How Front Desk Gossip Can Kill Your Salon

In 1942, right after we got into WWII, the German’s submarines (U-Boats) were sinking tons of our ships – right off our coast line – sending men and materiel to the bottom of the sea.

Our country was filled with enemy agents (and sympathizers) who were trained to gather information from innocent US citizens. gossip-post2

To heighten our awareness the War Advertising Council created the famous wartime slogan: Loose Lips Sink Ships

Then, to make sure the “word got out” US Office of War Information plastered posters all around the country. 

We both know your salon is not at war. But it is battling for business.

It’s a day-in, day-out business battle. It’s the battle for:

Finding and keeping the “right” clients.

And just like in WWII, where an unsuspecting American could be lured into saying something to someone – and the next thing you know another ship goes to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean –

A team member’s talk could torpedo your salon’s Yelp ratings or create bad word of mouth.

How’s that possible?

It’s easy.

Let’s say a client or prospective client hear chatter – and misinterprets that chatter.  

Communication is not just what we say but what a client hears.

Just imagine if you’re behind the desk and you’re talking with another team member about who gets the credit for a retail sale.

And the next thing you see is that your salon got a one-star review on Yelp because of something you said about retail.

Here’s a specific example of that.  









So what do you do?

Here are three things you need to do to right the ship:

#1Quickly respond to the review. Quickly means within 12 hours.

Do it with grace and elegance. Sound apologetic, but at the same time protective of your salon.

An aggressive response is a BIG NO NO!

Whatever you do, do not sound aggressive.

Here’s how the owner, whose salon got that review responded to it.

Dear Ms. Client,

It appears as if there was some confusion on our behalf and I’m very sorry that we gave the wrong impression to you about us.

Just so you know, we agree with you about the traditional “commission based” retail reward system causing uncomfortable and unnecessary moments for you.

It’s precisely for that reason that we “converted” to a  “team-based” rewards system for the front desk.

In other words, it does not matter under whose register key the sales are rung up.

I encourage you to give us another try. I guarantee that you’ll love our salon.

Alicia Jones
Cell # (if you want)

While I recommend you make it personal by adding the info above, you don’t have to

#2 – Speak to your team members and share exactly what happened that prompted the Yelp review in the first place.

Remind them how important good online reviews are, and how a bad review, even if it’s not true, can take its toll – both in terms of management time as well as lost prospects etc.

#3 – Ask them what they think they can do to prevent reviews like this one from happening again.

They’re adults – they’ll tell you.

Remember – if the solution comes from them they have an investment in the outcome.

Just like we had to protect our people and material during wartime, you have to protect your salon business and reputation – all the time.

How “Toxic” Workers Can Strangle Your Salon

It’s no secret – toxic people in your salon not only toxic
destroy morale and cause good employees to leave, they eventually even kill your business.

So exactly what is a “toxic worker”?

“It’s someone who engages in behavior that is harmful to an organization.” — Harvard Business School

And toxic workers are a particular threat to small business (like salons).

“The more intimate the workplace, the faster the negative interpersonal issues can spread. Workplace conflicts and decreased morale can disrupt productivity, alienate workers and have catastrophic effects on your employee retention efforts” according to blog postings by Accountemps.

Toxic workers can cost your salon its reputation as well as putting a drag on your profits.

Pinpointing Toxic Workers

So how can you identify a toxic worker?

Just like Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who blew the Watergate Scandal wide open by “following the money”; you just “follow the behavior”

By following the behavior you can pinpoint the “5 types of Toxic Workers”

  1.  Gossip-mongers: They spread fear-spouting hearsay
  2.  Big Bullies: These employees repeatedly put others down by humiliating them
  3.  Saboteurs Extraordinaire: These are people trying to gain advantage by hurting fellow workers.
  4.  Spotlight Stealers: They take credit for others’ work and hoard the limelight in team projects.
  5.  Chronic Complainers: These are people who are continually complaining about co-workers, clients or working conditions.

And what happens when a toxic worker happens to be a “superstar” stylist?

When a toxic worker happens to be a “superstar” stylist you have a tough problem on your hands.  Ultimately it comes down to the owner having to “bite the bullet” by getting rid of them.

Yes, it’s easier said than done. Especially when that person is holding you hostage with their “big book”.

