This morning I was waiting on a client when she texted to give me a heads up that she was “running 10 late.” I usually mark off a little extra time for this particular client to allow for unexpected snazziness she might want done to her nails, so I took a look at the schedule and decided there was plenty of room for her to be “10 late.”
I texted her back that it should be fine and I’d see her in a bit.
Twenty minutes later she breezed through the door followed closely by a small girl. A child. Maybe 6 or 7? Or 8?
Now, who remembers my strict “grown-ups only” policy? Right! Naturally, I freaked out.
OK. No. I didn’t “freak out.” I quietly observed the situation that was unfolding before me and ran through several foreseeable scenarios in my brain while coming to the conclusion that if I let this slide, it would become a problem. This is not someone I can have a quiet conversation with while I let her daughter sit and color by the window, someone I can gently remind of the policy, someone who will be apologetic and say she forgot; she’s so sorry but she didn’t have a sitter (notice, she didn’t bring any of her other children with her, and I know she has more than this one), someone who will understand that I am making a very rare exception this one time only and that she should not expect to make this a recurring event.
No. This woman is someone who thought she was going to sneak a kid into my salon. She thought I wouldn’t speak up. She thought she’d call my bluff and I’d either be too intimidated to say anything or that I’m so desperate for her money that I wouldn’t risk losing it.
Guess whose bluff got called?
I thought I was very sweet, polite, and downright nice about it, but I did tell her we would have to reschedule her appointment due to the strict no-children policy. I asked nicely if she wanted to reschedule now or give me a call later. I think she was already halfway down the hall when she told me she’d “text me.”
I am not expecting a text any time soon. I got the distinct impression that she isn’t planning on coming back. Which is unfortunate, really. She’s been a client for several months now and I kinda liked her. But [shrug] whatevs.
I blame it on Lowe’s. One day, while talking to a Lowe’s employee about custom-made cabinets, I saw a lady walking through the store with a ginormous Great Dane on a leash. I asked the employee if Lowe’s had a pet-friendly policy. He said “no,” but that the company would not let employees ask people who brought their pets with them to leave because the company doesn’t want to “offend” their customers. To which I replied, “So you allow pets then.”
With big corporations refusing to enforce their own policies, it’s no wonder small businesses like us find ourselves facing customers who just assume that we won’t either. Then we get slapped with the accusation that we aren’t offering “good customer service.”
I disagree. I offer good customer service to good customers. But enforcing policies isn’t about defining “good” customer service. It’s about setting a standard for your business. If you aren’t going to enforce your policies, there’s no point in making them to begin with.