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A Client on the Books Is Worth Two in the Wings

by Cyndy Drummey | August 1, 1995

Fed up with my hair and frantically getting ready for a business trip, I made an appointment with the hairstylist I've been seeing for the past year. Although I wasn't happy with her service and had planned to find another stylist, I decided to visit her once more rather than risk a bad haircut from an untried stylist.

The reason I had not planned to return to this particular stylist (who is also the salon owner) is that I felt she had begun to take me for granted. She always kept me waiting (despite the fact that I had an appointment) and she never offered me ideas on new hairstyles (despite my expressed dissatisfaction with my hair).

This particular Saturday evening I walked into the salon and was greeted by the pleasant aroma of barbecued hot dogs and corn on the cob. Although I hadn't noticed it, there was a sign out front announcing that the salon was having a barbecue every weekend during the summer. By the look of the crowd out back, the promotion was a success.

I arrived at 6:25 for my 6:30 appointment and was asked to change into a gown. There were no gowns with sashes, so my stylist suggested I tuck the gown into my pants. I asked for a safety pin, but there were none, so modesty had me clenching the gown closed the entire time. I sat down to wait and was finally called to the shampoo bowl 40 minutes later. Now, part of what I fell in love with at this salon was the neck massage I would get during my shampoo. But the assistant who shampooed my hair (my stylist was still busy with the barbecue) skipped the massage to save time.

Finally, I sat down to get my cut. My stylist was interrupted a few times by receptionists, other stylists, and clients thanking her for the barbecue. As we finally got into the haircut she explained that she was trying to bring in new clients with the barbecue idea and a coupon that entitled new clients to a free service. As she finished cutting, she asked after a friend I had referred to her who she hadn't seen in a while. I was too much of a coward to tell her the truth -- that my friend was tired of being taken for granted and found another stylist -- so I told her she had found a salon closer to home.

This salon owner was so intent on bringing in new clients that she didn't realize she was losing customers like me because we felt ignored. I waited 40 minutes for a haircut and paid full price to subsidize the free services (and free hot dogs) all her other clients were enjoying.

I wonder if she'll even notice that I'm gone.

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