No, You Don't Have to Sit in my Chair
As imperfect humans sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we do and say things that we don't mean. Our conscious should be our guide, and common sense our best friend, but there are a few times where I think those little suckers must be passed out drunk because they weren't doing what they should be doing! As a young hairstylist, 15 years ago, I messed up some hair. I know I did and I know the client knew that I did. I would always tell myself "at least its just hair, it'll grow back and that client (or clients) will never sit in my chair again." Not a great way of thinking, but heck, what did I know? Not much back then, I can assure you. Now, I can say with all honesty that I NEVER messed someones hair up on purpose. No matter how I felt about that client, I always tried my best even when I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I knew my reputation was on the line with each and every client I saw. If I did mess up the clients hair, which was bound to happen, that's all they can say about me, they will never be able to say I treated them bad or I was rude to them, or even unprofessional. I remember the first time I had to do an A-line bob. I had never even attempted to do one before then. We didn't learn how to do them in school because they weren't very popular and no one coming to get their hair done at the school ever asked for that specific hair cut. So when this pretty, young girl with blonde hair sat in my chair and showed me a picture, I knew her, her hair and I were completely screwed. I did not want to do it. I knew I had to do it, I had to get over the fear of failure and just fail. Doesn't make it any easier to do though. This was when I was working at JC Penney's. It was required that I took any client that they choose to book with me. I did not have the option to say no. I had to do it no matter what. I wasn't making money for just myself, nope, I was making money for the salon. So I had two things going for me at that time. The first, I wouldn't have to check her out when she left. Whew! The second, I wasn't going to be the one she called and yelled at because her hair was cut to short and completely uneven. Big sigh of relief there! I can't tell you exactly how long it took me to do the haircut, but it felt like it took forever. Probably felt like that to her too, poor girl. I think about her sometimes and wonder what was going on in her head. I don't think I would recognize her face but I would probably recognize the back of her head because I starred at it for so long. I also don't remember my boss coming to me and telling me I messed up either and that may be because the girl never called and complained, it may also be because I choose to forget about it and block it from my memory. I imagine that she let it grow out a little and then went to someone else to get it fixed. Bless her heart. I want to thank the stylist who ended up fixing my mess, who ever that may have been, hopefully they didn't talk to much crap about me.
Businesses like mine have no choice when it comes to online reviews. If we want to be seen on any kind of social media we have to be willing to take on all the reviews, the good, the bad and the crazy. Did you know that is a form of social media for businesses? Businesses can set up their Yelp accounts, add pictures, promote special offers and advertise to their customers. It is a great tool all businesses should take advantage of. Now customers have a place to go and leave reviews, good, bad, or crazy. Did you also know that if a business DOESN'T set up their Yelp account customers can still go on and leave reviews? I own Oooh Girl...Who Did Your Hair? Salon here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we have been open for 5 years. Over those 5 years there have been about 20 different stylists that have worked there. Not all at the same time, but still that's a lot for a small local salon. Some were booth renters and some weren't. As the owner I am ultimately responsible for every single client that walks out the door. I have to make sure that the stylists who work in my salon are competent in their craft, have good social skills, can communicate well, have a good work ethic, like, being on time for work, a long with a host of other things. Why? If I don't stay on top of my stylists and their work and work ethic, it is MY reputation that gets ruined. Think about it. When you go to a restaurant and you feel the waiter was absolutely horrendous at their job, they did nothing right, they were rude or ignored you. You would go to that restaurants Yelp page or Facebook page and leave a review for that waiter, probably by name, correct? What happens when that waiter leaves that job and goes somewhere else? What if you get his name wrong and use another waiters name that wasn't even waiting on you? What happens to the review then? NOTHING! It is there forever!
Over the past 5 years Yelp Reviews for us grew. Our very first Five Star review was by my client Laurie on July 1st, 2014. We have a total of 51 reviews. Only 26 of those are considered "recommended" reviews. We have 42 Five star reviews, 1 Four start review, 1 Three Star review, 1 Two Star review and 6 One star reviews. You may be asking why only 26 are considered "recommended," because Yelp decides*. If you as a consumer are active on Yelp, meaning you have left several reviews over a certain period of time, your review will most likely be recommended. If you don't, or only leave them here and there, it probably won't. This doesn't mean that as a consumer you aren't able to see all of the reviews including the ones not recommended, it just means those reviews aren't calculated into our overall Star average. Pretty confusing isn't it?
