When Salon Clients Leave and Won’t Tell You Why

A recent conversation with a salon owner about the reasons customers stop coming in revealed a gap in the stats – at least as far as she was concerned.  Consumer surveys point to perceived employee indifference (not incompetence or product or service issues) as the number one reason why customers take their business elsewhere. In her case, she said, the biggest problem is not when a customer tells you why they are leaving; rather, it’s when they won’t tell you why. 

While consumers report that perceived employee indifference is what causes them to stop patronizing businesses most often, most business owners, and especially small business owners who work one on one with their clients – like salon owners, hair stylists and other personal service providers – are far from indifferent to their clients.

And when a client leaves without saying why, it’s enough to drive a salon owner – or any small business owner – crazy!

If you’ve tried to find out why one or more of your clients left, here are five ways to find out what – if anything – caused the discontent that caused them to move on.

5 ways to find out why salon clients left when they won’t tell you why: 

1. Scrutinize their past interactions with your business.

What service/s did they last receive?  What products did they last purchase? How much did they spend at their last appointment?  Look for clues as to whether they experienced some type of disappointment at their last visit, or even whether their purchasing patterns changed over time.

2.  Talk to everyone else who was there.

A good detective follows up with all witnesses.  Even if – as in the case of this salon owner – you were the person who interacted with an individual most of the time, other staff members who were on the premises at the time of their last appointment or purchase may have observed with or even interacted with this customer. Ask whether they noted anything that seemed amiss during the appointment or after the time of service (or product purchase).

3.  Don’t underestimate the value of social networks.

For some social media users, nearly every waking thought bears a status update.  If your former customer is active on social networks (especially where you might have both interacted on the same social network in the past) see if you can gather any information as to where they took their business. This might give you clues as to why they left, especially if they left for a competitor who convinced them they could better serve their needs.

If you have mutual friends or acquaintances and feel comfortable doing so, you can even ask whether they know why your customer stopped coming to your business.

4.  Do a competitive analysis.

Periodically surveying competitors to see how your business menu of services, products, pricing and customer service stack up should be part of your business planning process on at least an annual basis.  It can be helpful in revealing up and coming competitors that represent a threat in attracting your own clients.

5.  Finally – and don’t wait until customers leave to do this, either! – conduct a customer satisfaction survey that includes customers that fit your ideal buyer profile* to look for potential problems in the customer experience, competitive disadvantages or other reasons why a customer might want to choose another provider. Ideally you will survey customer satisfaction levels on at least an annual basis (and it might not hurt to do this with employees, too!)

*For instance, similar age range, gender, needs, interests, etc. 

And remember that there are other reasons that customers move on, as well.  For instance, your business may have been convenient to their kid’s school or their job, either of which may have now changed.  They may have a close friend or family member who is now one of your competitors. They may have followed the recommendation of friends in their social circle.  And some people just like change!

You might also like: 4 Digital Marketing Musts for Salon and Spa (dbsquaredinc.com)


Elizabeth Kraus is the author of the 2015 Salon Marketing Calendar  called “Making the Cut.”

Written just for Independent Beauty Professionals, Making the Cut has hundreds of low-cost and no-cost marketing ideas which can help booth renters, salon suite owners, salon owners and salon managers engage, motivate and retain more clients in 2015!