But the Harvard Study shows that over time your company is better off without them.

One of my mentors, hairstylist/entrepreneur Jean Louis David once said to me when we were talking about this topic.

“Andrew, I’d rather cut off my arm, than lose my life”

And while that may cause collateral damage to your salon in the short run, keeping them on-board (as the numbers in the Harvard Study indicate) only allows the gangrene to spread – and never allows your company to become healthy.

Most salons keep the person on – hoping that things will change

Keep your Salon Toxic-Free

Here are three ways to keep your salon toxic-free.

  1.  Don’t hire the toxic workers in the first place. 
  2.  Have periodic “career conversations” with your team members – to get a pulse on the workplace
  3.  Hold regular performance reviews (the more frequent the better)

By keeping your salon toxic – free you’ll be able to keep morale high, keep good employees longer and build a more profitable salon.

Go to “Andrew’s Personal Reflection”



The new IPad Plus!

I’m totally infatuated with Apples’ new iPad Plus. Not only
is it big, bright and beautiful but you can actually write on it!logo

And to an “analogue” type of guy (I love using pen) the iPad Plus with its pencil seems like a dream come true.

So while I was recently in Grand Central Station I hopped upstairs to the Apple Store and made a beeline straight for the table of iPad Pluses.

I was the only customer at the table – however there were other people at the table- not customers but ten sales trainees and one Apple instructor.

Because she was reviewing the iPad Plus with them I couldn’t help but eavesdrop – after all I am interested in the product.

She asked them what kind of a person buys this product – and the trainees responded with “artist, designers, architects …” names of professions that probably mirrored the soon to be sales peoples’ own career paths.

“Ok” she said, your right, those people are interested in this product, but businesses and business people are the ones showing the biggest interest.

Then she asked to the group “why do you think those people would be interested in the iPad Plus”?

There was silence in our section of the store as they tried to come up with their answers.

Being a marketing strategist coach, and consultant I thought “damn it, why don’t you ask me? – It’d be a great opportunity moment for you and your group – actually having a business guy (the very type of guy who is buying them – “live on 5” as we say – standing here waiting to be engaged”.

Maybe she was too involved with the group so she didn’t notice me. And I certainly wasn’t going to butt in.

So the moment came and went.

Thank God that it did – she probably could have sold one to me – and what I don’t “need” at this exact point in time (even though my iPad 2 is on its last breath), is another gadget – no matter how cool and beautiful it may be.

Go back to “The Owner’s Antidote to Salon Marketing Stagnation”

Is Instagram the Holy Grail for Salon Success?

To many hairstylists and salon owners it sure may look that way. How else could Johnny and Anh have booked what they booked – 3000 miles away from their salon – in new York city – with its more that 5000+ salons? 

They’re using Instagram everyday to touch tens of thousands of people – and stimulating their brains with a brief neurological “excitement” with each interaction. Instagram Excites the Neurons in Our Brain. And when our brain gets that pulse of “excitement” it wants more! So johnny and Anh give it to them – by posting EVERYDAY!

How to Make Instagram Your Salon’s Social Star

  1. Get an Instagram Account– Simply download the Instagram app (iOS, Android or Windows), tap to open and follow the instructions (you can also tap Log In with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account). 
  2. Do your “hair homework” – Find out where the market (including your clients) is looking for hair ideas and inspiration.  Allure’s The 7 Best Instagram Accounts For Major Hair Inspirationis a great place to start. 
  3. Enroll Your Team – Meet with your team to discuss how you’ll be using Instagram as a salon to help fill the chairs.  share what you’ve seen and learned from your research.  Remember that while your team members may already be using Instagram, odds are they’re not using it as a strategic business building tool.  Involve as many people on your team in the Instagram project by getting ideas from the team as to what to post.

You Don’t Have to “Reinvent” the Wheel!