Facebook on the other hand, recently changed the way it handles reviews. Now you can either recommend or not recommend a business. You are also able to leave a comment of about why or why not. It used to be a star rating like Yelp, but not any more.
You are probably wondering why on earth I am telling you all this and what on earth it has to do with you, right? Well let me share with you a little salon drama! Are you ready?
First, I want to start by saying that the names I will be using, Sally and Mary, are not their actual names, I don't know why I feel the need to do this but I do. The review that was left was a 1 Star review, but is not considered a recommended review, however, it can be viewed on our Yelp Page. The Non-Recommendation that was left on our Facebook page is still there, as of this posting, in all it's glory as well. Second, we have two stylists in the salon who both happen to have the same name but spelled differently.
Abby Lopez has been a stylist with Oooh Girl for about 4 years, but has been a stylist for over 10 years total. Abbey Elizabeth Wood, has been with us for 2 years, and has been a stylist for over 3 years. Abby L. kept her name, and Abbey W. now goes by her middle name Elizabeth (who, will from now on be referred to as Elizabeth).
I hope I haven't lost you yet. It's about to get real juicy! I will try to keep it as short and sweet as possible.
Here we go...
Sally, was referred to Elizabeth by Elizabeth's sister (who of course called her Abbey and not Elizabeth). Sally got in contact with Elizabeth through text and made an appointment for a haircut in December of 2018. From what was said by the client herself and the other stylists that were present Sally enjoyed her visit, Elizabeth enjoyed having Sally as a new client, and both were happy with her haircut. Happy enough to rebook with Elizabeth, this time for a color and another haircut. This appointment took place in January of 2019. I personally wasn't there so I will not present hearsay. Sally was satisfied enough with that service that she then recommended and referred her daughter, Mary, to Oooh Girl to see Elizabeth (but still calling her Abbey). Mary then scheduled her appointment with Elizabeth quite soon after her mother for a haircut. She too was satisfied enough to then schedule a color with Elizabeth. Here's where it starts to get ugly. Mary wants to get her hair highlighted, Elizabeth books the appointment. They both start discussing over text what it is Mary would like to have done. Mary texts a lot. A lot of pictures of herself, (not a bad thing, we do need to see your hair) and a lot of pictures of what she is looking for (also, not a bad thing, we need inspiration.)
The thing is, Mary begins to tell Elizabeth what to do and how to do it, with out boring you on hair terminology, Mary wanted her hair to be done with out using bleach, and wanted more of a Balayage look not really highlights (2 different techniques), but still wanted it to be blonde. Elizabeth knew, by the pictures she was sending, it couldn't be done without using bleach based on the inspiration pictures she was sending to Elizabeth. Now, did Elizabeth tell Mary that it couldn't be done with out using bleach? I don't think she did. What she did do is tell her that if she wanted it done with out bleach there were only going to be certain shades of blonde she could expect to achieve and sent her pictures of what it may look like. This conversation went back and forth over several days. Elizabeth was getting more and more anxious about the upcoming appointment because even though they had talked and talked and talked, nothing had been set in stone as to what they were going to do. The day before Mary was supposed to come in Elizabeth and I sat down and discussed her plan of action. It boiled down to Elizabeth not wanting to do Mary's hair. Elizabeth did not want Mary as her client. Elizabeth did not want to disappoint Mary, knowing Mary's expectations were pretty high considering she was referred by Sally, her own mother.
Are you wondering what I said? Do you think I forced Elizabeth to do Mary's hair because the client gets what the client wants? Do you think I made her do it in order for me to make money off of Mary no matter the outcome? What do you think your stylist would have done if she were in my shoes, or Elizabeth's shoes? Maybe you should ask them.
