When to just say “no”

sticky note with no

This is by far one of the more difficult challenges most hairdressers and salon owners face – even more difficult than lasting a day without coffee or a restroom break. The challenge is saying “no”, either to clients or other staff members – but what makes this one syllable, two-letter word so difficult to say for those who work in the hair & beauty industry?

There are many factors that force us to avoid saying no – the fear of tarnishing our reputation, losing profit, gaining negative online reviews, losing clientele, sounding rude, being timid, or having a fear of losing a staff member. So when should you say no?

Saying yes can be consequential

Have you had a client come to your salon, looking to go from a level 2 or 3 to a 9 or 10 in one sitting? To make it better, they have been using the same box colour for years. For most stylists and salon owners, this is nightmare material that should be avoided at all times. However, there are those that will take it upon themselves to do the job, which can end tragically. Sure, denying service to a potential client because they have a head full of box colours can have consequences, but they would be far less severe than if you were to treat the client.

You said yes to treating a client and now you might be regretting it – you begin to notice orange patches here and there and your customer is either holding back tears or is in a rage. But that is not all, as this may lead to a number of consequences, such as:

  • Negative feedback – with social media, nothing is forgotten. An enraged customer may leave negative reviews of your salon on various channels, thus harming your reputation.
  • Negative word of mouth promotion –  have you ever noticed someone with a sloppy updo? Or a poor-quality balayage? If you ask that person where they did their hair, chances are they will give you the name of the business and tell you to stay away from it! By saying yes to a client you know will not be satisfied with their final look, you may be putting your business in this position.
  • Wasted resources – this speaks for itself. By treating a client you know will probably not be satisfied with their final look, you waste product – especially bleach, when it comes to removing box colours. In fact, the amount of bleach used on one box-dye client is enough to use on at least two clients who do not have dyed hair.
  • Turning down other clients – by agreeing to service clients who will require a lot of work, you turn down many potential customers.

Before taking up the challenge…

Before you say yes to the would-be customer, mull over your decision. You should be asking yourself if you are able to treat this person and be certain that they will be happy with the outcome, or will treating this person be more costly than rewarding? Stylists can be competitive as well, thus, ignoring these repercussions, which can end poorly. Before going headstrong into servicing a customer, take these things into account, and then decide whether to say yes or no. If you have any negative reviews of your business, refer back to them and use them as a learning material. Additionally, you may want to check notes on the client left in your Versum customer list. All of the steps you took in treating the client should be recorded. With this information, you will know exactly what you should avoid doing in order not to caught in a number of problems.

When to say no?

There is not one single, golden rule when it comes to working with clients – everyone is different, and each potential customer should be approached individually. However, there are some instances where you should simply decline providing a treatment or using a particular product.

  • Box colours – customers who enjoy dousing their hair in box colours do not have it easy in hair salons. In fact, they are most likely to be denied service, simply because the treatment process can take hours, and if not done correctly, can leave patches in the hair. Inform the client of the process involved, as well as the price and if you are feeling up to it, go for it!
  • Personal product – let’s face it, bringing your own shampoo to a salon and having a hairdresser wash your hair with it is ridiculous. If you are familiar with the product and do not feel discouraged, then, by all means, you may want to use it in the service. But if the product is unfamiliar to you, it is best to say no. You never know what affects it may have on the final outcome!
  • Unruly behaviour – this one is obvious. If a client is being loud or abusive, they are not only throwing you off balance, but are disrupting other clients who are there to relax. Ask the customer to calm down and if this causes an issue, recommend the person to visit another salon.
  • A history of no-shows – for the hair & beauty industry, no-shows are a shared burden. Clients book treatments and do not come in, which results in wasted time for staff. When a customer books a visit at your salon, check their appointment history in your Versum salon manager. If you notice a high rate of no-shows, that should give you a red flag. Attempt to contact the person and consider introducing non-refundable deposits.

How to say “no”

Now, this is a real challenge – denying a client their requested service. They want a time-consuming treatment right before your closing time, or they would like you to fix their hair which was ruined at another salon. The reason why it is hard for you to deny clients is because you are subconsciously predicting all of the potential negative outcomes of doing so. Instead, try this!

  1. Do not be afraid of your limitations – no one knows you better than you, and if you do not feel confident in a requested service, just say so.
  2. Offer suggestions – bear in mind that you are an expert. Sure, a client may have watched a few videos on YouTube on how to quickly bleach hair, but that does not make them trained professionals. Tell them what you think, based on your experience!
  3. Stand behind your products and treatments – if a client wants you to use their own dye and conditioner during a service, or comes up with their own treatment they would like for you to perform, do not give into treating them! Use your own products and offer services you feel comfortable with, since you know what kinds of results can be expected.

What might happen?

There is no avoiding it – if you deny offering a service to a client, chances are they may storm out of your salon, never to be seen again. However, it does not have to be so! If done effectively, you may be able to convince the client to try another treatment, and even gain a new, loyal customer – here is how:

  • Share real examples – nothing beats a real example – show the client examples of work similar to what they are looking for. Your Versum system houses client records, which includes a slot for before & after photos, making it easy to share with others! Before doing so, ask the clients for their consent!
  • Freebies: if before and after pictures are not enough, give clients a small freebie, or mention an offer you are doing for new customers. This may convince them to try what you are offering!
  • Educate them: there is a reason why you use the products you use – so share that information with clients! Box colours are way too concentrated and packed with harsh chemicals, which ruin the hair. Mention the advantages of your treatments and products as well, and how they are a safer choice!

Although saying no is an option, keep in mind that it should be a last resort. Offer clients your suggestions, based on your professional knowledge and experience. By offering alternative treatments and products, you not only have fewer clients storming out the door, but you increase the possibility of gaining a customer who trusts your input. And with the help of Versum, you will know exactly what recommendations to provide them, based on their purchase history! Start your free account with Versum and let it help you manage your client data more effectively!

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