Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'd Like to Ask a Favor

The beauty industry has really gone through some changes in my time. And not all those changes have been for the best.

For one thing, I learned to do acrylic nails by sculpting them on forms. The only time anyone pulled out plastic tips was for nail biters. Most people who did nails in the 80's considered tips "cheating." But these days, that's all you see!

It's not unusual at all these days for me to have clients who have never seen forms! Sometimes they freak out a little when they see me pull them out, they don't know what they are! Once I explain it and they relax, they almost always end up preferring sculptured nails.

This is because there are a lot of cheap nail salons out there these days that use tips to cut corners. They just grab a plastic tip and slap it on the nail and then throw some acrylic over it and take your money. They don't put much effort into producing a quality set of nails and they don't take pride in their work. They are in it for the money and they make their money by working fast so they can fit more people into the day.

These salons are new too. Visalia has only had them for about 10 years now. But they spring up fast and spread like wildfire. There's one in every stip mall, every shopping center. They are highly visible and easy to find. But why people think that the one in Mary's Vineyard is going to be any different from the one in Packwood Creek is beyond me. Can't you tell they are all the same type of salon?

They advertise cheap rates and don't take appointments. Just like Supercuts isn't much different from The Perfect Cut-- same type of salon, just a different company. Yet I see people all the time who try every single one of the cheap, walk-in nail salons in town before they get on the internet and find my website.

This is different too. Back in my day we had the yellow pages. There weren't any nail salons that did nothing but walk-ins. Some places might take walk-ins, but only if they had time, which was rare.

We had to get out the yellow pages and start calling salons and find out when we could get in.

We made appointments.

People understood appointments better back then. They were just more common, so maybe more people understood that if you made an appointment-- you kept it. OR, you called in advance to cancel it.

This is probably the single greatest frustration I have with the changes I've seen in my business.

People don't know what appointments are anymore. Oh sure, they'll call and make one. But then they just blow it off without a second thought. It doesn't matter if they just decide to go somewhere else, or decide not to get their nails done, or if something comes up and they can't keep their appointment... problem is, they don't tell me.

So there I am, waiting on you. Sitting at my desk with my implements all disinfected and set out, looking forward to meeting someone new. Getting to know my new client and getting a chance to introduce someone to a different type of nail service. A service that is clean and safe, that doesn't hurt, or destroy your natural nails. And a nail-lady who actually cares about who you are. Who wants to have a conversation with you and get to know you.

But you've never met a nail tech like that before, you don't know that I'm sitting there waiting just for you because you've never been to an upscale salon before. You figure that if you don't show up, I'll just take who ever's next in line.

But there IS no next in line, not until my next client is scheduled for her appointment. Because I set aside that time just for you.

And I happen to be self-employed. I make money by doing nails. If I'm not doing nails, I'm not getting paid. I have to do a certain number of clients each day in order to make enough money to pay all my bills. If you make an appointment and don't keep it, then I just sit around, not making any money.

It's hard not to take that personally. I mean, I know you don't know me and you may not have known that you are costing me an opportunity to make a living by not keeping your appointment-- I really do try to remember all this and cut you some slack. But I'm sitting there at my desk not making any money and that gives me a lot of time to start thinking about all the changes I've seen over the years-- and it's just so hard to believe how we, as a society, have gotten so lazy at being courteous to one another.

I mean, back in the day, if you had a flat tire on the way to the salon, or your kid got sick and you had to go get them from school, or your doctor appointment took longer than you expected-- it was reasonable when you called the salon the next day to explain why you missed your appointment. But NOW ADAYS we all have cell phones. Even 5th graders have cell phones! There's just no excuse anymore for not being able to at least send off a quiet text message to give us a head's up when an emergency pops up.

But emergencies are few and far between-- what really bugs is how many times someone just doesn't show up. Just blows me off. Like it's no big deal. Like I don't matter and my time means nothing. And if I call up and politely say "Hey, you missed you appointment today..." that person is SO SURPRISED to hear from me! Like it never occurred to them that by making an appointment with me, I may have been expecting you.

Well, I was. I was expecting you. I cleared my schedule just to sit down and chat with YOU and do YOUR nails. And when you don't show up and you can't even bother to call me or text me to let me know you can't make it-- My feelings are hurt. My feelings are hurt and my bank account is hurt. And I really like doing nails. I'd like the opportunity to do your nails. I don't want to have to find a "real" job. I want to make a living doing nails.

So, next time you call up and make an appointment. Keep it. Or at least call to cancel it. And I don't mean call to cancel it when it's 6 minutes before you're supposed to be there. That's just weak. Call and give a day's notice. At least call the morning of. Just like you were calling in sick to work or school.

OMG! And that's another thing! If you have a nail appointment at 6 o'clock in the evening, DO NOT call me at 5:30 to tell me that you are sick! And then try to get my sympathy by telling me that you are so sick, in fact, that you did not even go to work that day! If you KNEW you were too sick to go to work at 7 a.m. that morning, WHY didn't you call ME right after you called in to work?

Waiting until half an hour before you are supposed to be sitting in front of me is just rude. There is NO WAY that gives me enough time to call someone else and offer them your spot. It takes at least a couple of hours to allow someone else enough time to find out that I had a cancellation, make arrangements for their kids or finish up with what they are doing, and drive to the salon. At least 2 hours. So don't wait till the last minute to cancel.

You can avoid a lot of hurt feelings by just remembering to call me at all, and I'll cut you some slack if something comes up at the last minute-- but if you cancel or reschedule everytime you make an appointment, that gets old. It gets old, and it means I can't rely on you. And if you reschedule all the time and you only give me a few hours notice everytime, that's very stressful and eventually I'm going to learn to stop reserving time for you because I know you'll just reschedule.

So have a little compassion for the people you do business with. You sit with us every few weeks while we hold your hands and listen to you share your ups and downs. You come to be part of our lives and you expect us to pay attention to you and be supportive.

Please return the favor.

1 comment:

  1. OMG...such a good article! U hit a lot of good points with this story. I have been dealing with the same situations when i relocated in2 a space on my own & the same customers who complained to me bout wanting appts are the same ones who stood me up ten min AFTER their scheduled appt, rescheduled for the next day but earlier & still didnt show up, no call no show...smh..but their hair appts, they make it to as if its a Dr's appt. I now take appts only in the morning til 1pm..after i finished my appts, then i take 1st come 1st served..i jus sit & wait for the next custmr & they usually pile in one after another.
    But this is an excellent article..