Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, writing

It’s been a time

Here we are. March 22, 2020. I work in the Ladies department at a local shoe store. The shop finally made the decision to close up shop last Thursday evening. Let me tell you, it felt like 20 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t think I’ve meditated or gotten “right with Jesus” so much in my life as I did everyday last week. Every morning I would be getting ready to go to work with a sense of dread… not the usual retail job dread. Trying to quiet my mind from all the what if’s, what’s happening, it is safe questions swirling around in my head. I cannot even begin to imagine how all our beloved health care workers are feeling. My hat goes off to them and my heart goes out to them.

Many people are abiding by the new social rule of social distancing, self isolating and such… and many, I am sorry to say are not. This past week, with every world leader (except for Mr. Trump… yes, I said Mr., the buffoon has not earned the title of President… don’t get me started), radio station, television network and social media site declaring the rise of Coronavirus and what to do to decrease the impact and flatten the curve, there are still people out there that just don’t get it. Here are just a few things I personally heard and saw this past week;

  • Families with babies that aren’t even walking yet coming in to look at shoes.
  • People bringing their elderly parents, that have oxygen tanks in tow, in to shop for shoes.
  • People walking right past our sanitizing station.
  • Lady comes into the store. There are literally no customers, just her. I ask if she needs some help. “No. I was told to work from home, but I got bored so I thought I’d look at shoes.”.
  • Lady comes into the store, carrying her dog. Walks through the entire store, touching everything in her path. We ask if she needs help to which she tell us “Nope. Just looking. Just got off a plane from out West. I showered though, so it’s all good.”
  • A couple comes in looking for men’s sandals. They ask if this is all we have. I tell them “Yes. We will have more in April. We are closing until March 31st. to help flatten the curve.”. “Oh, well that’s good” the lady says. “If more people stayed home, the virus would get under control.”.Β  … lady…you are out of your house.
  • A lady came in the store, freshly tanned bragging about her trip that she just returned from. My coworker stood 6 feet from her and the lady laughed at her, going on about “are you doing what the news is telling you to do?”
  • A father and daughter… I think it was his daughter, came in looking for tall black boots… I hope it was his daughter. I passed them the boots then stood back. They asked how late we were open, and I told them our usual time that we close then added “it could change at anytime because of what’s going on.”. The Dad… I really hope it was the Dad, looks at me and laughs “I don’t get what the big deal is. I’m a nurse and I’m not worried. Everyone needs to calm down.” …sigh
  • A woman and her daughter came in to “look around”. I didn’t have the size she was looking for. She said she was going to go to the mall. I let her know all the stores in the Mall are closed until at least March 31st. Her exact words “Really? How come?”. I shit you not people. I had to explain about the closures to non essential services…then had to explain what non essential services meant.

I have also witnessed many acts of kindness and courtesy. Customers keeping their distance, telling me they can help themselves. Customers asking if I was alright and if my family was alright. Customers thanking us for putting a shoe aside for them to pick up and go. Maintenance workers thanking us for getting them the proper safety footwear. Nurses thanking us for helping them get new footwear. I even had a customer ask if I had my own hand sanitizer.

 

These days we wake up each morning to new stats, new “how to’s”, new rules. We may not be able to control much these days, but we can control ourselves. Our actions, our reactions, how we treat one another. Check on your neighbours. Check on your friends wherever they may be around the globe. Shoot them a text. Your phone does more than host your apps and filter your pics, it actually is a telephone. Once and a while, call someone. Let them hear a voice other than their own. If you hoarded toilet paper, redeem yourself and give out some rolls to the people in your building or on your street. Donate food to the food bank. Wash your damn hands. Take a breath.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Plain and Simple.

Beauty, health and wellness, That girl in the red coat, Women

A different kind of Monday Motivator

It’s Monday once again. It’s December 17th and holiday preparations are in full swing. School pageants, church socials, pop up Christmas markets, holiday open houses, tinsel and Christmas lights as far as the eye can see. …oh, and my favorite of all…holiday retail hours. Yours truly is working 8 out of the next 9 days. Perks of being a strong salesperson I guess. For many of us, the two weeks before Christmas can be exhausting for we have our own life and family responsibilities on top of all the other responsibilities and to do lists that accompany this time of year.

Usually my Monday Motivator’s are to cure your hair woes and ensure a good hair day on Monday and everyday. Today is to bring a smile to your face, some warmth to cure your soul and add some joy to your day. I have compiled my most popular holiday posts and “Tales of Truth” for you all.

