Oct 17, 2022

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Can You Be Friends With Clients? The Importance of Understanding Business Relationships


blonde nail tech sits at table doing clients nails. client sits across with beaded bracelets on wrist, smile on face. Black text below reads "managing client relationships as a beauty professional"

It’s easy to blur the lines between being friendly and friends with our clients in the beauty industry. It’s only natural to want to get along with everyone. But what happens when we forget that our relationship with our clients in business is transactional?

Keep reading and you’ll walk away knowing:

  • How to be friendly with clients without blurring lines

  • Why it’s important to keep business separate from personal relationships

  • That nothing in life is forever

You’ll learn how to take care of yourself, set boundaries, and enjoy the relationships you make with your clients, without feeling disappointed when they don’t return the friendship.

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Different Types of Relationships in Business

Relationships in business can be messy and complicated. Did you hear about my whirlwind relationship with a client when I first started out

I’m no stranger to blurring the lines between friends and friendly. And in full transparency, it’s gotten me hurt and confused more than once. 

So, like all the lessons I share, this one comes from a place of wanting to help you avoid the crappy situations I’ve experienced. 

Losing a Soulmate

If you’ve been following along on my journey for a while, you know that my dog, Leroy, was my soulmate. He passed away in May of 2019 and I wanted to make this post as a sort of tribute to him. 

I got him with my ex-husband and when we split up, I ended up keeping him. It wasn’t something that we planned. I didn’t even think I’d ever be going through a divorce. It tore my whole world apart, and Leroy was my constant. 

He was nonjudgmental in a world that told me that divorce was wrong and sinful. 

Leroy was the one thing that never disappointed me or made me feel like a disappointment. He couldn’t talk, so he never upset me or pissed me off. We never misunderstood each other or miscommunicated. He was always just there for me; through the highs and the lows. 

He was beside me when I moved my entire life to Calgary from Saskatoon and that’s when he started coming to work with me. He became such a part of my brand and I loved having him with me every day. 

But when he passed, it tore my life apart. So much so that I decided to take a leave of absence from the salon. 

I took a month off to start and then I went back into the salon to see if I could do it. Unfortunately, because the salon was such a big reminder of him, I didn’t know for sure if I was ready to be back in the space yet. 

Unrealistic Expectations

It didn’t take long at all to realize that I was not emotionally prepared for it at all. 

Not to mention I was extremely self-conscious. I feel like the world allows you to grieve over a pet for so long before you’re expected to just be “over it”. And more often than not, they hold pets and humans in very different regard. 

Grieving the loss of my soulmate, my confidante, and my life partner was unfathomably difficult. 

So I tried to go back to the salon and it was just too hard and I knew I needed to take more time off. 

But that one day that I went back in, and I don’t remember too much because that time was such a blur, I had one of my dear clients in. This was a client that I saw every five or six weeks for a couple of years. 

What comforted me the most knowing she was in that day was the fact that I had been by her side when she went through the loss of her soulmate dog. 

I was so happy that I was going to be able to see her and connect with her. If anyone was going to get it, it was her. 

Turns out, this was going to be a hard lesson in learning that your clients aren’t your friends. 

I remember telling her that this was my test run. I told her how hard it was to be in the salon and how much it reminded me of Leroy. I told her honestly that I didn’t know if I was ready to be back in the salon full-time. 

Her response: “But what about my hair?”

I was shocked. Really?? That was the most important thing at that moment? I told her that I just didn’t know at that time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back. 

Here I was thinking that she was going to tell me to take as much time as I needed and that she understood how hard this must be for me. That she would be there for me in the same way that I was there for her. 

I had an expectation that she would understand. 

Here’s the reality, it’s a transaction. Although clients might fight and say “no, you’re my friend”, at the end of the day, we really do what’s best for us. 

Transactional Relationship

So I don’t fault my client at all for how she responded to the situation. At the end of the day, they’re paying me to provide something for them. 

This is why we can sometimes be considered the “ultimate friend” to our clients because each interaction is always about them. We never ask them for anything. 

That’s when I had to realize that I can be kind, compassionate, and empathetic to my clients while still checking in with myself to see if I’m expecting a reciprocal relationship. I need to remember that this is a business transaction. 

When we check our own expectations we can better evaluate the situation. 

Now, I want to make it clear that I think we can be friends with our clients. And at the same time, we can also just be friendly with clients. When I say that your clients are not your friends, it’s not a blanket statement. 

I’ve had a client who’s asked to hang out outside of the salon and I was super excited about it. What I did was set up expectations and boundaries at the beginning. When I gave them my phone number, I made it clear this was not the place to contact me for salon-related things. 

They respected those boundaries and I felt really good about it. 

Go The Extra Mile

I’m sharing this story because I don’t want you to make a blanket statement like “don’t be friends with your clients”, “don’t be friendly”, or “don’t go the extra mile”. 

I LOVE being able to do extras for my clients! I love being able to surprise them with some sort of bonus or extra something. I love doing that sort of stuff because nothing makes me happier than seeing someone else be happy. 

But I’ve learned to check myself. I can’t expect them to make exceptions for me. I can’t do anything with the expectation of repayment. I also can’t expect them to look out for my health and well-being for me. 

I need to remind myself that this is a friendly interaction and it’s still a business interaction. It’s not a reciprocal relationship. 

So I want you to take inventory of the relationships you have with your clients. Maybe some are friends and they’re reciprocal, and maybe some are friendly and it’s a transaction. 

Be careful knowing the difference so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. 

Remember, by taking care of yourself, you’re able to do more of the things you love and continue to take care of your clients. 

I was really proud of myself for putting myself first when the client asked about their hair. It would’ve been really easy for me to just bend my boundaries, blur the lines and not put myself first. 

I did end up losing that client and it really broke my heart, ‘cause I thought it was a reciprocal relationship. That’s where I needed to check myself. 

Only For a Season

I’m sharing this to hopefully save you from the heartache of feeling like you’ve lost a friend. I completely understand that this is such a touchy, tricky subject for so many of us. 

How many of us are holding ourselves back from growing in our business because we’re trying to avoid that heartbreak? 

Maybe you’ve put off implementing that new price increase, or removing that one service from your menu because you don’t wanna lose clients. And I get it, the relationships that you’ve built with them are so beautiful and special. 

I want you to know that you can get your goals and that you will lose clients along the way. And that’s okay! New clients will meet you where you’re at. 

I remember being so sad I was going to lose a client with a price increase. Literally, the next week, a new client booked in and we clicked so well! Even though it was sad to see my old client leave, it was really exciting to develop a new bond with someone. 

Nothing is forever in this world. 

Now that’s not to say that’s a “bad” or “hard” thing. But simply realizing that things have a life span and some are shorter than others. 

It’s important to learn to accept the good times for what they are and let them go when they’re done. And that’s easier said than done, for sure. 

I hope this can be an encouragement for you. Check in with yourself and make sure that you’re honoring yourself first. 

You can still be kind, compassionate, and empathetic, while not blurring the lines between being friendly and being friends. 

Don’t ever forget that you’re a freakin’ big deal and you can do hard things. 

It’s always a pleasure hanging out with you, friend. 
If you wanna keep hanging out, why don’t you sign up for my LIVE workshop happening on October 20th at 6 pm MST. I’m showing you how to double your income without doubling your work (minus any sleazy sales tactics). I’d love to see ya there!

Let’s be besties?

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

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