Small Business 101 – Piss On Your Employees And They Will Leave…. And Take Your Customers With Them!Author: Bookstore Piet // Category: Carytown, Legends Salon, Serenity Salon, life, richmond
One day I managed to double book myself. I gave M a choice, a trip to the IRS or take Finn for a haircut. She chose the IRS. The haircut was easier. Over time Finn and I have made haircuts into a ritual that he enjoys and we have never had a really bad experience. We would go to Legends in Carytown, haircut for him followed by a snack from their cookie jar while I have my cut. This would be followed by a trip to Can-Can for gougeres for him and martini for me. Everyone was happy…. or so I thought.
For about a year I had noticed senior stylists disappearing. An increasing number of open booths, and, quite frankly, less and less customers. I heard a few rumblings from the staff but no real complaints. In January, while having our routine cuts, a mention was made that our stylist might be moving on. When pressed he was vague but, reading between the lines, I figured it had something to do with the working environment. This was reinforced by my observation that he seemed to be the only person working. I really wondered how they were paying the skyhigh Carytown rents.
March arrived and it was time for Finn and I to get our ears lowered once again. I called for an appointment and was informed that our stylist was no longer there. They offered a new person and we accepted. We arrived and accepted our pre-cut glass of wine. Even though we were 20 minutes early we were sent back and Finn’s cut began. She seemed to know what she was doing but I don’t think she had much experience with children’s cut and Finn soon had a new experience – a mouthful of hair. The cut also took way too long and Finn started getting fidgety.
I’ve always gone to high-end salons, have had friends and room-mates who worked in them, so I have a decent idea of whether a stylist is good or not. The new girl had good fundamentals but was too inexperienced and too young to be working in a salon that charges as much as Legends does. I started getting a little nervous about my impending cut but it was a bit too late to back out now. She wrapped up working on Finn and, after removing the hair from his tongue, looked fine.
For some reason the young man tasked to wash hair was too busy (doing what in an empty salon I am not sure) and the new girl took me to wash my hair. In the midst of my scalp rub the owner, Buckey, walked up and started berating the poor girl washing my hair. Seems she decided to start working on me before cleaning up the residue of Finn’s cut. The conversation that went on over my head in a sink was petty, rude, and completely inappropriate in earshot (or actually over) a client. When we returned to the cutting chair I could feel her hands shaking in anger.
She apologized repeatedly and, somehow, managed not to criticize the owner beyond what I had actually witnessed. She was a little unhappy with the assistant, saying he always helped the others out more (his lack of presence for my cut led me to agree) but was a much bigger person than I and did not slam the owner. I, on the other hand, told the receptionist on the way out how rude I thought he was. The cut was acceptable, if overpriced, and off Finn and I went for repast at Can-Can.
The next week my old stylist, Tim, came by my store and told me that he, and a number of the senior staff from Legends, had opened a new place, Serenity. I wondered if the name was a play on the staff’s feelings after having escaped Buckey.
So here it is in May and time for Finn and Daddy to get our ears lowered again. This time the call went to Serenity, not Legends. Next door to Cafe Diem on Sheppard St they’ve created a nice comfy salon. A glass of wine in hand I noted my surroundings. Full chairs, happy conversation, smiling faces. I mentioned my last visit to Legends and found myself the center of attention. Ex-staffers smiled and said that was minor compared to some of the experiences (one involving an air-born piece furniture) but did not go into to much detail. This could have been a perfect opportunity for the ex-employees to get really vicious but they were professional. The customers…. they shared stories.
A business owner has the right to make decisions and set standards but, unless you are the sole face of your business, you may have customers who are loyal not just to you, but to your employees. If you treat the employees badly and do so in front of their clients you will be losing more than a staff member if they leave.
Our cuts were great. The experience relaxing. Finn was a little disappointed that we weren’t going to Can-Can for gougeres but there’s a big dinner out planned tonight and I have things to do. Come back tomorrow and hear about that!