Educators & Demonstrators – Mind Your Ps & Qs!

If you are portraying yourself as an “Expert” at something….please take care to do [whatever] with some level of expertise!

Watching several “experts” demonstrate their product lines or skill sets, recently, we have observed some very fundamentally WRONG ways to do things. Here are the top 10 faux pas made by self-declared professionals who are demonstrating their services, skills and wares:

  1. Gloves. We shouldn’t have to say why any more. But please, stop  performing skin care procedures without gloves.  If you are demonstrating dermaplaning or microneedling…please stop handling your sharps with your bare hands. Please.
  2. Dispense the disposables you will need prior to the service – we abhor seeing a demonstrator reach into a drawer or container and pull out a cotton swab [etc.] in the middle of the service—without having sanitized their hands from the procedure they’re in the middle of showing!
  3. Stop reaching into your sanitary materials area with dirty hands before you begin–we saw several people reach over to pick up something to show camera with their unsanitized hands and return it to their work tray without cleaning it off.
  4. Stop touching everything in the room with your hands after they’ve been on the client’s skin….stop and wash or apply sanitizer. Did you KNOW you can use sanitizer on your gloved hands?
  5. Stop touching your skin and hair in the middle of a service! Tie that hair back if it tends to fall down in your face–by all means, keep it out of the work zone! If you have to stop and scratch your nose or flick something off your cheek–deglove first! Or use a tissue or a waxing stick or other disposable.
  6. Use fresh water between steps. Do NOT go back into the dirty water or use make-up laden sponges on the skin you’ve just exfoliated! Sponges are cheap. Use new ones.
  7. If you are using a piece of gauze to collect the extractions or the excess hair or skin cells from exfoliation, do NOT wipe the skin with that gauze!
  8. Stop wiping your dermablade or other sharp tools with your fingers–even if gloved! Use a piece of gauze or tissue.
  9. Actually know what you are talking about – know the fundamentals of the skill you are demonstrating — example, know for  a FACT if you should work in the direction of hair growth…or not!
  10. Actually know the anatomy and physiology of the body parts you are working with–using a “big word” to sound educated is a “No from me.”

Sorry, not sorry to sound a bit harsh…but in our age of video-everything, it’s so hard to learn that one nugget of information from anyone if you are distracted by their incorrect techniques or misinformation. Don’t be that person.

 

Credit Card Fees – Why You SHOULD Pay Them

Ed Note: Rebecca Joann Brumfield, LMT and owner/operator of Vida Pura Spa in Baton Rouge, LA and her staff of 8 practitioners are huge advocates of offering credit card payments. Brumfield is also an active Facebook Admin/coach/mentor with a group of nearly 3,000 licensed beauty professionals and a website at badassbodyworkers.com.   She had this to say in her group, and we’re sharing it here with you:

Since I have gotten several messages and read comments lately about spas/ LMTs/ self-employed practitioners complaining about credit card fees or not accepting credit cards at all in their business or CHARGING THEIR CUSTOMERS the CC fee…I have plenty to say!

First of all, passing along an extra charge to your clients paying by a credit/debit card just for the CC processing fees is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE, no excuses. NONE. Like, ever. And also illegal in most states. I have been to a few business that made me pay the fee and I was PISSED and didn’t go back. Do you know what helps with that? Increase your rates. Build it into your service charge.

Secondly, let me break it down for you: YOU ARE LOSING CREDIBILITY BY NOT ACCEPTING CARD PAYMENTS. (Not to mention trustworthiness, convenience, professionalism, being legitimate, and referrals.) It’s not just credit card payments, but other forms of payments that are linked to credit cards and digital transactions (PayPal, ApplePay, DroidPay, Venmo, etc.) that COST your business if you don’t accept them.

Third of all…. Those therapists who give a discount to clients who pay in cash are making a mistake! Yeah, yeah, we all like cash. LOVE IT. I always tip in cash, but if I have to pay for my service in cash, I probably won’t tip as much as I would if I were to be able to put the service on my credit/debit card. And I might not even spend my money with you at all! Here’s an example: I was at an arts festival once, and my BFF wanted to buy a $350 painting. The artist had a Square, so I know the processing cost. It would have cost the artist about $9 to sell the painting and make a $341 profit. (OR she could have just charged the painting at $359) But no! She told my BFF she would prefer cash, and to go to the ATM and take out the cash instead. The ATM wasn’t with my friend’s bank, so not only would she have had to pay $5-6 to withdraw cash, but she also was awaiting money that was coming the next week, so she could only put the charge on her CC. I literally told the artist that she is throwing away $350 just to save nine bucks and as a small biz owner, it made ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE why she would punish a customer and lose out on a sale. But she did that day.

