Maggie Rants [and Raves]

How Do You NOT Know?

by Maggie Franklin | October 16, 2008

So, by now most of you have probably heard of, or even seen, “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” on Bravo. There was some buzz about it over on the mailing list at a couple of weeks ago that piqued my curiosity and conveniently enough, that Saturday Bravo ran a “Tabatha” marathon. This not only got me caught up on the entire season, but also managed to keep me from doing anything productive for six hours.


The show has really given me a zillion things that I’d like to discuss, but today I’m concerned with numbers. In case you remain unfamiliar, Tabatha is some snooty upscale hairstylist (OK, she boasts an impressive resume and I can’t attest to any actual snootiness since I don’t know her personally) who landed a sweet gig with Bravo doing a reality show where she walks into failing salons, takes over for a week, makes people cry and call her names, remodels the salon, and hands the key back to the owner at the end of the week with everyone smiling and thanking her for saving their business. Then she shows up six weeks later for an impromptu follow-up visit to see how the changes she made are working out.


In several episodes she asks the salon owner(s) some simple questions:


“What are the salon’s gross receipts on average?” — which results in puzzled looks from the salon owner(s) as if Tabatha is suddenly speaking an alien language.


“How many clients does the salon service per week, on average?” — more alien language.


Until she finally gets around to something like, “What is the average ticket at the salon?” — which usually gets an answer that sounds more like a guess.


I’ve talked money with my own colleagues over the years and have been equally “gobsmacked” (a Tabatha trademark line) at how little we in this business know about how much money we make.


I can understand if you don’t want to share this information. Many of us were brought up to feel that money is a personal matter, so I understand if you don’t want to discuss it. But say so. Don’t pretend you don’t know. Except that’s the problem, isn’t it? A lot of us don’t know.


How can you not know? How can you file your taxes? How can you build credit? How can you pay your bills? How can you complain about the economy? How can you say you make more money now than in your last career? How can you recommend this as a worthwhile career option to others? How can you lament that you had to leave nails to get an office job because there’s “no money in nails” if you don’t know how much money you make?


You don’t need to know the exact numbers off the top of your head, there’s not going to be a surprise quiz. But if you are self-employed, you are running a business and you need to have these figures written down somewhere! You need to know how much your supplies cost, what your overhead is, and what percentage of your service prices are profit. You need to have an idea of how much money you average in a given time period, and how many clients you see in those time periods so you have an idea of what each client is worth to your bank account.


I suppose it’s easy enough to just assume that if you are keeping your bills paid, you must be making enough money, but many techs would be appalled to discover that they end up working for less than minimum wage when all the math is done; just as many techs might be amazed to discover they were making twice what they make now as employees on an hourly wage at the new job they took because they couldn’t make any money doing nails.


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