How to Handle Unhappy Barber Customers
Without Losing Clients
You can put in hours, upon hours, of hard work. You can come in before the sun rises and leave long after it sets. You can do everything in your power to be the best barber possible 100 percent of the time. And guess what?
You’re still going to—eventually—deal with an unhappy client.
We don’t share this with you to scare you, just to inform you that no matter how hard you try, you’re likely going to end up dealing with a disgruntled guest at some point in your barbering career.
How do we know this? Because it happens to everyone.
Working in an industry that’s so entirely focused on people is a double-edged sword—you get the human connection, the great relationships, and the joy of making a difference in someone’s life.
But you also get the mood swings, the bad apples, and the misplaced bad attitudes, too. Unfortunately, it’s just a risk that goes hand-in-hand with what we do.
That’s where the fundamental difference between you and the barbers who get a bad reputation comes into play—it’s all based on how you handle those interactions.
We’ve laid out some helpful advice that we believe is the go-to route for barbers dealing with bad-day clients. Whether you’ve made a mistake or you’re just a bump on the bad-attitude road that your client happens to be driving down that day, we believe these fool-proof techniques can help you deal with unhappy clients courteously, professionally, and fairly.
At All Costs, Stay Calm
You can’t always control how someone is going to speak to you or act toward you, but you can control how you speak to and act toward another person—and how you handle yourself is going to say a lot about you both professionally and personally. The best advice we can offer to barbers who are dealing with unhappy clients is to remain calm at all costs. Perhaps your client is being unreasonable and shouting at you, perhaps they’re making a scene—no matter how inappropriate their reaction, control yours. Remember, you’re in a place of business. While you certainly don’t need to put up with someone treating you poorly, it’s hugely beneficial for you—as an employee, as a business owner, as a professional barber in general—to behave politely, calmly, and diplomatically.
Remember—It’s Not a Personal Thing
When someone is disappointed in you, angry with you, or upset with you, it can be easy to take it personally—but with this job, it’s important to remember that an unhappy client doesn’t automatically mean it’s all your fault. In short, listen and pay attention to why they’re upset, but don’t take it too personally.
Own Up To Your Mistakes & Do What You Can to Correct Them
In the scenarios we’ve been laying out so far, we’ve been assuming that your client is unhappy by no fault of your own. But here’s the thing—one day, an unhappy client might be the direct result of something you’ve done. It’s not intentional, but it does happen, and when the time comes, it’s important you know how to deal with it. The best advice we can offer in this situation is to own up to your mistakes and do everything you can to correct them. It’s more likely an unhappy client will be willing to work with you again if you’re direct and upfront. Let them know you’ve made a mistake, you’ll take full responsibility, and you’ll do everything in your power to correct it for them.
Be Sympathetic, But Don’t Crumble When it Comes to Morals
A little sympathy can go a very long way with an unhappy client—sometimes, people just want to know that you’re listening and are willing to go the extra mile to help make them happy. Let your clients know that you feel for them, that you’re there for them, and that you’ll do what you can to right their situation (even if there’s nothing actually wrong in the first place). At the same time, don’t compromise your professional morals and ethics to do it. Try to straddle the line between being sympathetic and sensitive without letting your ethics waiver.
Be Intentional & Learn From Every Experience (Lest You Be Doomed to Repeat It)
No matter the reason for the unhappy client, do your best to learn from every situation. Whether that means your unhappy-person-scenario resulted in total triumph or a lost client, do your best to be intentional about learning from any and everywhere situation. Ask yourself questions like, how could I have made this right? Did I do something that made this situation worse?
If Applicable, Follow-Up
This won’t apply in every situation, but if it’s necessary, follow-up with your client. If they didn’t like a particular cut you gave them and are awaiting an upcoming appointment to correct it, make sure you reach out to remind them. Check-in with your unhappy clients regularly to be sure you’re doing everything you can to win their business back.
Being a barber in a modern-day industry is never easy, but with a little help and some advice from seasoned barber pros, you’ll be a badass barber in no time. That’s why we’re so proud to cultivate this community within NAOB—we’re all here to learn, adapt, evolve, and grow together. Looking for more barbering know-how? You’re in the right place. Check out our regularly updated NAOB blog here to stay in-the-know on the latest barbering tips, tricks, and trade secrets.