The formula for success is having content like:
  • Before and After Pictures (always a winner)
  • Timely Posts (Prom/Mother’s Day etc…)
  • Upcoming Deals or Events

Post your content consistently! Give the team tips on how to take great Instagram photos with a phone.  For example:

  1. Get closer rather than zooming in.  Instead of relying on the smartphone’s zoom function to give you good results, take a couple of steps forward yourself. 
  2. Take more than one photo and from different angles.  You don’t have to use them all, it’s just better to have a selection. 
  3. Use a plain background – a white walk works best. 
  4. Check your focus – Make sure you tap the screen to get the camera to automatically focus (before you take the picture). 
  5. Get clients to smile! – There are loads of YouTube videos including “Tips of Posing for Photos”
Choose an Instagram Marketing Co-ordinator 

If you’re not going to be the one who’s either doing the actual photos, editing or posing you’ll want to make sure that your “Salon Instagram System” is always working.  So find someone on your team who is willing to be accountable for it. 

Create an Instagram Posting Schedule (and stick to it!) 

Key to Instagram (or any marketing for that matter) is consistency.  So create and post an Instagram Posting Schedule (it can be part of your social media calendar).  And remember to always be on the lookout for Instagram “winning” opportunities – notice who’s coming into the salon (and involve the front desk too!)Try photographing a couple of clients everyday.  Sometimes it takes a few food ones to get a “great one”.

Keep Control of the Salon’s “Image” 

Before posting make your pictures look better by using apps.  Popular ones are:

  • Overgram – Add text like words ie: “Before” and “After”
  • Facetune – Fix up blemishes (pimples, red-eye etc…)
  • PicFrame – Showcase your photos in frames (if you like that look)
  • Aviary – Edit your photos by cropping and coloring
  • Afterlight – Add filters to your photos
Just Do It!

The only way that Instagram will work for your salon is if you work it. So just do it!  

Go  to Quick Tips “How to Get the Most from Instagram”

Some Things are “Non-Negotiable”- How to Stop Employees from Destroying your Salon

One of the biggest challenges business owners face is finding and keeping good people. It’s a challenge that’s magnified our business because those good people are hairstylists – and are required to hold a state cosmetology license.

So what usually happens is we need to hire someone for our business – and while stylists around the world cut hair, color hair and sell professional products – all this activity is being done in a place of business that has it’s own set of standards (core beliefs) – and that place is our salon.

But are core beliefs just a bunch of bunk?

It’s those standards that make our salon unique – its what forms our salon’s DNA – and this DNA cannot be cracked – or broken – otherwise your salon would mutate right in front of your eyes into something that you’d never envisioned.

Enter the Salon “Non-Negotiables” – a written document expressing those standards- standards like: days our people are expected to work, training that they must take, meetings they’re required to attend, etc. And most importantly it needs to be written in a way that reflects the “spirit” of the salon.

For example a “cool and trendy” salon still has a structure and rules & regulations (aka Non-Negotiables) but they have to be written in a way that will express the salon’s free-spiritedness rather than in a very cold “corporate” manner.

And you know how that “corporate” stuff can turn hair stylists off – not on!

Now we know what a Salon’s “Non-Negotiables” is, the next question we have to ask is why does a salon need them in the first place?

Salons need them to help their owners make a successful hiring selection.

Let’s get back to the hiring of that new hairstylist. In the salon world depending upon the type of salon we own/operate and the kind of situation we’re facing e.g. we may have just lost business when they lost some of our people (aka walkout) or we may be looking to expand our salon business). Whatever the situation may be it boils down to this: owners are looking to hire one of three types of people:

  1. The seasoned veteran (someone who already has an established clientele)
  2. The relative newcomer to the salon business (they usually have a small following of clients)
  3. Theas soon it It order cialis soft 10 pills have prompted, for mixing wellbutrin and viagra odor product your suburban numerous hair newbie (a recent graduate of cosmetology school)

While each of these categories of personnel has their own set of problems and opportunities – they all come to the interview with one thing in common: they don’t understanding the exact requirements we have for working in our salon.

And isn’t this the stuff that gets us into the “Gotcha” game later on?

And how could they possibly know – after all they’ve worked in either another salon(s) where the rules of the road are different. Or they’ve never worked in salon before.

So when it comes to looking at “what my job is” the prospective hair stylist goes into default mode. And what is “default” mode? Simply put – it’s an interviewee’s perspective when looking for a job as a hairstylist working in a salon.

And the conversation running in the candidate’s head is this: “I’m being hired to stand behind a chair to cut and/or color hair.”

But that conversation in the candidate’s head simply isn’t true…

Because from our perspective (we’re the salon owner) things look mighty different. – don’t’ they?

