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A conversation between two people

As you know, I manage a retail shop/salon. I have been in the customer service/sales industry for over 20 years and in the beauty biz for over 10 of those years. With today’s tale, it may seem like I am giving off the impression that I am the “guru on the mount” of  customer service and sales and that is not my intent. That being said, I am good at what I do. Yeah, I said it. I know my product. I keep myself educated on the newest products and the newest trends in hair. I am not only my customer’s sales person – I like to refer to myself as their assistant buyer. I help our customers and clients make the proper choice for their hair care needs – be it a flat iron or a hairspray. I, like my blog, try to educate and enlighten.

Today’s tale is for salon owners and stylists. It is time to bring back customer service. It is time to bring back the sale. Bringing back the sale doesn’t mean you sell your client /customer the product that makes you the most profit and take their money. It means that you engage your client/customer. Ask them questions. Have a conversation. Find out what they are looking for, or not looking for. Ask if they are still happy with their hair, if there is something they would like to change. Find out what products they have at home and how they are using them. Seriously – it is just a conversation between two people – you do it all day long.

In our shop/salon, we sell over 25 different professional lines. We don’t carry all the lines, so on occasion I will have a customer looking for a line we don’t carry or maybe it is temporarily out of stock. When that customer asks for a line I don’t carry, I always ask them about the product they were looking for. Why you ask? If you are asking that question you have just solidified my point about customer service – back to the question. I ask them about the product they are looking for because I may have a similar product from another line that they may like. An example – Sebastian Craft Clay and Joico Ice Erratic are quite similar in texture and hold. The point is this, know your product. With proper product knowledge you can educate your customer. Take the time to tell your customer how to use the product, how much or how little, in wet hair or dry. Many times the customers I speak with have the right product, they aren’t using it properly because their stylist didn’t teach them how to use it.

Everyone wants to look good. No one wants to be standing in their bathroom hating their hair because of the product in their hair and we don’t want them hating us because we didn’t explain how to use the product. That’s right folks – while looking at their bad hair in their reflection – they are blaming their stylist or the person who sold the product. It’s true – you know you have done it too – we all have. Always be sure to ask;

– how do you like to style your hair?

– do you blow dry or air dry your hair?

– do you like to use a  brush while blow drying?

– have you used a chemical straightener?

– do you have a flat iron?

– do you want volume or hold or both?

– what products have you used? How are you using them?

Asking these questions can help you pinpoint what your customer/client is looking for. They may already have what they need at home and may not need to purchase anything that day. Guess what? By being honest and listening and educating them, you may not have made a sale but you have earned their business.

 

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It’s what’s inside that counts…

We all know this. Beauty comes from within. I agree, kindness, honesty, empathy – they are all good things and make a person more beautiful than any root lift, mascara or nail polish could. What I am talking about your heart rate, your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels etc… I know, who wants to think about such things when we are dealing with flyaways and frizz. Well my friends, what is happening on the inside could very well be the culprit of your beauty woes, skin and hair alike.

In these days of fads diets and extreme weight loss, what we seem to be losing is perspective. I am all for having the “junk in my trunk” that I had when I was 20, to have my arm stop jiggling after I have finished waving to my friend. We all want to look good, to feel as though we are on the catwalk in Paris or Milan. We all want the only muffin top in our lives to be on our breakfast muffin. Poor health and medications can not only decide what ride you can go on at the fair, it can affect how your hair takes color, retains curl, the porosity of the hair and the weakness or strength of your hair, skin and nails. Is it worth a lifetime of medication so you can fit into those size 2’s? (if you aren’t careful the money you save on food will be going to the hair extensions you may now need – not want).

Now, to keep you all off your soapboxes, I am not saying all “diet’s” are bad. You can shake, rattle and roll for all I care – be sure to educate yourself – and by the way – reading the bottle is not educating yourself. Talk to a doctor, get your base line bloodwork done to be sure it is safe for you, or just to be sure your heart can take it. Trust me, I know of what I speak. Last year two people very close to me suffered heart attacks and we didn’t see it coming – at all.

