Beauty, Business, Hair Care, That girl in the red coat, writing

Suitable replacement?

Sigh.

 

It happened, again. I lost a fabulous rep. She was lovely. She came every 2 weeks. She emailed me the sales flyers before they went to print so I could preplan monthly specials. She sent complimentary products to use in the Salon. She sent products specifically to me to use, knowing that since I do most of the selling, the more product I use, the more I know and in turn, the more I sell. She sent us complimentary retail bags. She shared her knowledge and her stories. Not only did we have a great professional relationship, over the years we became friends. I received a call over 3 weeks ago from the company that she was no longer with the company and that a “suitable replacement” would be visiting me soon. Lets just say, there are some big boots to fill and by first impressions, my hopes have faded a tad.

10 days ago, the replacement rep. – lets call her the R.R. came by the shop, mid afternoon on a Friday. No call to see what day or time works for me. No appointment made. No email of introduction. Not even a tweet. She introduced herself, I the same, exchanged pleasantries and such. I let her know that my old rep. had a standing biweekly Friday at 10 appointment. I asked if that worked for her. She said yes. We decided on a date for our first official appointment, shook hands and said our goodbyes. Fast forward a week. Yours Truly had the order ready. Special customer orders had been added. Clients and customers had been assured an order was being placed that day and by Tuesday afternoon at the latest, as long as the product was in the warehouse, their beloved product would be in their hands. …or so I thought. Yep. You guessed it. Yours Truly was stood up…and you all know how much that thrills me. 10 a.m. came and went. No call. No email. No text. No fax. No tweet. No Facebook message. No Instagram. Not even a snap. Nada. Nothing. Not a word until this morning after I emailed my order and was told that Friday’s don’t work.

I have said it before and will continue to do so. We are in the business of Beauty. The business. When a rep. doesn’t show up for my order that means that my inventory gets too low or worse, my shelves are empty which in turn hurts my reputation and our revenue. Listen, I have been a rep. on the road. I know that you are told that “color accounts are key”. That they are your money maker. I have some news for you. So are retail accounts. When serviced properly and the value of your retail brands explained, retail can increase your commissions just as much as color can. Something many reps and companies seem to forget, or put on the back burner. I can’t help but wonder if I was a color account, would I have been dismissed so easily? Over the years I have brought over $250000.00 – $350000.00 of retail revenue to our shop…you’d think that everyone would want a piece of that pie. It seems not.

A little bit of advice, for reps. and companies alike – your small accounts could become big accounts, if you show up. Plain and simple.

 

 

Beauty, Business, communication, Hair Care, That girl in the red coat, Uncategorized

…the last to know

Today’s tale is meant for Sales Reps., Sales Managers and distributors alike. Our industry, I believe, is one of the best to be in. There is always something new around the corner. New coloring techniques. New cutting techniques. Our workplace always smells great. We change peoples lives. We improve their self image and in turn their self esteem. It’s exciting and it’s fun. …and it is a business. Something, I am sorry to say, as of late, many are tending to forget.

Over the past 5 months I have been on the receiving end of many an unreturned call, email and text. I have had to find out through my own investigative skills that products have been discontinued, that products are on back order and that certain companies no longer had a rep. for my area. I have even had to hear about a brand promotion from a Rep. that is a competitor of the brand that is running the promotion. I have not been too impressed, to say the least.

I am fortunate enough that our Salon/shop carries over 25 professional hair care lines, so I am able to suggest another product. I am also very fortunate that our shop has been around for over 15 years and our clients/customers trust me and my suggestions. I do not think other Salon’s are as lucky. In fact, I know they are not because I hear about it everyday. Trust me, when a woman isn’t getting the straight goods, she will let everyone from the mailman to the newspaper delivery boy know about it.

Stylists are in the service industry. We are in the business of serving the client and the customer –  catch phrases I hear all the time. Yes, this is true, for Stylists, Salon Managers and Salon Owners. It is also true for Sales Reps., Sales Managers and distributors. To be clear, I have a few Sales Reps. that go above and beyond their call of duty. They keep their appointments, they call when anything changes from products to our appointment time. They offer retail bags and samples, free of charge so I can in turn give them to our clients and customers. They have become my friend and someone I hold in high esteem. I also deal with some distributors that are on top of their game and are in contact with me when it is needed. Unfortunately, they are the rarity when they should be the norm. So, being me, I have compiled a little how to or reminder list, think of it as a job aid.