Same thing with massages…I can pretty much guarantee that your clients who pay in cash would double or even triple what they spend with you if they could put their services or packages on a CC. Today I sold a $400 package (a 4-pack of 60 min massages) and it cost me $11 to pay to the processor. This same clients also earns points on his CC every time he uses it, and he is able to redeem those points for SpaWeek cards for his daughter as well. It’s a double win! He also tipped me on this transaction $86 (and I can guarantee if I would have said “Oh, it will cost $XX extra to process this on your card” he wouldn’t have thought to add a tip.) One more–for the therapists that give a discount of 5% or even 10% to clients for paying in cash…just accept the cash! WHY discount it at all, especially if you are taking a bigger cut than the CC fee?

ALSO I’m no tax/financial person, but you legally have to claim all your cash earnings anyway, and trying to fudge that results in problems down the road. Believe…when your tax return is audited, cash-only businesses do not do well! And what if you want to buy a building, get a credit line/capital for our business, establish a history/credibility, buy a house/car, etc.? We have to prove our income and earnings. Not only will you earn more by accepting cards, you’ll have the financial records to substantiate them.

This is not a hard thing to accomplish. Square even has their basic processing device for free. Other companies do, too. Today’s rates are reasonable. Not to mention, if you are with the processing company for a certain amount of time, you are pre-approved for a credit. Square was able to give me a credit which I needed to get my new spa up & running. My business is thriving in a new location…and I feel it’s all because I decided to start accepting CCs at my business 6 years ago.

Here are some stats I pulled from Forbes:

> 55 percent of the nation’s 27 million small businesses do not accept credit cards

> Of those, it’s averaged at $100 million potential earnings lost by being cash-only

> 66 percent of all point-of-sales (POS) transactions are done with plastic – credit, debit, or gift cards. That is a lot of sales for millions of businesses to miss out on.

> Only 27 percent of purchases are made with cash.

> Cash sales will drop to only 23% by 2017.

> 58 percent of small businesses are regularly asked by their customers to accept credit cards.

The benefits of accepting credit and debit cards far outweigh the cost.

When people are given more payment options (beyond cash); they are more likely to make impulse purchases, join loyalty programs, and spend more per purchase – and that can only help your business to grow.

I encourage those who are a CASH ONLY business to take a leap and start accepting credit & debit cards. It’s a cost of doing business. It’s a tax write off. It is earning potential.

More stories with additional points to consider:

From Square: Why Every Small Business Should Accept Credit Cards

From Due: Accepting Credit Cards 101

Accidental Entrepreneur

A sore thumb, a golf ball and an oven…what do they have in common? Heather Karr!

Licensed Massage Therapist, Heather Karr didn’t set out to be an inventor  and product developer. She really just wanted to solve a problem she was experiencing with thumb and finger fatigue after deep tissue massage for her clients. Read how her adventure has unfolded and take inspiration for your own journey.

KH: Tell me what your inspiration was for this product….several clients with the same issue? Your own pain? How did you conceive this?

HK: Oddly enough, I didn’t intend on “inventing” anything to be sold. I had a problem and made something for myself to solve my problem. Quite honestly, I ended up pretty lucky that it was something that could help other people too and that it hadn’t already been done. The part that wasn’t just luck was all the hard work (and money) that it took to get it to market. It was way more work and money than I thought. And the time. Oh, Lordy, the time!

This is how it happened: I love to perform deep, therapeutic work, and was especially loving the trigger point work, but if I did it for very long it really hurt my thumbs and fingers. Being the giver that all therapists are, we tend to risk hurting ourselves to help make our clients feel better, so I tried using the hot stones. The stones were a bit of work to grasp, and I didn’t have good control over them, so a client (John Schneider, the actor, actually!) suggested I try a golf ball. He told me he lays on the floor on them on his back to get into his knots. I tried massaging the golf ball on his back and he loved it. It was so fabulous that I looked online and it seemed no one was using a golf ball for massage so I registered “golfballmassage.com” and figured I would rock this massage! Over the next few days I realized why no one was doing it for deep massage. The golf ball used alone was hurting my hand and it was really hard to control, like the stones. But I loved the size and hardness, so I thought if only there was something out there that would control it AND disperse the pressure on my palm AND be small enough so my hand was gliding on the client at the same time, then that would solve ALL my problems! I molded my idea out of Sculpey® clay and baked it in my oven. After several versions, I finally came up with one that worked really well. (You should see the first ones—they’re hysterical!)

After using it for a long time, it became obvious that it was something that would be great for other therapists. A friend helped me get a provisional patent and another friend loaned me some money to get it manufactured but I had no idea what to do to get it to market.

KH: Did you write up a formal business plan? How did you do that? Do you have business training or education? Did you seek a mentor?

HK: At first I didn’t have any sort of plan other than knowing that it was a great tool and a lot of people could benefit. I’m lucky to have a lot of really smart and talented friends who gave me good advice (and bad advice too, hah hah). Before I was a massage therapist, I was a graphic designer/art director and had planned and designed marketing materials for other businesses so I was able to put together packaging, promos, and what-not. My experience was in the automotive and motorcycle industry (oddly enough) so this particular industry was new territory for me. I have MANY friends of a variety of expertise that I am eternally grateful to.

