by Habib Salo
“BOUNDARIES AREN’T WALLS TO KEEP PEOPLE OUT, THEY ARE TOOLS TO LET THE RIGHT ENERGY IN.” – INE GRACE, WRITER
Can you tell when your client relationship is about to hit its expiration date? It carries the very subtle scent of dread. In a service industry like nails, it might be hard to detect. Once you’re aware that it’s the end of the road, it can be very hard to ignore. It nags at you. Letting go of a client is a common professional predicament. Could there be a guilt-free way to cut ties? If the headline of this Biz Talk caught your eye like a neon sign in a dark alley, read on. We outline the tell tale signs of a bad client relationship and walk you through a client break up.
That yucky feeling that’s been hard to identify whenever Client X books an appointment, it’s called dread.
This client’s name shows up on the schedule and you slump over with the weight of it bearing down on your psyche. You just cannot do another service for this person. You throw an adult tantrum and feel like you are dying inside. The client is difficult and you fantasize about what the world might look like without them in your chair. If this sounds like you, there’s a different way. You’ve already identified the problem. Are you ready for the solution? It’s called a boundary. The choice to preserve and prioritize your own peace is entirely in your hands.
KNOCK KNOCK, WHO’S THERE?
Who exactly is the client that runs the risk of being fired? This client on the face of things appears to be a good client. Payment is not an issue. Most likely they tip quite generously but you’d gladly pay them double just to go away. Money is the primary motivator to keep this client on the books. Over time, it’s just not worth the drama or emotional cost. Up until now, money masked their less than favorable personality traits. Bad personality traits look like this: constant micromanagement, barrage of complaints/comparisons and negative energy. Here’s the thing. If you don’t protect your boundaries from energy vampires, who else will?
RIP OFF THE BAND AID
Don’t expect there to be a perfect time to break up. We see it going down one of two ways. Once you know the relationship is over; mentally there is no going back. The only way out is straight through. Our first choice is to have a conversation with them in person at the end of their service or on the phone. There is the rare horrible client that just warrants a thank-you-no-thank-you text/block/delete and a wall of silence. No matter how awkward a situation you find yourself in, maintain your composure and stay emotionally detached. Keep your written and verbal communications professional. At moments like these, the drama may lock eyes with you but you do not have to engage. It takes two to have an argument.
THE FINAL SCRIPT
Brevity will be the best guide. Keep the conversation short. Have your statement ready and get to the point. You have full permission to be honest. Give examples of the past behavior. Do not tip toe around. Focus on your boundaries and needs. Right now and in this discussion, yours is the only opinion that matters. You have the right to choose who you work with. A couple minutes of awkwardness is worth any extended length of time in misery.
After the client has paid for their service; the break up conversation may go like this:
NAIL TECH: I’ve been your nail tech for a little bit and it seems no matter what I do, you aren’t happy. I have to be honest, I think you’ll be happier and better off if you find another nail tech. So this will be your last appointment. Moving forward, I’m taking you off my schedule.
CLIENT: Complain. Nit Pick. Complain. Wait. Wait. You can’t do this to me. I don’t understand. I pay on time and tip very generously. Wait, I AM totally happy. Why is this happening? You can’t be serious?
NAIL TECH: Well, I don’t know if you realize this but you constantly complain about your nails, about everything really. Your negative energy really affects me. It’s a real downer and it makes me feel horrible. It’s just not something I want in my life.
CLIENT: Come on! I’m so sorry. Geez. I didn’t realize that. I swear I’ll be better. Please keep me on the books. I don’t want to find another nail tech. You’re so great. I can change. I’m not really that bad, am I? I can’t believe you are treating me, a long time customer like this. Wow.
NAIL TECH: I know this might be a bit of a shock and not what you want to hear. I just don’t see this working out past today. I have to be honest with you and honest with myself. There is not much more to say. Thanks for understanding.
The client may make excuses and promises to stay on your books. In the moment, they may honestly mean everything they say to appease you. New behavior patterns are hard to embody overnight. Actions always speak louder than words. You are not responsible for the client’s feelings. This is where a strong belief in yourself and backbone can support you in manifesting your ideal working environment.