Archive for June, 2008

Ever have an angry customer?

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: customer service, small business | Tags: |

Typical debit card transaction machine, branded to McDonalds.

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We have all had customer service incidents.  (Here’s one of mine.)

But have you ever had a really angry customer?  It is not a pretty sight.  My customer service plan is to try to avoid “angry” as best I can by nipping things in the bud.

Last week I had trouble with the credit card terminal.  While I was batching out the day’s receipts, the machine went blank.  After a call to the merchant service line, I was told that the batch had not gone through and it was no longer in the memory of the machine.  I was asked to manually re-enter each slip.  (Luckily it was not a big, busy day, so there were only 10 items.)

I input the items again.  Just in case there was any problem, I emailed all the customers and told them what was up.  The next day, one of the clients emailed me to let me know that two transactions were pending on her account.  Yikes!  Panic!

Another call to Merchant Services, and a different person told me that I was supposed to have re-entered the transactions as “offline” and used the same authorization number.  So what had happened now was that on the day before the batch failure, when the clients’ cards were swiped, an authorization was put through to their account.  The actual transaction is not processed until the batch is sent.  When I reentered the items, an additional authorization went through.  I was assured that the original authorization would “drop off” of their accounts in a few days and only one charge would go through.

So I sent another email to all of the effected clients explaining things as I understood them, apologizing for any trouble and thanking them for their patience and understanding.  When they come in the salon next time, I will give them a little gift as an additional apology.

The reason I communicated with the clients was to keep them from seeing their bank info, seeing us on their twice for the same event, freaking out, and wondering what was wrong, or worse: calling and screaming at me!  For me, it is easier to avoid drama than to deal with it full blown.

Sometimes they get you, though.  For 5 steps on how to deal with an angry customer once they are really hot, read this post from Business Pundit.

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Color matters in marketing, too

Posted on June 24, 2008. Filed under: marketing | Tags: , |

Continuous optical spectrum (designed for monitors with gamma 1.5).

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It never ceases to amaze me when I meet hairdressers who tell me their salon specializes in color and when they hand me their business card, it is black and white.  If you are in the color business, do you think you could throw a little color out there?  Do you know how much impact a little splash of color can have on a black and white field?  It turns up the energy on the card from formal and cold to enticing and inviting.  Give it a try.  Take one of the black design items on your card and make it red (or blue, or yellow….)

If you want to learn about the psychology of colors and how they apply to marketing, read this great post from Branding Strategy Insider.

In North American mainstream culture, the following colors are associated with certain qualities or emotions:

Red –excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger.
Blue –(listed as the most popular color) trust, reliability, belonging, coolness.
Yellow –warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness
Orange — playfulness, warmth, vibrant
Green — nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance
Purple –royal, spirituality, dignity
Pink — soft, sweet, nurture, security
White –pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild.
Black –sophistication, elegant, seductive, mystery
Gold — prestige, expensive
Silver — prestige, cold, scientific

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What goes through a client’s mind when they decide to break up with their hairdresser?

Posted on June 20, 2008. Filed under: customer service | Tags: |

I read a post written by a woman who could be a client of any of us.  She is no longer in love with her hairdresser.  She explains why and asks for guidance on finding a new one.

Read it here.

The question to us is obvious.  How do we stop this attrition?  I have a client that I can feel isn’t loving me as much right now.  I have decided to really focus on her experience.  I am noticing the deltails of how she interacts with me and the salon, what her body language tells me, and if there is something she is trying to communicate to me that I am just not getting.

Of course, I should be giving this level of focus to all my clients, right?

Perhaps I am the only one guilty of slipping occasionally.  Of running on auto-pilot.  Of assuming that just because a client has been coming for two decades that they will still be here tomorrow.

This woman’s post served as a nice wake up call to me.  A reminder that I do still have to be great.  Every time.  My mortgage and car payment depend on it!

How have you handled it when you found yourself on auto-pilot or when you felt a client slipping away?

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Experiential Spa Learning Event September 21-24

Posted on June 19, 2008. Filed under: education, management, marketing, small business | Tags: , , |

2008 Conference Theme: “Is compensation devouring your profit? Finding a solution together.”

SpaFinder invites you to the second annual experiential spa learning event for spa owners and managers, September 21-24, at the breathtaking Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.

Join us for morning hikes and moonlight walks, extraordinary treatments, delicious spa cuisine, and deluxe accommodations. Explore the stunning red rock canyons between information-packed seminars, roundtable discussions and one-on-one sessions with focus on building your profit margin.

SpaFinder and Red Mountain Spa are delighted to offer you this unique experience at an incredible rate. Space is limited, reserve today.

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She didn’t hire you because you were a bad fit, not because you are Muslim!

Posted on June 18, 2008. Filed under: small business, staff | Tags: , , , |

This story takes place in the UK, and if you think I have limited knowledge of business law in my own country, you can imagine how little I know about others!  This is a story about one of us, a small salon owner, who didn’t hire someone because they were a bad fit for the salon.  The hairdresser sued the salon for “hurting her feelings” by not hiring her.  (This is definitely a candidate for Come Here So I can Smack You!  I want to smack the woman who file the lawsuit and the judge who thought she was right!)

For the record, I think that one of the great things about owning a small business is the ability to select staff and customers that are a good match.  It’s kind of like dating.  Not everyone gets on well together.  It doesn’t make them bad or wrong, it just makes them a bad fit.  As a business owner, I could give two craps about my staff’s religious affiliations, but I do care about how well they integrate with the existing staff and clients.  I would love to hear a good reason why I shouldn’t be able to pick staff based on that criteria.