Once again it depends upon the type of business we’re operating and the type of salon the applicant is coming from – the interviewer and applicant could be an ocean apart as to what the job actually is.

Why? Because the candidate is basically starting in default mode while we -the interviewer – are starting in full operating mode – the candidate knows next to nothing about our salon while we know everything.

Both want something but that something isn’t yet clearly defined

So at this point how in the world can either of us make an intelligent decision about the another? Frankly, we can’t.

But you have to start somewhere. And this is why the salon needs to have its “Non-Negotiables”. While the owner needs help in making the hiring selection, the candidate also needs help in making her “where I’m going to work” selection.

Here’s what a salon owner can do to ensure that she spends time on truly “qualified” candidates:

When a candidate comes into the salon and requests and interview she’s given the “Non-Negotiables” (put it in an envelope) and a prepaid card from Starbucks (or your local coffee house). Then she’s told the following:

“Before we’ll interview I’ve just given you a letter we’d like you to read and think about. So go over to Starbucks have a cup of coffee on us and take time to review the letter. And after you’ve done that and you still want the interview, then come back to me and I’ll set up an appointment for you. If by chance you discover that we may not be the salon you want to work for, there’s no hard feelings. You don’t have to come back to tell us and the cup of coffee is

still on us”

As you can see the Salon’s “Non-Negotiable” is designed to help both parties understand at the beginning of the courtship of employment, exactly who’s who and what’s what – and both parties have an interest in getting that understanding up front.

It’s worth it because you’ll save tons of time and trouble later on by doing this now!

For an owner, whose time is limited and therefore precious, she gets to spend her time interviewing only those people who agree to the “Non-Negotiables”. And for the candidate, she gets to end up working for a salon that’s really right for her.

But wouldn’t using the “Non-Negotiables” limit the number of candidates we ‘re seeing? Wouldn’t we lose the opportunity to see good people who could be successful working for the salon – if only one or two little things are changed?

Little things that really don’t matter anyway.

And isn’t it’s always the little things that spoil the good stuff?

Sure the “Non-Negotiables” limits the number of candidates you’d be seeing – and you want that. Why? Because you want to see only the “good” candidates. And a “good” candidate is someone who has the best chance of success in your salon – someone who’ll work with you rather than against you.

As for those “little things” that don’t matter anyway. If that’s truly the case then why put them in your salon’s “Non-Negotiables” in the first place? Frankly they don’t belong there.

So there you have it: The Salon “Non-Negotiables” a tool designed to help you find and keep good people.

Unacceptable Customer Service

One sales person slammed the door in my face, another texted while I was standing in front of her and the last said something I couldn’t believe…..

Maybe it was the full moon but somehow I’d hit a tri-fecta of unacceptable employee behavior…unacceptable at least to me – the customer.

Three New York City stores: Bergdorf Goodman, Tourneau and Home Depot – fashion, time pieces and hardware.

Three employees: with behavior ranging from a reflection of our “whatever” popular culture where “anything goes” to the “I can’t believe she said that in front of me!”.

These behaviors cost those stores money – and while I don’t have a crystal ball, ultimately they’ll result in the loss of jobs if those behaviors continue.

So what’s all the fuss about and why should I care? The fuss is about how bad employee behaviors can sabotage a brand that others have worked so hard to build. And it can happen faster than you can say jack rabbit!

Why do I care about this? I care because no brand is bullet proof from this insidious form of behavior – and that includes my clients’ salons.

OK, I admit incidents like I experienced are more the exception than the rule –


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but it seems to be happening more than ever before.

Wouldn’t you think just the opposite would be going on today – when our economy’s sluggish (at best), the unemployment numbers haven’t come down, and more owners realizing that great customer service is a key to business success (the only problem is they just don’t really know how to get their employees to do what they want them to do – what they know should be done)

So I challenge you to re-evaluate your customer service standards. Are they clear? Do your employees understand your expectations? And are there consequences when your employees treat your clients shabbily – and in the process drag your name through the mud and take money out of your pocket?

To Life!

My latest e-zine has been sent out. I highly recommend reading the feature article “The 7 Step System for Increasing Prices & Keeping Your Clients Happy”. If you’re not on the list you can sign up here.