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“Me” Service to Become “Team Service” – Part 1

September 8, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I’ve been in the salon/spa industry for 50 years. I know, because I counted the decades since cosmetology school on my fingers just to be sure.

To me, the salon/spa business has always been about customer service. You’ve heard all the buzz phrases:

  • The customer always comes first.
  • The customer is always right.
  • Meet and exceed expectations.
  • Create extraordinary customer service experiences.
  • What would a $500 haircut experience be like?
  • Hell, what would a $10,000 haircut experience be like?

No one, I mean absolutely no one, doesn’t appreciate extraordinary customer service. More importantly, no one ever forgets extraordinary customer service experiences.

I’ve been teaching and coaching business since the mid 70s. I’ve owned my coaching and training company for 26 years (it will be 26 years on September 13th).

In all these years, no has ever said “the hell with the customer,” or, “customer service doesn’t matter,” or, “do great work and you can treat customers like crap.” No one.

I love and respect our industry beyond words. It has given my family and I a good life. It has provided careers and livelihoods for my employees. We passionately teach and coach best business practices so our clients can experience the same.

When all is said and done, I want to leave this industry in a better place than when I entered it 50 years ago.

Yet, there is one obstacle that I’ve been chipping away at that is stubborn, and at times, egotistical and self-centered.

That obstacle is the “I/me/mine” mentality. It is so deeply embedded in the mindset of our industry, that it’s perceived as “normal.”

NOTE: If you’re an independent, renting a booth or suite, nothing I write here is about you. You’re “me” by design and that’s totally okay.

I’m writing this for the owners of employee-based salons, spas, medspas, barbershops, nail salons, lash salons, etc..

FACT: Delivering extraordinary customer service is about teamwork. There is no place, need, or reason for the “I/me/mine” mentality to exist in a teamwork environment.

I’m not naive. I know that great talent stands out in a crowd. But a great quarterback can’t be great without teammates who are the best in the positions they play. The team can’t win if it doesn’t protect their quarterback. (Sorry for the football analogy. It just fits.)

Hair salons will have their standout hairstylists. Spas will have their standout estheticians. And if the standout’s overall performance is extraordinary, they should be paid well for their overall contribution to the company. Not paid a percentage of their individual service sales, but paid an hourly rate or salary that reflects their overall performance and contribution to team and company.

Where it gets ugly: The moment the “I/me/mine” mentality surfaces on a team, teamwork is shot to hell and customer service is compromised.

All it takes is one individual that doesn’t want to play to fracture the unity, purpose and effectiveness of the entire team. It’s the classic case of “If he/she doesn’t have to do it — why should I?”

Consistently delivering extraordinary customer service experiences requires the following:

  • Leadership: If the leadership isn’t there, customer service systems will fail. It’s like expecting a Maserati engine to do its thing without gasoline. A business culture, standards of performance and excellent customer service cannot survive without leadership.
  • Systems: Systems are step-by-step procedures that, when followed, deliver predictable outcomes. No systems. No consistency. Customer service is compromised.
  • Training, coaching and oversight: Extraordinary customer service experiences are designed, systematized and built into a required training program. This is followed by ongoing coaching and leadership oversight. If any piece is missing, the outcome will be anything but extraordinary.
  • Culture: Culture is the collective thinking and behavior of the salon/spa. As we teach at Strategies, culture reflects leadership. Extraordinary customer service experiences cannot occur in a culture where “I/me/mine” thinking and behavior exists. Teamwork will never achieve its full potential when team members put their “I/me/mine” mentality first and teamwork second.

So, what feeds the industry’s “I/me/mine” mentality?

  • What you measure gets repeated: Consider how the majority of owners prepare for performance reviews. They run piles of reports on individual employee numbers from service and retail revenue to client retention, prebook, productivity rate and more. During the actual performance review, the employee’s numbers are discussed with emphasis on which numbers need to improve and how. KEY: When the focus of employee performance reviews is essentially a review of “that employee’s numbers,” it’s disconnected from the employee’s contribution, or lack thereof, to company culture, teamwork and company goals. The message given to the employee is that their “I/me/mine” numbers are all that matters.
  • Individual revenue goals: On the surface, setting revenue goals for each employee makes sense. But where’s the connection and emphasis on the revenue goals that the company needs to achieve? KEY: I’m not suggesting that individual revenue goals are bad. What I’m saying is that without a solid connection to the revenue goals of the company, the message to the employee is that hitting his/her individual goal is all that matters. Why up-sell a service today that another service provider has the skill and time to perform? Individual goals, with no connection or accountability to support team/company goals, feeds the “I/me/mine” mentality.
  • Individual pay based on individual sales: Commission is pay based on individual sales with no connection to the company hitting its revenue goals and requirements. Period. End of story. Hey, Team-Based Pay owners, you’re still stuck in “commission” thinking if you’re using a percent of individual revenue to determine pay and pay increases. And you’re sending the same message that individual sales are more important than hitting the company’s monthly revenue goal. KEY: Individual pay rates should be based on factors that go much deeper than what that one individual brings in. Skill development, culture, teamwork and individual strengths are more than an individual’s revenue. In fact, skill, culture, teamwork and individual strengths are the true revenue drivers.

Here’s my challenge to you: Please digest what you’ve read here. If you own or work in an employee-based salon/spa, the “I/me/mine” mentality is compromising your ability to create the customer service experiences your company is capable of delivering.

PART 2 PREVIEW: In next week’s blog post, I will share what it takes to deliver a true team-service experience to your clients. Doing so will dramatically improve your productivity and client retention rates. More importantly, team service will make the skills of your entire team available to each and every client.

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