Firing a client

It isn’t an easy decision but sometimes you have to.

It takes a lot for me to fire a client. I never have liked to do it. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be done very often. I mean really most people know when it isn’t working with their stylist and just move on. But not some people.

I had a client that was never happy with her haircut. I mean never, there was always something wrong. Too short, too long, too many layers, not enough layers, the angle of the fringe was wrong. It was never quite right. But here is the thing she would always refer to that haircut I gave her two haircuts ago, that one was perfect she wanted me to do it exactly like I had then. Two haircuts ago.

I would stress out every time I saw her name on the books. I knew she would be a pain. Literally I would have to stop every step of the way and show her what I was doing and explain why. This was after a twenty minute discussion before I was even allowed to shampoo her. And yet with all this direction I would still not get it right.

I really did try but I just don’t think we were talking the same language. We would look at pictures, we would talk about what she wanted her hair to do. She wanted a lot of things that contradicted each other. Maybe it was me, I don’t know. But one day I just said to her “You know you are never happy with the haircut I give you. I have been doing your hair for a year now and I just can’t seem to get it right. I really have tried but maybe I’m just not the right hairstylist for you.”

She began to argue with me by saying “Well two haircuts ago….” I kid you not. I cut her off and said “No, two haircuts ago you weren’t happy either. You always say that but trust me, I know, you have never been happy with my work. I’m sorry but I think it might be time to find another stylist.”

That was that. I hope she found someone that could give her the haircut she wanted.

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No it isn’t all right.

When I tell you it is OK that you just cancelled your appointment at the last minute, I’m lying.

Really. What is going through my mind is “Great can I find someone to come in at the last minute? Will I be able to pay my electric bill this week? I wish I could reach through the phone lines and hit you with a two by four~HARD. You couldn’t have called and told me this yesterday or better yet the day before? I already told two people I didn’t have any appointments this afternoon. If only I had known I could have filled this spot! Now what am I  going to do for an hour in the middle of the day. If I had known sooner I could have at least moved up my other appointment and gotten out of here early and got a work out in. Wonderful I’m going to be here for nine hours today but only get paid for eight. Thanks, thanks a lot.

Yes this is what is going through your hairdresser (masseuse, facialist, personal trainer, chiropractor, dental technician) mind when you cancel at the last minute.

I ask for 24 hours notice if you need to move or cancel an appointment and this is why. 48 hours is even better.

Time is money. My time, my money!

How would you feel if you came to work and at 11 your boss said we aren’t going to pay you for the next two hours. You don’t have to do anything, but we aren’t paying  you. Oh and you have to be back at 1 because we want you to work then until your shift is done. That is what it is like when a client cancels.

Now you think it is better that you reschedule for next week? That makes it all good? Nooooo it doesn’t. That means I am not getting paid for today and that appointment next week is time that I could have been doing someone else. So I am still out money. Yes it is slightly better but what it means is I am working on you for half price.

It is like your boss telling you that that work you didn’t do for the two hours that they didn’t pay you for still has to be done next week along with all the other things you do and you aren’t getting overtime, but you still have to get the work done.

Do I charge for people cancelling at the last minute? Sometimes, it is my policy to if I get less than 24 hours, but rarely do I enforce it. I always give people at least one chance and I remind them of my cancellation policy. And it is posted in my shop.

Now that you think I am being a total bitch, you should know I do understand that real emergencies come up at the last minute. People get sick, cars break down, the kids are ill, you get called into work at the last minute.Those I get and I let it go.

I forgot and went shopping? Yes, I have heard that. I scheduled a dentist appointment for then, really when did you do that? Why didn’t you call me then and move your appointment? Did you not look at your calendar and see that you already had an appointment with me? These I am not so forgiving about.

Yes things happen. I get it. But if you tell me you are going to make it up to me and pay me for it, then do it. Don’t make me ask/remind you the next time you come in. It is demeaning. Otherwise don’t offer to in the first place. You screwed up, you make it right. I have forgotten an appointment with my masseuse, and I paid her for it. She still has to pay for daycare whether I was there or not. It was my mistake and it is my responsibility to make it right.

Like I said I do understand things happen, but if it happens all the time then maybe you have a time management problem or something. You just might be an egotistical bitch. You might find that I am suddenly unable to get you into that coveted evening spot or that I don’t have time to squeeze you in in the next ten days. Yeah I know you really need to get your hair done but I’m not really inclined to go out of my way for someone that just made my life difficult.

And some clients seem to make a regular habit of this. Suddenly it becomes really difficult to get in to see me. Even after having explained my policy to those clients, they still routinely reschedule at the last minute. They don’t offer to pay, and make me remind them that they owe for the appointment. The really sneaky ones call almost exactly 24 hours before to change their appointment.

I fire them.

Yes, I have told people that I will no longer do them. It takes a lot to get me to do this but it has happened. When I start to dread seeing your name on my books and I know it is going to be a hassle and cost me money I eventually figure the energy/stress just isn’t worth it.

The kid was a ringer!

