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Stood up

You know, when I was 16 and my date never showed, it hurt. My saving grace of being a teen of the 80’s is that I could make up a reason for the no show. You see, this is before the age of Facebook and Twitter. Before the age of cell phones and texting. Sure, some had car phones but at $10.00 a second, not much talk time was to be had. So, in my teenage mind I could tell myself “Oh, he probably tried to call when my Mom was on the phone but kept getting a busy signal”, or “He is probably stuck somewhere and the pay phone is out of order”.

The reason for the above little ditty? Well, last week, your truly was stood up. Twice. Yep. Twice. Who stood me up you ask? My sales reps. – and they were the ones who made the appointment with me! I was not and am not impressed, for a multitude of reasons. Now my much needed stock will take longer to arrive – empty shelves are the enemy of any business. I had products that I did not order but was charged for waiting for pick up so the owner’s account could be credited, so now the credit will take that much longer. I had to call my customer’s that I had placed a special order for and had to tell them it is going to be a longer wait – that makes for a fun Monday morning. Most of all, what really burned my butt – my time is not seen nor treated as important nor is the business I am trying to run and build. It is my word and my reputation on the line, and I, like the majority of Salon owners, do not like being left looking the fool.

In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, cell phones and texting, there is no excuse for a no show. There is no excuse for being stood up. This isn’t 1986 and you got a better offer for a date to the dance so you didn’t show up or call, this is business and should be treated as such. I understand events can happen that are out of your control. A quick text “gotta reschedule” would suffice. Call your customer service desk and let them know what is going on so when I have to call them at the end of the day to place my order, they can let me know what is going on.

If you want my business, let me give you a little helpful hint…it helps if you show up.

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Help Wanted

Today’s tale is one for all the up and comers in our beloved industry. We are in the business of Beauty. Our customers and clients come to us because they want to look better and in turn feel better about themselves. They look to us for helpful hints and tips on how to care for their hair and to style their new ‘do.

Over the past year I have had many young ladies and gents come through my door asking if I was hiring for the shop or if our Salon would take an apprentice under our wing. For the most part, I had to say no – and not for the reasons you think. I didn’t say no because of lack of business, lack of clientele, lack of budget or because the economy is slow. I had to say no because as I saw it, if they were not able to brush their own hair, how were they able to help our clients and customers with their hair care needs. One young lady still stands out in my mind.

I hear the chirp of the shop’s door chime and look up to see a young woman wearing jogging pants, an over sized jacket, no makeup applied and her hair in a messy ponytail. “I just finished school and I need my hours…do you guys take apprentices?”. It was at this moment I decided that I was gonna change her life.I took a breath, put a smile on my face and crossed my fingers that the demo flat iron beside her would not become air born. I asked her where she went to school and I asked her if part of the curriculum focused on how to apply for a position in a salon. “Not really” she answered. I let her know that we were  not looking for an apprentice at the moment, but I would take her resume. I also asked her if she had a minute to chat. She said yes. I asked her if she loved doing hair or just liked it. “I LOVE IT!” she exclaimed. I told her I was happy to hear it, because it is a lot of hard work and long hours, but if you love it, it’s all worth it. I then asked her if I could give her a few tips. I let her know that our industry is a visual industry, that being said, she must always look like she is ready to cut/color someone’s hair. I let her know that she needs to have her hair done and a little make up applied – even if it’s just lip gloss. I let her know of Salon’s in town that I had heard were looking for apprentices and told her to go home an do the following;

– call the Salon you are interested in and ask to speak to the manager and ask to make an appointment to come and see them. * Shows professionalism and shows you understand their time, as yours, is important.

– have a shower, do your hair and apply a little makeup. You need to look good and smell good. *think about it, would you want to get your hair done by someone who’s hair was not tidy and they smelled like the gym?

– dress appropriately. Put on a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt – preferably black. (black compliments the client – puts the attention on them). *make sure the pants are clean and the shirt is pressed

– bring your tools along. You never know, you may be asked to give a cut so they can see your technique and composure around their clients.

