How To Set Strong Boundaries with Your Clients

How To Set Strong Boundaries with Your Clients


Have you ever wondered why those very clients you give the most to end up being the ones who never seem to be happy, complain the most, or better yet, complain about a price increase? You need to learn right from the get-go how to set firm boundaries with your clients, or they will eat you alive.  99% of your clients are probably giving, loving, and generous people. However, the 1% can drain the joy from your work.


Setting boundaries requires that you know yourself and what you are willing to do and not do. Learning how to take care of yourself while running your business will take some time to figure out; give yourself time. What bothers one person may not bother another. Eventually, you will need to find what works for you.

So, what are boundaries? They are your stopping point of negotiation. Beauty colleges and schools don’t talk about this topic much, and you are often left to figure it out as you go. But the following are some examples of when a client is asking for some firm boundaries, and once you set them, she will be back for more because you have established the rules.

How late can your client be before you turn her away? Now I know that you need to make money, and it is tempting to say yes, no matter what. But think about it. If you take him/her/them, you risk running late for your next client. Does your salon have a policy? Do they stand behind it? Their policy and yours need to line up. Sometimes the salon will follow your lead, but you need the salon to stand behind your words. So make sure you state the policy correctly. Don’t worry; paying attention to the answers to these questions is excellent training for you. In the beginning, the salon’s policy can be your boundary, especially if your client gives you a hard time. My policy is 15 minutes. Any later and I can’t catch up, I work on my own, with no assistants.

How many times do you let her not pay at the time of visit?  It happens. How often for you? I used to accept cash and checks only when I was at an independent salon several years ago. Not only did clients forget to bring their checkbook, but sometimes the desk would not let new clients know this was my policy. Can you imagine letting new clients walk out the door and not pay? I discovered Square Merchant Services and have never gone back. Nobody forgets their credit card. For me, the fees I incur are without a doubt worth it. Consider them the cost of doing business. My clients love it, and I get paid the day after.


“Setting limits with clients is not only what they need, but what they want.”


How often do you let your client talk on their phone while trying to cut their hair?  Their need to manage their lives while sitting in your chair is not fair for you, them, or anyone else in the salon. Now, if they want to go outside while their color is processing, that is fine. Your salon may even have an area where conversations are allowed. Teach your clients the etiquette of your salon. They really may be clueless or unaware of what their loud talking does to the environment. You may need to speak up more than once. You can say, “I’m sorry, but there is no cell phone use while you are in my chair; it’s a salon policy.” Maybe even discuss this possibility at your staff meeting if you find it’s an issue.

Do you allow children to run around the salon? Now, this may be a delicate topic. In my experience, if kids are unattended inside the salon, it wreaks havoc on most peoples’ psyche in several ways:

  • Chemical services occur in the salon
  • Sharp utensils are everywhere
  • Breakable things and fragile trays
  • Lots of people, and people running around
  • When you are trying to concentrate on your client’s needs (your service), it can be very distracting to have little ones running around, adding to the sense of chaos
  • Chairs are not toys
  • Many people come to the salon to relax, and they pay money to be served, not for little Johnny or Sally to come running up and wipe their hands on the client’s drape.
  • The receptionist, or you, may be taking phone calls, answering questions, and making appointments. If loud music is playing, the competition for focus and clarity is real.


Do you offer a touch-up on your service?  How long after the original appointment do you offer a “redo”?  It is entirely sufficient for a client to come in for a retouch on a haircut or to receive a bang trim or fringe touch-up in my book. I expect after a couple of weeks that the warranty on the haircut is no longer applicable. After that, it is completely acceptable to charge half a haircut or for your bang trim. However, I only guarantee my services when they purchase products from my studio. If the client tries to come in 4 weeks into a haircut and makes this request repeatedly, I let her know that there will be a charge.How many times do you allow a client to make appointments if he/she/they are any of the following:

  • Rude
  • Dismissive
  • Demanding
  • Disrespectful to anyone in the salon
  • Condescending
  • Argumentative
  • Unhappy

Beauty schools usually teach you to be flexible and teach you the trade skills that typically have to do with the craft’s basics. They want you to know how to perform your tasks and how to serve people. I suggest that if you have any clients with these manifestations, another set of skills is required. Set the boundary now, and they will stay, or they will go somewhere else, and you are much better off without them should they decide to leave.

Again, make sure you have the salon manager or owner standing behind you on this communication. Make them aware of how the client is treating you, and deal with it before it becomes acceptable. By no means should you be abused in any way by any client, no matter how much you may need the money? When you close one door, another opens.

Setting boundaries is challenging. I’d be lying if I said I had this one down. Each time you do it, this muscle gets more robust. If the situation goes on, and if you don’t speak up, it will come out sideways at some point and will leave you not feeling very good about yourself. Clean your relationships up now.



Go through your whole client list and write down the names of those who leave you feeling terrible at the end of the day or the ones that leave you saying, “I wish I didn’t have to do her hair anymore.” Write down what you want to say without holding back. Think about what you can speak to them, concerning you and them, and see how it goes. Maybe run it by your salon owner first.



If you don’t get it right out of the gate from cosmetology school, you will over time. Some of us learn the hard way, and for some of us, it takes longer to understand that there are people in the world that will keep pushing for more. Watch this video on setting limits.


If you need help working through your different clients, click here.

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