Chair Rental: From a Clients Perspective
I had lunch with an old friend/client the other day and had an eye-opening experience on how this client experienced a change of salon we went through together. It was back in the 80’s when the ‘chair rental’ was new and upcoming. It was a small salon in a high-end office complex in an upscale part of town. The salon was sharp, clean and intimate with only 6 chairs that were semi-private booths. The owner had recently changed from all commission based employees to chair rentals.
I know my friend David’s opinion won’t speak for all experiences with chair rental salons but, if it speaks for any number of them, that’s too many and it’s worth sharing for those with ears to hear!
David was a loyal client and had been a customer for many years at the employee only salon that I was a hair stylist. David followed me when I changed salons and went to the new chair rental independent contractor salon. He saw the change very differently than I had. Now many years later he was sharing his perceptions with me about what differences he saw between the two salon management styles. His perceptions were dead-on . . . and I had to admit, true! Even though this was the early days of chair rentals, I’m not sure the situation is better today than it was then.
The un-manned front desk
Was this ever a good idea? Who was it good for? In the new salon, this meant every time the phone rang, we took turns breaking away from our clients to take the appointment. The clients in our chairs couldn’t possible have felt the undivided attention they deserved and we intuitively knew this.
The phone often rang longer than it should, as we looked at each other to see whose turn it was to take the interruption! I’m afraid during our busiest days, the clients calling for appointments, may even have felt like they were an interruption! And what about the walk-in’s or clients who were not always greeted when they came in? . . . Hello! What were we thinking?
Every man for himself
This observation of David’s was pretty devastating! We were seasoned hair stylists, who knew how to work together and treat our customers in a professional way. At least, that’s what we thought. He said in comparing his experience in the old salon to what he saw in the new salon, he had this subtle feeling of “every man for himself.” We all got along good really, but I knew what he was alluding to and it probably meant many other customers felt it as well!
He remembered the salon wasn’t kept up so well and in his words, “it seemed to lack the investment for the welfare of the salon and others.” He mentioned, too many outdated magazines, the carpet and the general upkeep of the salon showed a lack of attention . . . the customer noticed.
The old employee only salon was meticulous and we all had a hand in keeping it that way, because it was part of our job description. And when I first moved to the chair rental salon, it looked great too, but it didn’t stay that way. The salon owner was new at the change and didn’t know how to manage these new relationships. Decisions on who was responsible for what fell through the cracks and it felt like no one was in charge.
If you’re contemplating a change from employee based to independent contractor chair rentals you better give some thought to how you’re going to get a high-spirited cooperative team. Remember the clients notice the little stuff, even years later. Details Matter.