In thinking about today’s post I was determined to not post about what’s dominating my thoughts lately – China. I was having a little trouble and then I went to get my hair cut. I really like the woman who both owns the shop and cuts my hair.
Liz and I often talk about her business (she’s been running it for close to two years now after taking it over from the guy who used to cut my hair). I ask questions, she asks questions and the conversations are interesting and the time (only about a half hour) passes quickly. I look forward not only to having my hair cut but catching up with her.
Today when I walked in things were a bit different than what is customarily the case. Usually Liz is waiting for me (I am always on time) and like clockwork 30 minutes later I am walking out the door next appointment in hand. But today there were lots of people milling about – hairdressers (no barbers here folks) finishing up a number of customer ‘do’s’, and Liz had someone in the chair. She looked at me and almost apologetically rolled her eyes as she could tell I am not accustomed to waiting and probably don’t like to wait (she’s right).
But no big deal as it a rarity that I have to wait for any time at all. However as I sat and watched what was going on I observed several things.
1) More hairdressers than I can ever remember working – looks like Liz’s business is growing (no hair jokes here for all you bald readers out there)
2) There was not a computer in sight. They have no website, no Facebook page, no blog, no advertising of any kind. Business is word of mouth and people driving by who might walk in.
3) I know that she has an answering machine to take calls when there’s nobody in the shop or when the hairdressers are too busy cutting hair.
There was money changing hands and a hubbub around the desk as it seemed at least 3 people were finished at the same time and there is one central area (pictured above) where appointments are made and kept by hand in an old-fashioned appointment book. I watched with wonder as there was no point of sale system, no automated appointment system and everything was being done the way it had always been done and the way salons operated five, ten, even fifty years ago.
I asked Liz how she kept track of everything. ‘It’s not like I don’t think about it all the time and I know we are getting busier but I just haven’t done anything about it yet’. She even agreed that she was running the place like it was 1999 (my words not hers).
But here’s the thing. The customers were happy. They had that one to one personal connection with their individual hairdresser. That connection with customers is really what makes a place like Liz & Company special and why they keep coming back for more. Look, if the client gets a lousy haircut, or bad coloring job they are going to complain and either get it fixed to their satisfaction or look somewhere else. Operator competency is a given when it comes to getting your hair cut or done.
The difference maker is the relationship you have with the person who cuts your hair. If you don’t like that person I guarantee you will find someone else even if you are ok with the way they cut your hair.
Liz knows she can get a POS (point of sale) system that will track appointments, revenue and offer a dashboard so she can better evaluate the performance of her business. She can also hire an administrative person (she does not have one now) to manage the process. But will she?
So the question is – should you run your business like 1999 if your customers are happy with the way things are?