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