Since I had a web presence with the “golf ball massage” before the SPABALLTM was manufactured my information popped up on the radar of the producer of the CBS show “The Doctors”. They were doing a segment on “unusual massage modalities” and he ran across my website. I thought it was a joke at first! They wanted me on the show! After he talked to me they decided to do the whole segment on just my massage instead of the three they had chosen. By the time the show aired I barely had the website and products up to sell. That show pretty much launched my business.

KH: Did you set a detailed budget for your launch?  And if so, how have you done with it? Are there some areas you went over? Some you didn’t need as much as you thought?

HK: Between the free publicity I got with this unusual modality, and the fact that it is truly a useful tool, the word of mouth within the spa industry really launched it quite organically. Because of the appearance on the show it exposed the SPABALLTM internationally and is literally sold all over the world now. I wish I could take credit for being a genius business woman but I’m not. It was really just a combination of luck, persistence, getting good advice, having smart and giving friends, a design and marketing background, optimism, and willingness to work 24/7 for years with little play time and no spare money. I’ve learned a lot along the way.

KH: Do you have a favorite ball?

HK: Man you ask good questions! Yes, the soft cover balls need lots of lotion to roll well. Hard cover balls roll better. Once in a while I run into a ball that is a tad too big for the holder–you would think they are all exactly the same size. I may be the only person who knows they aren’t!

KH: Any take away tips for other who might have a product development idea?

HK: If you have a good product idea (and it’s a marketable and profitable item) be prepared to give up weekends, sleep, money, and time. I think people think that all you need is a good idea to be a success. The easy part is the invention … the hard part is everything else! Also, you can’t do it all by yourself. Sometimes you have to take other’s expert advice and other times you need to trust your gut. The hard part is knowing which to do when! I highly recommend working with your local SCORE mentoring organization as a starting place.

KH:  Do you have distributor (wholesale) prices for your fellow salon/spa owners?

 Yes! Therapists can find information about carrying the SPABALLTM and the KADDYBACKTM for their clients at www.golfballmassage.com  and click here to see the SPABALL Wholesale Order Form.

Ed. Note: $2 for every kit sold on the website goes to Our Community House of Hope, a hospice organization that is near and dear to Heather’s heart.

Watch Heather’s story here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeFnqPBUv1w

Do You Stand Behind Your Work? [A Rant]

Standing behind your work means doing a great job and making sure all you promised is truly delivered. That. Is. All.

Standing behind your work means doing it right. This means being present in your work. Paying attention. Using fresh products. Using correct techniques. It means taking care.

You should manage client expectations right from the very first contact. You communicate clearly what you can do and what their expectations should be. You negotiate a price for your knowledge, skill, time and products. You never promise “perfection”…you promise “better.” You never “pitch heat” as an old sales weasel once taught me–you never use terms that lead your client down the road of unreasonable expectations.  The lashes are NOT going to make you look just like Kim Kardashian. This skin care treatment is not going to change the shape of your face. These brows are not going to be Insta-brow perfect. But you tell them your work is clean and will uplift them and help them be their best version of themselves…not of someone else.

If you do it right, then standing behind your work means you have a happy client who received good value for the money they paid. It means honoring the relationship you form with them. It means integrity. It means you sleep well at night because you are not battling the demons of “I shoulda, coulda woulda.”

Standing behind your work does not mean “I will give you something for free just because you complain.”

–It does not mean refunding…ever!

–It does NOT mean giving any more than you were paid for!

There is nothing dishonorable about standing firm with “The work was done, the products were used, my time was spent….I need to be paid.”

If you do it right but they don’t take care of it, that’s on them.

  • If they fail to follow aftercare.
  • If they do not purchase your recommended products.
  • If they engage in activities you tell them will have an adverse affect on their outcomes…

…THEY have to stand behind their behavior. Not you.

If your client comes to you saying s/he’s unhappy…you troubleshoot. You ask questions. You see what could have been different. If you don’t do it right, or some product you used lets you down, then you make it right. You know when you goofed! Or you should! You re-educate the client on their responsibilities. You try another thing. You do it again if you discover you missed something. We all have bad days….own them. And fix it. THAT is standing behind your work.

Salon Gurus Introduces a New Guru – Cheryl Miller

A finalist in the 2017 Skin Games, Cheryl Miller introduces her award-winning Zen Facelift Facial­tm to the world of esthetics and massage  

Salon Gurus announces the addition of a new guru to their ranks, Cheryl Miller, a 30-year massage therapist and fitness trainer, as well as a 20-year esthetician. Miller is a highly respected trainer in both the esthetic and massage industries. Under her educational brand, The Zen Institute, she released her first three online classes and is excited to add many more from her treasure trove of expertise.