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2013/12/16/christmas-presence/

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2016/12/20/its-the-little-things/

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2015/12/14/tales-of-truth-the-holiday-editions-2/

 

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/11/25/the-emily-post-of-holiday-retail/

https://thatgirlintheredcoat.com/2012/12/08/tales-of-truth-the-christmas-chronicles/

 

Be happy. Take a breath. Take five minutes for yourself, to sip a hot tea, a crisp chardonnay, savor a Christmas cookie, text your friend a funny holiday meme, share this blog. Add some joy to your day and that joy will spread.

 

 

 

Business, That girl in the red coat

First Impressions

Yours truly has been in the customer service/sales biz for over 30 years. I have sold everything from luxury cars to hairspray, shoes to gourmet food items. Training, product knowledge, product testing, having the right person for the job, having a strong sales team and a firm yet fair management team are vital to any business’s success. All of the above factor into the image you want your business to convey, be it a car dealership, a shoe store or a Salon. Dress codes are put into place, policies and procedures are followed to convey knowledge and professionalism to the customers and clients. The proper lighting, shelving and product placement are mulled over until they are just right. Phone scripts are followed for consistency. The list is endless.

A few weeks ago I was contacted asking for my opinion on an Infographic. It was an Infographic on “curb appeal”. When we hear the term curb appeal we automatically think of selling houses. Graphic House Inc. , http://www.graphichouse.com gave yours truly a light bulb moment. Curb appeal has a huge impact on businesses as well. Business owners spend thousands of dollars on their image, their social media presence, their products and their store layout yet many times their outside image falls to the way side. Think of it this way, if your business looks disheveled from the outside, more often than not, the customer will assume the inside of your business is the same, if not worse and will not come in.

To give you a how to if you will, here is the link from Graphic House Inc. I was telling you about;

https://www.graphichouseinc.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-businesss-curb-appeal/

I have personally washed windows in 4 inch heels while managing a Salon. I have swept more front stoops than I care to remember. I have picked up trash that was not mine because it was in front of the shop. I have spoken with landlords about painting parking spaces for wheelchair accessibility. I have watered plants and planted greenery to make shops more welcoming. It takes a few moments of everyday to keep it clean and appealing. A fresh coat of paint may cost you a few hundred dollars. Trust me, invest a little and your sales will follow. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The more appealing your business looks from the outside, curiosity will spark and more people will want to see what’s going on inside.

 

Business, communication, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat

… oh the things I hear

As you know, I have been in the retail/customer service biz for over 30 years now. Yep. 30 years. From running the first central dispatch for Pizza Hut Canada back in the 90’s, to selling everything from hairspray, shoes and luxury vehicles. Over the decades, there has always been one commonality. The strange, the rude and the down right odd things people say to salespeople. In sharing these zingers, my hope is to bring a smile to your face and if you happen to know anyone who behaves/speaks like this, maybe together we can help them. …and yes, I am sorry to say, the following have been said to me. I constantly have to remind myself “do not show it on your face”. I can’t make this shit up.

  • “Will this boot shrink?” – a woman asked me if the Hunter rubber boot she was trying on would shrink in size. I asked her if she meant would it stretch. Nope. Her concern was it would shrink.

 

  • “This sandal is too big…look how much my foot moves!” …she was trying on a flip flop.

 

  • “How am I supposed to hold the hairspray?” …the can stated it was “hard to hold”. …psst…that means the hold factor of the spray itself.

 

  • “If I never use the back seat why do I have to get a 4 door car?”. I let the gentleman know we offered a 2 door sedan. “Oh, 2 doors won’t do.”. …sigh

 

  • A couple did not think it was fair that they couldn’t get approved for a car loan. We explained that they hadn’t paid their phone/cable bill in 9 months to which they said “well, they changed our plan and we didn’t like it so we won’t pay until we get what we want!”. …FYI – that’s not how that works. If you don’t pay your bills, your credit rating plunges and lenders aren’t a fan of bad credit.

 

  • “I need a shoe that fits my Orthotics.” I asked her if she had them with her. “Oh no, I never wear them.”.

 

  • “These are men’s shoes! There is an “M” on the box!” …we were in the ladies section. FYI – an “M” = medium width. A “W” = wide width.

 

  • “Can you tell me where my toe is?” … a woman trying on a 4 inch pointed toe stiletto heel.

 

  • “Is there enough room in this shoe for growing room?” … a question posed to yours truly from a woman in her 40’s. I let her know that her feet have probably stopped growing to which she said “Yeah, but what if I gain weight?”.

 

  • “Are these slippers slippery?”

 

  • A woman came in looking for winter boots. She picked up a pair and asked if they were winter boots. I let her know that although there was fur inside the boot it was a fashion boot. It had no thermal grading and was not waterproof or water resistant. I was told I didn’t know what I was talking about because “anything with fur is for winter.”.

I could go on, but I would get carpel tunnel, so I shall save more for later. Enjoy the giggles Beauties.

