I have to remember to change my habits. I keep telling myself I'm going to start settling with my clients at the beginning of their appointment, before I start the service, instead of at the end like most of us traditionally do. This prevents the occasional, but inevitable, "I'm going to give you $25 today and I'll bring in the rest next time I see you" or "Can I post-date a check?" Let's face it, I've already done the nails! What can I say? "Oh! I didn't realize you couldn't afford the service you just received. Let me just take those nails off and I'll put them back on when you can pay me."
Well no. I'm not going to do that. Mostly because taking the nails off requires more of my time that I won't get paid for. And the people who pull the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a nail appointment today" routine are usually pretty good clients who really will make good on the debt. It's a matter of respect and integrity.
I don't really mind the occasional call before an appointment, "Hey, I got a speeding ticket. Is it OK if I post-date my check or would you rather I just rescheduled?" You know? A little heads up. Let it be my decision. Don't hold me hostage after the fact.
And then there's the change schemes. Don't get me wrong! I keep petty cash on hand sufficient to cover most transactions. It's my responsibility to make sure I can make change for my customers. And if someone comes in with a $100 bill and I can't make change for it? There's a bank right down stairs — I'll make it happen. But don't pull out a couple of twenties and tell me I can either make change for your $30 service or I can accept a lesser amount.
This is not a yard sale. If you don't have enough money to cover your service, you will owe me the balance. Just like if I don't have enough change for you, then I will owe you. You don't just haggle me down.
Why do people feel comfortable doing this at salons? These are the same people who go to the grocery store, the gas station, and the mall knowing that they'd better be able to pay for their merchandise before they walk out the door or they're going to get a ride in a police car.
Is that what we need to do? Put up "shoplifters will be prosecuted" signs? Call the cops and press charges when someone asks for credit after services have been rendered?
(*long drawn out sigh*) Yeah. I guess we could go that route. But let's face it, the beauty industry has worked this way for a long time. We enjoy an old-fashioned, personal business model — our clients bring us Christmas presents and invite us to their weddings. The downside is that they also occasionally expect us to understand when they need their nails done the week before they get their paychecks. The job comes with good and bad. I'm not really willing to give up the perks to offset the hassles.