Today was the Carhartt and Hardhat Party.

So what the hell does that mean? Well for 128 days the street in front of my business was torn up. All of it, the street, the sidewalks too were removed, dug up, utilities replaced or moved. It was necessary but let’s get real it was awful and hard on the businesses.

This is the view out my door for 4 months

So after four months of the street being torn up what does our mainstreet program do to celebrate the reopening of our street? Close the street to have a party!

As you can see a lot of people showed up!

They also decided to have a contest. The best Carhartt and Hardhat costume would win some prizes. Well after all the noise, dirt and unexpected closures I really wanted those tickets to the local movie theater. You really have to check out The Rose Theater if you ever come to town.

During the construction I spent months wearing this hardhat to and from work.

That is a real hardhat and yes it is pink.

I needed to wear it because this is the gauntlet I had to run to get in and out of my salon for over four months.

This is what my street looked like. Though they haven’t taken all the sidewalks out yet in this picture. I usually had to walk through the middle of this between orange barricades.

So I dressed up for the contest. I wore my black Carhartts, a black velvet equestrian helmet, a sequined top, purple bow tie and a antique tailcoat. And I think I had the best outfit there, I mean how much classier can you get?

My lovely costume! I need to get a better picture so you can see my tails.

And what happens? I lose to a kid! Someone stuck their seven year old in the contest. Damn it a ringer. Kids always get the cute vote. This sucked. Yeah I’m a sore looser.

The kid is a damn ringer. And look at that cool trophy I could have had too!

But at least the street is done. It looks nice too. And I can stop buying my ibuprofen at Costco. It is so quiet without major construction going on outside my window.

Street done! Thank god.

Still I really wanted that trophy.

The big cut

Every once in a while I get someone that wants to cut all their hair off. Short, really short, chin length or less, a lot less.

Now you might think a hair stylist would just jump at this. Yeah, hang on a minute . How much do you like sobbing tears? Me either.

When I was first starting out I might have jumped but now I ask a few questions. How short is short? Have you gone this short before? Really, when? No in 3rd grade doesn’t exactly count. I am asking a lot of questions, sometimes not so much to get a specific answer as much as I am to get a feel for what this client is thinking. Are they doing this because they expect this haircut to have magical powers to change their life? Are they really ready to cut their hair off, especially if they have  long hair. Are their expectations of what their hair will do and look like realistic?

If I feel like the person is ready and will like (hopefully love) it I will do it and it is a blast. Sometimes they keep it that way for a long time, sometimes for a while and grow it out but rarely do they hate it. And it has been a long time since someone started crying in my chair. Or at least crying because of their haircut.

I have cut women’s hair because of breakups, divorce, new babies, new job and I have cut it off because it was falling out due to chemo.

Some clients I cut their hair off about every four to six months because that is how long they last “growing” it out before they hit the dreaded awkward stage. I have one client that has spent the last 15 years growing her hair out. Even when I occasionally refuse to cut it, to try and get her through that awkward stage she has never even gotten close to getting it much past her chin. Other clients have tried for years to grow it out in different ways and then one day we make it. They have long hair! Some of them love it and others go what the hell was I thinking!?

Why I work alone

There are a lot of reasons why I work alone.

I have a lot of reasons I work alone but it hasn’t always been that way. Unfortunately I have had to learn some of these lessons the hard way. You try to do someone a favor and it bites you in the ass.

I have my own space but I only work four days a week. That meant that the space is unused for three days. I knew someone who had been sick and unable to work for a while. Supposedly because of this she was thrown out of the salon she had been at because she was unable to pay her rent during this time. That’s what she told me, of course now I wonder what the other side of this story was.

So I offer to let her use my space on the days that I’m not there. Oh, and this is supposed to be a temporary situation until she can get back on her feet and find a more permanent place. The deal is she pays a minimal amount of rent, provides her own product and cleans up after herself. Two out of three are no problem.

Eighteen months later she has paid her rent on time and in full twice. Once she was even early, something she reminded me of routinely.

So rents due on the first. I hear nothing. I call her or stop by the shop to see how she is doing. Does she mention the rent, which is now overdue? Or say when she is going to pay it? Does she say anything? No. If I don’t specifically ask about it she never brought it up.  Side note: I never asked her about the rent in front of a anyone.

Every month I would have to ask when are you going to pay the rent? It was usually end of the week, or next week or blah, blah, blah. It kept getting later and later. It got to the point that she would pay me the rent right before the next month was due.

And then it got to where now she owed me two months rent.

It really is the principle of the thing. Yeah the rent was minimal but she would never say “I know I owe you and I’ll pay you on X day.”  I always had  to ask.

So I wait until she is alone and I go to talk to her. I say “You know now you owe me two months rent. Is there a problem? Something I should know about?” And she looses it on me. I kid you not. She goes off about how I’m always harassing her about the rent and can’t I just get off her back. Things are tough and I’m just so inconsiderate for asking when I’m going to get paid. She is vehement, she is practically spitting as she goes off on me.