“I am a lifetime learner and love to pass on information to fellow professionals through both live and online training,” says Miller. Her first course offered on www.salon-gurus.com is Introduction to Manual Lymphatic Drainage, a skill she believes every esthetician should know.  “The purpose of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is to move fluid out of your tissues into lymph nodes, a great advantage in all facials that pushes an esthetician’s work up to an entirely new level,” she says. This home study course is an introduction to this exceptional and effective art.

The second program she’s introducing is Facial Cupping, a treatment that improves circulation, strengthens skin and connective tissues, stimulates fibroblast cells responsible for collagen and elastin production, visibly reduces fine lines and deeper wrinkles and tones the chin, jawline, neck and décolletage,” says Miller. Miller feels Facial Cupping is an advanced manual lymphatic drainage technique, so she is bundling the two courses together, with MLD being a prerequisite to the Facial Cupping.  The treatment is also very unique and will be attractive to clients who want to something that is immediately corrective and will plump, tighten, tone and detox their skin.

The third course Miller is launching is her signature Zen Facelift Facial, a product-neutral technique that combines skincare, massage and fitness into an innovative, effective, and holistic approach to anti-aging skincare. Estheticians will achieve results-oriented therapeutic results with this very versatile facial that will elevate and separate them from all other skincare specialists.

Miller is a sole proprietor in the Zen Lounge in Puyallup, WA, where she and her protégé offer exclusive signature services. She also travels the county to teach her Zen Facelift Retreat and loves having small group settings in private spas to create an intimate learning environment with plenty of hands on training. She is currently arranging her 2018 schedule so if you are interested in hosting a retreat at your spa, contact her at cherylmiller1649@gmail.com or call her at (253) 225-1649.

We are proud and happy to offer Cheryl’s knowledge and expertise through courses for estheticians and massage therapists on our outstanding educational platform,” says Karen Hodges, Salon Gurus Co-Founder along with Janet McCormick. “Miller’s courses, as well as others, are immediately available at www.salon-gurus.com. Come check us out!”

Offsetting your Losses – Sell Your Time!

Lauren Denney, Owner/Nail Technician at Gimme the shimmers in Glendale Arizona recently shared her point of view on “selling our time.”  We could learn from this nail veteran!

“I’m sharing a move I’ve made with my business and hopefully it might help anyone else struggling with this. I’ve had online booking available for the past 7 or so years and it’s worked great. I have also always had a cancellation policy which is stated as follows:

•Must cancel appointment at least 24 hours prior to your appointment if need be
•If it’s inside 24 hours then it’s a 50% charge of original service
•If you no-show, it’s a full charge of original service
•If you are more than 15 minutes late, you will be rebooked (for the sake of not putting other clients behind) and you will have to pay for the originally booked slot

I’ve never been great about enforcing the policy—I can sometimes be a softy. But then I realized, it’s just not good business to be constantly absorbing all of the business’s losses single-handedly. Here’s the real deal though—our industry is one of the only industries I can think of that doesn’t have a solid plan for recovering loss. Here’s what I mean:  essentially we are selling our time. Yes we have overhead (rent, equipment, products) and, of course, our talent, but you can’t put a price tag on our time because it’s priceless. Time is a finite resource and if you are selling it, it should never come cheap. Most importantly it should never ever be wasted. When your time is wasted, that is considered a loss; and a great one at that. It should bother you if you are constantly the one who is absorbing the loss, not only by not getting paid for your services, but also never having the opportunity to get that time back since it’s impossible.

Every successful business has a plan to offset or recover their losses. You can return the Nikes that you’ve worn every day for the last 6 months back to Macy’s because that’s their return policy but I promise you that it’s not coming out of the CEO’s pocket. That cost is passed along to the customers. When it comes to nail techs, when people cancel last minute why should the entire weight of that loss lies solely on the owner/operator? That’s a problem!

Say you’re booked 8 clients a day 5 days a week and if you see them every 2 weeks, you have 80 standing clients. There’s always a variable there, things happen, people need to move their appointment, stuff comes up, etc., but if clients give you enough notice, you can juggle things and move stuff around to make it work out for everyone. Ok so let’s take this same full book, only you allow your clients to get away with no-shows and last-minute cancellations. Let’s say 5 do that to you in one week. Your 40 hour work week now turns into a 45+ hour work week because you have to come in on your day off to service the clients who cancelled last minute on another day just to make your projected income for that week. Now you have to pay a babysitter to watch your kids on a Sunday, and you also have to pay the salon owner for a sixth day on top of your 5 days. So now you’re working unpaid overtime because you were counting on that income and budgeted your bills and expenses that way. Unless you take some extra clients and work more than the 5 hours, you’re still short because of all the extra expenses of taking those clients at alternate times. What’s worse, this imposes on your time that you have with your family, your friends, your dogs, your cats, or heck, your “me” time which is all so incredibly valuable! We need to offset this loss!

