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Among your roster of clients, you undoubtedly have some you truly look forward to seeing who have become friends, some you get on well with but the relationship is strictly professionals, and others you need to mentally prepare for before they walk through the door.

Among your challenging clients, you may have those that are:

  • Demanding: Demanding clients tend to only think about their convenience.  They may want you to come in early or stay late to accommodate their needs.
  • Critical: No matter what the service, this client is always critical. This type of client can be demoralizing to your staff, plus you never know what they are saying to other potential clients.
  • Indecisive: No matter how much information you provide; the client can never decide on a treatment or even a retail product. Indecisive clients can be a time drain on your business.
  • It’s always a crisis: It’s a constant crisis or emergency with this type of clients. They want you to stop everything and deal with their issue right away.
  • Regularly wants more: No matter what the service or treatment is; this type of client always wants something extra. Something extra might be a slightly longer massage or a special deal on the service or a discount on at-home products.  
  • Know more: Clients that think they know more but don’t want your professional advice. They want to tell you how to do things.

Do you cope or show them the door?

Dealing with difficult clients goes with the territory in running any business. The challenge is that albeit difficult, some challenging clients are just good for business. For example, you may have a client who comes in weekly for massage and buys lots of products for at home but frequently changes appointments last minute. Before you make any decisions about keeping a challenging client or “setting them free,” try these tactics:

Get control of yourself

Don’t try to deal with a challenging client right when they are doing something that annoys you. Be sure you are in control of yourself so that you can manage the situation.

Listen

Some clients just like to complain. Ironically they may be very loyal but it’s in their genes to find fault with something. With clients like this, first ask yourself are you really listening to them. Maybe they’ve complained so often, you tend to tune it out, yet what they really want is someone to pay attention to them. Showing genuine feelings toward a client may be all it takes to end the complaints. Ask them questions, listen to their answers and assure them that you intend to address the problem because you value their business.

Establish boundaries

By this point in your life, you know what you like and what annoys you.  Let people know nicely when they are encroaching into areas – your schedule, your expertise, even your product and treatment pricing - that are in conflict with your business operations.

Set expectations

Especially with critical clients, let them know what to expect from the treatment. If someone has back pain, you may indicate that after a therapeutic massage, they should expect to feel better in the following ways so that you have set expectations.

Try to sympathize

It may be difficult, but try to be sympathetic to someone who is annoying or frustrating you.  Put yourselves in their shoes for the moment and try to understand what may be motivating them to be difficult.  Your anger or annoyance may go away and instead you’ll feel compassion for the person who may be acting out of hurt, disappointment or worry.

By changing the way you deal with them, challenging clients may become “less challenging.”