For better or for worse, there is nothing like going to a black beauty salon. We love them, and we love to hate on them. After all, we get our hair done for care, but also to make ourselves look better and feel better. As the saying goes, there’s a price to pay for beauty. At the salon, not only do you pay your money, but you pay with your time. So in the spirit of “Salon Hair Blues,” let’s begin there.
1. My time is valuable, and getting my hair done is not a part-time job. It is unacceptable to have me in the salon for four hours or more when my style only takes and hour and a half. Once your hair is wet, you’re basically being held as a hostage. You may have an attitude and want to leave after you’ve been there too long. But guess what? We don’t leave because we don’t want to look like a wet mop. We want our do done, we want to look pretty, and we need the stylist. They know that, so we’re trapped, at least that day, or until we find someone else. But we all know finding someone to do your hair how you like it can take time and a lot of trial and error.
Hairdo Rule: Schedule your appointments in such a way that each customer can get the individual attention they deserve and pay for.
2. Please don’t stop to eat or talk on the phone while I’m supposed to be getting my hair done. Do you ever feel like you’re at a state fair when you go to the salon – everything is fried or being fried? Have you ever seen a stylist with a chicken bone in one hand and a hot curler in the other? I have.
What’s up with taking every phone call that comes through and stopping to talk while I’m sitting in your chair? That’s what voicemail is for. Besides, why are you making new appointments when you already have five people in here stacked like cattle?
Hairdo Rule: Do my hair first before eating and talking on the phone. Handle what’s in front of you, and do a good job by making your clients feel as comfortable as possible.
3. Don’t cut my hair if I asked you not to. If it seems like I’m frustrated, I am. A series of things happened during my last hair appointment, much of which I’ll share with you later. But specifically, my stylist – who I’m still getting to know – cut my hair, even though I asked her not to. When I protested, she said, “Girl, I just had to do it.” Now, you know they don’t call me Deya Direct for nothing, so it took everything I had not to curse her out completely, I said my piece, though. But guess what? She had scissors in her hand. And the last thing I wanted was to walk out looking like Woody Woodpecker, so I got myself together. Admittedly, I resented that I needed her at that moment.
You see, I call her my ‘hood stylist. She’s the one I go to for a quick fix to do the basics, plus she’s close to my job and affordable. On the other hand, I go to a different stylist for the big things – cut, color, etc. That stylist is in a nice neighborhood, but overpriced. So my plan was to try to balance things out. Much like with our girlfriends, everybody serves a different purpose but you need them all.
Hairdo Rule: Give the client what they want. Even if they’re wrong, let them come to that conclusion. Unless of course it’s gonna make their hair fall out (You Gotta Hear This Interview). We may laugh and joke like girlfriends, but at the end of the day, I want what I’m paying for.
Ladies, none of the rules I named are new. In fact, they are basic customer service principles. But they often seem lost on too many of our stylists.
Going to the salon is like a rite of passage. There, we laugh, cry, gossip, and discuss the latest issues. I don’t expect every salon to be a full-service spa experience. But, when I go, I want to leave out relaxed (my hair included), not stressed out because a fight broke out or because you made me late. Am I being unreasonable to expect professionalism and good customer service? I don’t think so.
This is only the beginning of this discussion, but I’d love to hear from you about your hair salon stories.
Deya “Direct” Smith is a producer on the Tom Joyner Morning show. She can be reached directly at DeyaDirect@aol.com.