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.

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.

Do You Astonish Your Clients with Exceptional Customer Service?

For the past 5 years I’ve visited Los Angeles every 4 to 6 months.

And every morning when I’m in L.A. without fail (rain or shine – though

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in Southern California it’s mostly shine) I go to Champagne French Bakery Cafe for breakfast.

When it comes to food I’m like most people – a creature of habit. So at Champagne I order the same thing (oatmeal made with water) to go. It’s an item that’s not on their regular menu (oatmeal made with milk is), but something they can cook up as a special order – I just have to wait for it (15-20 min).

Because I’m taking

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my order out they ask me for my name. Then rather than hanging out I’ll go next door to Starbucks to get an espresso, before returning to pick my order.

BTW, I won’t order Starbuck’s oatmeal even though it costs 1/2 as much as Champagne’s – I simply like Champagne’s better (plus they give me a fresh fruit cup on the side).

Anyhow last week I returned L.A. and at 7am I went for breakfast.

As soon as I placed my order the young woman at the register – someone whom I had only seen in place before)

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said “Andrew”.

I was astonished. It’s true that the sweetest sound to someone’s ears is the sound of one’s own name. And I’m no different than anyone else.

To hear my name come from her lips (this is a busy place and I hadn’t been there in six months) was nothing short of amazing.

My immediate response was to ask her what her name was.

“Iliana” she told me.

“Well Iliana how did you know my name is Andrew? “

“I know” was her reply.

All I know is the next day I told the General Manager about my experience and how great it felt to be recognized by my name. And now I’m sharing the story with you. Maybe you and your people can astonish your clients the way Iliana astonished me.

To Life!



PS….Be sure to sign up for my ezine “The Finkelstein Report” Click Here to Subscribe

What Clients are Saying About $1000.00 Haircuts – and How Stylists are Charging that Price

What would your clients say if you were charging a $1000.00 for a haircut?

Are thoughts like “I’m finding someone else to cut my hair”, “she’s lost her mind” or “I wouldn’t have any clients if I did that” crossing your mind?

Yet these salon owners have ventured into new haircut pricing territory, taking their haircut prices to levels that most people would consider to be insane.

So before you dismiss these folks as just a bunch of nuts or publicity chow hounds check out this Wall Street

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Journal article. Or check out the video embedded below….

Believe me – these owners are anything but nuts – they’re all savvy marketers who are using high prices as a point of differentiation.

But go ahead and decide for yourself.

Maybe you won’t be offering a $1000.00 haircut just yet, but you’ll definitely have a different perspective on pricing.


My latest e-zine has been sent out. “The Salon Retention Factor-It’ll Make or Break Your Salon”. If you’re not on the list you can sign up here.

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.

The “Age of Whatever”

It’s now official! The word “whatever” has topped the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion Poll for the “most hated” word five years in a row!

And it’s not as if “whatever” is losing any of its steam – this nuanced term of indifference – got the #1 vote of 38% of the 1173 adults

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surveyed in 2013 (up from 32% in 2012)!

Talk about indifference – in poll after poll we can see how customer service, in businesses of all sizes, shapes and types is declining – And it’s taking the plunge as rapidly as the hated word “whatever” is ascending (USA Today).I can’t help but think we’re entering into some sort of new “Ice Age” – I call it the “Age of Whatever”

Take the Post Office (USPS) for example. The folks there have been frozen dead in their tracks for years. When was the last time you got a warm smile or a sincere “thank you” for doing business with them? Funny, the only thing that’s not frozen at the Post Office is its prices. As a matter of fact the upcoming price of a“forever” stamp from 46₵ to 49₵, is causing a lot of people to get very hot under the collar .

And you know as well as I do, the Post Office is not alone in this deep freeze of declining service. You and I could have a ball exchanging war stories about the companies we know that are descending (no make that “allowing themselves to descend”) into the “Age of Whatever”.

But there is a silver lining here – and it’s that we don’t have to live our lives and businesses that way. While it’s easy to join the crowd, no one is twisting our arms to run “Whatever” Salons or businesses – or lead “Whatever” lives.

Thought leaders

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like Tony Robbins – a recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, negotiations, organizational turnaround and peak performance – tell us how our choice of words can change our lives.

In a nutshell Robbins says “words you habitually choose also affects how you communicate with yourself and therefore what you experience”

While I won’t go into all the details here I highly recommend you read his article “Change Your Words, Change Your Life: The Simplest Tool I know for Changing the Quality of Your Life” .

And just in case you’re curious as to the other words on Marist’s “most hated” list you’ll find them right here.

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.