|There is a very fine line between a professional and personal relationship with your clients. Working as a beauty therapist requires you to get close to your client - physically and often emotionally. They often share things with you they wouldn’t normally share with anyone else. It can often be difficult to maintain professional boundaries with your clients. However, these boundaries are necessary to give your best work to the client.
We should always care about your clients as people. Having that personal connection with your clients is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a beauty therapist. And part of being a professional is acting friendly and courteous to clients, asking about their children or grandchildren, swapping stories about vacations, or enquiring about their pets.
I always try to keep my “professional face” and not share extremely personal things. However, I must confess my sins: My clients do know that I am in a relationship, have two fur babies, and that I am originally from South Africa. But this is where I draw the line; after these personal titbits, I quickly turn the conversation back on them and ask about their lives and their interests. This puts them at ease and helps them feel like part of the conversation rather than a captive audience. This also helps you to get to know your client a little better so that you can remember & acknowledge important events and dates in her life. For example you can ask about her sick cat or new job when you next see her. I consider this being friendly.
Developing a friendship is a whole different story.
So, there is friendly, and then there is friendship. Friendly clients are those who follow you on Facebook, twitter or your personal blogs and comment when they have something to contribute to the conversation. Being friendly is a client who sends a quick email just to see how you're doing rather than to make an appointment.
On the other hand, friendship involves hanging out on the weekends and discussing personal and relationship issues and maybe inviting a client for drinks or dinner after work.
So what's the problem you may ask? We constantly hear that we build solid businesses through building relationships with clients.
The problem is that combining friendship with a business relationship limits your business prosperity. If a friend cancels her appointment with you at the last minute, will you charge her for that missed appointment? No! This is because friends treat you like a friend, not a professional person, which is what you are - and you'll treat them as a friend rather than a client in return. So even when a friendly professional relationship turns into a genuine friendship with a client – which often happens, you need to consider business first and friends second. Always remember to “do what is good for business”, because it is the business success & longevity that will provide you with an income so you can continue to do what you love.
No matter what your opinion is on the importance of professional friendships and business, one rule is clear: you should never be friends with a client as a tool to grow your business. Friendship should come from genuine feelings and caring. In any case, it will remain a one-way friendship if you use it to manipulate your earnings. Remember, your client is smart. Just like a bad set of false eyelashes, it's obvious when it's fake.
This works the other way, too: Be aware that if every time you hear from a client they are asking for a favour or for you to so something extra for no extra cost. That relationship is also not authentic and not a true friendship. True relationships are built on mutual respect and reciprocation.
In the end, maintaining a professional friendship can be like navigating a minefield. But as long as there is a complete understanding between you and your client of when to be professional and when to be friends, it can be navigated - with no surprise explosions along the way!
Here are five guidelines to that will allow you to keep your boundaries intact without distancing yourself so much from clients as to lose the warmth of service that you’re attempting to provide:
- Remember at all times, you are a professional and this is your workplace.
Keep the conversation focused on the client.
Keep your attention on your client. Ask questions and let her talk away while you work. Be time conscious. Try to keep the content of the conversation clean. Do not ask overly personal questions or inappropriate questions. Keep in mind that often others in the clinic can hear your conversation, so you don’t want to put your client in an awkward situation. Do not share your problems! Nobody wants to hear them at work - least of all your clients! Keep your conversation positive and light.
- You are not your client's friend.
- Don't talk about other clients, ever.
- Don't get caught up in the drama.