I recently made the decision to implement credit card guarantee with online booking which most clients were understanding of, though it didn’t settle well with some. I will tell you why I am 100% standing behind my decision. My time doesn’t come cheap. Think of this analogy: your day is basically the same thing as a hotel. Because the hotel is only allotted a static amount of rooms to let out each night, if every room is booked every night, they’re doing great. If only part of the rooms are booked they’re actually losing money. Whether or not people show up to occupy those time slots, the bills still need to be paid. That is the bottom line. Just as every night a hotel is short on occupants loses money, every minute that you don’t have someone in your chair you are losing money. This is totally just business. I know that crap happens and people have bad days and there are circumstances where it would be impossible for clients to make that appointment that they set with me, but as I establish these boundaries for myself and for my business, I can deal with these situations more effectively because I realize how precious and worthy my time is. It will never be anything personal. I will never be mad about someone having a bad day, but I can still effectively resolve my loss and hold my client accountable for their end of the transaction which was reserving that hour of my time with a promise to pay me for it.

“Maybe the general public doesn’t feel that nail techs are that important to be making these types of moves in their business. I believe it’s partially our fault for not treating our trade seriously ourselves. We’re too scared and worried that our clients won’t receive it well or value our time like we would like them to. I think that the way we run our businesses in this industry is flawed and we need to take steps to get it right!

All beauty service providers should value their time in order for their clients to value it, as well. What steps will you take in your practice to “offset your losses?”

 

Refunds…or Extortion? Part 3 of 3

Should you refund money when your client complains? Whether to refund a client’s money or not needs careful consideration. It may not be a good move for your business.

Let’s begin by stating that when you advertise a product or a service and take money for it, you are absolutely morally, ethically and legally bound to deliver as promised. Bearing this in mind should naturally lead you to realize you should never promise what you can’t reasonably expect to be able to deliver. If you stick with promising only what you know, you should be well within your rights to demand payment for goods or services rendered. But what happens when things beyond your control crop up?

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how to respond to legitimate complaints by “making things right.” In Part 2 of this series, we discussed how to handle those “fake” reviews that sometimes crop up. Here, we’ll discuss what should be done to prevent and handle a “money back” demand.

Managing Expectations

When you book a service with a client, at some point you should be doing a consultation where the client tells you what they want and you tell them what you can do for them. This is the point where communication is key. If you do a good job in this stage, their expectations should fall into alignment with what you can provide for them. Some services are more complex (for example permanent makeup procedures, as compared to trimming bangs) and therefore, more complex services require greater care in setting expectations. When a client comes to you with photo of the latest silver ombre color fade and wants her solid black hair to be done this way, it’s going to take some explanations of what her realistic results will be. If a client has noticeably different eyebrows, you must carefully explain and perhaps diagram what you can (or cannot) do to bring her brows into balance. You should NEVER promise “perfect”…no one can expect to achieve perfection. But you can be clear that you are only promising “better.” Keep your promises realistic so that you have firm ground to stand upon if the service is called into question at any point.

The Complaint

So you have set up realistic expectations, you have performed the service to the best of your ability and now it’s time to seek the client’s approval…what do you do? One savvy PMU artist videos “the reveal” where the clients are handed a mirror and their reaction is documented. Whether you video or not, you must be sure to ask “what do you think?” And further you should ask “Are you happy with [whatever]?” Make a point to make notes right in front of the client — write their exact words down. This may be important later!

They go on their way, and for whatever reason, they call or text you a short while later and demand their money back because “they don’t like them” or “because they are not right.”  Doesn’t matter what they are claiming, the bottom line is if you did the work as promised and the client expressed they were pleased, the only reason they are complaining is probably buyer’s remorse.

Buyer’s Remorse is Not a Refundable Event

Sometimes, a client is perfectly happy with your work. They are happy with their experience. And they are happy with the transaction between you. Enter the “Significant Influencer.” Their husband, who is concerned about the money, or the girlfriend whose jealously is thinly veiled by the “I’m your friend” cover or a parent or someone else who exerts influence over their decisions has made a comment. This comment (perhaps a casual, off-hand one, even) puts them into a spin and their immediate reaction is to demand the money back.

“I spent more than I should” or “my girl friend says” is not justification for the provider to forego being paid for their products, time and skill. If you have performed the service as promised. See now, why it’s important not to promise something you can’t provide? You have every right to keep the money.

Bullies and Cheats

There is a time-honored school of thought put forth by Nordstrom’s: “The client is always right.” This may have worked in the Golden Age of Civility before social media attacks were commonplace. Now, that mantra should be “The client is always right, except when they aren’t.” There is a class of consumers who are making a living going about their lives seeking products and services—for free! They have a mind set that anything they purchase can be refunded–even after fully enjoyed! You should not cave in to their threatening tactics. If you have done the work you promised and are confident you followed acceptable and safe protocols, there is no reason to refund.

