I've talked it over with a few other folks in the personal service industry — pretty much anyone who works by appointment with people — and we all agree: It doesn't take long before you develop a sixth sense about people.
Within the first year of doing nails I realized I had an uncanny success rate at predicting which clients would actually show up for their appointments and which ones wouldn't. In fact, my ability to predict no-shows from first-time clients has proven so reliable that there have been at least two instances where I actually just went ahead and double-booked the appointment. Both times I was glad I did because, sure enough, only one client showed up. That's not a habit I recommend getting into and not something I do regularly — I've just never been much of a gambler and generally speaking, I'd rather find myself sitting alone at my desk seething over being stood up than find myself having to humbly apologize for double-booking myself if my instincts fail me!
The hardest thing about realizing that you're a pretty decent judge of character is having to figure out how to handle cases where you find yourself with a client who you genuinely like personally, but turns out to be just a lousy client. I'm not talking about friends and family who take advantage of you, I'm talking about those people who are just awesome to visit with, but also forget their appointments, or are constantly needing to reschedule, or post-date checks, or any of the billion other things that make people great people but bad clients. Especially if you can see it coming.
What am I supposed to do? I hate babysitting my clients. I have a strict policy that if you aren't responsible enough to keep your appointments then you aren't responsible enough to get your nails done. It doesn't matter if you're 14 or 40, personal responsibility is definitely my barometer for determining the appropriate age for enhancements. Still, whether it's my own personality, fear of gambling, or maybe I'm just plain weak, I just can't justify refusing service on the grounds that "I have a bad feeling about you." I believe in the "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy, so all I can do is keep handing out the rope — eventually they hang themselves alright, and I have grounds for putting my foot down.