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 to Prevent Your Salon from Losing Money in 2016

Poised for a bloody battle against an army of barbarians, Roman Legion General Maximus Decimus Meridus looked over his shoulder and sees both his beloved Emperor, Marcus Aurelius and his legion’s Roman Eagle Standard – emblazoned with the initials SPQR.

Those initials, SPQR freely translated as “The Senate and The People of Rome”, captured in a nutshell Maximus’ belief as to what he, and his well-trained and disciplined troops were fighting (and dying) for.

While you and your salon’s stylists certainly aren’t battling barbarians, you still need your own flag to rally around, a well-trained team and action plan as to how to win the game of business.

And that’s where your salon’s business growth plan comes in.

Most salon owners would rather smash themselves in the face rather than sit down and create a growth plan for their business.

To them planning their salon business’ growth is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Yet, especially at this time of year, they “know” every business (including their salon) should have a growth plan.

Unless, of course, that business is going to shut its doors.

Tragically most owners don’t spend the time doing what they know is the right thing to do for their salon – and themselves as an owner.

So Where’s the Rub?

Why aren’t they making time to map out where they’re going?

There are a number reasons why they don’t…

They believe it’s too hard is too much trouble or takes too much time
They’ve tried doing it and it hasn’t worked
They believe that even if they do it – it won’t work for them
They don’t know how to do it
They don’t know how to use a plan

Look, we all know that planning for your salon’s growth, in and of itself, won’t put one more dollar in a salon’s bank account.

Why? It’s the actions you take that ring the register (or not).

It’s Critical for Salon Growth

The act of planning, is simply getting your ideas and thoughts down on paper and organizing them so they can be communicated to your team is critically important.

A salon growth plan helps you take  “right” actions – while avoiding taking the “wrong” wasteful” ones.

Here’s The Good News!

And for those of us who hate to write there’s good news.

Believe it or not it you can do it on a single page of paper.

You don’t need a long – complicated – never to be seen again once it’s finished plan.

What salon owners need is something simple, direct and clear.

No $10 words.

You need a plan that can help move your salon ahead of where it’s at – and move you way ahead of your competition.  

Most Salon’s Are Like Ships without a Rudder – Sailing in Stormy Seas!

I’d say that over 90% of salons are operating
without a plan and, although you may not know it,
are hanging on to dear life by the skin of their teeth.storny

So you may be asking yourself “ if a business growth plan can do so much for an owner and their salon why aren’t they creating one – and using it ?

Well either they’re not reading this article because if they were they’d definitely want to create a plan.

Or maybe, unlike you, they’re just too lazy!

We both know you definitely didn’t go to beauty school to learn how to write a salon business growth plan.

Far from it.

You got into the hair business because you enjoyed being with people and wanted to make them look and feel great.

Frankly you’re a people person up on the “front line” every day – and not some “bean counter” with green eye-shades sitting in a back room somewhere – staring at numbers.

So you may be thinking that…..

Salon Owners Need This Like a  Hole in the Head!

Truth may be told, without a plan a salon owner, whether they want to admit it to themselves or not, is really lost in the brambles of business.

And as much as she feels she can do without it – and as hard as she tries to get by without one – she’s smart enough to know she needs one – especially if she wants to get out from behind the chair some day – or at least not have here salon’s bottom line depend upon her personal production.

While planning your business may look and sound scary – especially to an salon owner who’s working behind the chair – who barely has enough time in her busy day to breathe – let alone take the time to plan – in reality it’s not.

It’s Easier Than You’d Think

OK there are salon owners who, one time or another may have created a plan.

And they’ll swear up and down that  it didn’t work for them.

Odds are the plan they created was one of those “business” plans that a bank or the SBA (small business authority) insist upon before they’d consider loaning you money.

Look, those plans are simply for window dressing – filled with projections and promises that will never be looked at again once the loan has been made.

But My Salon’s Different!

And then there’s always the “but my business is different” crowd – so this as well as most solid business practices won’t work for them.

You may have even met some of those owners. They’re the type who fervently believe that the only thing that will get them over the goal line for the touchdown is by putting their nose to the grindstone and “just doing it”.

Unfortunately they never end up winning – rather they’re the ones on the proverbial hamster wheel – spinning around just “doing it doing it – doing it!”

And finally there are those who aren’t familiar with a one-page salon business growth plan.

So if they’re not familiar with it they couldn’t possibly know how to create one of these simple, clean, clear and communicable plans.

They wouldn’t be aware that these are “working” plans.

Why it Works

Why does it work?

1. Takes a complex process & makes it simple
2. Focuses your people and resources on what’s important
3. Is readily understandable by everyone in the salon
4. Gives you the consistency of getting everyone operating on the same page
5. Is flexible so that it’s easy to update and adjust according to your latest thinking.

The Five Key Components

So what are the components of a One Page Salon Business Growth Blue Print

There are five sections:

1. The Vision
2. The Mission
3. The Objectives
4. The Strategies
5. The Plans

The Answers Lie in Your Questions

In each section there’s a question you’ll want to answer.

Section         Question
Vision What are you building?
Mission Why does this salon exist?
Objectives What will you measure?
Strategies How will this salon be built? What will make this salon successful over time?
Plans What specific projects or actions will we take this year to achieve the objectives?


Probably the best way to understand what I’m writing about is to see what an actual plan looks like.

So check out this year’s plan from one of my coaching clients. Click here to download.

Now go ahead and make your own plan for 2016 now.

Once you’ve finished you’ll have a tool that’s second to none it helping you move your salon forward.

Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming free webinar where I’ll share with you exactly what you need to do to create a powerful One Page Salon Growth Plan for 2016.  Webinar details coming soon!

“Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.” – John Kotter

Go  to “Andrew’s Personal Reflection”

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.