You have so much power. More than you can ever imagine. What you do at your salon everyday could literally save a life.
Several years ago my husband, Alfredo, and I were at a salon business conference. Another salon owner named David Wagner got on the stage and presented a story to us that had changed his life.
As he explained at the conference, he was working in his salon one day when a client came in to have her hair styled. He was surprised to see her since it was right in the middle of her five-week period between haircuts. He figured that she must have an important social engagement, so he asked her about her evening plans.
“I don’t have anything special going on,” she told him. “I just want to look and feel good tonight.”
He gave her a great scalp massage, then shampooed and styled her hair. During their 30-minutes together, they joked and laughed. At the end, she smiled radiantly, hugging him goodbye.
A few days later he received a letter from this client and began to realize the enormous potential of making a simple but profound difference in someone’s life. His client admitted that she had wanted her hair styled so it would look good for her own funeral. She had planned to commit suicide that evening. But the wonderful time she had during their appointment had given her hope that things could get better. She decided to check herself into the hospital and get professional help. She thanked him for caring, even though he hadn’t known what she was going through. She wrote “thank you for being there without knowing that you were.”
God gives work as a gift so that we can serve others. -Psalm 8:6
My husband and I were stunned. We thought about how many clients that we come into such personal contact with every day. How many might be feeling distressed without us knowing. What if that salon owner had been upset, distracted, or hurried when that client came to see him?
That experience made us reflect on ourselves as business owners. How many of the hundreds of clients we service each week might be in personal crisis? Even if it were only one person a day, we might have no way of knowing who needed some extra attention. From that day forward, we resolved to be sure that every person on our staff would be held accountable to treat every client who walked through the door just like he had treated that woman.
Now when we hire new team members, we’re not so concerned about their ability to cut or color hair, or give the best manicure. We can teach them how to do those things. What we look for is a compassionate and positive outlook on life. A sense of the person being able to look outside of themselves and be aware of the world around them. The people on our team are given an opportunity to have not just a “job” but a purpose. Wanting to make a difference in our little corner of the world.
The first thing we do upon hiring a new team member is give them a copy of the story I just told. We give that to them and tell them, “This is who were are. This is why we do what we do and why our business exists and we feel that you can help us fulfill this mission with the special qualities that you possess.”
We now call our clients “guests”. We have broken down every step of the guest experience and train our staff on what that should like to ensure that every guest leaves our salon feeling important, valued and taken care of. So that even if they’re not in crisis they can feel renewed after a visit with us. And this atmosphere creates a great work environment for our team. We work together to fulfill our mission and we each take care of each other too. It’s truly a work “family”.
Don’t get me wrong. We still need to focus on being profitable and being sure that we are a healthy financially, but we need to do that to ensure that our business is thriving so that we can fulfill our mission of serving our community and providing opportunities for our staff to thrive. Embrace the gifts that you were blessed with and make a difference.
Print out this copy of David Wagner’s story and read it aloud at your next staff meeting. After reading it brainstorm with them about different ways your team can personalize the client experience at your salon.