  • In the age of facebook, twitter, email and text, there is no reason, whatsoever that a Salon can’t be notified that there is not a rep. for their area. All Salons should be notified, not just the big accounts. PSSSTTT…the little accounts could have become big accounts if you had kept in contact and showed up more often.
  • When an email is sent, respond to it. If you don’t have an answer, then politely admit it and let the person know you will be in touch as soon as you have an answer.
  • If you can text a picture of a cat driving a toy car, you can text that you are running behind and may be late for your scheduled appointment. *Again, I cannot stress this enough – do this for all accounts, not just the big ones. I have personally had a $500.00 order waiting for a rep. who didn’t show up or return my texts (well, she did, 3 days later and made the mistake of telling me was “sorry” but she had landed a big account and was too busy to get to my shop – her exact words), so I gave it to her competitor – because she did return my text and showed up to see me, even when I didn’t have an order.
  • Stylists, Salon Managers and Salon Owners are customers too. I can only speak for myself, I do not like when someone thinks for me. Never assume we do or do not want a product or product line in our Salon. Show it to us, leave a sample if possible, explain it’s value and let us decide. *That Girl in the Red Coat tip – explain the retail value of your products, not just the backbar/station use. …clients love the way they look in the chair, they also want to love the way they look at home and retailing products is the key to opening that door.
  • When a product is discontinued, let us know. Write it on the invoice with the order shipment, it’s that simple. Hoping I will get the point and will stop ordering a product after 10 tries to order it is not the way to do business. Many times that product is a special customer order and now I have egg on my face, a disappointed customer, and a lost sale. *While they were waiting for that product, if I had known it was discontinued, I could have introduced them to something comparable.
  • When an order is placed, please confirm you received it. I emailed an order because the sleuth in me discovered I no longer had a Rep.. It wasn’t until I sent another email forwarding my first email that I got a response that the order had been shipped and again, the product ordered was in demand and I had a list of women waiting for my call to let them know I once again had it in stock.

I didn’t like waiting for the phone to ring when I was 16, I really don’t like it now. …and in business, no one likes to be the last to know.

 

ThatGirlx3

 

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

You can look…but you can’t touch

This past weekend, yours truly attended the ABA’s in Toronto. It is “the hair show” to go to. It is the place to be to find out about the latest techniques in color placement and cuts, this year courtesy of non other than Guy Tang. It is also the place to be to find and purchase products…or so I thought. For those of you familiar with my Salon Tales and my private Salon Consultations, you are well aware that I am a firm believer in the importance of retailing products in the Salon. This past weekend, I had an unusual experience, a recollection that I cannot seem to shake, and quite honestly baffles me. Today’s tale is for the distributor’s, managers and sales reps.

 

At the ABA’s, every distributor and company has their own booth or booths, displaying their product lines, demonstrations of products, color placement and cuts are around every corner, and every booth has a cash register for the sole purpose of purchasing said products. One of my fellow attendee’s, who shall remain nameless, loves the Peter Coppola Infusion Anti Frizz Cream – a lovely lightweight, moisturizing cream that locks out frizz and keeps your hair smooth, sleek and shiny until your next shampoo. (…it is also a beautiful shade of pink and smells heavenly). So, I took her over to the display, picked up a bottle of it, noticed there was not a price displayed, so I took it over to the cash register and asked “Excuse me. We would like to purchase this product. Do you happen to have the price?” to which a Sales Rep. came up to the counter and asked me what I was doing. I let this gent know we wanted to buy the product and were wondering the cost. “Oh, that product is not for sale. It is display only.”.  “So, I can’t buy a bottle?” I asked. “No, it’s display only.”, he took the bottle and walked away. Yes, you read that correctly, I was at a trade show, that promotes products for Salons to use and purchase and I was not able to purchase said product. …also, not once did said Rep. offer me any information on the product, he just walked away. Poor soul, if he had asked, or tried to speak to me he would have realized that I manage a shop with over 25 retail lines and the women I was with had a lot of purchasing power and many, many Salon connections, all over the province. I started looking around at the other booths and seeing the same thing – all product lines were displayed, but not all the products displayed were available for purchase. This got me thinking… a lot.

