Friday, March 1, 2013

Conundrum of Conscience

One of the biggest challenges that I face on a daily basis is the balance of sharing basic, not too personal information and the eliciting of conversations with customers. The problem I face is not the sharing of information on my end, but the receiving of information from the customers.

How much information is too much information?

I'll admit that sometimes I get uncomfortable for my customers. There are some things that strangers shouldn't know about you. Take for example: Health issues in nauseating detail, messy details of relationships (my cheating, dirty, venereal disease ridden spouse), or horror stories of their own work... trying to bait me into sharing my own stories. I have them, but I'm not about to share them with customers.

Sometimes, people need to vent. They've had a bad day, week, perhaps life, and they just would like someone who cares to share their troubles. There is a long standing joke that hairdressers are the poor man's psychologist. On some level, we are. I'll admit it, there are times when I have offered constructive advice or helpful suggestions to people. I am not a psychologist or life coach or anything like that, but I like to think that I have been around the block enough times that I can throw out, if not solutions, ways to find the solutions for themselves.

Politics and religion...

There are some times when there is no way around a customer's desire to speak their mind about extremely polarizing subjects. Personal opinions aside, sometimes no amount of placating or trying to steer the conversation are available. This is when going back to the matter at hand is your only tactic.

In my business, I usually take that opportunity to turn attention back to the haircut. By the time the conversation has gotten out of hand, its time to check in about how they like the length of the haircut, or what they would like to do for the top/neckline/etc. Or, I'll even use it to share observations about their hair and scalp and to suggest hair product solutions.

Oh, the Humanity!!

A bad haircut happens sometimes... I've done it, my coworkers have done it, my bosses have done it... no one is perfect, and sometimes things happen. How a person reacts is often dependent upon the actions of either the hairdresser that cut it the first time or the one who is fixing it.

The calm center of the hurricane, the fixer, zen mode, whatever you'd like to call it, you have to be ready and super professional. Mostly, they want to be reassured and to know that they are valued as a customer and that they are important. Fixing the haircut, obviously, is priority #1. But if the haircut is fixed in the way that you think it should be, and without reassuring the customer that their satisfaction is important to them, then they won't be happy, even if they look amazing.

Something I like to tell my customers is that we want people to say to them, "Wow, who did your hair?" Not, "Oh, my goodness... what the hell happened to you?" That is really my goal, all joking aside. I want people to be happy with their haircut and with how they look.

 Ooooh, who does your hair?

After all, if they look good, they feel good. But if they feel good, they look even better. Really, if I have a regular (I'm making this detail up as an example, though similar people do exist.) customer who loves to talk about her 15+ cats and how difficult it is to keep them all fed... then I will humor her and let her chat me up about them. If I can, I'll try and remember some of the details of their antics, because I know that she doesn't have the option of chatting with her cats. 

Most people crave human contact. They want to be attractive and they want to feel good about themselves. If I can help them by making them look and feel a little better, then I will. But, if at all possible, I'll try and help them chat about less detrimental information. The weather is usually a good topic, for example. :D

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow Day

Snow days are a hard thing to deal with in any kind of service industry. Depending on the field, it could make or break your day. Not a lot of people look outside on the day we had on Sunday and think, "Whoa buddy! Its haircut time!"

The fun part of having the shop close is that you get to stay home, but some days its a little more exciting. I work full time in a chain haircutting shop in the Boulder area, and as part of a much larger entity, snow days are a bit of an anomaly. Since I live in the town I work, its become less of an issue, but side effects are common... especially when the weather gets, well, a little more interesting?