Beauty, Women

Sunday Confessions

 

I woke to the sounds of birds chirping and the faint glow of the sunrise peeping through my window. It’s Sunday morning on my part of the globe. As I sit in my kitchen by my window, I feel the warmth of the summer sun, theΒ  morning breeze cooling my shoulders. I see the steam rising off my fresh cup of coffee in my favorite mug and all is right with the world. As I was gazing out my window, wondering what to write about today, my mind was flooded with all the conversations I had with customers this week. As you know, I decided to take the offer of returning to the shoe store I once worked at. In the past I was in charge of the Ladies section. This time around, I am once again in the Ladies section, without the hassles of management. I go in four days a week and all I have to do is focus on selling and helping the customers, and it’s wonderful.

This past week, I lost count of the women who spoke poorly of themselves, and unfortunately of others. Women of all ages. Thinking their ankles were too thick to wear a strappy sandal. Women who thought they were too old to wear red heels. Women who thought their bunions were too ugly so they only wore running shoes so no one would see their feet. Women who thought their feet were too wide for the gold ballerina flat they adored. Women who thought their calves were too big or too slender. Women who thought their baby toe looked weird. What it all came down to was they were all worried about what others would think, never once giving a thought to what they themselves thought. Almost all of the women who were concerned about their “problem area” had one thing in common, someone had told them it was a “problem area”. One woman in particular stands out. She found a pair of sandals, flat with a little bow. I told her they looked really cute on her, because they did. She looked up at me, eyes sparkling, smiling ear to ear and said “I love them!”. Minutes later, I saw her putting them back in the box and returning them to the shelf. “Did you need another size?” I asked. “No. My friend said they were too young for me and I just look foolish.”. No smile and the sparkle in her eyes had vanished. She ended up sitting in a chair waiting on her friend. She didn’t want to look anymore or try on anything else.

First and foremost, Ladies and Gents, don’t do that. Don’t. One of the cruelest actions is putting your own insecurities on someone else. When you see that someone is happy or excited about a decision be excited for them, celebrate with them. Secondly, for all those out there, Ladies and Gents alike, stop worrying about the size of your ankles, your calves, your bunions, whatever it may be, stop worrying about what other people think. Trust me, no one is looking…and for the few who are, give them a copy of Knitting for Dummies and tell them to get a new hobby. Seriously, if they have time to look for thick ankles and bunions, their lives must be pretty empty and their self esteem and image is dwindling to say the least.

Be your own kind of beautiful, today and everyday. Be kind. Celebrate others achievements and choices, for they are theirs, not yours to deal with. Oh, and buy the shoes.

 

Beauty, Business, That girl in the red coat

Get on the floor

I know many small business owners. I know owners of corporations. Each time I speak to any of them, they all say the same thing “Business is slow. Profits are down. I don’t know why.”. I can tell you why. No one is on the floor selling the product. Plain and simple. I am well aware that the state of the economy, inflation, the weather, you name it can be seen as a cause for lack of revenue and profits to be down. In my experience all the mentioned factors go hand in hand with lack of selling. In the age of online shopping being the real only competitor, you need your people on the floor – it’s the one thing Amazon can’t deliver – a salesperson.

Last week, my hubby and I went out for dinner and decided to stop by a local dealership to see if my nephew was working that evening, just to say hello. As we waited for him, we started looking around. There were 4 people in my line of sight, they caught my eye, not one said “Hello”. Sure, maybe they knew I was waiting for someone, maybe they didn’t. I might have been waiting on a salesperson, I may have been there with the intent to buy, without speaking to me, they would never know. After we left, our curiosity was perked, my hubby was curious to see what other new cars and technologies were out there, I was curious to see what the customer service was like, so off we went. The first dealership felt like a ghost town, I was sure I saw a tumble weed blow by. We walked the lot, not a soul in sight. I could see salespeople looking out the window at us… but no one came out to greet us, shake our hand, even say “Hey!”. Off to another dealership. Sad to say, the exact same thing happened, only this time the salesperson looking out at us from inside the dealership was methodically drinking his coffee, looking like he forgot to do something. Psstt…that thing you forgot to do was your job. I know this sounds like a rant, it is not. I sold cars. When a customer is on the lot, you go out and introduce yourself. Every person coming onto your lot has the potential to spend up to $75000.00, they deserve, at the very least, some acknowledgment.

I used a car dealership as an example simply because it is one circumstance we all have in common, we have all had to buy a car, or helped someone to buy a car. There is no difference between purchasing a car or purchasing a can of hairspray. A person is about to part with their money and they want to be sure it is worth parting with. It may be that the customer needs help, has a question about the product they are looking at or they cannot reach the shelf the desired product is on and they need someone to get it down for them. Maybe you just renovated your shop and they no longer know where their favorite product is, or if you accept debit. People do not want to look stupid and most are worried that their inquiries or questions will seem dumb, so they will not start the conversation. A salesperson on the floor = more sales, plain and simple. Without salespeople on the floor to start said conversation, the majority of customers will leave and go somewhere else.

