Customer Service

Ask the Manicurist: December 2008

Ho ho ho. Tee hee hee. The Manicurist — aka Rebecca Seals — offers her unique take on holiday happenings at the salon.

Q: I am so mad at my nail technician I don’t know what to do! I have had a regular standing appointment for 15 years. During the holidays, when I needed my nails done the most, I showed up for my appointment, and my nail tech had put someone else in my time! She said the holidays were hectic and I’d missed often and hadn’t confirmed this appointment, so she’d given my time away! How dare she do this to me? I was so embarrassed! How should I handle her?  

A: I’m sorry, nincompoop, but it sounds to me as if your nail tech has finally after 15 years been the one to handle you. And it sounds to me as if it was about time. Now, let’s be honest here. You’ve been a client for 15 years and your nail tech has replaced you. This tells me that you have probably been replaced by a safer, more dependable bet. Look back at your track record and think about how often you’ve missed and how courteous you were with notice. Have you missed so much that your tech is losing serious bill money? Have you called with at least 24-hours notice so that she could replace you with a paying customer?  

The lowdown: Missing a standing appointment so often that someone replaces you is reason enough to admit you’ve caused your own embarrassment. It’s time to call back with a heartfelt apology and a newfound attitude toward a nail tech who must be darn good to earn 15 years of patronage.

 

Q: I have patronized the same salon for a short while now, and I am a stickler for time. I really enjoy the services at this new salon. It is very clean and well organized, and the tech’s work is impeccable, but I am my nail tech’s first appointment at 7:30 in the morning and I always have to wait on her! This is particularly irritating now with the crunch of holiday time. I could be shopping for Christmas at Wal-Mart! On my job in advertising, I am always at least 15 to 20 minutes early to start my day to ensure that my first appointment doesn’t have to wait. Shouldn’t my nail tech give me the same courtesy? She is rarely if ever in the chair before 7:30 on the dot. She barrels in at 7:25, flies in the door, flips on the light and the coffee pot and falls into the chair barely in time. I think this is careless and rude. What do you think? 

A: I think that if I’ve read all of your “stickler for times,” “on the dots,” and “barely in times” correctly, your nail tech hasn’t done a thing wrong. All the clues in your question tell me that she is an incredibly hard worker who appears to be very organized, albeit probably exhausted. I mean, if she “flies in” by 7:25, she’s definitely made it in time. And if she is able to just flip on the lights and coffee pot and fall into her chair (on time) then she obviously does some preparation before she leaves the night before such as cleaning, preparing coffee, etc. I’m proud of you for being a “stickler for time” because I agree with Dr. Phil that to do otherwise is saying you don’t value other people’s time, but come on, doesn’t demanding being 15 to 20 minutes early say the same thing? It sounds to me as if there are two people here that could care and share in each other’s dedication and diversity of style. Give this some thought.  

The lowdown: You obviously have a dedicated nail tech (making appointments at 7:30 a.m.) who you said yourself is “very clean, organized, and does impeccable work.” Do you really want to whine about waiting a few minutes before she sits down to serve you? I didn’t think so.   

Q: I gave my friend a gift certificate for Christmas last year and she just now got around to making the appointment for Christmas this year. I was astonished when she told me that my nail tech’s salon refused to honor her certificate because it had expired two weeks earlier! Can you believe this? I’m getting ready to call the salon myself and straighten this out, but I wanted to check with you first. What would you say to them?

A: I would say to them exactly this: “Hello, my name is Jane Doe and I am a regular patron of your salon. Last year, I bought a gift certificate from you for my friend, ‘Dopey,’ who is not smart enough to know that another word for ‘expired’ is ‘dead.’ This friend of mine has had the audacity to call me complaining about your policy in hopes that I would try to bilk a service out of you for her. I explained to her that when I purchased that gift certificate, the expiration date was plainly written on the front, and that I did not request, in writing, that they not spend a dime of it toward salon overhead until my thoughtless and self-centered friend strolled in at her convenience to make an appointment. Thank you ever so much for your pampering services, your obvious business savvy, and for overlooking any reflection this moron may have shined upon me.”

The lowdown: This year, buy your friend a book on etiquette, business, or both.

 

Q: I never know what to buy my nail tech for Christmas. I’ve already used up all the classics in previous years such as knickknacks, ornaments, etc., but I never see her displaying any of them. Any suggestions?

A: I have a few since you seem to be like so many other ninnies about gift-giving. Give her everyone’s favorite color, style, and size: money! And it doesn’t have to be much. A $5 bill in addition to your service fee and tip, and a heartfelt thank you for a year’s services is so nice. If you can afford it, and she’s extra good, give her more. Unless it is made from gold (as in truly meaningful) or diamonds (as in priceless), I would chew and swallow a knickknack rather than pawn it off on someone I care about.

The lowdown: Everyone needs to stop the insanity of obligatory holiday shopping. If you’re struggling with a gift, you probably shouldn’t be buying it to begin with. This year, maybe you should write your nail tech a long handwritten card of thanks (wrap the envelope with an exquisite bow of tulle), telling her how talented, beautiful, thoughtful, sweet, professional, and caring she is, and how much she’s meant to you through the years. I’ll bet my reading glasses that, by spring, your gift will be the only one she’s still revisiting and enjoying.   

Q: I was so offended the other day during my regular (11-year) standing appointment with my nail tech that I almost regret giving her a Christmas present. I don’t know if the holidays had gotten to her or if she just had a bad case of P.M.S.! She learned a long time ago that I’m always late, I’m very hard on my nails and require lots of repairs, and that I have to have at least one smoke break. She’s always been so nice in the past and has never said a word about anything. That’s why I’ve always loved her! But the other day, she said her next lady would be upset about her being behind, and that my repairs would be taking up any smoke break I had in mind. Can you believe this? I just about told her that she should be glad that I was spending my hard-earned money with her to begin with, not to mention what I spent on her gift! Don’t you agree that she owes me an apology before my next service?

A: Even though you have some nutty ideas, since you seem to be genuinely hurt, I’m not going to call you a bonehead. And I don’t agree that she owes you an apology. Please bend an ear to some age-old advice handed down from my best friend by her dear-old-wise-and-departed father: “Do not mistake kindness for weakness.” It sounds to me as if your friend has made the sad mistake of giving subtle permission to be taken for granted. Here’s an example of how it works: A client is 20 minutes late for an appointment, requires four repairs, and has the audacity to smoke a cigarette on her way to the bathroom to wash up before her polish. Instead of explaining to her how unfair it is to make the next patron wait, how much harder I have to work to make up for the repair work, and how offensive second-hand smoke is to me and everyone else, I bite my tongue to be nice and respectful to a client who’s neither nice or respectful to me. End result: A nail tech can only fume for so long before she blows! Exactly the same type of thing you saw (and felt) during your last appointment.

The lowdown: If you’ve only loved your nail tech because she’s always bitten her tongue about your tardiness, your repair work, and for overlooking your over-the-top rudeness about smoking on her time then it sounds to me as if you’ve never loved your nail tech at all. Quit waiting on an apology from her and write one yourself, or do her a favor and let your patronage and so-called friendship die a natural death. Most people would have killed it years ago.

Keywords:   Ask the Manicurist     client issues     client relationships     client scheduling     customer service     gift certificates     holidays     humor  

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