I am turning 40 this year and yes, things aren’t quite where they used to be – that’s what a great bra is for. Sure, my skin may not have the youthful glow it once had – that’s what lotion and bronzer’s are for. My hair may not have it’s luster except for the gray strands that shine on through – that’s what shine sprays are for. I know for a fact (because I just got back from the M.D.) that my health is intact and all my blood work is normal – so normal that my M.D. wondered why I was even at the appointment. I am not saying this to brag….”ooohhh – look who is soooo healthy”. The point is, if you don’t do it properly – you may finally get to the size you were in high school but your hair and skin look like you are heading for retirement , nothing may “get between you and your calvins” – what does it matter if you look great in your new jeans when the only person seeing it is the pharmacist?

Everything in moderation. Exercise 20 – 30 minutes a day. Eat your veggies. Educate yourself. Love yourself. You are worth it.

 

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I have seen the enemy and she is us.

As I sit here, all that keeps coming to my minds eye are the Dove commercials. You know the ones. The commercials that tell us how girls will stop sports because of their body image…and then my mind’s eye flashes to the mothers and daughters who come into the shop and the mother speaks about the daughter like she isn’t even there. Yes, I agree that the media has a part to play in the self esteem issues of girls and young women, hell of women in general…but I think we are each other’s worst enemy. As Pogo stated “I have seen the enemy and he is us”. In this case, she is us.

Every day, I mean every damn day a woman comes in to the shop and says things like “Oh…I’m too stupid to do my hair”, “I need big hair so people don’t see my big ass”, “Her hair is so greasy it looks like an oil slick” – this coming from a mother talking about her daughter who is right beside her. Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe you are so upset right now and say such things because you are doing what people expect of you instead of what you want to do? Maybe you are being nasty instead of supportive of your best friend’s new hair color because she has the guts to do what she likes instead of what her mother/husband tells her would look good. As for our daughters, ladies, be kind. There is no excuse, none, for a grown woman to pick apart a young girl’s oily scalp or oily complexion. Especially in public, that is just cruel, plain and simple. By the way, that doesn’t fly in my shop. I will always side with the young lady who is being bullied by her mother. That’s right. I said bullied. To be clear – literally pointing your finger and pointing out pimples and oily scalp = mean. Quietly asking for advice to help get rid of oily scalp while arm is around daughter’s shoulder = kind.

It is time to stop being so damn mean and so damn afraid. That’s right, afraid. Dig through meanness and you will find fear. If you are over the age of 21, it is time to stop being afraid of what your mother is going to think. Maybe your mother didn’t know any better, but we do and as Maya Angelou said “when you know better, you do better”. It’s time to do better, to each other and to the young ladies behind us. Ladies, if your best friend goes blonde, she did it for her, not to steal your husband. Your daughter dyed her hair black because she thought it would be cool, not because she is joining a cult. If you like to do your hair and makeup, it does not make you a shallow person or a bad mother. Stop being afraid of what people are going to think or say. Like I always say, people are going to talk no matter what you do so why not really give ’em something to talk about.

It is time to make the room change when we enter it instead of blending into the furnishings.

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No, it won’t run itself

You hear the chatter, you hear the laughter, you hear the hum of the blow dryer, you smell the aroma of fresh coffee brewing mixed with the scent of hairspray, you are at the Salon. The place where we come to renew ourselves, treat ourselves to some “me time”, to share our woes and our celebrations. Yes, the Salon is a wonderful place to be. Not only can it change a person’s hairstyle or color, it can change their perspective, even change their life.        It is a great business to be a part of. Yes, a business – from time to time, something that Salon managers/owners forget.

I deal with over ten reps. from different distributor’s and each time I see them we always end up having the same conversation…Salon manager/owners;

1)  not ordering retail product.

2) no rhyme or reason to staff attire/behaviour.

3) not having their orders prepared.