In our industry, many times than not, Salon owners, managers and stylists are blamed for the lack of retail sales. While this may be true in some circumstances, I have a question – how do distributor’s expect Salons and Stylists to grasp the importance of retailing products when the distributor’s themselves aren’t retailing/selling the products? Yes, we were at a trade show, and yes, it was just one product. Take a moment and look at the bigger picture. One person purchases a product, loves it, tells her Salon about it, they bring it in and next thing you know, every client has tried it, had it in their hair and the potential of 5 – 10+ bottles a week are being bought from the distributor and purchased by clients at the Salon. Plain & simple. It also had me wondering, how many other people had the same experience as yours truly, and how many potential sales, present and future were lost, to never be recovered? This is not how retailing is supposed to work. Retailing starts with a conversation, that turns into an explanation of the product, which turns into the value of the product being understood, which ends with a purchase.  How do I know? This is how I have personally introduced new lines and new products to the owner of the shop, the Salon’s clients and the Salon  & shop’s customers. Everyday.

I didn’t like “look but don’t touch” when I was 5, I really don’t enjoy it now.

 

That Girl in the Red Coat

That Girl in the Red Coat

Beauty, Business, Hair Care, That girl in the red coat, Uncategorized, Women

…knowing is half the battle

So, it happened again. I had a Rep. come in, actually, just show up out of the blue. No appointment. No phone call. No email nor a text. Oh yes, and it was on a Friday afternoon. Nothing makes me feel like I am a valuable customer than a total disregard for my time. As they waltzed through the door exclaiming that they had new products to show me that I MUST HAVE!, I let them know that I didn’t have much time to chat, because I didn’t know they were coming. …sadly,  the hint was not taken. “Oh, it’ll just take a minute!” ….hmmm, only a minute to tell me about a new product line…must not be much of a line if it only takes a minute to tell me about it. Long story short, after a quick overview, I was told it was fabulous and one of a kind. I thanked my Rep. for their time and let them know that we weren’t looking to bring in a new line until at least March, and that when we do bring in a new line, I need it to be different, to offer a product that no other line offers. It was then that my Rep. put their foot in their mouth. “This line is different! I would hate to see you miss out on this and be left behind. No other line offers a BB Cream for the hair!”. “Actually” I said, “there are lines that offer a BB Cream…” and before I could name them I was told with a laugh “I don’t think so. I think you are mistaken.”.  …sigh. It was at this moment I gave my Rep. a crash course on P.K. (product knowledge), that AG Hair was one of the first to bring a BB Cream for the hair, over 2 years ago – it’s actually named BB Cream. Soon after Schwarzkopf followed suit with their BonaCure Moisture Kick Beauty Balm. Needless to say, my Rep. had nothing to add.

 

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. A Sales Rep. coming into my shop, guns blazing about a new product, with no appointment or call made, interrupting my time and my answers for that matter. The worst part? Their lack of product knowledge, not just about their “new product”, but of the other products out there that may be the same or comparable. So today, my tale contains a little list for the Sales Reps.. Don’t get me wrong, there are some FABULOUS Sales Reps. out there and I am blessed to have some of them. Appointments are made and kept, texts and emails are answered, orders are taken care of, proper product knowledge is given and many friendships have blossomed. If the above description doesn’t ring true to you, this list is for you. You’re welcome.

  • make an appointment and keep it. If possible, make the appointment for the same day and time each week or biweekly. Trust me, your Salon’s will appreciate it and it will make your job easier.
  • if you cannot keep your appointment, let us know. Text us. Send us a message via Facebook. Tweet us. SnapChat us if need be. In this day and age, there is no excuse for a no show.
  • when you have a new product to show us, let us know ahead of time. There are many times I do not have extra help in the shop, so if a customer comes in, they take precedence. If you want my full attention, let me plan my schedule so I can do just that.
  • when presenting your new products, it helps to have them with you. I understand that many companies do not offer samples like they used to, but a tester helps. So I can smell the product and actually try it, feel it and play around with it, even if it’s for a minute. I cannot sell what I do not see, or know for that matter.
  • THIS IS A BIGGIE!!! when telling me about the new products, give me a reason to retail them. The majority of the time all products are seen as Salon tools or back bar items. Yes, we are in a Salon. We are also in a retail environment, which can be the bread and butter of a Salon. Sell me the value of the product, so I can in turn sell it to my customers and the Salon’s clientele. ….pssst…the more I retail, the more I order and in turn, the more you make. Just sayin’.
  • never assume you know everything about products. When you are told that another line has a similar product, the proper answer is “Oh. I hadn’t realized. Can you tell me about it?”. TIP! – laughing and telling me I don’t know what I am talking about or telling me I must be mistaken insults me a little and makes you sound like one of the mean girls from high school and makes you look like an ass. Plain and simple.

