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It’s the little things

It’s 5 days before Christmas and yours truly is able to enjoy some time off before the big day. The last time I had time off at Christmas was because I had the stupid cut out (hysterectomy)…7 years ago. Sure, I had “time off” at the holidays when my daughter was a toddler, but those of us with children know that although the world may see it as time off, time with a toddler is a 24/7 job with no pay, with a boss who can’t find their shoe and cries because you gave them the wrong colored cup with their lunch…so “time off” is a relative term.

As I was running errands yesterday, I found myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I almost succumbed to the Grinch and Scrooge mentality. Almost.  Hearing everyone around me sighing, complaining that the lines were taking too long, or honking at each other in the parking lot because they needed that parking space, it’s hard not to get sucked in to it all. As I was listening to the ladies complain about having people over for dinner as they were about to start a rumble over the biggest pot roast in the meat department, I looked over to see an elderly woman with her little basket with a few items in it and I thought to myself “she probably wishes her biggest problem was getting a big enough roast to feed her guests.”. …and that’s when I began to hum a Christmas carol, carry on with my shopping and tune out the sighs and complaints that passed me through the aisles.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no angel as my daughter can attest to. I cuss like a sailor if you are riding my tail end too close in traffic – when I have my kid in the car, her safety comes first so all bets are off. I have been known to use a certain finger when the snowplow comes by just as I have dug out their first visit’s mound of snow and I may have pretended not to speak English when a telemarketer just wouldn’t get “take me off your calling list”. There have been times throughout the days of Christmas past when I pouted even though I knew Santa saw me. There were times I started to Scrooge out or felt the Grinch was onto something complaining about the noise of Christmas, but I always remembered something that others seem to forget. At the end of both these Christmas stories, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch gave over to the magic and the spirit of Christmas. If they could do it, you can too.

  • give to the Salvation army. If they are giving out candy canes for each donation, do what I do. Ask them to give it to the next child that walks by.

 

  • wave to Santa at the mall. Trust me, he is having a harder day than you.

 

  • don’t fight over a parking space. If the other person is gunning for it, let them have it. If you have to park further away, the fresh air will do you good.

 

  • If the grocery store is out of the size of turkey you need, your family and guests will survive. I promise, the sky will not turn black and the world will not swallow you whole.

 

  • when you make eye contact with someone, say hello or wish them a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays for those weary of offending.

 

  • give to every toy drive you can find. Any toy will do. The dollar store has coloring books and crayons for a dollar a piece. …psst…you spent more than that on the mocha frappe latte concoction you have in your hand.

 

  • give to your local food bank. If you can, a monetary donation is best – the food bank can stretch a dollar farther than you can imagine.

Take a moment to remember how snow once made you squeal with glee, how hours would pass as you wondered how Santa got to every house. Remember the smell of your Gramma’s perfume as she reached out to hug you, or the cackle of your Grampa’s laugh when he got your joke. Think back to the smiles on your parents faces on Christmas morning, thinking they were so happy Santa brought you your favorite toy, only to now know, the smile was for them and you, not Santa and you. When you take a moment to remember the magic and spirit of Christmas, you too will realize it’s not having the perfectly trimmed tree or the biggest turkey that you remember, it’s all the little things that mattered the most.

 

2

Tales of Truth – The Holiday Editions

The past few hours have been quite strange. I usually don’t post from the shop but today has been weird and all our staff is off today and I gotta tell somebody. I have checked my calendar and I know that the full moon is set to arrive on the 25th., so my question is this… are the stars misaligned? Is the universe in retrograde? Did I miss the Facebook status that this year we are to share our Christmas crazy along with our cookies? Was there a tweet daring people to get their crazy on? Is the owner attempting her own version of “Smile! You are on candid camera!”. I am hoping that these people have heard of my Salon Tales and their Tales of Truth and are trying to get me to write about them. If this is the case, guess what buttercup!?! Today is your lucky day. You are getting your 15 minutes of fame.