Take my Sunday, for example:
         8am monthly meeting, which I was almost late for, because of the blizzard conditions between my house and the salon. Not to mention the foot of snow that had accumulated on my car. Naturally, I came to the meeting in jeans and snow boots on my lower half since I didn't want to get my work clothes sopping wet. I also didn't brave the snow with any mascara or makeup, but I did have all of my supplies to go into hairdresser mode, including dress slacks and some heels.
        The meeting was quick and my boss sent me home to be "on call" until later in the afternoon, since they probably wouldn't need me for my 10am shift after all. After fishtailing at 25mph back to my house and cleaning for about two and a half hours, I finally got the call. "Don't come in until 2pm. If anything changes, we'll give you another call."
         Thats cool, I thought. More time to do house work and my odd projects, and then I can still pull out a few hours at work. Which is what I ended up doing, actually. Took my time getting ready, made a grocery list of things including the hardware I would need to hang the shelves from IKEA that I had purchased last week. All in all, not a bad day.
         I cleaned off my car again and made my way back to the shop on much better road conditions. It was still snowing, but not nearly as heavy. By the time I got to the light before our shop's shopping center, I got another call from my boss. "I just got the call from corporate. We're closing at 3. I'll give you the option of coming in for an hour or not coming in." We both laughed a bit and I told her that I'd opt to stay home. She agreed that it would have been pretty silly to only come in for an hour.
        So, go home I did, after fulfilling the shopping list that my husband and I had written out before I left. Screws and groceries in hand, I got back home and made a huge pot of chicken noodle soup and hung some shelving in our kitchen.
      It was a good day, just strange. Snow days are like that, some times. But, if you're ever on the fence about whether its going to be busy at the salon on a snowy day? The answer is probably no, but if you want your favorite stylist, you should probably call ahead to make sure they're there and that the shop is open. Because you never really know... :D

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sickness and work ethic

   The service industry is fraught with illness and the risk of infection. As per any food service job, its pretty frowned upon for your health or beauty practitioner to be sick while trying to help you.

  Allergies are not something that one can help, but major sickness is something else. Head colds, fever, flu or food poisoning, for example, are not something that should be allowed to be worked through in a service industry job.

   It is, however, common courtesy to inform your clients of these health impediments before their scheduled appointments. When working in a walk-in environment, it is customary to get your shift covered. For this, I apologize profusely for my absence on Tuesday. It was not acceptable behavior, and for as much as I proselytize about professional behavior, I fell short of the mark to which I hold others. I am so sorry that I missed work on Tuesday. Food poisoning is not something that I wish upon anyone. Had I been able to get out of bed, I would have. But unfortunately, I was unable to function in any useful manner until around 11am today.

  I am so sorry.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Client vs. Buddy

I suppose that this could also be titled "professionalism" or, if you have a theater background, how to avoid breaking the fourth wall.

Whenever a person works with the public, there is, by necessity, a distancing that occurs. A service person needs to be clean, prompt, knowledgable and friendly. This does not mean going out with or putting the moves on your clientele. A little flirting is alright, as long as its kept at a low, ambiguous level.

They are not there to learn about your divorces or political ambitions or the details of your last surgery. They are there for you to make them feel better about themselves. If that means you have to listen to them rant about their dog, do it. But, this does not mean going out with them after work.

One of the best analogies I've heard from this is crude, but appropriate. "Don't shit where you eat."

This means that you don't pick fights, ask out or try and humiliate your clients. While we're at this, don't bash your peers, either. It's cheap and it makes people uncomfortable. Instead, try and alleviate their fears by being even more confident, and above all,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sola, pt 2

Alright... Here are my options: 

1. Stay full time at gc, while my color skills slip and keep the sporadic schedule.

2. Find a position that pays less but has full service options and a set schedule.

3. #2 as a booth renter.

4. Stay at gc part time and rent a sola salon that I would have to share with a friend... (Also full service, but also financial responsibility)

Before I commit to anything, I'll have to seriously weight my options. Also, I probably should speak with Sean... It's not just me now. He'd be affected too. *shakes head* being an adult is hard...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To sola or not to sola...

Recently, I received some information about a new sola salon location opening in longmont...  Should I so it? I just don't know...

Could be amazing, but it could put me in major debt. But, to be perfectly honest, I feel like I've been going the safe route for a long time, and that really hasn't gotten me very far. Plus, then I could make my own schedule and I'd be able to do music again.

Of course, there is also the option of sticking this out a little longer and then maybe looking for a better fit, too... Oh, decisions decisions...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Ah, the age-old question... Wedge, bob or a-line? 

Okay, this might be a silly hairdresser kind of thing, but its still a valid question. When someone comes in asking for a new hairstyle and it has to be short, there are a few questions I usually ask.

1. How much time do they spend on their hair? (Of course this also depends on their hairtype.) Not a lot of time in the morning usually means the a-line is out. Unless they have super straight hair that's a little coarse.

2. Are they more sassy or more conservative? Playfull or demure? Usually, and this should go without saying, these are not things to ask your client... Just ask yourself these questions and maybe ask about their lifestyle.

3. Have they ever had hair that short before? Sounds silly, but its a necessary question! A layered bob is a less dramatic option than an a-line or a wedge.

4. What's prompting the change? Breakup, funeral, friend's or ex's wedding? Emotionally driven drastic change is a BAD idea...