I’m in shock. Are you kidding me? I just stare at her, say nothing, turn and walk out. I can not believe what I just witnessed. She has gone too far. I’d been warned that she would do this.

So I wait to the end of the day. I go in as she is finishing up her last client in my shop and say “Hey when you’re done I need to talk to you.”

She gets done and the client leaves. I look at her and and say “This is over. You are done here. Please gather up all your stuff and give me the keys.” She starts to say something about having a bad day or some shit. Not “I’m sorry”, because it is never her fault. I just cut her off, I am so angry. I’m a bitch because I asked for the rent that is now two months over due and her excuse when I call her on her shit is I’m having a bad day? Yeah you are and it just got worse honey.

A couple of months later she paid me the money she owed me. Slide it under the door with a note that it was the rent. Oh and she was going around telling everyone I was a crazy bitch and kicked her out without any notice. Hmm, same story she told me about the place she worked before.

At least she paid her rent, even if it was over three months late.

Why did I become a hairstylist?

Some times I ask myself  “Why did I become a hairstylist? Really a damn hairstylist??!”

My own mother laughed.  (And she should know she was a hairdresser for a brief time.) She said “You know you’ll have to be nice to people.” *sigh* She was right in that isn’t my strong suit. The truth is I don’t have to be nice, it just takes longer to build a clientele.

I was in my mid twenties, a bartender, I made good money and I hated it. I hate drunks, they are just so stupid. What is the fun in that? You harass, harangue, insult them and they don’t even know it. They think your being funny, and I was, just not in the way they thought. It is a dark profession, you really see the worst in people. It was a  good bad  job for me, I tend to be very dark anyways and the job just fed that side of my personality.

I had already been to cooking school and knew I didn’t want to do that. I had cooked, waitresses, managed and even been a barista (me and mornings do not get along). I started bar tending two months after I turned twenty one. And now I wanted out. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. So I thought “I’ll become a hair stylist!” Hell it took less than a year and you got tips and I really liked tips. I figured I could do hair while I decide what I wanted to do. The hours were flexible so I could go back to school when I figured out what I was going to do for a career. I got tips. I could travel with this skill. It seemed perfect. It made no sense.

Really, even I have to wonder what I was thinking. I had never cut a head of hair before I went to beauty school or even had any desire to. I was a tomboy. I didn’t care about makeup or fashion, actually thought it was kinda silly. I am extremely blunt. I have a very dry, read sarcastic, sense of humor. I’m not a natural people person. I have a lot of introverted qualities. I say what ever comes into my mind, I’ve been told by my friends that I have no internal editor.  By the way I do have an internal editor; I’ve just turned it off.  Basically I am not the kind of person anyone would think should become a hair stylist.

Here I am twenty some years later still doing it. And most of the time I love it.

I’ve mellowed some too. Or at least I’ve learned to say things a little bit softer. “You want to do WHAT with your hair? In your dreams! Are you delusional?! NOT going to happen in this reality. No. What part of no didn’t you get?” All things I have said. The no part ~ a lot.

I have had two physical scares that I thought would take me out of this business. The second time I even went back to college to learn accounting. Accounting?? Where do I come up with this shit? But I’m still doing hair. After the second time I thought I would have to quit the business I realized how much I loved doing it.

So maybe I’m not your typical hairdresser, but who wants to be typical?

Why start blogging?

Why have I decided to start a blog?

I recently took a class on how to Use Social Media to Market Your Business. One of the things suggested was to start a blog and link it to the other types of social networking sites your business used. So is that why I did this? No, not really. But it did give me the impetus to finally decide to try blogging.

I had considered starting a blog. An anonymous one, talking about all the funny, annoying things that my clients do. But I can’t do that, it just seems wrong to me. There is a trust, an unspoken agreement of confidentiality that I would never betray. I am privy to a lot of personal information – joy, pain, fear, dreams, anxiety –  I can’t and won’t betray that.

So does that mean I’ll never tell you about the crazy, insane, bat-shit things my clients have done? Oh like hell I will! I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I have a lot of stories! Besides many of the things I’ve seen and heard can be told in a way that won’t reveal any one’s identity.

Do I think this blog will help or improve my business? No. Actually I am aware it could completely backfire and hurt it. I live and grew up in this small town; if you have every lived in a little town you know exactly what I am referring to. People talk, they gossip, and the hottest gossip in town is the personal, malicious kind. One of the ways I have learned to handle this is by not caring or worrying about what people say. I do what I think is right and hope when the dust settles I come out in one piece. I sure as hell hope I don’t regret doing this. And I know some people (I can see them wrinkling their noses in disdain now) will think that me airing my personal feelings and thoughts here is pathetic.

I’m doing this because I hope it is fun. I can entertain people, meet and connect with people that I would otherwise not. In a way this is what I do all day anyways, I talk to people, get to know them and tell them about myself. In the grandest of scenarios I find and create another community of friends that can support and help me grow. Maybe that sounds corny and you think I’m crazy -I am- but that is what I want and I’m going to give it a shot. What’s the worst that can happen???