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?”