The truth behind the chair...
For more than eight years I have witnessed thousands of people walk through the entirely too heavy front door of Just Hair. What began as me accepting a part time reception job that I'd while in school, turned out to be a life altering decision.
My plan was to complete my Bachelor's Degree at NCU, then continue on to start the Master's program at PSU. I've always been drawn towards helping others, so a Master's Degree in Psychology seemed like the logical next step. However, there was always something that kept me from leaving Just Hair over the years.
After my first few years, I was managing, however, I'd never really had any control. Although the original owners were never around, they maintained strict control over every aspect of the day to day. I was put in uncomfortable, and quite frankly, unfair situations more often than I care to remember. I was supposed to keep the money coming in, but the morale was so low there was no motivation. Sure, there were hair stylists that were there strictly for their love of the art, and those women were motivated, but only for themselves.
I don't blame them, of course! When the owners of the businesses we CHOOSE to work for, or in some cases, with, shows little care or compassion to the hard workers that contribute to the bottom line, why would they be motivated to ensure the owners are benefiting from their success?
Our stylists were given the bare minimum to work with. On occasion, the bare minimum wouldn't even be available. The SE (self-employed) stylists were forced to split bills that should have been paid for solely by the owners. The employees were only given product commissions if their product sales exceeded a certain portion of their service sales, but product shelves could go weeks, a couple times months, without being replenished. Repairs were ignored, bills were late, tax agents were calling daily, and I was losing my battle to keep the remaining stylists from leaving.
One afternoon I get an email to call the owner. We never talk on the phone. I'm told the salon is being sold... I am assured that the new owners are good people. I am also assured that the salon will be able to get the care it needs.
I should pause a moment to reiterate that the original owners of Just Hair were not bad people. They were actually kind people that happened to be going through some rough and trying times. I'm told that when they were present at Just Hair, the salon was busy and successful. One of them was behind the chair, while the other handled the business side of the day to day. I've heard stories of traveling to hair shows, fully covered by the salon. I'm told Holiday parties were lavish, and occasionally trips were used as incentives! I wasn't around during the happier times, but I was in a position where I understood some of the reasoning behind the more negative actions.
As odd as it may sound, I'm glad I was a part those initial experiences. I learned some valuable lessons about not only myself and what I'm capable of handling, but more importantly, what never to do in the future.
Let's get back to the new owners... For the first time, I was able to make sure that whatever the stylists needed, they had. For the first time, I was in the driver's seat, fully in control. I started utilizing the observations I'd made over the years, and I started seeing results!
I'll spare you all the details and just say that over the next year, I grew more confident in my abilities to aid Just Hair, as well as the TEAM of stylists, on the road to success. I quite literally fell in love with the salon. I could see its potential as a business, and as a place to help people grow.
I knew deep down that the new owners had no intention of keeping the business. I watched the repairs and updates happen one by one, and my suspicion was confirmed the day a man came in "just to take a few pictures". I kept my suspicions to myself, for fear the stylists would lose what momentum they had gained.
Most of us fear the unknown, especially if it affects our everyday lives. I couldn't bear to hear the stylist's "what ifs" or that they were going to leave. I know I had my own worries about yet another new owner. If I was worrying about whether the new owner would continue on the path I had created, I knew the others would do the same. All I could do was hope that the fragile path I'd begun taking everyone down was strong enough to withstand more change.
A little over a year after the first change of ownership, I found out who the new owners would be. I can't lie, I had mixed feelings due to circumstances that I won't get into, but I knew that I'd do everything within my power to ensure success. Unfortunately, there was too much beyond my control, and I began to witness firsthand the downward spiral of this incredible salon I'd become so proud of.
I found myself in a management situation almost identical to the original position, only this time it was worse. I again found myself practically begging people not to leave. Multiple times the employees, including myself, would go unpaid for weeks at a time. We again got to the point where the bare minimum was available and product shelves were bare. I couldn't take another moment of watching the place I'd grown to love fall to pieces. Without getting into all the dirty details, after two years of one of the previous owners took back over.
I know that those last owners had the best of intentions, but I just couldn't get them to see what I saw happening, and in turn, drastically change their habits. I just want to point out that I truly tried! I really truly did...
When I began updating the new/previous owner (or savior, as I like to call him) about everything that had transpired over the previous two years, I knew we were in good hands. As a successful, supposed to be retired, business owner, this person was going to know what to do. In my mind there were two options: repair and improve, or close up shop...
Let me remind you, I never wanted to own a hair salon! I don't do hair, and quite frankly I was too cheap to ever get my hair done anywhere more expensive than the grocery store and my bathroom until my talented BFF started Cosmetology School! However, I'd just witnessed 7 years of ups and downs! I'd endured multiple changes in ownership, both good and less than good, and I didn't want to sit back and watch it happen all over again! I told the savior that I wanted Just Hair, and that I would spend whatever length of time necessary to prove that the salon is worth all the future headache, and that I am not only willing to buy the salon, but that I was trustworthy.
It wasn't easy! I'm not a rich person. In fact, I had to scrape together every cent of the small downpayment I was required to pay, which ended up being during the Holidays! I also had to convince my other half that my vision of the future was a successful one! I also could have never done this with out the savior, James, and his beautiful wife, Diane.
So, now I have "control", whatever that means! I definitely still have a lot to learn, but I've been itching to share some knowledge that the last eightish years have taught me.
During this time, I've come to realize that each and every client is looking for something, or someone, that can meet their needs in some form or another. I've also come to realize that some of those clients have unrealistic, sometimes outright impossible, expectations. Any Beauty Professionals reading this (I may be overly ambitious when it comes to my blogging goals...) will know exactly what I'm talking about!
So how can we expect clients and guests to understand that their dreams of platinum blonde are slim to none when they've been box coloring with different shades of burgundy for the last 3 years? We educate! Not (only) during the consultation, but well before. We need to truly get the word out, and tell people the facts, before they look in a mirror and imagine all that red is gone, and they have a perfect shade of ash blonde balayaged through their waist length locks!
As for you, our amazing clients, we do not enjoy seeing the disappointment on your beautiful faces. We do not want you to "settle", or be pressured into something you never wanted because it's easier.
There is such a vast amount of knowledge for everyone involved, Beauty Professionals and Clients alike, that I felt an overwhelming desire to try to share.
I hope it works! I hope I can stick with it, and force myself to make time to research the facts, as well as talk about the real time events. I have never done anything like this before, and as I write this, I fear failure, or public embarrassment, or not having a single person read this, but I have to try...