long run.  Whether it be in returned clientele or word of mouth advertising, you can expect a great reward in return.



Have you ever heard the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt”?  It means that when something becomes familiar to us, we no longer value it or respect it as much as we originally did.  The same thing goes for your client.  When you start planning vacations together or the conversations start to get too personal, you blur the lines between “stylist” and “friend” which can cause strain in the relationship.  Friendships frequently come with exceptions and expectations which are counterproductive to building a solid working relationship.  Keep it simple and keep it professional while remaining friendly.  Your client will thank you for it in the long run.