9:20 a.m. – the phone rings. My standard greeting is interrupted by a woman telling me “Yeah. I left my debit card there yesterday.”. I let her know that no debit cards were left behind at our shop. All I hear is silence, then “Are you sure? ‘cuz yours was the last place I was yesterday.”. I let her know I check the till and our lost & found every day and there wasn’t anything left behind all weekend. “So, you’re telling me you don’t have my card.”. I let her know that is correct, I do not have your card. “You’re sure you don’t have it”. I told her I was sure to which she muffled “uh huh” and hung up on me. …by the way, the shop opens at 9;30 a.m..

9:35 a.m. – I am in the back room when I hear the chirp of the shop’s door. As I walk through our Salon to get the front of the shop a woman says “Oh good! You’re here! Cut my hair would ya?”. I let her know that I am the manager and the Salon was closed this morning. “How can it be closed? You just walked through it!”.

9:42 a.m. – A woman called to let me know the curling iron she bought is no longer heating up. I asked her if she still had the box and the receipt, she told me yes. I let her know to bring in the box, the receipt and the curling iron and I can exchange her defective curling iron for a new one. The phone fell silent. I said “Hello?”. “Yeah, I’m still here. I have to say, I am disappointed that I have to pack this up just to bring it to you. You know what? I will bring it all and you can pack it up!”. So I told her I would gladly help her out to which she said “Well, aren’t you a smart ass!”…..fa la la la la, la la la la.

10:15 a.m. …almost 35 minutes have passed, a little reprieve for your truly. A woman came in looking for hair clippers for her husband. I showed her our selection and their differences. She asked me which one would fit comfortably in her husband’s hand. I let her know that I didn’t know to which she got upset asking me “Why won’t anyone tell me what will feel comfortable in my husband’s hands!!!”. I looked at her for a minute, thought to myself, what the hell and told her “We don’t have his hands.”. She looked at me and said “I know that! He has his hands. You have yours! What’s that got to do with anything?!?”. …sigh

10:35 a.m. – A woman couldn’t understand why she couldn’t “try out” our tweezers. All I could think and hope wasn’t showing on my face was first of all, they are sealed in their packaging and second, uh…yuck.

10:50 a.m. – We sell hair & nose hair trimmers. Some models come with a detachable blade so the trimmer can be used on your bikini line. I was asked if it could be used to trim “you know…the hair on your buttocks.”. … I wanted the thank the customer for not referring to it as “ass crack hair”, as some have eloquently put it in the past.

12:36 p.m. – a few hours have passed and all my customers have been pleasant. I start to let my guard down. The phone rings. My greeting is once again interrupted by “Yeah. I called earlier. You’re sure you don’t have my debit card?!?!”. I let the woman know I am the manager and that yes, I am sure that I don’t have her card. I haven’t seen it. I don’t know where it is. “I came into your shop right after I bought vitamins in the health food shop beside yours! You were the last shop I was in! I think you have it and won’t give it back!”. It was then I let her know that we do not have a health food store beside us. All I heard was CLICK.

1:35 p.m. – a man came in asking if we had any shampoo for men. I let him know that all the shampoo I sell is for men and women and that most men tend to like KMS or American Crew. He asked to see the American Crew so I showed him our selection. I let him know he was welcome to open the lids and smell the products. He asked me which ones would help him “catch the ladies”.

….I need more coffee.