I let her know you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that most people wouldn’t attempt to see past the jogging pants and wouldn’t give her the time of day. I then told her one of my favorite sayings “when you know better, you do better. So now, you will do better”. She laughed. (whew…thank you Maya Angelou and the powers that be that left the flat iron in it’s place).

After she left I found myself thinking about how we are not educating the up and comers. Sure they are learning cutting and coloring techniques, but these alone do not a stylist make. Students need to be taught customer service skills, interpersonal skills, how to communicate with their potential boss and coworker, how to sell retail product to their client sitting in their chair – they need to be told how to dress for their interviews and in turn for their career. Listen, I am a mother of a teenage daughter so I know you cannot guarantee what you have said has been heard nor can you guarantee what you have taught has been learned. What I do know is this; not educating students and giving them all the tools they will need if they choose to get ahead is, well, cruel and setting them up to fail. Plain and simple. Starting out in this industry is hard enough, and brings out it’s own road blocks, emotionally, physically and mentally. How about instead off adding another roadblock we give them the green light.

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Uh oh…you thought my civility meant softness

As you know, I manage a retail shop/Salon. I love my job. I get excited when I have helped a woman love her hair. Yes, I am 41 years old and I will clap my hands and exclaim “YAY!” when a client thanks me for introducing them to the product that saved their hair, be it KMS HairPlay Molding Paste or SOMA Solace. I show my excitement. I giggle. I clap. If they are a regular customer and we have a good rapport, I even hug. I also show my genuine concern when a client is not happy with a product. I listen to their frustrations. I clarify what exactly was the issue with the product. I ask them how they are using the product and help them figure out if it is the right product, just being used incorrectly, or if there may be a better product for them. I say please. I say thank you. I make eye contact. I also, on some occasions, must keep my cool and stand there as someone loses their cool. Of course sometimes I have to duck – flying flat iron – enough said.

The reason I gave you all a fly on the wall glimpse into my daily life is this – to prove, once and for all that being a happy, positive person does not mean you are stupid and have your head in the clouds. That having manners does not mean you are fake and trying to impress everyone in the room. That keeping your cool while someone is losing it does not mean you have no back bone.

Every once and a while I meet someone who takes one look at me with my blonde hair and big earring and high heels and decides what ever they are gonna decide about me. After they speak to me for a few minutes I seem to hear the same things;

– “I thought you were going to be a snob” – because I said please and thank you and had so much manners. (actually said to me…yep.)

– “I thought you were a diva!” – because I like my bling. (I would so bedazzle this post if I could.).

– “I thought you were too young to know anything about this stuff” …thanks for the genes Mom & Dad

– “I’m sorry”. – said to me after I asked if they were going to calm down or did I need to call the police. Yep, a grown woman lost her shit because I wouldn’t take back a flat iron that had no receipt, no box, no proof of purchase and had a broken plate, which after the threat of police (from your truly) and apology for throwing said flat iron (from said crazed customer) she admitted she dropped it on the ceramic tile floor in her bathroom.

The point of today’s tale is this; be kind and never assume anything of anyone, good or bad, beautiful or ugly – in the end they will show that themselves.

– If you are fortunate enough to meet someone who is kind, do not treat them like they are simple and stupid because they offer their kindness. (see above title)

– When you see someone excited about something, join in the excitement, don’t roll your eyes and tell them “to grow up”.

– When you see someone, lady or gent, impeccably dressed, compliment them. Do not scowl at them – they are not trying to “out-do” you – that’s your problem honey, not theirs.

– When a woman has her hair done, make up applied and is wearing heels, it does not mean that she is after your man, or that she is a bimbo without a brain, or that she is craving attention. Maybe, just maybe, she likes herself.

– When you are talking to a sales person, do not belittle nor berate them. It makes you a bully. A bully picking on someone’s child.

…oh, and never mistake civility for softness.

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REPRESENT!

