When happy salon clients don’t return

Keep raving fans coming back
Lisa Conway
Salon Coach
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The loved-up raving fan: a universal salon mystery. Just one of several client personas that can leave you scratching your head in bewilderment until you learn to understand the different personality types we meet not just in the salon, but in all walks of life.

One of my early mentors explained the phenomenon of the raving fan to me more than a decade ago. The issue is still as relevant today as it was then – it just came in in a Zing team training session recently – and the advice is just as sound, too.

In this training session, we were discussing lost clients versus new clients, and the need to keep an eye on those every week. This particular salon team crunched their numbers and were perplexed by those clients who didn’t return, even though they  seemed very satisfied at the end of their last visit. And when happy salon clients don’t return we all need to know – why?

One stylist singled out a particular client who couldn’t stop staring at herself in the mirror on the way out. She purchased a couple of products to use at home and was waxing lyrical (and loud) about the expert service and her lovely salon experience. All the client sounds that are music to our ears!

The plot twist: she was never seen again! That, my friends, is classic modus operandi of the raving fan. It’s a client persona you need not just to understand, but to beware of.

Chances are, it’s not you, it’s her (or him).

The raving fan can leave you asking yourself what you’ve done wrong. Why else would someone so enthusiastic about your work just disappear?

Client personalities in the salon

The training session had me flashing back to when my first mentor was listening to a disheartened me explaining the exact same situation. “Beware the raving fan,” he said.

And he was right. His warning has borne out time and time again in my own experience as a salon owner.

There are all types of client personalities. That’s a given! After all, there are endless types of people in the world. Some seem impossible to please and even more difficult to read. They hold their cards close to their chests. Others, even though they don’t show much emotion, return again and again. Some clients are quirky and ask odd questions. Others are so unclear, you struggle to negotiate an outcome they’ll be happy with.

And then there is the raving fan. Let’s call her Gloria. She’s noisy and gushy. She over-exaggerates everything. If it’s a beautiful day, Gloria will tell you “It’s stunning, it’s a one in a million!” If Gloria’s dog can fetch a stick, she’s bragging that he’s “incredibly smart, unbelievably talented and like no other dog she’s ever had.”


Sound familiar? It’s so easy to be swept up into Gloria’s energy. It’s infectious and we’re all drawn to positivity rather than doom and gloom. That’s not always a bad thing. Just beware: it’s very possible Gloria will move on to her next awesome experience at the next salon, so she has something new to wax lyrical about. And that’s not always a bad thing.

What to do about the raving fan

If you focus on giving every client fabulous service, you’ll always have new clients coming to your salon. Your challenge is to get over the fact that some clients will not return, no matter how great you are. Sometimes, it’s them, not you.

Is Gloria (or any raving fan) wrong or right to be so vocal in her praise and then not return? Who knows? And who cares?

Your mission each day is to deliver an incredible, consistent experience and to share your expert knowledge with every client.

If they don’t come back for more, it’s their choice.

You need to focus squarely on what you do and say, rather than on what others do and say. After all, that’s all you can control. Your business is to be the best stylist, cutter or colourist you can be and to get on with that journey. There’s no better way to reduce your lost clients.

When I worked on the salon floor, I noticed some of those ‘difficult’ quirkier clients were the most loyal, once I showed them that I really cared. Some had been treated poorly at previous salons and were grateful for my patience and loved me sharing my knowledge. Some took a few visits to really trust me. Once they did, they were remarkably loyal to me. They were “rusted-on” and very unlikely to move on.

So, what can you learn from Gloria and the raving fan client persona? Perhaps consider that the typical hairdresser personality can be a little like Gloria. We can be full-on, too, with extreme highs and lows that can make our professional performance hit and miss. The lows are not acceptable in the salon. Not ever. And you might want to tweak your ultra-highs because, for some people, full-on is too much.

I remember hearing a friend described as “black sauce”. Black sauces, like soy or Worcestershire, are strong, powerful and full-bodied – you need to go easy, not overdo it. Unlike tomato sauce, which you can load on.

Like strong sauce, raving fans (and even full-on salon staff) are best poured sparingly.

You’ll need to tailor your approach for every age group and personality type, but never forget who you are and what you truly believe in.

Everyone who comes to your salon chair is entitled to a memorable, pleasant and professional experience delivered by an expert.

And the Glorias of this world? Embrace the energy and positivity raving fans bring to your salon with each visit. Reward it with your signature fabulous service. And who knows? Maybe they’ll flip the personality type on its head and keep coming back for more.

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