I got fired last week!
My longtime hairdresser had her father, who works in the shop, call and tell me I was no longer welcome at the salon.
This all started with the famous words “I’ve got something that will help that.” Three hours and some $200 later, I left looking like a bad version of Harpo Marx. Fried!
I lived with it for two weeks, hoping it would get better. It didn’t. For the first time in more than five years, I expressed my dissatisfaction and asked that we do something to fix the problem. I was calm. I certainly wasn’t demanding.
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She did some kind of treatment that was supposed to help. She never discussed charging me to fix the problem. Three hours later, she charged me “part of the price” and I paid what she asked. I did question an additional $25 charge for a service I didn’t receive. After all that time and money, things weren’t much better. I was still going to have to cut my hair and start over.
When I called back for a haircut appointment, daddy called me back and told me they had decided I could take my business elsewhere because they had lost money on me. I could just go take advantage of someone else. To quote my British friend, I was gobsmacked.
From a small business perspective, this is wrong on so many levels. There are lessons here for owners who face customer issues on a daily basis.
First, every successful owner will tell you that they would rather have one customer come in 100 times than have 100 customers come in one time. This is particularly true in a service business. Value your long-term patrons. Treat them with care. They are a precious commodity and your bread and butter. I’m your loyal client who has stayed with you through tough times. Don’t throw me away because once in five years I asked you to make something right.
Second, if you screw it up, fix it. Period. More than six hours of my time and more than $200 later, my hair still looks awful, … and I’m the problem?
Third, when there is a problem, communicate. I left the shop fully unaware that there was an issue. I paid what I was asked to pay. Had she told me how she felt, I’m confident we could have come to some kind of mutual solution that honored our five-year-plus relationship.
Fourth, do your own dirty work. As a long-term patron, I deserve that. For a grown woman to have daddy call me was absurd, highly unprofessional and downright disrespectful.
Replacing a hairdresser and a dentist are two of life’s real challenges. I’ll survive. I’m not so sure about the shop.
An experienced business executive and organizational consultant, Jan Flynn teaches at the J. Whitney Bunting College of Business at Georgia College & State University.