A Stylist's Perspective: When to say No!
A little while ago, while conversing with a client, I was asked what might prompt me to decline a customer's request for service.
You see, we were talking about marketing and how I've come to realize that I don't really want absolutely everyone in my chair. Rather, my marketing is built around the idea that there is a type of client with whom I prefer to work and there are certain types of work that I prefer to do. I market with an emphasis on these ideals.
So, if I prefer to balayage a beautiful ombre on long flowing hair, does that mean I can't/won't cut that sassy pixie you're asking for?
Does that mean that I won't accept clients who are not the absolute ideal of my target demographic?
Not at all.
It means that I keep those ideals in mind as I choose images or subjects.
I design my marketing to appeal to clients with whom I am most likely to click both in terms of artistic vision and of personality. Clients outside of that target are more than welcome here.
It means that I don't try to disappear into a bland perfection designed to be all things to all people.
It means that I am willing and even comfortable in showing myself and my business as we are, quirks, imperfections, warts and all so that you will know what to expect if and when you come to my chair.
I'm not everyone's cup of tea.
Neither are you.
I've learned to be okay with that
And to make it work to my advantage.
But there are some things that Will make me decline a service and sometimes turn a client away altogether.
And so my conversational partner asked,
"What would make you say, 'No?'"
Though it's a rarity, the most common reason I have declined a service has been that someone is
asking me to do something that I believe will cause a degree of damage to the hair that will open me up to liability or at least an amount of damage that I'm just not willing to put my name on.
The first time I ever refused to do a service, many years ago, it was a stranger calling me up to schedule a perm. Then she mentioned that she had just given herself highlights 3 days before with a frosting kit from her local grocery store.
I told her that she should have had the perm first and I was not willing to take that risk with her hair.
She was quite upset with me.
She angrily vowed to go elsewhere to have it done.
I thanked her for that and wished her well.
I have also occasionally declined service when I have felt that my skill level was not up to the job.
This hasn't happened in quite a long while as I'm in my third decade of doing hair now and I make it a point to continually grow in technical ability as well as to stay up with what's in style.
Another reason I will decline service is when I feel that I can not please this guest.
It's not a matter of technical know-how.
Sometimes it's about understanding that the client's style of communication or mine is just not leading us to a place of understanding.
Sometimes, the client is taking out another source of stress on their hair.
Brides often fall prey to this
I remember a dear client some years ago. She called and scheduled a haircut even though I had just cut her hair 2 weeks before. She was insistent on getting a haircut so she came in and I noticed, as we were consulting, that she just seemed extra tense and nervous about something.
I stepped back and looked her in the eye.
I asked her what was really going on.
It turned out she was going to an event where she would be thrown together with her estranged son and his wife, whom she felt had set the wheels of estrangement in motion. She was a bundle of nerves and didn't need a haircut at all. Just a chat with someone she trusted who could help her in seeing things a little differently.
We had a chat.
She felt better.
And that event turned out to offer her the beginning of a reconciliation with her son.
That turned out well because I had known her for a while and we could be straight with each other.
She recognized the truth when I said this wasn't about needing a haircut.
It doesn't always work that way.
Some people just don't like themselves or their lives.
They take it out on their hair.
They set a stylist up to take the blame.
Obviously, that's not a client I want in my chair.
And the other thing that will make me say no is:
If I feel that I'm being spoken to or treated with disrespect, you are welcome to leave.
It's pretty simple-
I do my best to respect you.
I expect the same.