Always to be followed up with the same complaints from the Salon manager/owner’s – business is slow, they have “no idea” about how to make their staff behave, and have no idea what they need for the Salon.

Ladies and gents, I know beauty is fun and exciting and you always dreamed of owning a Salon and changing people’s lives. Guess what? It is also a business and it takes work, and effort, and time, and attention. When taken care of and done properly, it can  be awesome and not even feel like work. When not taken care of and everything put on the back burner, it’s gonna feel like you are on the chain gang. If your Salon is struggling and your staff isn’t performing up to par, as a Salon manager/owner, well, it’s your fault. Yeah, I said it. I am a manager of a Salon/shop and when something isn’t going right, I look at what I am doing first. (…not my favorite thing to do, admit a wrong…but this is what I signed up for). I lead by example,I am fair, but firm. I do not ask anything of my staff I would not do myself, from sweeping the floor to washing a baseboard = fair. If you show up late for a shift, you are getting a verbal warning = firm. Hey – as managers/owners this is what we signed up for. As managers/owners, we cannot be the “friend”. Yes, we can be friendly, yes a friendship may bloom after years of working together, but at the end of the day, we are the manager/owner, not the friend. If  you want to be the “friend”, you may want to rethink your position.

Salons, as all businesses, need structure, process, leadership. Your staff needs to know the ground rules, where the line in the sand is drawn,so that they aren’t always wondering what is going to happen next. They need to know that their manager/owner is taking care of the orders so they know if there will be enough color for their clients this weekend. When a Salon has structure it will blossom, because your staff only has one thing to think of, their client in their chair and the customer walking through the door.

– Staff meetings are a must, for salons with two or ten stylists. A meeting people – not a gossip fest about the newest juiciest news about your last client or a whine fest about someone not washing the towels enough.

– A staff manual is always an awesome idea. Oh calm down…It doesn’t have to be a novel. A few pages outlining the salon’s procedures for client care, the cash register, reception, pre-booking, retail sales & commissions, opening/closing procedures and dress code. Make two copies, one for the employee and one for their file. Have the employee sign both copies, for two reasons;

1) an understanding of what is expected of them and of the Salon

2) by chance, for example, the dress code is not being followed, you can show them that you know they know what is expected of the dress code…since they read and signed it. (if it happens again, now you know you have a problem). * As the manager/owner – we MUST follow dress code, at all times. Lead by example.

As managers/owners, we MUST know our inventory. We need to know how much stock we need, from color to gloves to coffee for the clients to disinfectant for the tools. There are many awesome Salon management programs out there. At our shop we use SAM by Milano and it is awesome, especially for retail. All you need is your clients name and number ( and you already have that) and this gem tracks all their purchases. An AWESOME tool for retail – in case of package changes or you can’t remember the last hairspray they bought, it’s there in their file.

You have to do the work. You need to be present and professional. A Salon will not run itself but with the right procedures in place, respect for your staff and clientele, it will begin to feel like it.

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What road are you taking?

Been sitting here staring at the screen, then I begin to type, then I hit delete, then stare at the screen once again. This is what happens to me when I am holding back. When I worry about other’s opinions of what I am about to write. As I was hitting delete for the twentieth time, I had one of my LIGHTBULB! moments.

This is what woman do in the Salon, everyday. We show them the color swatch book, they gaze adoringly at the red hair swatch, they say “Lets do it!”, then they look around at the other women in the Salon and with a shaking hand and voice to match they say “Ummm, ahh, maybe I should take a look again”. We hand the color swatch book back to them, they flip back to the browns, sigh, and then say “better stick to the usual…what would people think?”.

If you are familiar with my blog, you know I am a firm believer of being your own person, doing what you want and the hell with what others think. Yeah, yeah, I know…I started off today’s tale worrying about the thoughts of others. Give a girl a break would ya? I am a work in progress…and see, I am writing about what I want. Now, back to the tale at hand.

