Early Birds

I work by appointment. I have worked by appointment since I began doing nails 19 years ago. I went through all the standard growing pains of getting my service times down to what I felt was an acceptable length, and it took some time for me to figure out how close I could schedule clients so that I wasn't constantly running over ... but then, it also took me some time before I had enough clients for me to worry about scheduling them too close together.

We talk a lot about clients who are late. We worry about them being late because it makes us run into the next client's time. And 19 years of working on a carefully planned schedule has led me to some serious conversations with doctors and other professionals who claim to work on a schedule too.

But you know what's almost as bad? Being too early for an appointment.

Seriously, I appreciate the people who arrive 10 minutes early. I especially like when they use that 10 minutes to wander around and pick out what they want on their nails, and hopefully pick up a little something off of the retail shelf.

But what do you do with the people who insist on arriving 30 minutes early? Or an hour? Or an hour and half? Yes, seriously. I once had one client who would show up up to two hours early!

There really is such a thing as too early. When I get here half an hour before my day is scheduled to begin to find my first client of the day has been standing outside my door for 10 minutes already, that's annoying.

I have things to do. When I get to the salon in the morning I check messages and e-mail, I make coffee, I mix a fresh batch of disinfectant. Takes me about 10 minutes to get everything where I want it before I sit down to start working.

When someone is waiting for me when I get here, it doesn't matter that she's still 20 minutes early for her appointment, I feel obligated to get started. Kinda throws my routine all off.

And what if I actually scheduled a lunch break? Or have an unclaimed bit of time between clients that I've been looking forward to for a potty break or a Starbucks run? No go. Whether consciously or not, people really only acknowledge other clients as the indicator of whether or not it's their turn yet. I think it stems from being conditioned to stand in lines. If there's no one ahead of you, it's your turn.

So if I'm sitting here, trying to write a blog entry for instance, it stands to reason that I'm not busy and just waiting for my client to show up ... she's really doing me a favor by showing up in the middle of my break, right?


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