I have quite a few nail salons in my area, and I get my nails done infrequently enough that I haven’t visited the same salon more than once yet. I just haven’t found one that I liked enough to go back to. Last weekend I visited another local place I hadn’t tried yet, before heading off to my grandma-in-law’s 80th birthday lunch. All you can eat! Yaas!
It usually takes about 40 minutes for a full set of SNS, so I had plenty of time to fit it in whilst my kids were off doing something fun with my dad and hubby was working. Or so I thought… Two hours later I was still sitting in that salon, and my nails were FINALLY being finished up. In the time I was there someone who did have an appointment had to leave after an hour, without getting their nails done, and everyone else, like me, had to wait ages.
It was a combination of a staff member calling in sick and bad time management, but regardless, it’s the first salon I’ve been to that I would go back to. And here’s why…
The owner clearly needs a lesson in managing his schedule, something one of his regular clients even offered to him between answering his phone and soaking her own nails whilst she waited. (This woman was a go getter! She was one of those assertive older women who just gets stuff done.) But something was very clear, and that was that the owner actually cared about people. It was the first nail salon I’d visited where someone asked my name, asked what I did for a living, asked if I had children. Not only that, but he knew all his regulars by name, and happily chatted with them about what was going on in their lives. There was an undeniable sense of community in that place, that was akin to a old school beauty parlour.
So here are the lessons I took away, along with pretty nails…
1. Care about your customers, duh!
It’s not hard, it’s common sense really. But when you’re in the hampster wheel that is small business, it’s easy to forget that customers aren’t just buying your product or service. They are buying the whole experience. So even if your product, service or pricing isn’t superior to the competition’s (or in this case, even if you take more than twice as long to deliver the same result), you can set yourself apart by making an effort to be friendly, ask and then remember names and details about their lives. It makes a surprisingly big difference. And is the reason I’ll be going back despite the long waiting time.
2. Saying yes to everyone will not turn out well
Manage your time well, and remember that turning someone away because you can’t service them right now is a million times better than taking them on and then underdelivering.
3. Get yourself a Wendy.
That older lady who spoke up to the owner in a loving yet fierce manner about the poor scheduling, who started answering the salon phone and booking appointments, who soaked her own nails to save the staff time. That was Wendy. She was hilarious… and a tad scary. She wasn’t going to lie to him that it was all ok, just to make him feel good. She knew he needed a kick up the bum, so he would make some changes. We could all do with a Wendy. Someone who will call us out on our shiz.
Find a friend or family member who you can ask to keep you accountable in your business, to call you out when your making lame excuses. It’s not comfortable, but it’s a surefire way to face and overcome your weaknesses.
What’s the best business lesson you’ve learnt in an unexpected place?