That Girl in the Red Coat

 

0

Actions speak louder than words

The Holiday Season is in full swing. Macy’s has had it’s parade. Black Friday has come & gone. Many are nestled in their beds while visions of Cyber Monday deals dance in their heads. This year marks my 26th. year working in the customer service/sales/retail biz during the Holiday Season. I have heard, seen and smelled (yes, smelled) it all. …and every year I hear the same argument – to wish a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays. I remember a time I worked for a company who sent a corporate memo stating that under no circumstance were we to wish anyone “Merry Christmas”, we were instructed to wish our customers “Happy Holidays”. As you all know, I am not a “yes man”, so I continued to wish customers a Merry Christmas, much to my boss’s dismay. She was quite worried I may offend someone, and then they would call head office and she would lose her job. I reassured her that if the customer was wearing a Yamaka, I would not wish them a Merry Christmas. I then had to explain what a Yamaka was …between that and the memo, I knew it was time to leave. Back to the tale at hand. The point I was trying to make to my boss, and am trying to convey today is this – paying attention and being kind are key in the biz of customer service, and in life for that matter. For instance, I have a woman who comes in every November to purchase her Christmas gifts for her kids and grandkids before she heads to Florida. Her purchase is quite large and usually fills 3 – 5 bags. I take them to her car for her. Every year. It is actually the reason she comes back to our shop. The first time she came in, 5 years ago, she had a cane. She was recovering from knee replacement surgery. She told me she always remembered me because I did not ask if I could help her with her bags, I told her I was going to help her, no questions asked. She told me I reminded her of what customer service used to be.

 

Over the past weeks I have been listening to people complain that Merry Christmas isn’t wished enough. I have seen posts on Facebook cheering shops that are writing Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays on their shop windows. I have also seen posts of people stating they will not shop anywhere that says Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Everyone is so busy being politically correct or trying to look and sound important that they have all forgotten one key point. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters how you behave. Listen, no amount of  Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays wishes can or will make up for ignorance and neglect.

This December, instead of worrying what to say, how about worrying about how to act.

  • When you are at the mall and you see the Salvation Army band playing, don’t hide behind the plants and try to scurry past, holding on to your nickels and dimes – walk over to them, take a moment to listen, and let go of some of your nickels and dimes.
  • Whenever you can, as you are paying for your purchases and are asked if you want to make a donation to a local charity, do it. … if you can spend $100.00 at the liquor store, you can add a dollar or two to your total. Just sayin’.
  • Donate to your local toy drives. Every child deserves a toy on Christmas. Every child can’t wait to tell their friends and classmates what was under the tree Christmas morning.
  • All business owners – this gem is for you. Give your customers a little treat, be it a sample or a coupon for their next purchase. At our shop, the Starburst candy dish at the front cash is always full and samples are waiting to be sampled. We offer free travel size products for any purchase over $60.00. Our customers and clients are giving us their business, they deserve a thank you.
  • Donate to your local food bank. Every grocery store takes non perishable food donations and monetary donations. Everyone deserves food in their cupboards and on their table. Whether you are Christian, Muslim or Jewish – a parent wants to be able to feed their child, and sometimes we all need a helping hand.
  • Shovel your neighbour’s walkway. It’s a lovely surprise for them.
  • Hold the door – enough said.
  • When standing in line and you notice the person behind you has less purchases than you do, let them go ahead of you.
  • Remember those who have lost loved ones and give them a call, or send them a card. There is no better feeling than the feeling that someone is thinking of you.
Actions speak louder than words. Plain and simple.
2

Tales of Truth – The Holiday Editions

The retail Holiday season has officially begun. Tree’s are trimmed. Shelves are stocked. The all important Holiday hair appointment’s have been booked and confirmed. Holiday parties have been planned. Christmas carols are playing on every radio station (trust me, I checked). In my corner of the globe, even Mother Nature has joined in, and the snow has begun to fall. This year marks my 25th Holiday season in the retail/sales/customer service gig. Call it nostalgia, call it the Christmas Spirit, over the past couple of weeks, every so often, I found myself getting hopeful, even excited for the coming retail Holiday season. I found myself daydreaming  of the customers and I breaking out into joyous song and the Osmond’s entering stage right like in those variety shows in the 70’s. ….but as I know, and for those of you familiar with my Tales of Truth now know, it’s safe to say that the only thing entering stage right is a flying flat iron. …and that I should limit myself to only one Vodka & Tonic a night.