I told Elizabeth what I have told all of my current stylists. If you don't think you can do what it is this client is asking for, then don't do it. If you have a gut feeling that things just aren't going to go right, don't do it. Communicate with your client, be open and honest about what it is you can do and what you can't or don't think you should do. If you don't think you, as a stylist fit that client and don't think you will make her happy, please don't do it. There is no rule or law that says we as hairstylists have to take every single client that walks in our door and do their hair just because they are paying us. If I as the owner of my salon don't think a client is a good fit for the salon, guess what? There are hundreds of salons out there. There is a stylist and a salon that is perfect for every client. There is a client that is perfect for every stylist and salon. Think about why you go to the stylist you go to. Ask yourself why you choose that stylist? What was it about her or him that made you want to keep going back? Clients, just like stylists, have every right to pick and choose a place they love, a stylist they love. You as a client need to walk out of the salon knowing you look amazing, and that you feel amazing. You as a client need to be excited to go back to and sit in their chair again, as a stylist we need to feel the same way too. If you don't have those feelings, it's time to do some research. Elizabeth seemed relieved when I told her she didn't have to do it. I think she also realized it was the right thing to do. She did however know that by telling Mary this, it would cause blow back. And boy did it ever!
In the first picture to the left, Elizabeth was not only professional at explaining why she didn't want to do Mary's hair, she referred Mary to 3 other salons that may be a better fit.
So what happens when you tell someone no? Feelings get hurt, anger sets in and well, texts are sent.
The second picture on the right is from Mary's mother to Elizabeth. I would never, no matter how upset I was have the nerve to talk to another woman that way. Now here's what I need you to notice. At the top of that message is the name Abbey. Here's why that's important, when Sally left a Yelp review, she not only used the wrong name, implying the wrong stylist, she used the wrong spelling, when obviously she knew how to spell her name in the first place! Now Abby has a bad review on Yelp, when this had nothing to do with her in the first place! Are you bugged yet? Wait it gets better!
At this point, I am not entirely caught up on all of what is going on. This all happened in a very short time frame of a day. I knew someone had just written a 1 Star review, I figured it was Mary because of the whole timing aspect of it all. What I didn't know was that Sally had so graciously sent that text to Elizabeth, nor had I laid eyes upon the text Elizabeth had sent to Mary.
Here is my response to Sally and her Yelp review. Hold on...we aren't quite done yet! Let us move on to Facebook shall we?
Awe...Facebook. I also have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. But I have already taken up a lot of your time, so I won't get into that now. Since Sally left a lovely 1 Star review on Yelp, Mary decided she needed to leave a review on Facebook. Again, what I want you to notice is that it is very short. She doesn't go into detail because what can she say? "Elizabeth didn't do my hair!" or maybe "Elizabeth didn't do my hair and fired me as a client!" Both of which are completely true! Instead Mary decides to attack her character, because in Mary eyes Elizabeth had no right telling her no. Mary, who had only gotten a haircut with Elizabeth mentions nothing about that experience, what she does do is call Elizabeth untrustworthy! All because Elizabeth told her No! Mary also uses the name Abby, which again is the wrong stylist, who again had nothing to do with this situation!
Now I could have handled this in several different ways, all of which ran through my head pretty much all at the same time. Needless to say I was livid. My stylists here are part of my family. My desire to protect them becomes almost primal, especially when they were doing what I told them to do in the first place! Mary and Sally feel they are completely justified in their feelings, which I have no doubt they are pissed off beyond reason. But it wasn't because Elizabeth did anything wrong. It wasn't because she messed up there hair beyond repair, charged them heaps of money and kicked them out of the salon. It was because Elizabeth decided she wouldn't be able to give Mary what she wanted. She told Mary No!
This blog post is just one of the ways I am handling it. I am not coming from a place of anger any more, I am not angry or livid. I am coming from a place of honesty and transparency. Writing the reply I did was the first part. I feel that customers and clients need to see the whole picture. I, as a hairstylist and salon owner want to be transparent. I really have nothing to hide and will own up to all of my mistakes. Don't believe me? Check out the reviews about me on Yelp.
We are human. We make mistakes. We mess up. When we do mess up we should be held accountable for our actions big or small. We should not be penalized for telling someone No. Elizabeth should not be penalized for NOT doing someone's hair. Abby should not be penalized for having the same name as another stylist.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments with me. I am always open to discussion!
The best way for us to know how we are doing are by leaving us reviews!
I hope you join us on our Facebook Live on Monday February 18th where we go a little deeper into how we feel about reviews. All five stylists will be there and you won't want to miss it! You can always catch the replay too. If you aren't a Facebook Fan head over to our IGTV. We will be uploading the entire video on our Oooh Girl Instagram page.
Talk to you soon!
*For more information on Yelp Reviews click here