When most picture a sales person, they picture Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati. It’s time to picture something else. A good salesperson does not need gimmicks. A well trained salesperson has product knowledge and fact to back up their claim of the product at hand. They are educated on the ins and outs of their products, they know to ask what the customer’s needs are, what their end game looks like, so they are able to give their customer the proper product, be it a flat iron or a home computer.

For those who don’t think a good salesperson or sales force on the floor makes a difference, I have proof it makes a difference. Personal proof. At least once a week, I am stopped at the grocery store, the library, hell even a public bathroom by a customer I helped in the past. “It’s you! You helped me buy those shoes! I went back to the shop you worked at but no one waited on me. What do you know about Merrells?”. …I sold them a pair of shoes 10 years ago. “Oh hello! Who should I talk to about buying a car? You were so helpful when you helped us buy our car.”. …I sold them a car 12 years ago. “Sara! I finally ran into you! Where do I find that Joico Revitaluxe you sold me? Every Salon I go to doesn’t know what I am talking about.”. …the Salon/retail shop I managed closed 6 years ago. Case and point, a poised, educated salesperson equals sales. If I am able to increased sales and profits for businesses that I don’t even work for, imagine how many more sales and customers they could have by simply making their salespeople get and stay on the floor.

No matter your industry, from owning a Hair Salon to a Dealership and everything in between, you need your people on the floor. Plain and simple.

Beauty, Business, communication, Hair Care, Women

Shelf Talk

“Retail doesn’t work.”. “People aren’t buying our products.”. “Everyone sells product, so why should we?”. “Our product just sits on the shelves.”. These common phrases are a sampling of what I have heard over the past 25 years and I am here today to tell you that although this mentality is the norm, it is far from the truth. I have been in sales and customer service for over 25 years and the truth is, nothing sells itself. Nothing.

Many Salon owners have the same concern, that the Salon revenue is down, or the Salon is not generating enough revenue. Ladies and gents, adding retail and selling retail has the potential to cover all expenses, your hydro bill, your lease payment, even your payroll. It can. I know this because I have seen it first hand. In a town of 125000 people, with over 100 salons to compete with, I ran a shop that in a slow month sold over $18000.00 of retail product.

First and foremost, you must stop worrying and focusing on what other Salons are doing and focus on your business. Secondly, you have to sell the product. The packaging may look pretty on the shelf, if your clients do not know why those products will help them manage their hair and have a great hair day in between visits, those bottles are going to continue to look pretty on the shelf. Explain to your customers and clients the benefits of the products you are selling. Teach them how to use them. Taking an extra 10 minutes can save your client hours of anguish in front of their mirror at home, keep your relationship with them in good standing and open the door to new clients for you and the Salon. When people hear of good customer service, word spreads fast. …I have been out of the shop for over 2 years, I still have women messaging me via Facebook, stopping me at the grocery store, at the bank, even at the local shop I was working for asking me “Are you that girl that helps everyone get the right product for their hair?”.

I can hear it now “…I don’t want to seem pushy.”. Giving your client the proper product to protect their hair and enable them to feel good about their hair and their reflection is not being pushy. Protecting their hair and your hard work is not being pushy. You are helping your client protect their investment in themselves, and in turn, protecting your reputation as a stylist. Remember this, your clients are your advertising. They leave the Salon feeling like they could walk the runway, without the proper products at home, within a few days they are feeling like they should runaway. Trust me, if a bad hair day is happening, sooner or later, the stylist is blamed. Selling your clients products to use at home ensures they love their hair and your relationship with them and your reputation remains intact.

Another common phrase “…they just spent $150.00 on their service. They can’t afford to spend more.”. First, don’t do that. You do not know what someone can or can’t afford, assuming anything of anyone is rude, plain and simple. …remember the scene in Pretty Woman?…you don’t want to be like those shop girls. It is up to your client to decide what they can or cannot afford. It is up to you to explain the value. If your client does not understand the value of the product and the importance of the product, they are not able to make an informed decision. Something to remember, you just spent 2-4 hours of your day working on their $150.00 service, selling them the proper products to use at home protects their investment and your hard work.

 

Sign on the shelves look great, unfortunately they are not always read. Shelf talkers beside the products are fun to look at, they do not speak. More often than not, people want help, they are afraid to ask because of a fear of looking or sounding stupid. There are so many products out there, and to the untrained eye, all the bottles look the same. It’s up to us to take a moment or two and ask the simple question “What can I help you with today?”.