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8 Behaviors That Hurt Client Relationships

By: Joseph Callaway
Posted: July 31, 2013, from the August 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

If you’re like most spa business owners, you probably assume your client relationships are pretty good. However, it’s possible your relationships are merely surviving rather than thriving. Following are eight bad habits that might be keeping you from developing strong relationships with your clients and tactics to help you improve them.

1. Making client interactions about you. You need a strong sense of self in order to be a successful spa owner, but no client prefers working with someone who has a patronizing attitude or constantly sings her own praises. Remember, your job is to be a champion for your clients, to solve their problems and help them find satisfying treatment and product solutions.

2. Worrying too much. You can’t expend the majority of your mental energy on worries and what-ifs. This puts you in the wrong frame of mind to think innovatively about how to meet clients’ needs. Worry thrives when you procrastinate, so every time you find yourself fretting, make yourself busy by solving a problem you’ve been avoiding.

3. Letting apathy creep in. It’s imperative that you choose to take pride in your work. When you consciously decide to put forth your best effort, your feelings of indifference will disappear as you begin to genuinely care about your clients. Make plans to do something that will help you improve your skills, expand your knowledge and grow your passion. A great way to do this is by attending industry events, such as Face & Body® Northern California Spa Conference and Expo at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on August 24–26. For more information or to register today, visit www.FaceandBody.com/california.

4. Being dishonest. When you cultivate a reputation for rock-solid honesty, clients will trust, respect and refer your services, making your life easier. You’ll find that most people want an honest opinion or the full story.

5. Being too professional. Do you only see your clients as sources of income, or do you see them as actual human beings with interests, quirks and stories? It’s important not to cross certain boundaries, but there’s no reason you can’t strive to make a deeper connection with your clients by asking about their lives outside of skin care. Every time you meet with a client, ask at least one question that has nothing to do with business. The conversation will probably develop in a surprising direction.

6. Thinking that you know best. It’s true that you are the skin care expert, but that doesn’t mean your opinion is the only one that matters. Find out what your clients want and figure out how to provide it for them.

7. Not expressing genuine gratitude. Clients, like anyone else, want to feel valued. You can show them just how much you appreciate them by getting to know them personally, forgiving occasional bad behavior and staying up-to-date in your field in order to give them the highest level of service. Overall, strive to make politeness, consideration and friendliness traits your skin care facility is known for—and never justify treating clients with rudeness.

8. Writing off difficult clients. When you make the choice to stand by all of your frazzled, frustrated clients, you will eventually reap financial and personal rewards. The next time a client is being difficult, attempt to get to the bottom of it. When you know the reason behind a client’s behavior, you’ll be inspired to go to greater lengths on her behalf.

If you commit yourself to your clients’ best interests, your bad relationship habits will begin to dissipate on their own. And over time, your clients will begin to take care of you just as you have taken care of them.

Joseph Callaway is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle (Wiley, 2012) and cofounder of the real estate company, Those Callaways.