Today’s tale is about the Sales Rep. As in every industry, the Sales Rep many times, is the unsung hero of the industry they represent. At our shop, I deal with over 10 different companies and their Reps and as in every industry, you get the good and the great. I am quite fortunate that I deal mostly with the latter. The great ones are the reason for today’s tale. I am here today to be the voice of the great ones.

A little back story for those of you who may not realize exactly what the job of a Sales Rep. entails. You are driving, all day long, in rush hour traffic. Like our postal carrier friend’s, come rain, come sleet, come snow, you are out there, driving the roadways and walking the walkways. Most Sales Reps are on straight commission = they don’t sell, they don’t make money. Some companies offer a gas allowance and a cellphone allowance, some do not (yeah, let that sink in for a moment). Sales Reps are given quotas, usually based on their previous years sales. (Sometimes based on the sales of someone else). Sales Reps have to work all the hair shows, they must go to every training session and class, and since most are on commission, you guessed it, usually with no pay. The great ones ( I stress the great ones) do this because they love their job and want to do right by their clients.

As in every industry, you get the not so great Sales Reps, or the good ones, the “order takers” as my dear ol’ Dad calls them. (quite a fitting accolade actually – all they do is show up and ask what I want, I swear I have heard a few of ’em utter “ya want fries with that?”). You know the ones – don’t call, don’t keep their appointments, don’t tell you of the new products – you have to ask, don’t follow up with orders. The most unfortunate thing about these Reps is that the great ones pay the price. Not all, but unfortunately most companies paint all their Reps with the same brush and the great ones end up being punished along with the order takers. Yeah, I said it. All of a sudden new procedures or limitations are created and are placed on the Reps without a true explanation of why and they are supposed to enforce the new rules (without question) with their existing clients/Salons. By the way, it is not the Sales Rep’s fault that a company has “order takers”. The fault, my dear, lies with management. Yeah, I said it. With proper training, you can raise someone up to their true potential, or weed out the ones that really don’t have it in them – another tale for another time.

What the higher ups need to remember is this. Sales and sales relationships are not built on who has the flashiest smile or who has the best parlor trick (the 50’s are over) – these relationships are built on trust. Salon owners and stylists, like all customers, want the truth, the real deal, they need to know the bottom line. How is a Sales Rep supposed to tell a Salon owner where the bottom line is when head office keeps moving it because of “order taker Arnold”. How is a Sales Rep supposed to project trust in a company that they themselves can’t trust?  Business is business. All employee’s, from the cashier at your local grocery store to the Sales Rep who is busting their butt and their car’s mileage to represent the company that employ’s them, need to know that management has their back. All employee’s need to know they have support from management. No one likes to feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them. It’s time for management to get out from behind the desk and get back out on the road, and be sure to bring gas money.

Aside
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Today’s tale is short and sweet, like yours truly. After you read it, you will see why. Quite honestly, I find myself at a loss for words. I am all about new techniques and trends. Some are so cool I cannot wait to try them. Others, well, I will leave it for others to try and enlighten me afterwards. My aim is always to educate and enlighten so here goes.

So as I was surfing the web this morning I came across a new trend that has begun in England and is making it’s way across the pond. Downstairs Dye job. Yes, you read that right, Downstairs Dye job. (For more info. check out http://www.NYMAG.com  The Cut). It seems that women not only hate the pesky grays popping up on their heads, it is becoming an issue south of the border (and I don’t mean Mexico). I never realized this was an issue…gives “my roots are showing” a whole new meaning, and visual for that matter.

I know. Right now you have just crossed your legs and said “ouch” aloud. I know I did. The thought took  me back to the day I accidentally used Kleenex with menthol when the toilet paper roll was empty (kids). Let me tell ya…you NEVER forget that sensation. From the info. I have read, you can uncross your legs. It seems the bleach used is similar to the bleach used to lighten facial hair, and mixed with certain oils that don’t sting. Your southern belle can be dyed to match your northern ‘do. You can also choose a design for artistic flare; a heart, a star, an eagle, a beaver …couldn’t help myself.

So now not only can your shoes match your bag, the carpet upstairs can match or compliment your carpet downstairs. ….that’s all I got.