The cardinal rule that has been drilled into the minds of so many business owners and service providers. Engraved into work environments that ultimately becomes toxic and hard to swallow.

If you’re instagram savvy, you’ve seen this recent viral post from The Shade Room of a client’s message to her hair stylist.

the shade room

I cringed reading this. For so long we’ve been taught that no matter how much it pains us to deal with a problematic client and customer, we MUST service that person time and time again without the right to say enough is enough.

Once upon a time, I used to work at a trendy nail studio in SOHO (said studio shall remain unnamed) where we encountered quite a few clients with really bad attitudes. I had the pleasure of dealing with one that was belittling, would not sit still through her appointment, was extremely rude, and in front of my co-worker and I, told her friend “they have to . . . it’s your day and we’re paying“. The experience was so bad, I had to step outside and burst into tears, yet management forced us to sit through an appointment that was internally beating us down.

Today I am elated to be working for myself, but being an entrepreneur has never been easy for anyone, let alone being a one woman or one man band. Of course we make it look amazing because, duh, social media. You get to see the highlights of our journeys, but seldom the hardships and of course a part of that is managing clients that aren’t a good match for you and your business. Now that I have more freedom to manage my clientele, I also have the right to choose who I want to work with.

As a service provider, you don’t ever want to feel like hired help. Most times when you’re clear on where you stand, clients will decide on their own to not come back. Maybe they will tell you why, or leave a lengthy review, but what happens when you’re not clicking with a client? What happens when that understanding and boundaries clearly don’t exist? How do you tell a client “sis, this ain’t it”?

Many find it hard to cut ties. I get it, it’s awkward, it’s unnerving, it gives you anxiety and crushes your spirit. Well how do you fire a client?

Here’s an example of my first break up via email:


  • Reminders are always a good start. A light chat to get you both on the same page. No one is perfect and 95% of the time they do deserve a second chance. And frankly let’s be honest, sometimes we mess up too.

  • When reminders aren’t the case: Some clients may just be difficult and want their way or the highway. Everything about your business and policies is a problem to them, but they want your services and talent. In this case, you can kindly recommend someone else and let them know you may not be a good fit for them.

Like any partnership, as a nail tech/artist you build relationships with your clients based on mutual respect, consideration, chemistry and work ethic. Talent is a given. Overall communication and comprehension is key. Personally, it’s very important to me that while I’m sitting with someone hand in hand for hours at a time, we’re both comfortable in each other's presence. We both have room to learn from one another. I learn to become a better service provider, and they learn to be better clients. It’s a win/win for everyone.

I want you all to know that you are NOT obligated to stay in a situation that makes you feel small and tense up every time that person’s name pops up in your scheduling system. If you work at an establishment, it’s your right to refuse a client if they have abusive and unbearable behavior. And to establishments, please don’t forget that without a consistent and steady staff, your business won’t run successfully, and you become a revolving door, retention sis. Happy employees = Happy clients.

Need help firing a client, copy, paste and edit to fit situation:

Hi [insert name]

Given the events that transpired yesterday, I think it's best that we don't move forward with our client/artist relationship.

My ability to be efficient is also dependent on everyone arriving on time. Late arrivals affects my other clients and their daily commitments and schedules as well. 

It is very important that there is an open line of communication, which I feel I've been overly communicative on my part. I've even made myself available to everyone at all hours and whilst on vacation. Mutual respect and consideration is imperative.

I hope you can find someone that is better able to fulfill your needs, but unfortunately, I don't believe I'm that person. Thank you for understanding. I wish you well.

Have you ever had a nightmare client? How did you handle it?