As women (sometimes the gents, but mostly it’s the ladies), we worry far too much about other’s opinions of our hair to our child rearing. Everyday I meet a woman who has a hairstyle she didn’t want, thinks she is too fat to go to the gym, has a hair color she detests, or is buying a product that she hates the smell of. The reason? It’s always the same…fear of what people will think. Don’t get me wrong…no judgment here. I have been that woman, and from time to time I have to keep that old girl at bay. I have had haircuts that made me cry. Hell, forget the gym, at one point I thought I was too fat to walk around the block. I have had hair color that, lets just say, was not me. I have used products that reminded me of a skunk in heat. All because of fear of the opinion’s of others, or fear of upsetting the apple cart.

In the big scheme of life and all it’s mysteries I may not know much, but I know this. It isn’t all about you (hardest pill for yours truly to swallow) and all that matters is YOUR OPINION. Oh…and screw them. Yeah, I said it. Now I have the hair style I want, I no longer think I am too fat to walk around the block, hell, I don’t think I am fat at all. I LOVE my hair color…blonde with dark underneath (so when my  roots show it looks like it’s on purpose…smoke and mirrors my friends…smoke and mirrors) and all my hair products remind me of the beach and the spring. Oh, believe me, I am still told that I should change my hairstyle, usually by someone who hated their own hair. I am told that I could still stand to lose a few, usually by someone who is trying to be skinny for their spouse, instead of being healthy and fit and supporting her husband’s dietary restrictions like yours truly. I am told that my blonde looks fake…well duh…my roots are dark… and I am constantly being told there is something else I should be using for my hair, usually by a rep. trying to bring in a new line,(which is excusable…they are just trying to do their job.).

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a tough road. It’s also one hell of a high road most days, so high I need to strap on an oxygen mask, but it is the road I would choose over any other. It is the road to personal redemption, to happiness, to wanting to look in the mirror at your reflection and liking who is looking back at you, the woman with the rockin’ hairstyle and awesome color.

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Go ahead…pull the other one

We’ve all seen the commercials. We’ve all seen the ads. We’ve all gone out and bought it and hid it in a brown paper bag. We’ve all done it. I’m speaking of box color from the drugstore…what did you think I was talking about?

Here’s the deal. Box color happens. You know. I know it. You want to do your own color because it makes you feel like you have become kindred spirits with the Hollywood spokesperson by using that product, power to you. That being said – when you decide to have your hair colored with professional Salon color – don’t deny that you used the box color. Here are the reasons why;

– more often than not, a stylist can spot  a bottle job at 100 paces.

– don’t even get me started about arguing that the box said “professional quality”. If there wasn’t a Salon within two feet of you and a stylist was mixing the color – it ain’t professional.

– lying about using box color makes you sound like, well, a thirteen year old girl who is afraid of her mommy.

– no one is born with natural white blonde and orange streaks.

– Box color and Salon color don’t always mix. It is possible for a chemical reaction to take place and your hair can start to resemble Carrot Top or Kermit the Frog.

– in some cases, the hair can begin to break off. Yes, I said break off. I have seen it. It wasn’t pretty.

– last but not least, how could you do that to your kindred spirit? What kind of friend are you?

Why people choose to lie about using box color is beyond me and I don’t know why they try to lie to me about it. I had Mrs. Spencer, my grade two teacher believing we had two foster babies at our house and I was too busy helping my mother to be able to finish my spelling homework. I had that gig going for 3 weeks until the day my mother brought my spelling book to school because I forgot it at home. Long story short..the jig was up, the room spun a little and I had extra spelling homework for weeks. The point of sharing that tale…(pardon my french), you can’t bullshit a bullshitter. I know you used box color. You know you used box color. Admit it. Own it. Move on.