 

To be clear, I still love Christmas. I love the sights and sounds, decorating my tree and the memories each ornament stirs up. I love making my famous Sugar Cookies and delivering them to my friends and loved ones. The following events, and the events to come – of this I am sure, will not taint my Christmas Spirit….and a little help from my Smirnoff Santa. So, without further adieu, gather ’round Ladies and Gents, boys and girls. It’s time for That Girl in the Red Coat’s Tales of Truth!

  • The phone rings. As I answer with my standard greeting I am interrupted by “YEAH! Whatever! Do you have my hairspray in yet?”. I ask which hairspray it was she was looking for to which I was told “Well, you’re no help at all!” and she hung up.
  • A woman came into the shop looking to purchase Joico VeroColor hair color. I let her know that it is not retailed or sold to the public. It is a hair color line that has to purchased by a licensed stylist at the wholesaler. “Well, my old hairdresser would get it for me and I need some more!”. I explained that I could not purchase it for her nor could I sell it to her for the exact reason mentioned above. She asked to speak to a manager and I let her know, “That’s me!”. She stared at me for a minute and on her way out of the shop she told me “If you were any good at your job, you would break a rule now and then!”. …sigh
  • We have monthly draws every month. As a woman was filling out her ballot, she quipped “You never pick me!”. I giggled and said, “I try to.”. She put the pen down like a judge ruling with his gavel, sighed at me and said “this isn’t funny. I am not impressed that you haven’t chosen my name, after all this time!”. I apologized and told her I would try harder. She said “You better!”, grabbed her Shaper Plus and stomped out the door. …I gotta get a camera to prove this really happens
  • It took me 10 minutes to explain to a customer that Shampoo for curly hair will not make their straight hair curly. “but the bottle says curl enhancing, so it will give me curls, right?”. I explained that it meant if you already have curls that it will help to enhance them and give someone with curly hair more control of their curls. She stared at me for a minute, kept hold of the bottle, pouted and said “Well, I think it’s unfair that they false advertise.”.
  • A woman was looking for a certain shade of OPI nail polish. I let her know it was a discontinued shade. As she laughed, I was told that “there is no way YOU could know that!”. I brought out my latest OPI product listing, walked over to her and told her “Lets look at this together and maybe you can find a shade similar to the one you were looking for.” to which she informed me “How am I supposed to know the color I want, I just heard the name of the polish and thought it was fun. Who knows what color it is?!? Do you?!”.  ….it took everything in me not to say “there is no way I could know that!”.
  • One of the fantastic questions posed to me “Will this wax not rip off my skin, you know, around where my underwear is, like between my thighs?” – enough said.
That Girl in the Red Coat

That Girl in the Red Coat

 

 

0

Holidaze

I know the calendar reads September. For yours truly, it’s read December since about May. My final Christmas orders have been placed, shipping dates have been strategically chosen, requests have been approved to have invoicing split into separate months for larger orders. Plans are being made on how products will be displayed and what shelves will be moved where. The shop’s holiday draws are being planned and packaged. Advertising idea’s are in the works. Parties are being planned.

Today’s tale is for Salon owners, Managers and Stylists. The holiday season is upon us and we are entering crunch time for ensuring that the next few months are as profitable as possible. When planned and executed properly, the potential profits from retail during the October – December months can reach the thousands, even the tens of thousands. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it is possible. I know it is possible because I have done it. Think of what that could do for your staff, yourself and your business. I’ll give you a minute to visualize.

Before the panic sets in once you realize it’s October in a few days, take a breath, and another. You still have time to make this your Salon’s best holiday retail season ever. (until next year). For many Salon owners, Managers and Stylists that aren’t used to retailing products, it can seem overwhelming and you may feel like you are in a daze and have no idea how to begin your adventures in Holiday/Christmas retail. Being me, I have compiled a little list for you, a “how to holiday” for your Salon if you will. You’re welcome.