 

Here’s the deal. If you are a Sales Rep., you gotta know your competition. You gotta. Educate yourself on the other product lines out there, not only to increase your sales but to save yourself the embarrassment of having egg on your face.

 

Timing

That Girl in the Red Coat

 

Beauty, Business, communication, Hair Care, That girl in the red coat, Uncategorized

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.

Beauty, Business, communication, Hair Care, health and wellness, Uncategorized, Women, writing

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.

Beauty, Business, communication, Hair Care, Uncategorized

Don’t know what you got until it’s gone

Today’s tale is about customer service. Probably not the customer service you are thinking of. We tend to forget that the shop owner, stylist and the manager are a customer as well. You see, as a manager of a retail shop/salon, I deal with about 10 different reps. “Rep” is short for sales representative, although as of late many are not representing themselves or their company and the products they sell very well.

I understand all too well the stresses of being a rep. I was one in the past. I understand the frustration of  small orders, of going to a Salon time after time with no order from them. I understand the boredom of the drive, the frustration of the commute and rush hour traffic. You know what? I still made and kept appointments. I still showed up. I am the first to admit my time is precious. So is everyone else’s. I am blessed to have a few awesome reps – they make an appointment with me and keep it. If they need to change their regular time I am given ample notice and they work around my schedule. They give us free samples to use in the Salon or to give to our customers. They give us complimentary retail bags for the product we sell – the customer’s love them because they are funky and fun and it helps the reps because their product lines are advertised all over the bags – give me bags = more products ordered. They are helpful and professional and have become someone I would take out to dinner or invite into my home.

Then there are the “others”. They make an appointment and don’t show up. Days pass…no call, no email…I am left feeling like a girl waiting for a boy to call. Didn’t like it when I was 16, sure as hell don’t like it now. I have an order waiting, many times a special order I am placing for a customer and because of their no show, the customer now has to wait even longer for their product and believe me when I tell you…that isn’t always the best of experiences. In the age of email, text, Facebook and Twitter there is no excuse for a no show. Unless you are pinned under a transport truck or having a family emergency there is no reason why a rep cannot call their customer or find someway of getting in touch with them.

I had a great rep that has now moved on to other things. I will not name him but he knows who he is. He would come by every week on a Tuesday at the same time. He would email me about upcoming promo’s. If he knew a promo was almost out of stock he would call me directly to let me know and see if I needed any. He would bring samples for our customers. He would make sure that complimentary retail bags were shipped with each order. He was not only my sales rep, he is my friend. I met his replacement last week. After I introduced myself as the manager, or “just the manager” as she so eloquently put it, I told her that she would always be dealing with me and that I always have an order waiting (typed out and ready to go), I was told that Tuesday’s weren’t good for her and that weekly visits weren’t good either. I also didn’t get any retail bags. It’s a good thing I had looked over the sales flyers while I was preparing my order because I wasn’t told about one single promo. I miss my friend.

What I am getting at is this. Everyone wants good customer service. If we are a shop owner, a new mom in need of a stroller, a single dad having to buy his daughter her first bra, whomever, we all want some courtesy and kindness. We all want to feel like we are worth the time and effort and that we are being heard. It’s really that simple. Everyone’s time is as equally important as everyone else’s. For all you “others” out there, be professional. Show up. If you can’t show up – let us know and reschedule. Don’t want to come by? Then man up and ask for orders to be emailed – be sure that your office knows to mail out the bi-monthly sales flyer. Come to think of it, maybe it’s time for a career change.