To be honest, it isn’t so much the color of your hair that gives away the fact you used box color, it is the look on your face when asked the question. The look in question is a mixture of a deer caught in the headlights mixed with a child being caught with their hand in the cookie jar. No matter the age or gender – the same look crosses the face of the person who is asked “Have you used box color on your hair?”. Jesus…it’s not like you were asked if you shoot heroine or if you knew all along where Bin Laden was. We just need to know what is on your hair so we can be sure you leave with the color you want. It’s really not that big of a deal. No judgement…well, not at my Salon.

* IMPORTANT TIP* if your stylist does not ask you if your color is professional Salon color or box color – get up and leave. Run! Think about it…a true professional and someone who takes pride in their work wants to be sure you receive the best color and service. You are their best advertising.

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Just leave it at the door

I have been in the customer service gig for over twenty years, from being a waitress to a manager and everything in between. So believe me when I tell you, I know the frustration of working with the public. Hell, it’s not good genes that give me my full bottom lip…I got that baby from all the times I had to bite my lip to stop myself from saying what I was thinking about a customer’s behavior. From a temper tantrum over  OPI Lincoln Park after Dark being on back order to a mother mocking her teen daughter’s oily scalp to a flat iron being thrown at my head…I have heard,seen and felt it all. Quite honestly, it is getting a little old and tiresome. I have to leave it at the door, I think everyone should as well.

For those of you wondering what the hell I am talking about, let me explain. In the customer service circles, “Leave it at the door” means just that. Whatever personal issues you are having, be it a sick child, a boyfriend who gives the joystick more attention than you (pun definitely intended), or your undies are bunching up – leave them at the door and pick ’em back up at the end of your work day. In other words – to quote Melvin Udall “sell your crazy somewhere else…we’re all stocked up here”. (you know…Jack Nicholson… As good as it gets…sigh). Life gets in the way, all the time. Leave it at the door.

I understand, trust me, how difficult it can be to “leave it at the door”. In one week I had my husband and my father have a heart attack as my daughter was in the throws of beginning high school. Guess what?!? Still had to put on a happy face and be polite. Still had to do my job and help our customers and clients. First of all – that is what you call being a professional. Second, that is called being an adult. Third and most important, using my husband’s or father’s health as an excuse to act like an ass would make me, well, an ass.

What brought on this tale today you ask? Well, let me tell ya, I ran into someone who didn’t leave it at the door, and quite honestly, it pissed me off. There I was, in line at my local grocery store. I have been a cashier in my youth, so I know what a joy that job can be, so I always make a point of being nice. The elderly gentleman in front of me was buying a jug of water and was paying with change. Well, Goldilocks (she had blonde hair), sure didn’t appreciate that. I heard so many sighs I was waiting for a parental advisory to come across the scanner. After the gentleman finished his count, she reached for the receipt and stared me down. Alrighty then. I get up to the cash and say hello to which she barks without eye contact “Need a bag?!?”. Funny, she had no problem with eye contact a few seconds ago… . “No, I brought one thank you.” to which she grunted and began to pile my groceries, on top of said bag. So, I dug threw my bread and berries, got the bag and began to pack it myself. She finished ringing in my groceries, then stared at me. Wow! Eye contact restored. So, I looked at the monitor, saw my total and asked her “so the total is $41.40?” to which she quipped “Yeah.”. I give her my money, she gives me back my change, on the counter as my hand is open and out, and turns back to the next customer (god be with him). I wish her a good night and receive no response. This is when my 10 year old self popped up and I found myself saying “HEY! I said to have a good night.”. She turned, stared and stuttered out “have a good night”. “Thank you, see you again.” is what I left her with. Now, I admit, not one of my finest moments. Hopefully it made her realize she was being an ass and maybe, just maybe she would be nicer to her next customer. Maybe, just maybe, tomorrow she will leave it at the door.

When it feels like life is kicking you in the crotch, why give it more of an excuse to get a few more blows in? If you are being miserable, you are gonna get misery given back to you. If you are being an ass, you are gonna get an asshole convention showing up all damn day. Just leave it at the door, and maybe, just maybe, on your way out the door at the end of the day, the wind will have blown it away.