There was a time when giving them their money back just so they’ll go away was  an acceptable strategy. However, the understanding was that they would drop their negative review idea.  In more recent days, owners and providers are giving the money back, but the bullies are leaving the negative reviews in place–so the gesture is for naught. The owner can’t really announce that they refunded the money because the readers seeing it will think 1) something really went wrong and they’re just not saying or 2) other bullies will think “hey! new sucker for me!” Refunding when you haven’t failed to perform is a bad move. There’s no upside…don’t refund unless you can make it work for you and your business.

Conditional Refunds

If it truly comes down to refunding money–whether you were “less than perfect” in your execution, or because it’s your brother-in-law’s boss, or whatever reason compels you to make a refund, you should take some steps that protect you and your business.  Promise the refund only if your conditions are met.

Offer refunds only on the condition that they remove all negative reviews by a certain deadline. Give them 48 hours at least, but the idea is to get the negativity off the internet as quickly as possible.

Insist the person comes in to pick up their refund in person. That’s the only way you handle it….period. One consideration might be that you will remove their lash extensions or their nail products when they come in as a condition of their refund. In order to receive a refund, they have to give up the goodies!

When they come in, you will have a photo copy of a company check or the cash showing the serial numbers and a receipt for them to sign. The receipt should actually serve two purposes–it is written acknowledgment of their receipt of the payment and you should add a short statement: 1. They must not discuss this refund with any person. 2. They must never use any negative or derogatory statements about you, your employees, your business. If they are found to be breaking this promise, you will pursue every possible remedy to protect your business and its reputation.

You should read the receipt statement aloud to them, and get them to verbally agree.  Unfortunately this matter may not actually be over at this point; but fortunately, for you, this person will not likely realize the ramifications of  defamation of character and won’t understand that you’ve just documented your case, thoroughly. If you are agreeing to refund their money, they must meet your conditions. Never just give up and let them strong arm you.

Pro tip: this is an excellent opportunity to try out the new nanny cam (after posting a sign declaring “These premises are video taped for security” near the area where you are dealing with this matter, of course.)

Turn it Around

If you are concerned about reviews of your business, then you should actively seek reviews from your clients who love you. Ask them to share a word about their “favorite” thing you do for them. One innovative spa owner created a social media campaign where she solicited good Yelp reviews in exchange for a gift basket drawing. Make sure you have a “testimonials” section on your website and ask every client you see for an entire month to take a minute to write you a good note. You might even have a tablet, all logged in for them to do so in the waiting room!

Reviews Don’t Have to be Scary

In summary, you can create a positive impression of your business by the way you respond to every review that has a negative comment. It’s not that you never mess up (that’s not believable!) It’s how you respond when someone accuses you of it. Make that your testimony for your own business.

 

How to Respond to Bad Reviews – Part 2 of 3

A well crafted response to a negative review can present a golden marketing opportunity.

Read here to see how to create your own “formula” for handling bad reviews. You’ll want to use your own words so it’s authentic, but here are some guidelines that will help you set aside your emotions and handle negative reviews like the PRO you are.

In Part 1 of this story, we discussed how to handle complaints that are legitimate, but let’s look at another scenario: reviews which are not legitimate claims against your work. Maybe they are your competitors or ex-employees, or even clients who never came in for a service because their demands were unrealistic and you turned them away. And then we’ve all encountered “that one guy” situations where someone is trying to get something for nothing, and no matter what we’ve said or done, all they want is their money back. This group can be handled slightly differently.

The Process

The most important thing to think about when replying to a review is to take the emotion out of the equation. Yes, you’re flustered…and embarrassed…and isn’t it ALWAYS the most demanding and difficult clients that do this kind of thing? “Why, oh why did I agree to take them? I knew better!”  OK, lesson learned…but what now?

1) Breathe! It’s not life or death. It’s one review. Don’t panic and do NOT rip off a reply immediately!
2) A client or a bad review CANNOT “ruin” or “take down” your business. (No matter what they claim!)
3) Negative reviews scattered through your positive reviews can actually work in your favor–if handled correctly.

Absolutely respond to them. It’s not a good representation of your business to see complaints that go unanswered. However,  giving a brief comment showing your willingness to work with them and make it right, is something those who are reading your reviews will like to see.  Try to respond to every single less than stellar review in a positive way.

Always use their names. This establishes that you see them as a person and it makes YOU a real person, too–not just a company. It helps readers see you are trying. If they are hiding behind a profile name, try to look up and use both their first and last name somewhere in the response.  (No–sorry, they don’t get to snipe from afar, anonymously!)

Always mention any written documentation you may have. Use phrases like “according to your intake form” or “in reviewing our text messages, I see…” or “our online booking system log shows….” and so forth. This puts everyone reading the review on notice that you are businesslike and have everything in writing, should it be necessary–the complainers and the potential new clients, alike.

The Sandwich

There is a tried-and-true theory that people accept bad news better if it’s sandwiched between two slices of “nice.” This technique is used by business managers the world over–we should use it in our businesses, too! So how does this work?

