The Client – Artist Relationship

When this topic comes up, most people’s first thoughts are along the lines of great consultation, great customer service, great lashes and saying farewell with a smile. All of that is important, but not what I’m covering today.

Friends as Clients

When they are on your treatment table, they are clients. Period. I don’t care if it’s your bestie since second grade, once they step inside the studio, they need to understand that You’re the professional and they are in Your professional space. That professional space also includes booking services, aftercare advice and anything else that constitutes interaction with your business self. We sometimes have to learn to leave the friendship relationship at the door.

We also have to realize that clients aren’t always friends. Strangers who come to you for your professional skill and service can often be people we would love to hang out with. That is GREAT! While we may be friendly, that doesn’t make every client our friend. I don’t add many clients to my personal social media and I don’t hang out with 90% of my clients, outside of work, because though they are amazing humans and we have a great relationship at the treatment table, I don’t want them to see me as less than the professional artist giving them awesome service. Why? Because the more we blur those lines, the less those clients see us as an authority.

Be honest, no matter what the field, if you see someone drunk and dancing on a tabletop on Friday night, can you really take them seriously as a professional on Saturday morning? I can honestly say that it would be a stretch for me to trust the accountant doing my taxes to be at their best when I was just partying with them 6hrs ago or I scrolled through my social media that morning and saw an image of them loaded and doing body shots off a stripper at 2am when my appointment is at 9am.

Yes, I would question if they’re getting all of my deductions right. You?

Now imagine it’s your image on social media or your client who has the morning appointment. Are they going to trust you to do your best work or are they going to turn into the client who nitpicks every fallen fan, because that image of you sloppy drunk is always in the back of their mind? Or potentially worse, are they the one who suddenly expects a no show to be “okay” cause…ya know…you know the night they had?

I’m not saying that you can’t have friends as clients or clients as friends. I’m only saying that you need to respect yourself and your business and consider how those clients will view you and treat you as a professional based on their view of your friendship status.

Lying to clients

Just stop it. It always comes back to bite you in the bum and you’re going to lose their respect, at the least. You could lose their business completely when they discover the lie.

If you don’t want to work outside your scheduled business hours…Just Say “NO”.

I realize that at least a few of you cringed at that. That’s okay, I still do, too. We are, most of us, in a service industry because we are people-pleasers. The last thing we want to do is offend someone. Get over it. It is not your obligation to always be on call and available. You are allowed to have a life away from your treatment room. And you don’t have to apologize or make excuses to the client to live your life. Your favorite retail store isn’t opening early to accommodate your work schedule. Your favorite restaurant doesn’t serve breakfast, so they won’t be open at 7am.

Why are you treating your business differently?

For those who feel like they have to say Something, just be honest. These are a few examples of phrasing I’ve used for my personal situations:

  • To the one-timer: “I already have plans scheduled.”
  • To the serial asker: “My New Year’s resolution was to spend my weekends with my SO. I’m no longer available outside business hours.”
  • To the constant “I’m going to be 20min late”-r: “I have my own appointments booked after work; I cannot cancel last minute.” I’ve even used “Are you going to pay my cancellation fee to them?” on a more aggressive, “client I wouldn’t mind losing” asker.

Don’t tell your clients that you are fully booked when you don’t want to book them. Tell Them The Truth. Because when their bestie’s sister-in-law finds you on Google and books an appointment, ya better believe the one you lied to will hear about it. So will everyone else they know, if they feel wronged. Word of mouth can be the most powerful marketing tool out there. It can also damage your business when that word is Nay.

  • “I don’t seem to be able to meet your standards and I am no longer willing to book you. I can offer you a referral to an artist that I admire.”
  • “Your racist/homophobic/political comments make me uncomfortable. I believe it’s best for you to find a different artist who doesn’t object to your social commentary.”
  • “I’ve done my best to work with your schedule, but you are not my only client. I am not willing to inconvenience others because you cannot be on time for the appointments that you scheduled.”

That’s all it takes.

Here is an amazing video of a stylist kicking a client out of her studio due to her racial attitude that I shared all over the place when it went viral. I was cheering that gal on the whole way for how she stood up for her assistant and her place of work. The only problem I had with the way that she handled the situation was how long it took for her to just say “Nope. I’m done.” And I get it. We are people pleasers in the beauty industry. It’s sometimes hard for us to get past the customer is always right. They aren’t. They often aren’t. It is OKAY for you to acknowledge that and stand up for yourself or your staff when you know that a client is in the wrong.
Hair Stylist Ejects Client who makes her employee uncomfortable

Not Every Client Is Your Client

Which leads me into this reality…

You cannot please 100% of people, 100% of the time.

You are not obligated to appeal to every potential client or vibe with every client who walks through your door.

  • It is OKAY to refuse continued service to someone who cannot seem to get the hang of lash extensions.
  • It is OKAY to say “I don’t have the energy to deal with the stress this client brings me.”
  • It is OKAY to refer a client to a more experienced or more patient artist if you are not confident in your ability to offer them the best service. You can take on that challenge when you are confident!
  • It is OKAY to kick someone out because they’re high or drunk*.

*For that last one, it’s also your responsibility. An impaired person cannot legally consent to service and if some accident were to occur on your premises, your insurance would likely not cover you.

Take the time to really think about how you want your clients to perceive you. You can be a relaxing escape or a fun break in their day without sacrificing your professionalism or their respect. The rules you set for your interactions with clients should benefit your business and your working environment. Create them. Live them. Love them. Your tribe of clients will find you and will do the same.

Share your views! I’d love to hear your thoughts on client relationships. Have a topic you’d like to hear more about?

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