How to Fire a Bad Client


We’ve all had them: clients who throw tantrums, walk out without paying, and treat professionals so disrespectfully that they’ve reduced them to tears. Bad clients aren’t worth having. Fire a bad client in the most professional way possible by following the “client termination protocol” below.

Before I go into the particulars on how to tactfully refuse a troublesome client service, I want to make it clear that those crazy people are the exception; not the norm.

It’s very rare that you’ll come across a client who will make you want to rip up your license and pursue another career.

For every one of those clients out there that make you wonder why you chose to work in this industry, a hundred others will make you remember, so don’t hang up your shears over that occasional nutcase. If this is an article you find yourself referencing more than two or three times in your career, you may want to reevaluate yourself and the way you do business. (Sometimes it’s not everyone else.)

Client Termination Protocol

1.) Speak to the client in person, if possible.

Do not send a letter or email. You can’t text message breakup either. This is something that needs to be discussed face-to-face if possible, or at least over the phone.

2.) Express your gratitude for their business, even if you don’t necessarily mean it.

This client has driven you mad. They’ve been responsible for more than one crying fit on your part.

The client has to go, but that doesn’t mean you have to lower yourself to their level.

The first thing out of your mouth after, “We need to speak privately,” needs to be, “First, I want to thank you so much for your business.” Soften the blow that follows.

3.) Drop the hammer.

Make it clear in that there is absolutely no chance of reconciliation. Sound like a breakup? It is. Try to make it seem like it’s their decision.

“I feel like I am not meeting your needs. I think another professional would be a better match for you and you deserve that. We’re having trouble communicating and while I do appreciate your business, I really want for you to be happy.”

4.) Suggest another salon.

Give the client somewhere to go. Have one of their business cards and brochures in hand.

This client may be your nightmare, but they might just not like you.

This client might be a complete pleasure to be with when they’re paired with the right professional. So, hand the client the card and say, “I suggest you try a this place. They’re a great establishment and I think you’ll prefer them.”

5.) Apologize.

“I am so sorry that this hasn’t worked out and that I couldn’t give you what you were looking for.”

Let the client know that you’re sorry things didn’t work out between you, even if you aren’t.

6.) Send them on their way.

Thank the client for their business again and tell them to have a great day. The end.

…but what if it’s not the end? What if the client gets confrontational or offended?

7.) Let them know that not all professionals and clients are compatible.

We don’t always love every client. We’re people and not all of us mesh. If you don’t feel compatible with the client, let them know.

8.) “But WHY?”

If the client doesn’t understand why, tell them. Don’t get nasty, just tell the client how they make you feel and what it is they do that makes you feel that way. There is always the slight possibility that they have no idea what they’re doing, or how it’s affecting you.

If they beg for a reason, give it to them.

How to Filter Out Problematic Clients

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a way to discourage crappy clients from ending up on your books in the first place? There is!

The Policy Creation and Enforcement Pack includes a 55-page PDF with everything you need to understand why certain policies may be required, who should and shouldn’t implement them, and when and how to introduce them in your salon. The kit includes:

  • templates for every salon policy imaginable
  • placement and wording recommendations
  • scripts for communicating policies
  • enforcement tips, and
  • enforcement correspondence.
  • $19.99Add to cart

I’ve also provided guidelines for creating and effectively communicating any additional polices your salon may require in the future and a suggested appointment reminder schedule with reminder templates.

Have you ever fired a client? How did it go? Tell us in the comments!

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


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