When responding to a negative review:

  • Start with a positive statement (see below for some examples)
  • Drop the hammer on their unfounded claims in a firm, professional way that you can document
  • Finish the response with sweetness and light

How it Works

Here are some examples taken from real-life scenarios. No names are given to protect the innocent, and dismiss the guilty!

1)  A negative review goes up and you do not show this person has ever been seen in your salon, or perhaps you recognize them as a disgruntled former employee or other “bitter Betty.”  Call them out…in a sweet way.

REPLY: [If you know their name–use it even if they hide behind a profile name] “Thank you Betty, for taking time to give feedback on our customer service–we do our very best to be sure all clients are given the best possible experience here at [name your business.] In searching our client database, however, I am not finding you were ever our guest…perhaps you have mistaken our business for another?  We would relish the opportunity to offer you a fabulous Spa Package–just contact us at [give your preferred booking info.] Looking forward to meeting you! Nancy Notplaying. ”

2) Client leaves 1 star review: She is incensed that she was ushered out of the spa and denied her right to enjoy the premises.  Her infant was screaming bloody murder in a quiet, dark spa. The website and signage in the spa state this is not a child-friendly environment and to please make other arrangements. Her service was quickly performed and she was encouraged to leave immediately, rather than partaking of the spa’s quiet room and other amenities as she usually does.

REPLY: “Mary, thank you for taking the time to leave us feedback about your recent experience at Our Quiet Spa. We truly do try to meet our clients’ expectations of the spa-like environment. Ms. Allaboutme, I am sorry your infant was upset, but I’m confident my staff did their very best possible by you. They completed your service before dismissing you so that others could enjoy their quiet time, as promised on our website and in our policies. We invite you to come see us again soon, when your child care arrangements allow.  Best wishes, Tina Pleasant”

3) Client leaves 2 star review:  She could not get the provider to come in off hours to suit her schedule, so she threatened to “ruin your business because your customer service is so bad.”  [as an aside, would you REALLY want to subject yourself to a waxing after you’ve completely irritated the waxer who has repeatedly told you “No, I don’t have availability for the next 2 weeks”?]

REPLY:  “Thank you Elaine, for taking a minute to post a review–we continually seek feedback to promote excellence in our guest experiences.  I am deeply sorry we were not able to accommodate your schedule, Mrs. Biggs–our clients love us so much they book weeks in advance and we usually run a waiting list. I’m always happy to add you to that list, if you like? Call us at (###) when your planned service is at least two weeks out and you’ll be assured of the time that works for you. Sincerely, Wendy Waxpro

4) PMU client posts that you “###ked up her face” and now she wants her money back.  Contrary to her reveal–which you recorded showing her smiling and saying her new brows are gorgeous and that she loves them.  And contrary to the fact that you explained that she was told it is a process not an event…and that her signed paper work explains that her final look won’t even reveal itself for a few weeks and that you have planned a follow-up appointment to make any adjustments. Despite everything you’ve told her, she just won’t be happy, and only wants her money back.  You should not budge on this one!

No matter what she says in her post, you should say:

“Thank you, Tina, for taking the time to post a review. Every business likes to be given feedback so they can hone their customer service. In considering your comments, I have reviewed your signed intake forms acknowledging we informed you the process of PMU takes several weeks to complete, as well as the video of your pleased surprise at how much you loved your brows the day we did them. We feel we can only resolve this matter with you in person. Ms. Cheatum, please call us at (###) to arrange the earliest possible time for you to come in so we can provide for your satisfaction.  Looking forward to seeing you soon, Bea Yoncare.”

Do not engage. Do not argue the points with her. Just smile, grit your teeth, and let everyone see that you are inviting her to come in so you can provide for her satisfaction.  What you do if she actually has the brass to appear is a different matter. But the readers will see that you are trying to help her.  You don’t have to point out how cray-cray she seems….readers can see that already. What you want them to see is you being polite and accommodating.

Refunds Are Another Matter
When someone says to you “you should stand behind your work”  it does not mean the same thing as “you should give my money back”! It means that you will do your best, adjust when necessary and “make it right” in an appropriate manner. In Part 3 of this series, we will talk about when a refund might be called for, the conditions you should set in that case and when refunds are off the table.

Don’t Cave to Threats of Bad Reviews – Part 1 of 3

Everyone who checks out the reviews before spending their money knows that there’s always “that” one…

Maybe when giving online reviews was a relatively new thing a decade or so ago, it was taken pretty seriously and companies would strive to avoid anything less than top-notch reviews. There has evolved, however, a culture of bad-review guerrillas who threaten and attack your business if they don’t get their way. Now, don’t mistake it, we’re all for clients getting the good services they’ve been promised, but unfortunately there are some who take advantage of providers by threatening to trash their reputation…or [gasp] “take down your business.”  They go online and cyber-attack you in every venue they can think of, demanding their money back. They hurl unfounded accusations and stomp their tiny feet until the owner caves in and gives them the money. Then they leave their negative posts in place and brag on social media how they got their new brows “for free!”   The client got your excellent work, but not only did you not get paid, you now have negative reviews besmirching your good name! This needs to stop!