  • Call your Sales Rep’s. They all have copies of their distributor’s Christmas/Holiday flyers containing all the deals available
  • Request an email of all sales and deals available – in case a deal in no longer available or a change needs to be added, it can be done A.S.A.P. from wherever you may be, at any time. As the holiday season approaches, and product availability starts to dwindle – it is first come, first serve.
  • Speak to your Sales Rep. about splitting up larger orders into two shipments, one for October and one November. With two shipments comes two invoices = larger orders aren’t such a hit to your pocket book. *If retailing is done properly, once November’s order arrives, you have sold out of October’s shipment which will now pay for November’s.
  • All distributor’s offer net 30 days for payment. Many will change payment terms to net 60 days – another way to give yourself some breathing room and give you the ability to bring in more product.
  • Ask for samples of products that you can add to all your customer’s and client’s bags. A foil sample of a shampoo or a conditioner goes a long way.
  • Request retail bags with every order. Distributor’s will add them to your order at little or no cost to you. It’s a win/win – your clients and customers get a pretty bag for their purchase and the distributor and your Sales Rep. get free advertising for their products.
  • Offer free gift wrapping with every retail purchase. With the free bags you’ve received from the distributor’s and your Sales Rep., all it will cost is a few dollars of tissue paper and ribbon from the dollar store.
  • Check your reward points! Matrix, Joico and Goldwell/KMS, to name a few, have an excellent rewards program. You can redeem your reward points for free products that you can in turn use as daily/weekly holiday draws. Psstt…you can redeem points for FAB! full size products, curling irons, purses, jewelry and electronics.
  • Get your Salon on Facebook. Keep your page professional – only post new product arrivals, new sales or Salon specials. Post pictures of before and after pictures of your client’s new colour’s and cuts (with their permission). Start a Facebook contest – once a certain amount of likes have been reached, a gift card/gift certificate will be awarded to a lucky Facebook page “liker”. In my personal experience, our shop’s Facebook page has brought in new retail customers and new clients for the salon. Our Facebook page has also introduced me to new community organizations that we have donated to and local businesses that I now cross promote with. Pssst….a Facebook page = free advertising!
  • To keep your shelves looking full, separate some of your holiday packs to use as open stock. Sell them for $1.00 – $1.50 less than suggested retail – your clients/customers get a deal and you make a profit, again, its a win/win. *Many holiday packs come with a complimentary product – do not sell the complimentary product, put it aside to give as a free gift with large purchases, or to brighten someone’s day.
  • Many hand cream’s come with a complimentary tester. Keep the tester at the front counter, right by the register, or while your client’s color is processing -ask her if she likes the scent, then offer for her to try some. 8 out of 10 times, she will be purchasing some on her way out. Again, I know because I see it happen everyday. Yes. Everyday.
Retail is vital for the success of a  Salon. Not only does it add revenue to your Salon, it adds integrity to your Salon’s reputation and adds to every client and customer experience. It adds integrity to your Salon’s reputation because it shows you stand behind and are confident in the products your Salon uses. Selling the product you use on your client ensures that their new color will stay vibrant and that your client can achieve their style on their own. 9 out of 10 times, taking the time to teach your client about the products being used and how to apply them will guarantee the sale. Once you see the rewards to your Salon, your clientele and your customers of adding retail to your Salon during the Holiday/Christmas season, I can guarantee that retail will become a year ’round event.

 

 

 

 

 

0

Glimpse

This year marks my 25th holiday season in the customer service/retail world. Over the past 25 years I have grown a thick skin. Flying flat irons no longer scare me… not an invitation to call my bluff. Snide remarks, insulting my intelligence and telling me “to make myself useful and throw this out” as you pass me the trash from your purse no longer offends me. I no longer take it personally when I hear the sighs and see the pouts when your favorite polish is out of stock.