And just to open another can of worms (why not?) I think a the same thing about pharmacists who want to pick which medications they fill.  Unless you have BRANDED yourself as a business with certain beliefs, it is unreasonable to expect a customer to guess that your religious beliefs are going to get in the way of them having the experience they expect from a pharmacy (or a salon.)

There is a hospital in my city owned by the Franciscans.  I know their policies about reproductive medicine.  I wouldn’t go to them for a pregnancy termination because I know they don’t do them.  I am not even sure if they offer any contraceptive services, so I don’t go there for such things.

If you make your religious faith a cornerstone of your business, then people can choose to come or not come to you based on that.  Depending on your location, you may attract and repel an equal number of potential guests.

And if you take away the religious aspect of this issue, there is still an issue of appearance.  People judge salons based on the appearance of the staff.  If all the staff look like bikers, chances are a soccer mom is going to either think she isn’t welcome or the salon can’t provide the work she is expecting (“They don’t do my kind of hair there.”)  The salon in this article is “edgy-funky,” not “quiet and conservative.”  Seems like the customers there might be a rowdy bunch who might feel they have to be on their best behavior around a person who is visibly observant of their religion which would make the salon a less desirable location for them to visit.

As always, I am open to dissenting opinions.

Sarah Desrosiers

I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn’t show her hair

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Last updated at 11:08 AM on 18th June 2008

It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin – and forced to pay £4,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ – after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn’t show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.

Not only was it brief  –  lasting little more than ten minutes  –  but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah’s reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Read the rest of the article here.

Related articles

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Is a franchise salon the right choice for you?

Posted on June 16, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , |

If you want to open your own salon, but feel like you could use more than a bit of help, a franchise could be the answer you seek.

The upside of a franchise is the assistance you get from the main company and the benefit of being a part of a bigger marketing machine than you could afford on your own.

The downside is that you are agreeing to do things the company way.

It’s all about choices.

Check it out to see if this looks like a good fit for you and your business personality.

Be sure to read up on franchising in general, as well.  I don’t want you to have any surprises.

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My salon gets some unexpected PR

Posted on June 13, 2008. Filed under: marketing |

One day last week our cute FedEx driver brought us an envelope containing a copy of Short Cuts ( a consumer magazine.)  It seemed an odd thing to be FedExed, so I gave the mag to my client and asked her to flip through and see if she could figure out why this was sent to us.

It took some time, because this is almost at the end of the magazine, but she found the reason.

In their Salon Directory, there were two salons reviewed.  Gary Manuel in Seattle, and little old us.

I only have one question.

Who the hell told them we were “warm?”

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Who are My People?

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: resources, small business | Tags: |

I scour the web for articles and conversations that can help My People.

Who are My People?

We are owners and managers of small salons.

But Aura, aren’t there already tons of sources of information for small businesses?

Sure.  There are.  But here is the problem.  Small Business is defined as any business with fewer than 100 employees.  A salon with 75 employees would be considered a LARGE salon!

Many of the articles I stumble across have nuggets of information that are helpful to us, but many are a bit out of our ballpark.

Here’s an example:

Business Week has a small business section (that often has really helpful information) and I was reading an article about positioning that held great promise until it got to the part about the marketing team doing the research for the project.  Here’s the part where my eyes started to glaze over:

From the above analysis you’ll be able to synthesize your opportunities and understand the value chains in your target markets. The result of combining these two outcomes will yield your differentiating attributes, which form your positioning strategy and positioning statement. You can determine the net-net of your positioning statement by filling in the blanks in the exercise below.

Read the entire article here.

Most salon owners did not go to business school.  Yes, I know some of them did, but they are not my target audience!

Much like how I have determined who is my target customer for my salon, I have a target audience for this blog.

The majority of salons worldwide are each staffed by only a handful people.  We have different needs than a business with 50-100 employees.  We are different people with a different perspective.

My goal is to speak to the smallest of us:

  • The little guys.
  • The heart and soul of the American economy.

When you are a little business, you feel like you are in it alone; like you have to struggle to learn everything.  It wears on a person!  If I can help My People feel like they have a friend who seriously cares about their success, I will feel like I have succeeded.

Everything I do: the workshops, the interviews, this blog, I do for My People.

Remember, there are many more of us than there are the big guys, and I am happy to be a voice in the wilderness when you feel lost.

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You don’t have to be a geek to set up a blog – video

Posted on June 11, 2008. Filed under: education, marketing, small business | Tags: , , , |

If you still think a blog is technologically over your head, you need to watch this quick video.

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Does your business have a personality disorder?

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: education, marketing, resources, small business | Tags: , |

Don’t you love it when you read something that someone else wrote that so strongly resonates with your beliefs that it’s like they read your mind?

I believe job #1 for any business, particularly small businesses, is to find a way to stand out, to be different. Doing so in a meaningful way (meaningful to a market segment that cares) is the secret to long term success, word or mouth buzz and ultimately more profit.

This is from a post on Duct Tape Marketing with an interview of the author of a business book that looks right up our alley.  One of the things I nag at you about is defining and embracing your business personality.  It’s something they write about quite a bit at Duct Tape Marketing, too.  (Why don’t you go over and subscribe to their feed?)

Listen to what the author has to say, and if you get the book before I do, let me know what you think.

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