Friends and family – your most difficult clients

A barbershop

This topic always sparks controversy among beauty professionals. Should you treat your relatives as any other clients? On one hand, your close ones should support your business and therefore pay the full price every time. On the other, providing your nearest & dearest with your services for free (or with a significant discount) is a natural thing to do. For some people, giving away your services for free to anyone is a huge mistake, for others – making your friends and family pay is absolutely out of the question.

Who is in the right? Is there even a one-size-fits-all solution? How can you set your boundaries and communicate with your relatives to avoid hurting both your business and your relationships? Let’s talk about the pros and cons of every case scenario, which approach fits your needs best and how can you stand your ground without being impolite.

Is there a right solution?

The short answer – no. It’s crucial to understand that every family is different and numerous factors affect the way we approach our relatives. The depth of bonds, previous experiences, personalities, the way they treat you and your business, even material status may be the key factors. If your mother-in-law is a charming elderly lady living on a low pension who babysits your child and is always an absolute gem, of course, you may want to invite her for a free pampering. If you speak with one another only once a year (and she only criticises the way you raise her grandchildren) and suddenly expects to get a luxurious treatment for free, even though you know she can afford it, it’s understandable you may be strongly against the idea. Some relatives are extremely supportive, some toxic and manipulative – this is why you can’t measure every case by the same yardstick.

Providing discounts and free services to your friends and family

When it can be a good idea?

  • If you have very good relations with that person
  • If they support you and your business (especially financially)
  • If they are doing something for you in exchange
  • If they are going through a difficult time and you want to support them
  • If they are grateful and don’t take your kindness for granted
  • If they are your best ambassadors and always promote your business
  • If you can afford it
  • If you have a free slot
  • Most importantly – if you genuinely want to do so

Tip: In Versum, you can create a client group called “Friends and family” and set a special price for your special customers. Moreover, you can keep your employees motivated by giving them the opportunity to treat their nearest and dearest to an occasional discount.

When it may not be the best idea?

  • If it is a person you rarely talk with
  • If you don’t have the best relations with that person
  • If they feel entitled to get free/discounted services from you
  • If you are in the middle of a busy season
  • If you are not in the best place financially
  • If the service they want is very pricey and/or takes a long time to perform
  • If they abuse your kindness and expect too much
  • If they are never happy with the results
  • If they are trying to manipulate you or make you feel guilty
  • Most importantly – if you genuinely don’t want to do so

Making your friends and family pay the full price

When it can be a good idea?

  • If they are your distant relatives
  • If your relationship with them is neutral at best
  • If they are perfectly able to afford your services
  • If they want something pricey and complicated
  • If they are close to you but happy to support your business
  • If you are just starting and every appointment counts
  • Most importantly – if you simply feel it’s the right decision

When it may not be the best idea?

  • If they support you and your business (especially financially)
  • If they are close to you and you know they are struggling financially
  • If they are close to you and they are going through a difficult time
  • If they provided you with some free/discounted services from their business and you accepted it
  • Most importantly – if you feel it’s not the right thing to do

Assertiveness is the key

As you can see, the most important factor is what you think about the situation. Some people are very strict about their business being – well – a business, and no matter how close they are with their family, they will require payment for every service. And that’s fair. There is nothing wrong with granting your close ones with occasional free treatments, either – however, you have to keep a healthy balance and be assertive, to avoid the situation getting out of hand.

  • You can refuse. No one can force you to work for free. What’s more, no one can force you to work at all – if you don’t feel comfortable providing services to a member of your family, explain it to them calmly. Here you can read when it’s best to refuse service.
  • Be polite, yet assertive. Explain that you are always happy to provide them with an amazing service, but it’s your career and source of income and therefore you cannot keep giving it away.
  • Don’t feel obligated to barter with your friends or family. For example, if your cousin wants to babysit your child for one evening in exchange for going to level 10 from dark brown, calmly explain that you prefer to pay her for the babysitting. Some exchanges are just completely unprofitable for you and you shouldn’t take the deal, even if it’s your family member.
  • Don’t let them treat you like an in-home salon. Set your boundaries and stick to them – for example, let them know that they have to attend your salon, you don’t perform anything at home. Or that they have to make an appointment like every other customer – no last-minute squeeze-ins on family gatherings. And no weekends either! You are being generous enough by helping them out so it’s you who dictate the rules.
  • You don’t have to treat all your family members equally. It’s your right to offer a free haircut to your beloved mom, but expect the payment from your cousin you see twice a year.
  • It doesn’t have to be free. A nice family discount is a way of showing them that you care while getting at least part of your payment.
  • Offer them a discounted appointment when having a slow day, late cancellation or no-show. Using Versum, you can clearly see which day is going to be a busy one and which one seems rather slow. Invite your friend or family member for a heavily discounted service when you know you are not going to have anyone paying the full price anyway. If they are flexible with time, you can also inform them last-minute about an empty spot left by a late cancellation or no-show. It’s a win-win situation.

From the business point of view, making your relatives pay for every appointment is the right thing to do – but at the end of the day, it’s you who sorts out your priorities. It’s always a good idea to keep a careful eye on your Versum statistics, thanks to which you will be able to tell if the “family services” bring you significant losses. Nevertheless, when it comes to approaching your friends and family members in your business, it all boils down to your principles and personal experience – and it’s up to you to find your very own balance between caring for your business and caring for your relatives.

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