I may have grown a thick skin, yet one action still cuts me to the quick. The look of awe in my customer’s eye when I take a moment to listen to them, the look of surprise they have when I remember something about them and ask about their lives. The real kicker – when their eyes well up when they say “I can’t believe you remembered. Thank you so much for that.”. The latter happened this morning. An elderly customer of the shop comes in every year at Christmas. She comes  by to purchase gifts for her grand children’s Christmas socks (she refers to their Christmas Stockings as socks, something she called them when she was a girl). When we were walking up to the counter I said “this is a nice addition to your grandson’s Christmas sock.” to which she said “how did you know that?”. I told her I remembered her stories from last year, and it was nice to see her again. She leaned on the counter, her eyes started to glisten a little and she proceeded to tell me that she had lost her husband 2 years ago and was feeling lonesome and forgotten. We ended up chatting for 5 minutes about her hometown growing up and her Christmas memories as a girl. She wished me a Merry Christmas and left smiling and giggling about Christmas.

The moral of today’s tale  – be kind. A little kindness goes a long way. Your kindness may be the only glimpse of hope someone will see today, or this week, hell…this year. Someone may be feeling forgotten and your smile makes them feel whole. Someone may be taking their loved one to the hospital and you holding the door open for them gives them one less thing to have to do that day. Giving your spot  in the grocery line to the woman with the screaming toddler may give her the break she needs that day to get through until bedtime. Offering to help the elderly carry their packages to their car may give them hope that they are worth the bother. One of my favorite carols says it best…

“…and when you walk down the street, say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet.”

2

Tales of Truth – The Christmas Edition – Part 2

So it has been exactly 10 days since my last installment of my Tales of Truth – the Christmas edition. With all the goings on in the shop over the past 10 days, I haven’t decided if  Jolly ‘ol St. Nick has me on the nice list or the naughty list.

 

– We have Christmas displays throughout the shop. Some are mini evergreens, some are boxes wrapped in shiny paper and some are snowmen. A woman came into the shop and exclaimed “I LOVE YOUR SNOWMAN!”. I thanked her for the compliment. “Sell him to me! How much is he? Is he for sale?”. I explained that “he” was part of our Christmas decor and was not for sale. “…but I collect snowmen. I need him!”. Again, I apologized that he was not for sale and asked her what else I could help her with. We found her shampoo and hairspray. As she was leaving, she took one the candies I keep at the front desk for our customers, scowled at me and said “I can’t believe you won’t sell me your snowman!”. …then stood there and pouted, for over 2 minutes….even after I came from behind the counter to help another customer.

– We sell the Wet Brush at our shop. It is an awesome brush for anyone dealing with tangles, no ripping at the hair, no more dialing 911 with one hand as your other hand is stuck in your hair along with your brush, no more children running away from you screaming as they see you coming at them, brush in hand. I had a woman ask me why it was called the Wet Brush. I explained to her that is meant to be used in wet hair to help get through tough tangles. She asked if it can be used on dry hair, and I told her yes – it gets out tangles on dry hair too. “So why is it called the WET Brush? Not the WET/DRY brush?”. …I told her the company’s website was on the packaging if she wanted to ask them.

– On more than one occasion I have been asked the following questions;

“What’s the difference between a 1″ curling iron and a 1 1/4″ curling iron?”

“Can I use nail polish on my toe nails?”

“What’s the difference between medium hold hairspray and firm hold hairspray?”

“Can my husband use my gel even if it isn’t from a men’s line?”

“Can anyone use the hand lotion tester?”

– a woman came in the shop looking for wax for hair removal. I led her over to our selection and asked if she used hard wax (no strips) or cream wax (strips). She told me she used the strips, so I showed her our selection of cream waxes. As I was explaining the differences between each one, she asked me which ones won’t burn her skin. I told her none of them should burn her skin. If her skin is being burned, she has her wax pot temperature too high. “I was wondering why it was burning my lips” she said. I let her know that when she waxes her upper lip she should keep the wax away from her lips, to which she told me “those aren’t the lips I am talking about.”, just as her husband approached us. Seems she has taught her husband to wax her unmentionables and tends to burn her “down there”. ….I need a raise.