Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Cut Ties with your Hair Stylist

Girl finds hair stylist. Girl gets her hair done by hair stylist for years. Girl breaks up with hair stylist.

As many of us can attest, breakups with our hair stylist can sometimes be as dramatic as a Lifetime movie.

We're great buddies with our stylist when we're in their chair. Hairdressing by nature is a very social science. They know all about us. They know our likes, our dislikes, our hair color formula, what irritates our scalp, why we hate our sister-in-law, and where our cowlick is.

When the relationship is good, it is very good. But when it starts going south, many times it is from a service perspective. And because we feel that our hairdresser knows us so well, it is sometimes a challenge to break up with them and move on to a new hair-based relationship.

We can break up with our stylist for a variety of reasons: the quality of their work, pricing changes, salon service and environment, or if you ask them to change your style and they keep giving you the same cut year after year, a complaint I hear quite often. 

I recently noticed that Allstate is now offering to tell your insurance company that you will no longer be with them and are switching to Allstate instead. I wondered if that is just a selling point or if it is really necessary. Do people really go that out of the way to avoid being the bearer of bad news - even to these huge insurance conglomerates who can go on just fine without our monthly premium dollars.

Those commercials always make me think of my grandma. Gram is one of those ladies who has gone to have her hair done every Friday for years. There have been a couple of times when she has felt the need to switch hair stylists.

Gram does not like confrontation, so she didn't feel like calling the stylists and telling them that she was leaving them and dealing with the questions she might have to face. But she did want them to know that she wasn't just disappearing into oblivion.

Her stylist breakups were both fraught with anxiety. Breakup drama is likely to happen if  we have been going to that stylist for any length of time. We become accustomed to them and usually look forward to their company. They are an old friend to us, even though we don't usually see them socially, we feel like there is a friendship there nonetheless. The pragmatic side of me says it's not a real friendship because it's based on a business transaction. But the sentimental side knows that the personal connection that goes along with the hair stylist/client relationship is very difficult to break.

I have only had one chance to deal with a hair stylist breakup personally, and I am unhappy to report that I failed miserably at doing it with dignity. I simply found a new salon without saying a word. Yes, I was a big chicken.

If you need to break up with your stylist and find another, make the switch as painless as possible for both parties involved. Do it officially. Don't use avoidance tactics like yours truly.

Send a him or her a nice note. Not an email. There is no need to go into the salon and disrupt their day or make a scene. Chances are they don't have a stack of your CD's or a drawer full of your stuff like an ex boyfriend that you need to go there to recover. Thankfully! 

Write on the envelope "Personal and Confidential" in case the receptionist or salon owner opens all the mail. Tell them what you enjoyed about having your hair done by them. There must have been something that kept you going back for whatever amount of time you saw them.

Also include the reason why you decided to stop going to them. Include positive, constructive comments if you feel inclined. If you were in their shoes, would you want to know why you lost a client? I would. Going forward, if they are cognizant that there is an issue they need to address, it can help them keep other clients in the future.

Breaking up with your hairstylist does not have to be traumatic if it is done properly. You can even leave the relationship with your dignity intact!

Part 2: How to Find a New Hair Stylist coming this week.


carly said...

honestly, i have to say there were a couple of hair stylists i've had to "break up" with- ones that i enjoyed going to. maybe it's my approach in limiting how much i share or keeping them at arm's length, but this is a business decision. it's business, it's not personal. i feel like i don't owe them anything- they'll get new clients to replace me and i'll get what i need from a new relationship. but like i said, maybe that's just in my approach to begin with.

Alanna Klapp said...

Great advice, Kristen, very practical. I recently switched stylists. Honestly, it had nothing to do with her, I just couldn't justify paying $40 (plus another $15 for an eyebrow wax) for a haircut when I could get the same quality haircut at another salon for the half the price. My husband has been laid on and off for the last year, most recently the last 3 months, and I can't afford to go to her anymore. I went to Great Clips and those kinds of places a couple of times and was quickly reminded why those places SUCK (you really do get what you pay for sometimes). My neighbor recommended the salon I currently go to now and the first thing my new stylist did was fix the back of my hair where the Great Clips people messed up my layers. After that I was hooked, I am so happy I found an affordable, good quality salon ($8.50 for an eyebrow wax instead of $15!) and I hope I don't have to break up with my new stylist for a long long time.
I'm like your Gram, I don't like confrontation, and I probably won't send a note to my old stylist (I don't get my hair cut for long periods of time so she was used to me not being around very often), since I don't think there's anything she can do about the outrageous prices her salon unfortunately charges, especially during these tough times econmically. This is good to know for the future, though, in case I have to break up again! Thanks!