Don’t be Afraid

One bad review in dozens of good ones simply cannot ruin your business! People understand and have no expectations of good providers being able to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. So why should YOU have that expectation? You shouldn’t! You should do your very best with every client who pays for your skill and remember, sometimes, life happens.  If you’ve done your best, then you can sleep at night knowing that to be true. So don’t be afraid to stand by that good work.

You should get it out of your head that you even want a string of perfect 5-star reviews.  Potential new clients who see only a perfect 5.0 rating immediately take a mental step back–no one is that perfect. It’s more authentic if your average is high…but you have an occasional “opportunity for improvement” which you’ve dealt with in a positive way.

Realize Times Have Changed

You may not have seen this viral post about “that one guy” but there are now many examples of this situation out in the world. Just one of many internet outlets sharing this event, Huffington Post states:

We all know that Yelp can sometimes be a fair-weather friend to restaurants. One day you’re riding high, earning serious praise from citizen reviewers — and then just as fast, your restaurant’s reputation can get hammered by one unhappy customer. We think the tactic employed by Joe Dough Sandwich Shop’s sign-writer is pretty fantastic. Way to make lemonade out of lemons, you guys.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/yelp-worst-meatball-sandwich_n_1633755.html

So instead of worrying about the odd less-than-stellar review, own it! Times have changed and no one takes an online review so seriously these days.

Fight Back!

One of the best things about online reviews is that most of them allow comments to be made on the review. You have the right of rebuttal and to tell your side (aka, “the truth”!) When done skillfully, this can actually make you look better than ever. How? Your polished, well-written reply can emphasize your customer service expertise and make your reputation sparkle and shine! Bad reviews, when handled correctly can actually be golden marketing opportunities!

Use the Review

When someone is the type who looks at the reviews, they’ll go by the overall trend. If the business has lots and lots of excellent reviews…they’ll scan a couple, but then scroll on by. All those kind words are never seen by anyone, in most real life cases. Review-checkers do look for the negative ones, and if they see a whole slew of them, the alarms go off. But if there is a single bad review (or even a handful of them, if the business has dozens of good ones) they might go check out that one out of curiosity.  That bad review becomes one that is seen by many more people than all the good ones. So, knowing this, your response should be carefully executed to shed the best possible light on you and your business. Think of it as a magnet, and your bad reviewer has set you up to get your message in front of more people than would normally pause to read about you.

Sometimes Thing Happen

First, we need to discuss when the client might have an appropriate issue with your work.  There are times when things just don’t go well. It happens to the best of us. When you simply did not complete the work as you promised, then there is only one thing to do:  OWN IT.  People often complain because their expectations were not met. Mostly, they just want to be “heard” and get an acknowledgement of “Yes, despite my best efforts, that did not go as we planned.”

The best legal beagles will tell you “never admit your fault” but clients–people you care about and hope to have a relationship with–hate being treated as “less than.”  Now, we are not saying if you have caused bodily damage to someone you should do anything other than completely follow your legal advisor’s gag order.  We are saying that if it’s a matter of taste or something that you can correct, then just say “Oops! I did my best and I’m happy to adjust the work.”  Telling someone their hair is damaged beyond all salvation or their eyebrows are naturally asymmetrical IN PUBLIC is not a good move.  Better to acknowledge their complaint, offer them some options right there in front of everyone to come in and allow you to work with them, and tell them you look forward to making their experience with your business a positive one.

No details should ever be discussed in a public forum. “Come in and we’ll work it out to your satisfaction” should be the only message.

The Response is Everything

Writing a killer response to a negative review is something you can learn to do. There are some techniques you can use in crafting a response that will put you and your business in the best possible light. The basic rules are “Short and sweet, do not air the dirty laundry, and always end on a positive note.”  To read in detail how to create good replies to bad reviews, go to Part 2 of this series.

Voice Your Opinion–Your Elected Legislators Need Your Input

Our legislators do their very best to represent their constituents. I feel they truly do have a calling to give up their private lives, their professional standing and careers in order to represent us in our government. They are bright and knowledgeable and hopefully wise! They are not all-knowing, however, and they need our input so they can make informed decisions on our behalf.

It is your duty as a citizen to be involved in your own governance. If you don’t like a proposed law or administrative ruling, then let your elected leaders know it! Take a few minutes to write a professional letter, respectfully explaining your concerns. It’s easier than ever to find their address these days–just search the internet for their contact information.

Florida is only one of the many states currently considering deregulation of many professions. Take a moment to search the term “deregulation legislation [my state]” and you might be amazed at what your elected officials are working on currently. Get involved in your own government….

…Write your Senator, today!